November 21 marked the 28th anniversary of the signing of the US-brokered Dayton Agreement, which brought an end to the proxy war in Bosnia after three years and eight months. It is an event few celebrate – although there was much cheering in Sarajevo two days later when Stuart Seldowitz, the man who led negotiations on Washington’s side, was arrested for subjecting Muslim Americans to vile verbal abuse. The war in Bosnia – encouraged, financed, armed, and prolonged at every step by the U.S. – tore apart a previously harmonious, inclusive and prosperous republic of Socialist Yugoslavia. In all, 100,000 died, with many more injured.
The established mythos of the Bosnian War is that Serb separatists, encouraged and directed by Slobodan Milošević and his acolytes in Belgrade, sought to forcibly seize Croat and Bosniak territory in service of creating an irredentist “Greater Serbia.” Every step of the way, they purged indigenous Muslims in a concerted, deliberate genocide, while refusing to engage in constructive peace talks. This narrative was aggressively perpetuated by the mainstream media at the time, and further legitimized by the UN-created International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) once the conflict ended. It has become axiomatic and unquestionable in Western consciousness ever since, enforcing the sense that negotiation invariably amounts to appeasement, a mentality that has enabled NATO war hawks to justify multiple military interventions over subsequent years.
By Andy Wilcoxson for Counter Punch - The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has determined that the late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was not responsible for war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. In a stunning ruling, the trial chamber that convicted former Bosnian-Serb president Radovan Karadzic of war crimes and sentenced him to 40 years in prison, unanimously concluded that Slobodan Milosevic was not part of a “joint criminal enterprise” to victimize Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian war.
Karima Bennoune: What is critical about the Women’s Court in Sarajevo was the way it was constructed for and with the full participation of women victims themselves. Women designed the court. Women testified. Women were the experts and judges. The process employed feminist pedagogy, with the organizers consulting extensively on the ground over a period of years, and providing support to victims before, during and after the court met. The Women’s Court was the first of its kind in the Europe region. This symbolic tribunal was jointly organized by women’s groups from every part of the Former Yugoslavia. As the Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie-Lucas, Founder of Secularism Is a Women’s Issue (SIAWI), who attended the hearings wrote, “This, in and by itself, is a huge achievement, at a time when Europe is plagued with the rise of nationalisms, of extreme right forces that divide peoples along ethnic and religious lines…”
What’s going on in Bosnia Herzegovina ten months after the uprising? Following the violent riots in February 2014, the citizens of Bosnia have jointly channeled their rage into horizontal and self-organized assemblies called plenums, which mushroomed throughout the country and surfaced in as many as 24 cities and towns. Unfortunately, the flood that hit the country a few months later appears to have wiped out the new experiments of collective self-organization. But the protests, plenums and even the flood contributed to activate a solidarity chain that has now translated into an informal network calling for social justice. The February protests kicked off in the city of Tuzla, 130 kilometers north of the capital Sarajevo, where the laid-off workers of five bankrupted factories staged a protest to get their unpaid pensions and health insurance back. Shortly afterwards, the protest exploded across the country, in the biggest protest wave the country has witnessed since the end of the war.
A court on Wednesday ordered the Netherlands to compensate the families of more than 300 men turned over to Bosnian Serb forces and later killed in the Srebrenica massacre 19 years ago. In an emotionally charged hearing at a civil court in The Hague, Presiding Judge Larissa Alwin said Dutch UN peacekeepers should have known that the men deported from the Dutch compound by Bosnian Serb forces on 13 July, 1995, would be killed because there was already evidence of the Serbs committing war crimes. "By cooperating in the deportation of these men, Dutchbat acted unlawfully," Alwin said, referring to the name of the Dutch UN battalion. The court cleared the Netherlands of liability in the deaths of most of the 8,000 Bosnian Muslims killed after Bosnian Serb forces commanded by General Ratko Mladic overran the town of Srebrenica on 11 July in what was to become the bloody climax to the 1992-95 Bosnian war that claimed 100,000 lives. Two days later, the outnumbered Dutch peacekeepers bowed to pressure from Mladic's troops and forced thousands of Muslim families out of their fenced-off compound. Bosnian Serb forces trucked the males away and began executing them. Their bodies were plowed into hastily made mass graves in what international courts have ruled was genocide.
Bosnia and Herzegovina have been undergoing serious protests in recent months. Surrounding countries are concerned that the conflicts will expand into their countries. Bosnia's Prime Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda has tried to calm concerns telling other leaders that "this is a local fire and we will be able to extinguish it very quickly." Reuters reports that others are calling "for outside intervention to ensure the situation does not deteriorate into a more dangerous crisis." Reuters describes a root cause of the problems as the peace accords having "created a highly-decentralized and dysfunctional system of power-sharing woefully unfit to steer Bosnia through economic transition or the process of integration with the European Union, to many their best hope of prosperity." And that "the deal that ended the war, divvying up power to stop the fighting between Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaks."
Since the rebellion began, almost all the analysts have insisted that it had been inevitable and that they had been sure all along that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. Of course, this is not true. Although the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was indeed catastrophic, prior to all of this most analysts would have claimed that this kind of uprising was impossible because the people are passive, inert and divided by nationalism. But, as is often the case, there was an unpredictable spark and it all grew quickly from there. The uprising began in Tuzla in the North-East of the country; a city with a long left-wing and working class tradition. “A different city”, as is often claimed, because nationalism has never firmly established itself there, unlike the rest of the country.
“I hope that we form a TV channel, or at least a public radio station. We will gather donations to form this channel. It would be a place where the politicians would never be the main news. It would be a place for the people to talk; to voice firsthand experiences of injustice, such as the one the professor shared with us earlier where her superior attacked her for voicing her opinion, and where she was afraid of losing her job. She shouldn’t have to be afraid; her superior should be the one losing her job. There are many similar stories and they have to be brought to light! There are companies who give their employees $50 in warm meals, to get them to sign a paper that they are receiving $250 in salaries. We will bring all of these companies to light! The people should have the main word.”
The incident pointed to deepening social unease over the state of the Bosnian economy and the political inertia in the country almost two decades since the end of its 1992-95 war. Years of ethnic politicking between former warring sides - Serbs, Croats and Muslim Bosniaks - has stifled economic development and progress towards integration with the European Union. Around 600 people tried to storm the building of the Tuzla local government, accusing authorities of turning a blind eye to the collapse of a number of state firms after their privatization. Protesters joined by local soccer fans stoned the windows of the building and set tires on fire, blocking traffic in the city center, a police spokesman said. Police eventually forced them back and cordoned off the building.
In recent days protests have been surging because the government is no longer issuing government ID numbers that allow people to get health and other services. This has resulted in the death of an infant who needed health care. A large protest is planned for today, leaflets have been dropped by plane announcing it, large banners dropped from buildings, word is spreading. People are gathering under the title Otkaz 01.07, which means Cancel01.07, they sought to have the government cancel amendments to the personal identification number (PIN) by June 30.