Monday, August 24, 2009

How is Bosnia Today?

Not so good. This article explains how the Republika Srpska, a semi-independent Serb-controlled region of Bosnia, is threatening secession, and how the country is still run by a "viceroy" (yes, they still call it that) from Austria with near-imperial powers to make a budget and fire public officials. One source in the story says it's almost boring to explain to outsiders how Bosnia works today, because it's the same dysfunctional story it's been for a long time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Did Serbia Commmit Genocide?

Not in Kosovo, from the available evidence. That was an ugly civil war, not a one-way slaughter. The genocide occurred several years earlier in Bosnia, especially the killing of about 8,000 unarmed Muslim civilians at Srebrenica. Noam Chomsky's doubts notwithstanding -- see the comments to the last post -- no sane jury would acquit the perpetrators of that atrocity, and the capture and trial of Radovan Karadzic will go a long way to establishing justice in that regard.

The presence of the Omarska and Keraterm concentration camps, where Serbs routinely raped non-Serb women and beat people to death whenever they felt like it, should be more than enough evidence of Serbia's intent at the time. From the Omarska link:
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, located in The Hague, has found several individuals guilty of crimes against humanity perpetrated at Omarska. Murder, torture, rape, and abuse of prisoners was common. About 6,000 Bosniaks and Croats were held in appalling conditions at the camp for about five months in the spring and summer of 1992. Hundreds died of starvation, punishment beatings and ill-treatment. The prosecutors compared the camps to those run by Nazis.
I know it's hard to say anything is or was "similar" to Nazism, which has become the untouchable extreme extent of human evil, but the only difference in Serbia, from what we can tell, was the scale of the horror. The intent and behavior were the same.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

War Crimes Justice -- The Wheels Grind, Slowly and Out of Sight

No, this post isn't about the people screaming bloody murder at the health care town halls around the country. Let other people deal with that phenomenon. This is about recent successes at the war crimes tribunal set up after Milosevic perpetrated genocide in the Balkans.

I recently read the memoir of Carla del Ponte, who for years was the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). One passage stood out, and will probably never leave me: her description of the crimes of Milan Lukic, whom her prosecution team had dubbed "Lucifer" in its files. I won't recount them here, except to link to this item relating the happy news that he has actually been caught, tried and now sentenced to life in prison. His cousin Sredoje got 30 years, which was a light sentence.

As a side note, I loaned the book (Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations With Humanity's Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity) to a Serb friend of mine whom I know to be, by American standards, a left-of-Kucinich raving socialist. I thought she'd appreciate the opportunity to hear about the international efforts to bring to justice the people who had ruined her country. Her verdict: "Oh, she hates Serbs." She thought the court was focusing too much on Serb perpetrators and not enough on others.

Let this tribalism be a lesson to us all.