“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” –Eleanor Roosevelt
In the first months of war (April – June 1992), Serbs destroyed 296 Muslim villages and killed at least 3,166 Bosnian Muslims around Srebrenica. In 1993, the UN described the situation in Srebrenica as a “slow-motion process of genocide.”
Two years after being designated a “United Nations Safe Area”, the Bosnian town of Srebrenica became the scene of one of the largerst and bloodiest massacres in the Bosnian war and the worst and bloodiest massacre since WWII.
Jean-René Ruez, the Hague Tribunal’s Chief Investigator, has pieced together the sequence of events in this partial documentary that includes rarely seen archive of the massacres. Watch “Autopsy of a Massacre” video!
Here is how and when the killings took place:
- 6 – 8 July 1995: Bosnian Serb forces took over the Srebrenica enclave, where tens of thousands of Bosnian civilians had taken refuge from earlier Serb offensives in other parts of north-eastern Bosnia.
- Bosnian men, women, elderly and children were under the protection of about 600 lightly armed Dutch infantry forces. No fresh food had been brought into the enclave since May.
- Serb forces began shelling Srebrenica. Bosnian Muslim fighters -who had surrendered to the peacekeepers in the beginning – asked for the return of weapons, but their request was refused.
- The Dutch commander called UN Headquarters in Sarajevo asking for “close air support” after shells and rockets started landing closer to refugee centers and observation posts.
- The Bosnian Serbs army advances on Srebrenica – watch video!
- 9 July 1995: The Bosnian Serbs army starts shelling even harder and thousands of refugees from southern camps fled to the town ahead of advancing Serbs, and gathering around the Dutch positions, expecting protection. Serbs then attacked the Dutch observation posts and took about 30 soldiers hostage.
- 10 July 1995: Dutch Commander Colonel Karremans filed a request for UN air support after the Bosnian Serbs shelled Dutch positions. UN Commander General Janvier initially refused, but agreed after another request from the colonel. Serb attacks stopped before the planes arrived and strikes were postponed.
- The Dutch commander told Srebrenica leaders that Nato planes would launch massive air attacks against the Serbs if they had not withdrawn from the “safe area” by 6:00 AM the next day.
- 11 July 1995: The Serb forces did not withdraw from Srebrenica. Around 9:00 Colonel Karremans received word from Sarajevo explaining that his request for close air support had been submitted on the “wrong form”! At 10:30, the re-submitted request reached General Janvier, but Nato planes had returned to base in Italy to refuel after being airborne since 06:00.
- By noon, over 20,000 women, children and the infirm fled to the main Dutch base at Potocari thinking that they’re going to be safe there.
- At 14:30, two Dutch F-16 fighters dropped two bombs on Serb positions surrounding Srebrenica. To this, the Serbs response was a threat to kill their Dutch hostages and shell refugees again.
- Two hours later, the Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic entered Srebrenica two hours later, accompanied by Serbs’ camera crews. That evening, General Mladic summoned Colonel Karremans to a meeting. Here, Mladic delivered an ultimatum that the Muslims must hand over their weapons to guarantee their lives.
- Srebrenica falls to Serbs.
- 12 July 1995: Buses arrived to transport women and children to other Muslim territories. While women were boarding the buses, the Serbs begin separating out all men from age 12 – 77 for “interrogation for suspected war crimes”.
- Dutch Col Ton Karremans (left) drank with Ratko Mladic on July 12, while Bosnian men and women
were being separated.
- Estimates show that around 23,000 women and children were deported within the next 30 hours, while men and boys were held in trucks and nearby warehouses. Under the Serbs shelling, some Bosnian men still managed to flee through the mountains.
- 13 July 1995: Serbs went “hunting” for those who fled. The first mass killings of unarmed Muslims took place in a warehouse in the nearby town of Kravica.
- Peacekeepers “handed over” about 5,000 Muslims who had been seeking shelter at the Dutch base at Potocari. In return, the Bosnian Serbs released 14 Dutch peacekeepers who had been held at the Nova Kasaba base.
- 16 July 1995: Those who fled through the mountains and survived were ariving to Muslim-held territories. First reports of Srebrenica massacres emerged.
- Numerous films reveal the scale of Srebrenica atrocity, watch one now
- The “negotiations” between the UN and the Bosnian Serbs took place and the Dutch were permitted to leave Srebrenica, leaving everything behind: weapons, food and medical supplies.
- In just five days, Bosnian Serbs have had systematically killed 8,000 + Bosnian men and boys (DNA confirmed by International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).
P.S.: Let’s hope that this never happens again to any nation, to any one single person and let’s work on getting the justice done for all the victims (s.a.w.s).