SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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THE BETRAYAL OF SREBRENICA: WHY DID THE MASSACRE HAPPEN? WILL IT HAPPEN AGAIN?
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
MARCH 31, 1998
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman
WILLIAM GOODLING, Pennsylvania
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
CHRISTOPHER SMITH, New Jersey
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
JAY KIM, California
STEVEN J. CHABOT, Ohio
MARSHALL ''MARK'' SANFORD, South Carolina
MATT SALMON, Arizona
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
TOM CAMPBELL, California
JON FOX, Pennsylvania
JOHN McHUGH, New York
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLEE HAMILTON, Indiana
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
TOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD BERMAN, California
GARY ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT ANDREWS, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
PAT DANNER, Missouri
EARL HILLIARD, Alabama
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVE ROTHMAN, New Jersey
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
JIM DAVIS, Florida
RICHARD J. GARON, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL H. VAN DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
DAN BURTON, Indiana
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
PETER T. KING, New York
MATT SALMON, Arizona
LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, South Carolina
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
TOM LANTOS, California
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
GROVER JOSEPH REES, Subcommittee Staff Director and Chief Counsel
ROBERT R. KING, Democratic Professional Staff Member
DOUGLAS C. ANDERSON, Counsel
CATHERINE DUBOIS, Staff Associate
C O N T E N T S
Ms. Bianca Jagger, Executive Director's Leadership Council, Amnesty International
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Hasan Nuhanovic, former translator, U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Srebrenica
Mr. Eric Stover, Director of Human Rights Center, Adjunct Professor of Public Health, University of California/Berkeley
Ms. Diane Paul, Consultant on Former Yugoslavia, Human Rights Watch
Mr. John Heffernan, Executive Director, Coalition for International Justice
Hon. Christopher H. Smith, a Representative in Congress from New Jersey and Chairman, Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights
Mr. Hasan Nuhanovic
Mr. Eric Stover
Ms. Diane Paul
Mr. John Heffernan
Additional material submitted for the record:
Statement from the Committee of the Dispossessed from Srebrenica and Zepa
Map of the Trail of Life and Death
Article written by Bianca Jagger from The European, week of September 25, 1997, ''The Betrayal of Srebrenica''
Letter written to Mr. Hasan Nuhanovic from U.N. Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 27, 1997
Letter from Comite International de la Croix-Rouge, May 20, 1996
Letter written to Mr. Hasan Nuhanovic from UNHCR Sarajevo, June 9, 1997
Letter written to Mr. Hasan Nuhanovic from Ministerie van Defensie, November 7, 1997
THE BETRAYAL OF SREBRENICA: WHY DID THE MASSACRE HAPPEN? WILL IT HAPPEN AGAIN?
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TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 1998
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights,
Committee on International Relations,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:10 a.m., in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Christopher H. Smith (chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. SMITH. [presiding] The Subcommittee will come to order.
Good morning. Today's hearing is about four terrible days in July 1995, when an estimated 8,000 people were executed by Bosnian Serb soldiers who had overrun the United Nations designated safe area of Srebrenica. The invaders killed women and children, and they almost certainly killed the majority of the adult male population of the so-called safe area. These brutal killings were not committed in battle. They were committed against people who were unarmed and helpless and who had been repeatedly assured that they would not be harmed if they surrendered. In some cases, these assurances came not only from the killers themselves, but also from the U.N. peacekeeping forces whose mission was to protect them. The evidence is overwhelming that the executions were committed with the specific intention of destroying the Bosnian Muslim population of the area. This intention is the central element in the crime of genocide.
The U.N. peacekeeping forces in Srebrenica were charged with enforcing Security Council Resolution 836, which had pledged to defend the safe areas with ''all necessary means, including the use of force.'' But when the moment of truth came, the U.N. forces offered only token resistance to the Serb offensive. Their military and political commanders had redefined their primary mission not as the protection of the people of Srebrenica, but as the safety of the U.N. forces themselves. When Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic threatened violence against the blue-helmeted U.N. soldiers, here is the way one of those soldiers described the reaction. I quote: ''Everybody got a fright. You could easily get killed in such an operation. As far as I knew, we had not been sent to Srebrenica to defend the enclave, but rather as some kind of spruced-up observers.''
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So that is what the peacekeepers became. Observers to genocide. Soon they became something more than observers. On July 13, the Dutch blue-helmet battalion handed over to the Serb invaders 300 Bosnian Muslims who had sought safety within the U.N. compound. They watched as the men were separated from the women and the children, a process which was already well known in Bosnia as a sign that the men were in imminent danger of death. These men were never heard from again.
Terrible as these events were, they could hardly have been a surprise to those who liked to call themselves the international community. I happened to be chairman of the Helsinki Commission at the time of the fall of Srebrenica. Three months earlier, the commission had held a hearing documenting the systematic nature of the ethnic cleansing then going on in Bosnia and the subsequent widespread attempts by Serb militants to destroy mosques and to otherwise erase all evidence of Muslim culture.
Another hearing also in April 1995 dealt with the question of what the United States ought to do about the atrocities being perpetrated in Bosnia. Richard Holbrooke represented the Administration. Though he offered sympathy for the Bosnians, he gave us all the reasons why the United States would neither come to their defense nor allow them to defend themselves through the lifting of the arms embargo. A genuine effort by the United States to halt the slaughter in Bosnia-Herzegovina would not come until months later when it was too late for the victims of Srebrenica.
In the 2 1/2 years that have passed since the fall of Srebrenica, we have learned more details not only about the scope and the brutality of the massacres, but also about why nobody did anything to stop them. First, as some of our witnesses will testify today, it appears that the United Nation's top military and political officials in the former Yugoslavia, Mr. Akashi and Bernard Janvier, regarded the safe areas as part of the problem rather than part of the solution. As David Rohde and others have written, most projected scenarios for an end-game in Bosnia involve trading the Muslim enclaves in eastern Bosnia for Serb-dominated suburbs of Sarajevo.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It further appears that these same officials may have been on better terms with the Serb commanders who were threatening the enclaves than with the Bosnian Muslim population that they were supposed to protect. To paraphrase a remark by another United Nations leader about another mass murder, Mladic seems to have impressed them as a man that they could do business with. Even before July 1995, Akashi and Janvier had begun to act as though the protection of the safe areas was not an important part of their mandate and they had communicated this to the Serbs. A month earlier, Akashi may have reached a secret agreement with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that, in return for releasing U.N. hostages held by the Serbs, the U.N. forces would stop calling for NATO airstrikes in response to future Serb aggression.
Within days of the massacres, accounts by survivors and by U.N. peacekeepers themselves had begun to surface. It also appears that the United Nations had access to satellite photographs of mass graves and perhaps even of men kneeling on the ground waiting to be shot. This evidence had surprisingly little effect on the attitudes of the U.N. commanders, whose own reports had described nothing more serious than harassment and unfortunate incidents. Rohde reports that 3 weeks after the massacres at Srebrenica, Akashi and Janvier had dinner with Milosevic at a hunting lodge outside of Belgrade. When Milosevic pointed out that hunting was prohibited in the immediate vicinity of the lodge, Akashi joked that it was a safe area for animals. Everybody laughed.
These are serious charges. At the least, a betrayal of trust, at worst, complicity in the crime of genocide. Unfortunately most of the journalists and human rights advocates who have studied the events surrounding the fall of Srebrenica, believe them to be true. We will never know for sure until the United Nations releases the documents in its possession that will tell the world what the peacekeepers knew and when they knew it.
Two weeks ago in preparation for this hearing, I wrote to Secretary General Kofi Annan requesting the release of communications between Akashi, Janvier, and other U.N. officials about the events in Srebrenica. I also invited them to send a witness to be at today's hearing. They chose not to send a witness. The only documents they have sent have been a couple of U.N. press releases and other documents that were already made public.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I intend to renew my request. The credibility of the United Nations is very much at stake in this matter, particularly because some of the documents that are still being kept secret were addressed to Secretary Annan himself in his former position as head of U.N. peacekeeping operations.
I also requested that our own government release any records in its possession that may shed light on what the international community knew about Srebrenica before, during, and immediately after the massacres. I particularly hope our government will give a full accounting of when the U.S. intelligence analysts and policymakers came to understand the importance of satellite pictures of men kneeling on the ground near what soon turned out to be mass graves.
I make these requests not only because the victims and their families are entitled to the truth, not only because truth and justice are essential prerequisites to peace and stability, but because we need to find out what we did wrong and make sure that we change it in the future. Srebrenica was not the first nor the last time the United States or the United Nations has known about massacres in progress and has done nothing.
President Clinton recently acknowledged that we ignored the signs of the 1994 Rwanda genocide until it was too late. He has not yet acknowledged that his Administration made exactly the same mistake during the later stage of the same conflict, when in 1996 and 1997, they failed to act on credible reports that the Rwandan Patriotic army was engaging in mass slaughter of Hutu refugees. Most recently the international response to the killings in Kosovo, which could become Milosevic's next Bosnia, shows that we have not yet learned the lesson of Srebrenica. At a minimum, that lesson requires that when we are put on notice that a massacre is about to happen, we must not wait for proof beyond a reasonable doubt before acting to prevent it. Such proof always comes too late.
I would like to yield now to the very distinguished chairman of the Full Committee, Mr. Gilman, for any opening comments he might have.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend you for holding today's hearing on the betrayal of Srebrenica and why this massacre occurred, and what we can do to prevent it from happening again.
As the international community is once again confronted with the same kind of violence in the former Yugoslavia, it is certainly timely to remind ourselves of the tragic occurrences at Srebrenica in the summer of 1995. The name of that small town in eastern Bosnia has come to epitomize the ignominy of our collective response to that conflict. During 4 years of the bloodiest conflict seen in Europe since the end of the Second World War, the world regrettably stood by, watched, and treated, threatened, vacillated, and capitulated as a gang of war criminals systematically attempted to exterminate the Bosnian Muslims. Our feckless policy culminated with the massacre of Srebrenica, where some 8,000 persons are believed to have been murdered in cold blood.
We should recall that Srebrenica had been designated a safe area by the U.N. Security Council, whose members had guaranteed the safety of all of its inhabitants. Regrettably and tragically for the citizens of Srebrenica who took the United Nations at its word about the pledges made and the assurances that were given, the pledges were never backed up with the military resources to ensure that aggression against Srebrenica could be met and thwarted.
The shameful result was that Bosnian Serbs were able to amass around the town, envelop it, finally overrun it with only the most weak and pulsimious protests from the west. It is believed that our government had satellite photographs simultaneously to the attack on Srebrenica and that we saw what was about to happen. Madeleine Albright, then our U.N. representative showed other Security Council members photos shortly after the attack that revealed signs of disturbed earth in the soccer field believed to be the evidence of a mass grave. Yet despite the knowledge of what was happening, the world just stood by, watched, and did nothing.
Troops from the Netherlands were in a token UNPROFOR unit that had responsibility for protecting Srebrenica. Those troops were ordered by U.N. commanders to do nothing other than to secure their own safety. They tried to provide shelter to several thousand Bosnians who fled to their compound. But when they were surrounded by the Serbs, they were ordered to withdraw again by the same U.N. command.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the Netherlands, there was denunciation and a sense of national guilt for what happened to these Dutch soldiers. I think we should be saying to our Dutch friends that they should feel no greater shame or remorse for the tragedy that unfolded in Srebrenica than any other country. We are all equally guilty of looking the other way, and now making excuses in allowing that slaughter to have occurred. The policy that permitted Srebrenica to happen was one agreed to by the entire international community.
Today as we learn of a renewed campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, let's hope that the memory of Srebrenica will be seared in our souls and let our shameful response in that instance be redeemed by a strong resolute action that prevents the same fate from befalling the Albanian majority of Kosovo.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to note that next week I will be sending a staff team from our International Relations Committee to Srebrenica to review these issues and to review the role of the newly elected government there. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Chairman Gilman.
I would like to introduce our panelists for today's hearing and ask that they limit their opening statements to between 10 and 15 minutes and their full statements will be made a part of the record.
Our first witness will be Bianca Jagger, who is a member of the Executive Director's Leadership Council of Amnesty International USA, as well as a member of the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch Americas. For the past 20 years, she has campaigned for human rights around the world, including extensive work in Central America and the former Yugoslavia. From 1993 to 1995, Ms. Jagger evacuated children out of Bosnia for medical care in the United States.
Hasan Nuhanovic was formerly a translator for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Srebrenica. Members of his family have not been seen since they were turned over to Bosnian Serbs by U.N. peacekeeping forces in July 1995. Since that time, Mr. Nuhanovic has been investigating the fate of the thousands who were turned over to Serb forces and the possibility of complicity of U.N. forces in those disappearances.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Eric Stover is the director of the Human Rights Center and an adjunct professor of public health at the University of California at Berkeley. He was the executive director of Physicians for Human Rights until December 1995, and has served as an expert investigator on several missions for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague.
Diane Paul is a consultant of the former Yugoslavia for Human Rights Watch on the former Yugoslavia. She has traveled to the region in 1993 as a delegate for the International Red Cross. Since that time, she has done extensive field work in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and Kosovo, and has written numerous articles and reports on the human rights situation in those areas.
Finally, John Heffernan is the executive director of the Coalition for International Justice, a nonprofit organization created to assist the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the tribunal for Rwanda. Prior to his service with the coalition, Mr. Heffernan was the director of the International Rescue Committee's operation for refugees in Zagreb, Croatia.
Ms. Jagger, if you could begin now, the Committee would appreciate it.
STATEMENT OF BIANCA JAGGER, MEMBER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S LEADERSHIP COUNCIL, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Ms. JAGGER. Let me thank you, Congressman Smith, for having taken the leadership in having this hearing. Thank you, Congressman Gilman, for your offer to send an inquiry group to Srebrenica. It would be very helpful.
It has been 2 1/2 years since I have been haunted by the atrocities perpetrated in Srebrenica. I decided that I was not going to forget those who were executed, massacred, tortured and buried alive because I felt that if I forgot them I would be completing their extermination. I met many of the women who were either the widows or the mothers or the daughters of those men and boys who were killed. I met Hasan Nuhanovic. It was meeting them that convinced me and prompted me to do everything in my power so that we needed to do an inquiry into what happened in Srebrenica.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC During that time, I have written articles that have appeared all over Europe. I have lobbied high ranking members of the United Nations requesting that they hold an inquiry into the United Nations. Strangely enough, as a member of the United Nations said to me the other night, the United Nations holds inquiry when we lose a car, when we have a computer that has disappeared, but 8,000 people were not important enough for them to call for an inquiry.
I must point out as well that there are many high ranking officials inside the United Nations who feel that there is a necessity for the United Nations to become transparent and accountable to their actions and who want the Secretary to open an inquiry as to what happened in Srebrenica.
It is important, and Congressman Smith pointed out that now there has been a suit against the State Department, the CIA, the National Security, requesting that photographs and all the information that the U.S. Government has be released. Until now, we have received information relating to all parts of Bosnia, but very little information has been released that has anything to do with Srebrenica.
It is important too to point out that there are moves around the world today. There is an organization that deals with the prevention of genocide in France who have asked for the indictment of General Janvier.
I would like to introduce various documents that I have obtained from inside the United Nations of those people who did not agree that they should give the seal of approval to what happened in Srebrenica. That includes as well letters of exchange between the Right Honorable Patty Ashdown, letters that he wrote to Prime Minister Major where he speaks about the fact that General Janvier on the 24th of May gave a speech where he almost told the members that he thought that they should abandon the safe areas. It is the belief of Mr. Ashdown in this particular letter that there was a change of policy that took place as a result of that meeting on the 24th in the Security Council, and that because of that, the members, government had decided that they will abandon Srebrenica, which if you will look at the timetable schedule, it will make some sense.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I wanted to just go through very quickly about the timetable of what happened leading up to the fall of Srebrenica. There is so much detail that what I will do is I will request if I can introduce as a part of my testimony all the documents that I have obtained from the United Nations.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, that request will be honored. Anyone on the panel who would like to add additional documentation to the record, it will be made a part of the record without objection.
Ms. JAGGER. I think maybe I would like to be able to read Judge Riad when he asked for the indictment of General Janvier and Karadzic. He described in the following way. ''The evidence standard to the prosecutor describes scenes of imaginable savagery. Thousands of men executed and buried in mass graves, hundreds of men buried alive, men and women mutilated and slaughtered, children killed before the mother's eyes, a grandfather forced to eat the liver of his own grandson. These are truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.''
Massacres in the wood. As Srebrenica's population fled the coming army and its fire power, the fate which befell the column of people who set off to reach Tuzla on the night of the 11th of July, 1995, and on the morning of the 12th of July, was an appalling one. The column was ambushed by Bosnian Serb soldiers attacking with artillery shells and anti-aircraft guns, automatic weapons, and the like. These attacks caused enormous loss of life. Thousands of Muslims were killed and many more were wounded. Many were driven bezerk by the assault and eye witness accounts described how people were so horrified that they committed suicide to avoid capture. Many who were captured or surrendered, among them the wounded, were summarily executed.
One eye witness described how more than 100 captive Muslim men, women and children were slowly slaughtered by a group of Serbian soldiers using knives. Witnesses also saw hundreds of Muslim men buried in mass graves, some after having been shot, some buried alive. Mass executions at Karakaj, thousands of Muslims suffered, surrendered to Serb forces under the command and control of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, having been assured that they will not be harmed.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Some of the Serb soldiers giving assurances were wearing stolen U.N. uniforms. The captured men were then taken to a large assembly point, including a football stadium where they were addressed by Ratko Mladic. Hereto, many were summarily executed.
According to the testimonies of the witnesses who survived, the men were then taken the next day on or about the 14th of July 1995, taken in trucks to at least two nearby fields, those fields that the U.S. Government had photographs of. They were then taken out in small groups, told to find a spot, and then shot where they stood. The survivors say that the men were shot in the thousands until the field was full of bodies after they were shot. Serbian soldiers walked over the bodies, checking that everyone was dead.
I have, by the way, taken testimonies of many of these men and women. I can tell you that I worked for many years in Central America. I heard a lot of atrocious accounts of what happened there. But nothing compares to what I heard in Srebrenica. That is why it is extraordinary that 2 1/2 years after there has been no inquiry with the exception of the one that is being carried out today by the Dutch.
I would like to point out as well that the Dutch are doing an independent inquiry. They have requested on various occasions from the United Nations that they release documents which until now they have not been able to attain.
I am here because I believe that if we stay silent and we don't speak out about what happened in Srebrenica, we will be part of the coverup. Maybe a coverup is a big word, but everything seems to indicate that the fact that the international community has refused to apprehend Karadzic and Mladic and that there is no intention whatsoever until now to do so, maybe because they feel that it will implicate them and that maybe it will shed light as to the kind of war crimes or crimes against humanity that were committed by some members of the international community, and in particular, of the United Nations. Maybe it will shed light as to the kinds of agreements that were made between General Mladic and General Janvier, and many other dealings that were carried out by European and U.S. politicians who were in Bosnia who negotiated the peace accord with Milosevic, not withstanding the fact that Milosevic should be considered to be a war criminal.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is for that reason that I thank you for holding this hearing, and that I hope that what Hasan Nuhanovic has to say may convince you that it is important that there be an inquiry and that we open and that we have clarity and accountability about the kinds of crimes that took place in Srebrenica. Thank you very much.
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Jagger, thank you very much for that very moving testimony. When you appeared some years ago before the Helsinki Commission and brought with you some of the women who had suffered the absolute cruelty of rape which was done by the Bosnian Serbs as a way of breaking the Muslims, then you were bearing witness. You continue to bear witness, and I think it is very important to note that it was you who encouraged that this hearing occur today. I am very grateful for your tenacity in keeping this extremely important human rights issue and the fact that there has to be an accounting with regard to Srebrenica so that these kinds of atrocities are less likely to happen again.
Again, as we have looked at the volumes of informationmy staff director and I, and members of the Helsinki Commission staff who are here and continue to monitor thisit is one of the gravest and poorest performances ever by the United Nations when they not only apparently looked the other way, but may indeed have been complicit in these atrocities. So again, I want to thank you. We need to continue probing until we get to the bottom of it. We will do that. I thank you again for your testimony.
Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. I yield to the gentleman from New York.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank Bianca for her very eloquent statement. She has been a true leader for human rights throughout the world. We hope she will continue in that area.
Mr. Chairman, if I might interrupt, I see we are joined by a very distinguished gentleman who has come to our Committee. Hans Christian Kruger, who is a Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, formerly Secretary General of the European Commission on Human Rights, and he is here exploring arrangements for a celebration by their commission of their 50th anniversary next year of the Council of Europe. We welcome you, Hans Christian Kruger.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much, Chairman Gilman.
I would like to ask Mr. Nuhanovic if he would now present his testimony.
STATEMENT OF HASAN NUHANOVIC, FORMER TRANSLATOR, U.N. PEACEKEEPING FORCE IN SREBRENICA
Mr. NUHANOVIC. I want to thank everybody here for inviting me to testify. I came to Washington with an intention to ask for support. The families of missing persons from Srebrenica in Bosnia really need support from anybody who is willing to help us because we really feel strongly that we are left alone.
There are many agencies and organizations who have a mandate to search for missing persons in Bosnia, but for 2 1/2 years only 10 persons missing from Srebrenica were identified out of 8,000 to 10,000 people who are missing, which is a very, very small number. I will explain in some chronological order of events what happened in the area of a Dutch compound in Potocari, which is a village north of Srebrenica after Srebrenica fell to the Serb hands.
I was in Srebrenica with my parents and my brother for 3 1/2 years as a refugee from another town in eastern Bosnia. Srebrenica fell on 11 July 1995. I at that time worked as the interpreter of U.N. military observers and also for the Dutch battalion commander. On 11 July, Srebrenica fell to the Bosnian Serb army and approximately 25,000 refugees moved toward Dutchbat headquarters in Potocari village. The Dutch allowed about 6,000 refugees to enter the camp, including my parents and my brother. The remaining refugees were told to stay outside the camp.
In the meantime, a group of 12,000 to 15,000 refugees, mainly grown up males and some women, take to the surrounding mountains, attempting to flee to Tuzla. So what I saw is related to the situation, what happened to the people who were among the 25,000 people around the area of Dutch battalion compound. I haven't seen what happened to the people in the mountains.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On 12 July, the day before the fall of Srebrenica, the Bosnia Serb Army (BSA) commander, General Ratko Mladic, requested a meeting with Dutchbat commander, Lieutenant Colonel Karemans, and local representatives of Srebrenica in the nearby town of Bratunac, outside the enclave. My father, Ibro Nuhanovic, volunteered to go as one of the three local representatives. The officially elected representatives were among the 12,000 to 15,000 who had taken to the surrounding mountains attempting to flee to Tuzla.
During the meeting, Mladic assured the Dutch and local delegation that no harm would come to the refugees in Potocari, though all men would be screened against a Serb-drawn list of war criminals. That is what my father told me when they came back from the meeting.
Upon returning to the camp, three local representatives are ordered by the Dutchbat deputy commander, Major Franken, to prepare a list of all males, all men and boys between the ages of 16 and 65 among the refugees inside and outside the camp. The list of the males among the 6,000 inside the camp was completed the same day, reflecting the total of 239, including approximately 20 wounded. Between 50 and 100 males inside the camp refused to give their names. My father and other representatives, fearing the list would be used for untoward purposes, refrained from putting his own and my brother's names on the list. A list of the males outside the camp was not made because the Serbs allowed the representatives and my father to leave the camp only for 5 minutes at the request of General Mladic. Then they returned to the camp.
The rumors about executions of males outside the camp spread inside the camp. So we the people who were inside the camp could hear the noise and shooting outside the camp, but we didn't know what exactly happened. So we needed Dutch commanders, Dutch officers to explain to us what was going on outside.
The Dutchbat deputy commander, Major Franken denied saying that everything outside the camp was all right and the evacuation of refugees was going on in order. So he denied saying that no man or boys were killed outside the camp, which was not true. I found that out later on. So that let the people inside the camp, they made them think that when the following day they were the ones to be evacuated, everything would be all right.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the night between 12 and 13 July, 2 days or two nights after the fall of Srebrenica, there were more rumors about executions of males outside the camp. I tried to confirm the rumors. Major Franken denied it again. U.N. military observers denied too. Major Franken informs the representatives that the evacuation of some 5,000 refugees from outside the camp will be continued the following day at 8 a.m. He states that the refugees from inside the camp will be evacuated immediately after the evacuation of refugees from outside the camp is complete. Major Franken orders that the list of all locally employed people by organizations, like United Nations, MSF, and UNHCR should be drawn. Only people whose names were on this list were allowed to stay inside the camp.
On 13 July, the Dutch ordered 6,000 refugees out of the Potocari camp. The Serbs were waiting at the gate, separating all males from the women and children. Major Franken stated that all the males whose names were on the list of 239 would be safe. He told the people who asked him the questions about what the fate of the people from inside the camp was going to be, he told us that everything was going to be all right and the Serbs would not harm the people because he sent the list to the Hague, Geneva, and some more addresses.
He allows my father, like the other two representatives, to stay, but refuses to allow my brother to stay. So my father decides to join my mother and my brother. I remain in the camp and I watched my parents and my brother being handed over to the Serbs at the gate. None of them have been seen since.
We interpreters and the Dutch soldiers and officers stayed in the camp for another 7 or 8 days. So on 21 July, I was evacuated to Zagreb as part of the Dutch convoy. As soon as I arrived in Zagreb, I tried to contact all relevant organizations, International Community of the Red Cross, UNHCR and others asking for information on the people from the list of 239 from the Dutch battalion camp. I am told in Zagreb that none of these organizations has ever heard about such a list.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Then I returned to Tuzla. I resumed to work as a U.N. interpreter, hoping to find out something about my family through the U.N. channels since the area of responsibility of U.N. headquarters in Tuzla covered Srebrenica. So I tried to contact more people, including the Serbs. For the remainder of 1995, I traced down three U.N. military observers from a former Srebrenica team. I convinced them to sign statements in which they stateI will read, it's very short. It says, ''I, Major Kingori hereby state that Nuhanovic, Ibro and Nuhanovic, Nasiha, parents of Hasan Nuhanovic and brother of Hasan Nuhanovic, came to the Dutch compound in Potocari on the evening of 10 July. All three spent 2 days there under UNPROFOR protection until they were ordered by Dutch officers to leave the compound together with the other refugees in the evening of 13 July 1995. They were last seen passing through the compound gate behind which the Serb soldiers were standing.''
I want to explain here that the people who hoped that the Dutch were going to protect them, the U.N. peacekeeping troops and all other members of all other organizations who were present in Srebrenica who were inside the camp, the people hoped that they would be protected, but the Dutch soldiers and officers gave no other option to the refugees but to leave. So the refugees inside were told to leave without any other choice. My family was told on the evening of 13 July that they should leave. About 6 p.m. there were no more refugees inside the camp.
I don't know if this is the topic of the meeting or the hearing but the same night the Dutch soldiers had a party inside the camp because they received two or three trucks full of beer and cigarettes. They played music while I was sitting, not knowing what happened to my family. Also when we came to Zagreb on July 22, the Dutch had another party when a whole orchestra arrived by plane from Holland and they all got drunk together. I have it on the video tape. So I had very little understanding from the United Nations and all other organizations involved in this issue.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I continued to search for information on missing persons for the next 2 1/2 years. I wrote many letters to the Ministry of Defense of Holland. The last answer I received from the Minister of Defense was that I should no more address the Ministry of Defense of Holland because they claim that they can not help the people of Srebrenica look for their missing relatives. He told me that if I had any further questions I should contact the Dutch Embassy in Sarajevo.
I also wrote letters to U.N. headquarters in Sarajevo. One of the letters I received a year ago, it was in fact the only official reply I received from the United Nations. It says during your meeting, you informed Mr. Armstrong that you had appealed to the ambassador of the Netherlands in Sarajevo for help in obtaining information from the RS Government on the fate of residents of Srebrenica. You had arranged to contact the Ambassador in 3 months' time to see whether she had made any progress. Mr. Armstrong noted that this was an important initiative and encouraged you to follow up. Mr. Armstrong also explained to you that the mandate of the U.N. Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIDH) with respect to missing persons, is limited to facilitation and referral rather than being an operational one. Current information and practical assistance should be sought through the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Office of High Representative.
There are five or six organizations in Bosnia which have mandates to assist the families of missing persons in their search. It is the International Committee of the Red Cross, it is the Office of the High Representative, and all the organizations claim that there is very little they can do. The people of Srebrenica and I myself are looking for my missing family, we have no use of promises. We really need something to be done as soon as possible. We hope that there are still some alive people, maybe hidden in detention camps in Bosnia or Serbia. But also we are aware of the fact that the 8,000 or 9,000 people from Srebrenica have probably been murdered. We would also like the bodies to be exhumed and identified so that we know for sure what happened to our family members.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I would like also say one thing concerning the mass grave sites in Bosnia. American troops, when they got deployed in Bosnia, they were deployed in eastern Bosnia. The American zone of responsibility covers exactly the area where all mass grave sites, all the victims from Srebrenica are located. None of those sites have been protected from tampering. Many of them were disturbed. Some sites are even empty. There are no more body remains there.
I contacted some American officers, trying to indicate that it will be really necessary to mark the sites and protect them from disturbance because they are being disturbed every day. Nothing has been done so far about that.
I have also many documents here with me which I have already given to the organizers of this hearing. It would take a long time to go through all of them, but one thing is for sure, so far we had no results at all when concerning the issue of missing persons. The families in Bosnia are told that International Tribunal in the Hague is performing an investigation on war crimes in Srebrenica. War crimes and war criminals is a separate issue from missing persons. The families of missing persons like myself, we have no use of Ardamovic being in prison for 5 years. He is going to come out of the prison in 3 years now. It is not going to change anything in my search for my family. We can not rely on only international tribunals in Sarajevo. Many of their investigators stated to the families, when families asked questions, that all evidence that the International Tribunal for War Crimes in the Hague obtains on the ground remains a secret until the trial starts. None of us knows when the trial is going to start. So we don't have any use of the tribunal in the Hague at the moment. It may take 5 or 10 years for the trial to start. We are not intending to wait for 5 to 10 years to find out the truth on Srebrenica. There must be some other body which will launch a thorough investigation right now, not waiting for the politicians to decide when the political situation is suitable for such an investigation.
I only want to say one more thing, that the missing persons from Srebrenica has nothing to do with politics. We are just looking for our missing relatives. We really are not interested in any political games. Unfortunately it all became part of it. That's probably what's stopping the whole process.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to thank everybody here and I will leave the documents which I have brought with me with the organizers of the hearing.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Nuhanovic appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. Yes. We'll put that in the record.
Mr. Nuhanovic, let me just say that I believe and I believe every member of our panel and every Member of Congress believes that you and people like you are entitled to answers, whether it be as a result of gross miscalculation or cowardice or complicity in these crimes of the United Nations, of which we are a part, even though the Dutch had the lead here. You are entitled, regardless of any political consideration, to know exactly what happened to your family. As you pointed out, you still harbor some hope that one or more may survive.
Mr. NUHANOVIC. I will only say one more thing, if I may. When I approached the Ambassador of Netherlands in Sarajevo last year trying to follow up on the action of the Minister of Defense who instructed the Ambassador in Sarajevo to meet Mrs. Plavsic, the President of the Republic of Srpska. So the Ambassador in Sarajevo met Mrs. Plavsic once a year ago and addressed Mrs. Plavsic with the question of missing persons from Potocari, Dutchbat camp. There was still no answer from Mrs. Plavsic.
So I tried to approach the Ambassador several times again. I was every time told during the last summer that the political situation does not allow any contacts with Mrs. Plavsic concerning this issue because the international community was dealing with some problems, political problems inside the Republic of Srpska. So it looks like everybody is in Bosnia waiting now for the political situation to settle down and then start, let's say, opening mass graves and answering different questions. But we can not wait for that long. It's just out of the question.
Mr. SMITH. You know, I agree. The political situation has limited the number of people that even the international tribunal will look at. I find it appalling to this day that Milosevic himself, whom former Secretary of State Eagleburger as he was leaving office said he believed was a war criminal, perpetrated the crimes first in Croatia and then in Bosnia. And yet there is to the best of my knowledge, and I have asked this question a number of times, no effort to gather information about Milosevic's ordering these crimes throughout the wartime period. Now he is our ''partner in peace'' and there's very little or nothing being done to gather the record.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think it is important to note for the record that we had invited a very important witness to this hearing, a former U.N. employee in Bosnia who now works with the U.S. Department of Defense. The department unfortunately responded that they normally don't allow their employees to testify about their former employment. They refused to make an exception. It would have been very helpful to have his information on the record today.
I intend to insist that not only the United Nations, but also our State Department and Defense Department come clean and tell us exactly what they knew, when they knew it, about this terrible situation.
I would like to yield to Mr. Wolf who has joined us, a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and also a member of the Appropriations Committee.
Mr. WOLF. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I don't serve on this Committee, but Mr. Gilman and Mr. Smith invited me to come. I guess I have a couple comments. One, you are fortunate that Mr. Gilman and Mr. Smith are interested in this issue to eventually get the truth out, because I think, unfortunately, it is going to take people digging and pursuing and requesting and requiring people to come forward. I don't think people on their own are going to come forward.
Second, having been over there a number of times, I think much of the responsibility lies with Mr. Akashi. I have often thought the times that I was over there and watched him that if my loved one had their future dependent upon Mr. Akashi, it would be absolutely depressing. His activity, the lack of action and movement, all the activity that took place and the atrocities time after time after time and he would just be there in Zagreb. You just never could get a feeling that he really cared about this. I think he was much more sympathetic to the Serbs than anybody else.
Third, I think your statement is very damaging to the Dutch military. I mean I think if what you say is accurate, they have to be somehow held accountable. I would hope that the Dutch Foreign Ministry and the Dutch Parliament would hold some hearings on this. Holland has a very proud history of standing up to the Nazis. They must understand this. All you have to do is to go to Amsterdam and go into the house of Anne Frank, who wrote ''The Diary of Anne Frank''. Every citizen of the Netherlands must be sensitive to this. I would urge that a letter be done to the Dutch Government asking that they hold an inquiry, that their Foreign Ministry hold an inquiry or that their Dutch Parliament hold an inquiry because until there is knowledge of what happened, it is very difficult for reconciliation to take place. Reconciliation can take place, but there has to be something to close this down, whereby there is some closure. There must be acknowledgement of guilt and either people go to prison or something is done to end this.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I just wanted to tell you. I appreciate so much what you have been through, having been there about five or six times during the war. I had the opportunity back in 1992 or 1993 to go into a Serb-run prisoner of war camp, where we saw what they were doing to the Muslims. The Muslims were running around with their hands behind them, their heads down, and it was almost like a scene out of World War II, out of the Nazi camps.
So I appreciate what you have done. Anything we can do to help, Mr. Smith or Mr. Gilman, we'll be glad to do it. I just think what you are doing is being faithful to your parents and being faithful to those people. It is very, very important. Ultimately the truth will come out. The truth has to come out for there to be any kind of healing and any kind of reconciliation.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much, Mr. Wolf.
STATEMENT OF ERIC STOVER, DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA/BERKELEY
Mr. STOVER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am going to show some slides, which I'll try to go through fairly quickly.
First let me note that I am a former executive director of Physicians for Human Rights. I also have served as an ''Expert on Mission'' for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. However, today I will be testifying in my own capacity. I don't think either institution would have any difficulty with what I am going to say, but there are some things that I can not mention because they relate to the Tribunal's work.
Let me first begin by saying that I have come here with a profound sense of failure. The reason for that is in January 1993, I testified at the ''Hearing on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia'' for the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe of the House of Representatives, which Wolf had helped organize. On a collective farm outside of Vukovar a forensic investigation was completed. We had discovered one of the first war crimes of the wars in the former Yugoslavia. What it amounted to was a mass grave containing the bodies of nearly 200 hospital patients and staff. It wasn't until 2 or 3 years later that we were able to do a full investigation. As of today, 91 of the 200 victims have been identified.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At that hearing, I brought forward what evidence we had uncovered. It was clear a massacre had taken place. We needed to investigate further. But I called on the need for the international community to take strong measures to protect Croatian-based evidence that we had collected. I hope I don't have to return here 5 years from now.
I would like to turn to the slides now, and begin by saying that my perspective is going to come from the forensic investigators and also from some of the families and the victims. The slides that you are about to see were taken by Gilles Peress, who is a photographer who documented the war in Bosnia and also in Rwanda. His photographs are the ones that line the room today.
First of all, let me mention that turning to the first slide here, this is the ''Trail of Life and Death'' which Hasan Nuhanovic had mentioned earlier where the men had fled up the trail toward Tuzla in an attempt to escape. Here is Srebrenica. Up here is Potocari. As the women and children on July 11 through July 12 fled up to Potocari, the men went along a trail in this direction. It's about 40 miles up to Tuzla from the enclave of Srebrenica. As they went across the trail, many men and boys were captured or called down from the mountain and executed. Others were killed in the hills. Several months after the fall of Srebrenica, I was able with Gilles Peress to walk along the trail for about 3 or 4 miles. It was as if we were descending into hell.
There were bodies on all sides of the trail, 200 or 300 bodies just along one stretch of about a mile. As you went along the trail, you found objects that were left behind by the men as they fled. This is a slide of a little shaving mirror which was left behind. In this particular site, Bosnian forensic investigators have ascertained that artillery shells (or at least some type of mortar shells) were launched into the center of the group. As they fled, Bosnian Serb army soldiers opened fire on those fleeing. This is a slide of a book of the Qu'ran, which was left behind as the men fled or were captured.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Personal objects were everywhere along the trail. Clearly the men were desperate as they were fleeing. Many of them were rounded up and taken down to this warehouse and other buildings and executed. What appears to have happened here was that the Bosnian Serb army soldiers stood outside and fired into the room or through the windows, massacring hundreds inside this warehouse.
In July 1996, the forensic investigations began of the mass graves under the auspices of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. It was hell for the investigators. There were about 90 scientists from 19 different countries. These were scientists from Chile, Argentina, the Philippines, and the National Park Service in the United States. When they arrived U.N. or NATO troops at that time were not providing them security at the sites, neither was there any demining activity. So private arrangements had to be made by Physicians for Human Rights, which was actually conducting the investigations on part of the Tribunal.
At first, in the evenings when the teams left the sites, the NATO troops would not protect the graves. As anyone knows in a criminal investigation, you need to keep the sites protected. So in fact the leader of the forensic investigation, William Haglund, who deserves a great deal of credit for his work, stayed behind with a couple of other forensic scientists. They would actually sleep in their vans waiting to make sure that the sites weren't disturbed.
For the first 2 months they worked in almost perpetual rain. Then it turned to blistering sun. I have worked in the sites. I have been there. It was a very difficult work for all of those involved. Particularly because there was a growing sense because that perhaps this effort would not result in justice or that the families would never eventually get the remains identified.
What was important initially was to show to the Serb leaders, political and military, who had claimed that these were just military exchanges between the men fleeing and the Bosnian Serb army, were not true. In fact, as we were able to see in this site here, body number 19 has its hands tied behind its back.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the four graves that were exhumed in that period of time from July through October 1996, some 500 bodies or more were removed. Many of them had hands tied behind their backs in a way that was consistent with execution-style killings. This is important forensically: many of the bodies in their particular graves had been bound by the same type of telephone wire or a piece of curtain that may have been pulled down. There was a systematic approach to these executions that were clear in the forensic evidence.
The bodies were taken to Kalesiza, which was on the front line and autopsied in an abandoned garment factory which had been turned into a make-shift morgue. The clothes would be cleaned. Work would begin in reconstructing. Some of the skulls and so on would be shattered by gunshot wounds. Some of the graves contained hundreds and hundreds of projectiles and bullets.
What was interesting was that in the clothes one found that the men in their desperation as they left Srebrenica had grabbed whatever they could. It was only normal. You find keys, keys because you think you are going to return at some point to your home. This is an x-ray of a bullet embedded near the spinal cord. Objects were found on the bodies such as religious artifacts and objects for starting fires. Many of these were rural Bosnian Muslims. Here is a slide of a child's drawings found on one of the bodies. Photographs were found on some of the bodies. One man had over 40 photographs stuffed in his clothing. In this photograph on the lefthand side, there is evidence that a bullet has gone through the photograph.
There is a great deal of anger, as Hasan Nuhanovic has mentioned, among the women and children of Srebrenica, because the one thing that comes out in the discussions is what happened in the political machinations of the United Nations. It is important we get to the depth of this. But there is another issue there. For the women and the survivors of Srebrenica, they believed they were going to be protected. What we need to learn from this experience is that the international community doesn't pass Security Council resolutions declaring safe areas to people who are living and believing that they are going to be protected. That is the key issue we have to take forward.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As one woman told me during my interviews this summer in preparation for the book I'm publishing with Gilles Peress called The Graves: Srebrenica and Yukova, she said ''Srebrenica taught us that our lives were less valuable than the lives of U.N. soldiers. That for us was the final truth.'' What has happened with the women of Srebrenica, as Hasan has mentioned earlier, is they want to know the truth. It is important to have the trials in The Hague, but the women also want to know what happened to their men. Many of the women still live in collective centers around the city of Tuzla. These are dreadful places where 20 or 30 people will share a room together. There are food supplies that are brought in, but they are hardly adequate.
What remains the problem for many of the women is that without the return of the bodies, they can not visualize the death of their husbands and sons, and thus accept it as real. So as a Bosnian psychologist told me, ''And so when the women think of moving on with their lives, they are often hit with strong feelings of guilt because they think they will maybe, just maybe still be alive.''
Also as a result of the fall of Srebrenica there were hundreds of orphans. About 110 of them are still in a Tuzla orphanage.
This is a slide of four elderly people in a collective center sharing the same room. There's loneliness there, boredom.
I would like to just give one other brief quote by a Bosnian psychiatrist, Irfanka Pasagic, who works for the organization Amica, a Tuzla-based clinic which provides therapeutic services to refugees. Dr. Pasagic said: ''What is the utmost importance now is the message that the international community sends those boys and what they communicate to their sons and daughters. If you say to a child, look, that man there killed your father and now he lives in your house, what kind of message is that going to send? But if you say look, that man there killed your father and that is the reason why he is in prison, the message is very different.'' So for now, there may not be a lot of talk of hatred or revenge, but if we don't find a way to punish those responsible for these crimes, it will be surely something we can count on in the future.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To understand is not to forgive or forget. It is to accept things as they are. Forgiveness for those who massacred the men and boys in Srebrenica is not ours to give. Only the victims have the right to forgive. Forgetting is also unthinkable, as it would be a dishonor to the dead and their memory. The most disturbing truth is that we are at the end of the Never Again century and genocide is happening again. Bosnia's nightmare, like Rwanda's is not hers alone. Until we accept the moral imperative of acting swiftly to stop genocide and crimes against humanity and punishing those responsible, it will happen again.
This is a photograph of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo burying their dead that appeared recently in the New York Times. Over 80 people have been killed in Kosovo. The bodies have been buried. And the forensic scientists are purchasing their tickets to fly to Kosovo. It is happening again. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stover appears in the appendix.]
Mr. WOLF. Would the gentleman yield? These are very powerful visuals. I guess I had two questions. Where do you think that most of the Serbs are who were involved in the killings? Where are they now? Because in Tuzla there are very few Serbs obviously in the Tuzla area now. Where are they? Do we have any sense of where that battalion or that unit is or did they go back to a certain area, a certain village?
Mr. STOVER. In some ways it's conjecture. We know that Arkan's paramilitary forces were there. The Drina Wolves were there. Many of those who carried out the killings came from other parts of Serbia, Montenegro. Many of the paramilitary groups were comprised of people that weren't necessarily from within the region. Many I would presume are in the Republic of Srpska, which is not far from Tuzla.
Mr. WOLF. I know.
Mr. STOVER. So clearly they are in areas, many of them, where they can be arrested. Of course the most important ones to arrest are Mladic and Karadzic.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WOLF. I agree. I have said over and over, I did a report when I came back in December again, that until that issue is dealt with, there can never be peace and healing there. I mean you have to go back and find and hold accountable the people that have been involved. It just has to be done.
I was one of the Republican Members that supported sending troops. I think what we have done there has been very, very positive, but I think we should be doing more, I agree.
The other question that I wanted to ask you is what should we be doing? What should the U.S. Government do? What should the Congress do? What should be done?
Mr. STOVER. First of all we must make every effort to arrest Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. That is No. 1. And others who are associated with war crimes throughout the former Yugoslavia.
I would also say that we need to understand what are the needs of women and children throughout the former Yugoslavia. This is especially true of the young men and boys. If we don't find ways of supporting them on many levels, we will see more violence in the future. What has happened to the women and the people of Srebrenica who fled, who quite technically should have been by virtue of their safe haven status, the best protected people in the world? A Security Council resolution was passed to protect them. But what has happened is they have ended up in Tuzla and central Bosnia in deplorable conditions with few, if any possibilities for meaningful jobs. Here are young men and women who are feeling guilty because their brothers and mothers and fathers may have died or were executed. Yet they are not getting any kind of basic job training. They don't necessarily need to be taught English or computer skills. Many of them want to learn how to be mechanics. Now I know this sounds small, but it is important to be helping these people re-establish their lives again. The U.N. community has abandoned them. More effort needs to be put in that regard.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also I think clearly support for an international criminal court must be forthcoming, and clear financial and military support for that.
Mr. WOLF. Thank you very much. Excuse me. Go ahead.
Mr. NUHANOVIC. Can I answer your question about where the Serbs who have done this are now?
Mr. WOLF. Yes.
Mr. NUHANOVIC. I have been trying to find out where they are for 2 1/2 years now, not because I just want to get them but only because I want them to tell me what happened to my family.
One of them who was definitely involved in Srebrenica's massacre was until 10 days ago chief of police of the entire area, which is in a way overlapping with the American zone of responsibility of eastern Bosnia. So I have gone to the American officers and it's called Camp Double near Kalesiza. It's only 10 kilometers east of Tuzla, east of the American main base. I gave them the video and I showed them on the video the man they were meeting every day at the meetings, because American military is communicating with the local authorities, civilian authorities like police authorities. So they met these men many, many times. They had some suspicions about him. I told them this is a man who coordinated the mass executions around Zvornik, which is the town where the mass graves are concentrated mostly. This man was sitting in Zvornik. His office was there for 2 1/2 years. Americans knew it for half a year now.
I also went to the Office of the High Representative several times and gave them this video tape because this Serb is on the video tape in Srebrenica and there is a date on the video tape also. He is talking to the Minister of Interior for Republic of Srpska at that time on the tape reporting to him. More things can be seen on that tape. Nobody has done anything about this. Only ICTY about 10 days ago, first time, approached this police officer and he is missing now for 10 days. He is gone. He is probably hiding. But this shouldn't have been allowed. Because ICTY went to his office to ask if he wanted to talk, and of course after that he fled his job or hid. He was probably promoted or I don't know. So it's really not dealt with in a serious manner at all.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Some of the Americans, when I tell them or any other members of the United Nations in Bosnia, if I tell them that this Serb has been involved in war crimes, I have proof that can support this, I receive answers saying like we don't care. It's been 2 1/2 years ago. It's over now. It's time for reconciliation. But you see thousands of refugees were supposed to return to the area controlled by this person. They were being encouraged by Americans, by UNHCR, by ICRC to return to their homes which are in the area controlled by this Serb police officer. How can you expect the people to return there where the murderers of their brothers, fathers, mothers, are sitting in a police headquarters? I have names of more Serbs involved.
But also only one more thing. The only organization which is really investigating what happened in Srebrenica is as I mentioned, the International Tribunal for War Crimes in the Hague. They are the only ones who follow the path, the line, everything that happened between the place where somebody disappeared, and following it down to the place where somebody might be buried or maybe alive in a prison. Because if somebody disappeared, there is one location where somebody has been seen last time that's like location A. So we are all now looking for location B. OK? Which is a mass grave or a prison, most probably mass grave.
But all these organizations in Bosnia are looking for the location B without following this line. The line is really very simple, in fact. It's only two or three villages or towns in Bosnia through which these people were transported. And the Serb authorities who were in charge of those towns in 1995 when it happened, the mayors, the chiefs of police, the military commanders, are all there talking to American soldiers every day, American officers as if nothing happened because these things are forgotten.
It is just simple. Just go there and talk to them. All Serbs involved in war crimes in Srebrenica are still sitting in the same positions as they were in 1995.
Mr. WOLF. Thank you.
Ms. JAGGER. I would like to add just a small point. I was a part of an ''apprehend war criminals'' task force with Justice Goldstone very recently. We visited the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House. When we met at the Pentagon I asked the question about why have they not apprehended Karadzic and General Mladic. The answer they gave me was because they didn't know where they were situated today.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I would like to introduce in the record a map that Human Rights Watch has put out of where the war criminals are today, in which areas. It is extraordinary to be given an answer by the Pentagon telling us that they don't know where they are, when everybody is seeing them and when a human rights organization has done a map of all the places.
What I wanted to say was that I am convinced that the reason why Karadzic and Mladic and other war criminals have not been apprehended is not because it is a danger for the lives of the soldiers that will do it, but simply because it will shed light as to the kinds of crimes that may have been committed by high ranking U.N. officials and the kind of negotiation that they may have undertaken with Mladic and Karadzic that will become public if they were brought to the Hague.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much. I would like to ask Ms. Paul if she would speak.
Before doing that, without objection I would like the record to include a statement from the Committee of the Dispossessed from Srebrenica and Zepa. There are some 300 refugee survivors living in St. Louis, Missouri. They have made an appeal asking for the immediate arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the war crimes and genocide in Srebrenica and Zepa, including Mladic and Karadzic, which Ms. Jagger just made reference to. Information about those killed or missing and material, including financial compensation for their loss. Without objection this will be made a part of the record.
[The statement referred to appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Paul.
MS. DIANE PAUL, CONSULTANT ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Ms. PAUL. Thank you very much. Chairman Smith, Members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen here today, the events of over 2 1/2 years ago in Srebrenica must be remembered. For this reason, your decision to hold this hearing is deeply appreciated. To the families of the missing, however, it seems the world has already forgotten, has moved on. Yet the survivors can not. They are frozen in the trauma of not knowing the fates of those who disappeared. They must endure the cruelty of hoping against hope that some may still be alive while knowing that few are likely to have survived.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I worked with Holocaust survivors to assist them in determining the fates of family members who disappeared into Nazi concentration camps. What I will tell you is that after 50 years, the trauma was still very fresh. What I know about the survivors of Srebrenica, about those families is that they will never stop searching. I think that we must help them find the answers.
Adding to the already unbearable burden that they face, the two persons believed responsible for organizing the systematic deaths of thousands of people from Srebrenica are still at large. What message is being sent to Milosevic on Kosovo when Mladic and Karadzic are permitted to escape justice? It should not be forgotten that Milosevic is believed to have played a large part in what happened in Srebrenica. Yet we have been told repeatedly, and I must say often condescendingly, that those indicted for war crimes will be brought to justice sooner or later. One senior U.S. diplomat told me recently when I asked him if it were true if Ratko Mladic had sought refuge in Serbia, responded ''I am satisfied that Mladic is in a cocoon. He is not interfering with the peace process. We can take care of him later.'' That U.S. Government officials are satisfied with the status quo for reasons of political expediency is deeply offensive and wholly unacceptable. Patience has worn thin. The survivors demand justice. How long must they wait?
The questions raised in the title of today's hearing are critical. To rephrase them slightly, we might ask, could the people of Srebrenica have been saved, and might we prevent further such tragedies? Despite everything that's happened, we believe the answer is yes. Most of those who died during those days in July might have been saved had the international community's response been more decisive. The possibility to protect civilians in Kosovo and elsewhere exists. We heard President Clinton admit that early action could have prevented many deaths in Rwanda. Reports of new attacks in Kosovo last week and the failure of Serbia to withdraw so-called police forces which act in every way like military forces, are not surprising developments. They were anticipated and, in fact, easily predicted, given the broken promises of the past.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Milosevic is a master of brinkmanship. We should not forget that. Once again, he is thumbing his nose at the international community, as evidenced by the recent arrest of Americans in Pristina and his refusal to accept an international mediator.
A reported arms deal with Russia which may even now be funneling sophisticated arms to Serbia, including attack helicopters, has gone unchallenged by the contact group. There are no international human rights monitors on the ground and humanitarian organizations do not have full access to those in need. Full and unimpeded access to international monitors is an absolute imperative. Yet to date, Milosevic has refused to permit the OSCE to reestablish a presence there after booting them out a number of years ago. The disunity within the contact group does not bode well and echoes the ineffective international response to the crisis in Bosnia, the lowest point of which was Srebrenica.
Action must be taken now to get people on the ground in Kosovo. Should there be a no-fly zone over Kosovo to at least prevent the use of attack helicopters indiscriminately against civilians as it's believed they have already been used there? Speaking more generally, I would argue that the potential use of safe areas as a strategy to protect civilians should not be discarded, despite the failure at Srebrenica. Zones of safety have saved lives, even in the former Yugoslavia. The safe area in northern Iraq did provide some protection over time until international will eroded. Designated safe houses established by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Raoul Wallenberg and others, enabled thousands of Hungarian Jews to survive during the darkest days in Budapest during World War II. An international safety zone created by fewer than a dozen internationals protected tens of thousands of people during the rape of Nanking. None of the safe zones mentioned provided complete safety. Rather, they mitigated the danger, enabling some persons to survive. The lesson is not to avoid the establishment of safe areas, but to ensure that they are indeed safe and to glean what we can from the successes and failures of the past.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the case of Srebrenica, the political will existed only to protect international troops, not civilians. UNPROFOR commanders were permitted to narrowly interpret their mandate to include only the protection of their own troops, despite clear instructions from the U.N. Secretary General who in 1994 stated that UNPROFOR understands its mission as follows: to protect the civilian populations of the designated safe areas against armed attacks and other hostile acts through the presence of its troops and if necessary through the application of air power in accordance with agreed procedures.
Yet again and again in Bosnia and elsewhere, we have missed the boat and failed to focus on the real issue, stopping attacks on civilians. Instead, efforts have focused on merely containing the conflict, and I hear that language being used a lot again in Kosovo, preventing refugee flows or pumping in humanitarian assistance. All these are important, but none of them constitutes protection. While we welcome the intent of the tribunal to investigate events in Kosovo, this also does not provide protection.
Boutros-Ghali, confronted by journalists with the U.N.'s failure at Srebrenica said no, I don't believe this represents a failure. You have to see if the glass is half full or half empty. We are still offering assistance to refugees, and we have been able to maintain the dispute within the borders of the former Yugoslavia.
Had the safe area been properly reinforced, the Dutch troops might never have abandoned the persons who sought their protection in Potocari. Instead, anxious to leave the enclave, Dutch troops deliberately failed to report troop movements and other activities to headquarters, long before the actual fall of the town. As Srebrenica fell, international reaction was divisive and undermined any hope of protection. The British threatened to pull troops out. The Germans recommended leaving Srebrenica to its fate and concentrating on Zepa. NATO said it was awaiting orders from the United Nations. The United States refused to provide troops at all. A year earlier, U.N. troops had been pulled out of Rwanda at a critical moment with overwhelmingly devastating results.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Some of the principles which have to be followed in the future if we are to consider these as safe areas again, and I'll just mention a few: Safe havens or safety zones should not be set up without a protection plan. If peacekeeping troops are involved, the plan should include the specific measures which should be used to protect civilians. Safe areas must be completely demilitarized. They must not compromise the right to seek asylum to escape attack. Contingency plans for the evacuation of the populations from the safe areas should be developed at the outset just in case the safe areas should fall to hostile forces. Safe areas must not be used to shield suspected perpetrators of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity. Agreements with the parties to the conflict must include schedules for regular distribution of humanitarian aid, unlike what we saw in Srebrenica, where many, many, many months went by without any international aid getting into the city at all.
The possible negative consequences of implementing a safe area should be well thought out. For example, the use of safe areas as a substitute for actions to stop abuses, i.e. ethnic cleansing. Persons in a safe zone should be registered by neutral international third parties, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. Evacuations, if absolutely necessary, must be accompanied by internationals, who should travel in the same vehicles as the evacuees. In Srebrenica, UNPROFOR escorts were simply turned back or their vehicles confiscated. Evacuations from Zepa, however, were less disastrous because UNPROFOR troops rode on the buses and not, by the way, out of their own initiative, but because people refused to permit them to leave Zepa.
No agreement should be made which will permit the evacuation of civilians by forces hostile to them, especially if unaccompanied. Any attempt to separate women and children from male family members should be resisted. Families must be kept together.
Intelligence information relating to impending attacks on civilians must not be withheld from the public or at the very least, from international organizations with protection or human rights monitoring mandates. We know that there was information about the attacks in Kosovo, information about troop movements, et cetera, before the attacks occurred. Why were they permitted to go forward? Clearly evidence relating to the Commission of War Crimes must never be destroyed by peacekeepers or other internationals as was the case in Srebrenica.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, I would like to raise an important issue that hasn't received much attention. That is the need for an international investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons at Srebrenica. Human Rights Watch interviewed numerous survivors from Srebrenica who claim they were attacked with a chemical agent that caused hallucinations and disorientation. Mr. E.J. Hogen-doorn, who conducted the study, is here today and could answer questions afterward on this topic. The results of the Human Rights Watch research into the use of chemical weapons in Srebrenica in 1995 are inconclusive, but indicate that there were unexplained events which affected primarily the rear sections of the column of persons fleeing the town through heavily wooded areas. The testimony collected by Human Rights Watch and statements made by U.S. Government officials indicate the possibility that chemical weapons were used, and strongly suggest that further investigation is warranted.
Human Rights Watch has conducted a study of allegations of the use of chemical weapons, primarily concerning BZ or BZ-like compound. BZ is a chemical warfare agent which causes psychological and physical incapacitation. Prior to the breakup of Yugoslavia, the JNA, the Yugoslav national army's arsenal is known to have included BZ and other chemical weapons, as acknowledged in a NATO intelligence assessment which Human Rights Watch has seen. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is one of the few states, by the way, that has not signed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.
The U.S. Government was aware of allegations of BZ use as early as August 1995, if not sooner, when Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck, during a trip to Bosnia, reported that ''there were many credible accounts of the shelling of large columns of civilians attempting to flee and four separate accounts of the use of chemical weapons that severely disoriented fleeing people, causing several to commit suicide.''
Human Rights Watch interviewed a number of U.S. officials from various branches of the government. While none agreed to speak for attribution, they did reveal the following: A small team of Defense Department experts interviewed a number of Srebrenica survivors in the summer of 1996, and concluded that their accounts supported allegations of the use of chemical incapacitants. The conclusion was deemed highly significant by the department. This information was sent up the chain of command.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC More than one person told Human Rights Watch that we were ''on the right track.'' In late 1996, the U.S. intelligence community had information that chemical weapons may have been used in Srebrenica. A large investigation, which included physical sampling, was undertaken in late 1996 or early 1997 by the U.S. Government. The results of this investigation are not known to us. One official told Human Rights Watch in December 1996 that ''we do not see an advantage in declassifying those documents relating to chemical weapons use in Bosnia. We have spoken with people and received assurances that other channels are being pursued that we believe would be more effective and achieve a more favorable outcome than simply publicizing theme.'' That is where it's been left.
U.S. Public Law 102182, the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Eliminations Act of 1991 requires that a determination regarding the use of chemical weapons be made. If it is determined that chemical weapons were used, Public Law 102182 would require the imposition of sanctions, which raises some other questions about why these questions haven't been further pursued.
The U.S. Government should release immediately all information on the development, production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons in the former Yugoslavia which it may have in its possession. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Paul appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Paul, thank you very much for your very comprehensive testimony. We will follow up on the chemical weapons issue as well. I think we have been aware of it but there has been very little, as you have indicated, in terms of divulging what we know about the use of those weapons. So I do appreciate that.
The gentleman you mentioned being here, does he have a statement he could make a part of the record? And you did say he would be available for some questions.
Ms. PAUL. He feels my statement for now is sufficient. We will be releasing a report in a short time on this topic. However, if afterward anyone would like to speak with Mr. Hogendoorn, he will be available.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Thank you.
Mr. Heffernan, if you could present your testimony?
STATEMENT OF JOHN HEFFERNAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COALITION FOR INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE
Mr. HEFFERNAN. Mr. Chairman, distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for convening this hearing today. For the countless victims who have been permanently silenced, and for the family members and survivors who remain committed to finding out what happened to them, this hearing is welcome and long overdue. For some in particular, as others have said, the people of Kosovo, this hearing is ironically timely.
Over the last few weeks, the Kosovars have witnessed the massacre of nearly 100 people, many innocent women and children by Serbian paramilitary troops directed by the man who directed the slaughter in Srebrenica. The Kosovo Albanians might find the question ''Will it happen again?'' a bit after the fact. It is all too familiar to them. The faces of the victims have changed, but the genocidal perpetrators remain the same. The anemic reaction of the international community, expressions of outrage and as yet relatively empty threats, are hauntingly familiar. Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, indicted for genocide and charged with masterminding the largest single war crime in Europe since World War II, remain free today, almost 3 years after the massacre in Srebrenica.
At the same time, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, although not indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal, is directing the crackdown in Kosovo, providing a safe area, confirmed by many high-level U.S. officials for the twice-indicted alleged architect of Srebrenica, General Ratko Mladic.
My message today is a simple one. Unless the perpetrators of these past heinous acts are arrested and brought to justice, the likelihood of a Srebrenica massacre being replicated in Bosnia or in other parts of the former Yugoslavia is almost certain.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I spent 2 1/2, almost 3 years as a humanitarian aid worker in the former Yugoslavia during the war. I know first-hand that none of the admirable goals set out in the U.S.-brokered Dayton Peace agreement from the return of refugees, to the functioning of joint institutions and economically sound reconstruction efforts, will be achieved unless the architects of the genocide and their henchmen are captured and sent to the Hague. If you were a refugee, would you return to your home, knowing that the man who ran the concentration camp now works at the local police station? How free and fair can elections be if candidates running for office for exile are prevented, once elected, from taking office by the ethnic cleansing that drove them from their home districts?
Just last week, it was reported that despite the presence and diplomatic efforts of the international community, after a few minutes the meeting of the Srebrenica town council ended in total chaos. Clearly the legacy of the massacre lives on.
In answering the questions why did the massacre happen, and will it happen again, it is important to understand the extent to which an escalating series of human rights abuses in Bosnia before the war contributed to a complete breakdown of civil society. These events and the negligible international response to them, paved the way for the eventual tragedies in Bosnia. To suggest, as many do, that ancient religious and ethnic hostilities are the cause of the most recent Balkan conflict, ignores recent history. For nearly 40 years following World War II, the people of former Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia, lived in a peaceful multi-ethnic state.
The fragile peace came to an end in the 1980's when Belgrade unilaterally dismantled the Kosovo Government, stripping it of its autonomous status and created a police state. A few years later, as Croatia sought independence, fear of the denial of their rights sparked a rebellion among the Croatian Serbs, which led to the massive destruction of Vukovar. The failure of the international community to react to these events sent a message to the perpetrators that no one would intervene to prevent exploitation of minorities by nationalists. A pattern of human rights abuses was established and reinforced. The eventual result was the worst European bloodbath since World War II.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Threatened by Bosnia's desire for independence, a few insecure demagogues launched campaigns of hate and terror aimed at achieving ethnically pure states. Seizing the opportunity, some of these nationalists began to promote their grand designs of creating a greater Serbia, others, a greater Croatia. Each fastidiously worked to eliminate any and all who would interfere with their nationalist expansionistic goals. During this time, the major players in the international community refused to get their hands dirty in the Yugoslav conflict. Although there were ongoing attempts to negotiate a peace and to propose territorial boundaries, the parties could not reach consensus and the killing continued.
Sensing very little progress in the negotiations, the United Nations declared certain areas to be safe, promising to protect the most vulnerable populations. The failure to protect the so-called safe areas set the stage for further human rights abuses, permitting the siege of Sarajevo and other safe areas, culminating in the massacre in Srebrenica.
As has been said by my colleagues here on the panel, the United States, the Netherlands, and other European Governments, the United Nations and the international community should be condemned for their failure to act on reports of impending Srebrenica massacre. Perhaps external force could have saved thousands of lives. But the ultimate culpability must rest firmly on the shoulders of the most senior Serbian politicians and officers who planned and authorized this crime. Evidence from the well-documented massacre points to the complicity of Bosnian Serb leaders in Pale as well as the leadership in Belgrade.
President Clinton said we have an obligation to carry forward the lesson of Nuremberg. Those accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide must be brought to justice. There must be peace for justice to prevail, but there must be justice when peace prevails.
Just last week while in Rwanda, the President, acknowledging that the world did not act quickly enough to the 1994 genocide, repeated his vow never again must we shy away in the face of evidence. While he said this, the Serbian paramilitary forces were firing on Albanians in Kosovo. The President said in Rwanda, genocide can occur anywhere. It's not an African phenomenon. In the case of Srebrenica, the evidence is clear. Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic must not be allowed, as former Senator Dole so eloquently put it, to exercise their noxious influence on the people who they sought to destroy, an influence that threatens to jeopardize the entire peace process in Bosnia.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Arresting these two suspected war criminals is not the panacea, but it could influence the answer to the question that we are asking today, will it happen again? As long as war criminals are at large and justice is not done, the wounds of war can not heal, reconciliation and lasting peace can not be achieved. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Heffernan appears in the appendix.]
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much, Mr. Heffernan.
Let me ask the entire panel first of all, and Ms. Jagger suggested this a few moments ago about the idea of not pursuing the evidence to these highest levels because of what it might reveal about U.N. complicity, certainly negligence and perhaps United States and other countries' negligence and complicity in the crimes as well.
Why do you think there is not an aggressive effort, now that many months have passed since there have even been elections in Bosnia and Republic of Srpska? Why does the reluctance remain to pursue the higher ups? That especially goes for Milosevic himself. I am, as I said earlier, appalled that our government is making no attempt whatsoever, unless they have changed yesterday, to pursue Milosevic because he is our ''partner in peace'' now.
What is your take on that?
Ms. JAGGER. I think it's clear if we understand that the State Department refused to send a witness today that the Pentagon refused to allow a very crucial witness who used to work with the United Nations and who would have given us a very credible account of what happened in Srebrenica and what happened especially with General Janvier and Akashi. That is the reason why they didn't want to allow that to happen.
I think it's important to understand that as the chronology shows us, if on the 24th of May, General Janvier went to the Security Council to advocate dropping the safe areas and not defending them, and if there was, as the British MB that I spoke about before, believe that there was a change of policy for the British, the French, and the Americans and the United Nations, and as we know on the fourth of June, there was a quid pro quo agreement between General Janvier and Mladic by which General Mladic was going to release the hostages in exchange for which General Janvier undertook that there will be no NATO air strike.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But furthermore, there was one important thing. On June 9, U.N. Special Representative Akashi announced the United Nations will abide by strictly peacekeeping principles, i.e. no use of force. This is from a report done by Rob Guttman on the fall of Srebrenica that appeared in Newsday.
I am convinced that the word a ''coverup'' or a ''conspiracy'' is not a strong enough word for what happened in Srebrenica. They want us to forget what happened in Srebrenica. I feel that the anger and the outrage of the survivors, and especially the women of Srebrenica who feel that everybody wants us to forget what happened there, is the reason why we don't have any war criminals from Srebrenica who had been apprehended until now. That is the reason why the whole process of identification has been stalled. That is the reason why they still want to have the answers for the missing persons, and why so few of the missing have been identified until today.
I think that everything tends to show to us that there is too much to lose for the United Nations, for the U.S. Government, for the French Government, for the Dutch, who by the way I would like to say are the only ones who are carrying out an independent investigation as to what happened in Srebrenica.
Mr. SMITH. Would anybody else like to answer that question?
Mr. STOVER. What needs to be known is the truth, whether you call it a coverup or whatever you call it. What needs to be known is the truth. I can tell you from the time that I spent during the war in the former Yugoslavia there often was a sense among younger UNPROFOR soldiers of complete frustration. I traveled with UNPROFOR troops, I worked with them, and they constantly questioned why they were there, if they couldn't use force to prevent the killing. I can remember in 1993 when we arrived in Vukovar to complete the evacuation of the mass grave, and the Belgian UNPROFOR commander met with the Serb commander to tell him that we were going to continue the work. In the meeting, the Serb commander said we couldn't go to the site, and the UNPROFOR commander didn't raise a word in protest.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think that what is important now is, and that we know among many U.N. colleagues I know who are still in the United Nations, a deep sense that our moral authority, not only of the United Nations, but of the governments that supported the safe havens, has been tarnished. Until there is a full airing of what happened, it is very difficult for us to listen to the proud words of even our own President that this will never happen again.
We need to know functionally and at an operational level what went wrong and who gave the order to abandon the enclave of Srebrenica.
Mr. SMITH. You know this idea that it will never happen again, and you mentioned, Mr. Stover, about Vukovar in the hearings that we held, Mr. Wolf and I were in Vukovar when it was under siege. When we visited a wine cellar where there were dozens of people holed up because of sniping and daily bombings that were occurring, one of the people when they heard we were U.S. visiting Congressmen were a little surprised that we were there, but then somebody shouted out why is this any different than Kuwait where this aggression will not stand, and started quoting President Bush's words right back to us.
So those words of ''never again'' take on a very hollow meaning when they do take place over and over again, and the response is tepid and there is a culture of appeasement.
That leads to my next question in terms of the chain of command. On May 24, 1995, General Janvier reported that the ''military force deployed by UNPROFOR in these safe areas is of little use.'' Why did the United Nations and troop contributing nations not respond? Is he at fault? Were they sleeping at the switch in country or is the chain of command in your view flawed when it goes to the higher echelons at the United Nations in New York? Are they incapable of responding?
Ms. JAGGER. It is my belief that what General Janvier was advocating to the Security Council was really what everybody wanted to hear. That's the sad state of affairs. That they were not there to try to convince him that what he was saying was immoral, but they were willing to go ahead and change their policies toward Srebrenica and let the Srebrenica people be immolated and sell them to the Serbs. That is, I think, what is most outrageous about what happened in Srebrenica, is that as far as the 24th of May, they knew that the people of Srebrenica were going to be handed over to the executioners with the consent of the international community. By that, I mean by the French, the British, the Americans and the United Nations.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Yes?
Ms. PAUL. If I might add, Mr. Chairman, that I think that the critical issue here was one of troop protection. That frankly none of the contributing nations wanted their troops in any kind of situation which might compromise their own safety. That was the reason that the Dutch troops were not reinforced. As Dutch troops rotated out of the region, they were, in fact, not even replaced.
The enclaves presented a problem for the United Nations in terms of protection. I would have to concur with Ms. Jagger that there was a decision essentially to allow them to fall. It certainly appears that way.
When we did a report of what happened in Srebrenica in the early fall of 1995, one of the things we called for was an investigation of the role of U.N. officials. We called for the disclosure of all of available information pertaining to the U.N.'s response, and argued that this disclosure of information shouldn't just be targeted at the Dutch and the Dutch Government, but it should include senior military and civilian officials at UNPROFOR headquarters in Zagreb. In addition, I think that what was going on in New York would have to be taken under consideration as well.
However to date, no such investigation has taken place as we are all aware. I think it's still not too late to call for such investigation. In fact, I think it's critical that one be conducted.
Mr. SMITH. Yes?
Mr. NUHANOVIC. As Diane said, it was probably already decided that Srebrenica should be let to fall. The Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica were definitely not able to defend Srebrenica with the arms they had, although they have never really shot back. I mean they have never returned fire to the Serbs, not even once. That is what I have seen there. But probably that was the policy.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I was talking about the concrete case, specific case of people being allowed to enter the U.N. camp. They spent there 2 days and 2 nights. After 2 days and 2 nights, they are thrown out of the camp right to the Serbs. This is something different. So they were already protected in a way. They were inside the safe place. No one has ever answered my question why have those people been thrown out of the camp, because I was there and I know that the Serbs have not tried to break into the camp. They haven't tried. So there was no open threat from the Serbs against Dutch soldiers or officers to hand over the people from the camp. I have never been given any answer. There has never been any investigation about the situation inside Dutchbat camp.
I want to also say something about the meeting. As you know, on 11 July, Srebrenica fell. 12 and 13 July, people in Potocari area were being taken away. Many of them were executed also on the spot. From 13 July until 15 July, nobody knows what happened. But on 15 July, which means only 2 days, only 2 days after Potocari situation, on 15 July there was a meeting in Belgrade. At this meeting United Nations, international community representatives were supposed to save the lives of those whose lives could have been still saved if there was still anybody alive. It was only 2 days after they disappeared.
So there was a meeting in Belgrade. I have a document which attests to that. It says ''Mr. Carl Bildt, Mr. Stoltenberg, and myself,'' and this was written by Akashi, ''and myself in Belgrade with President Milosevic on Saturday, 15 July.'' They met with Milosevic. ''I was accompanied by General Rupert Smith and Milosevic, at the request of Bildt to facilitate the presence of General Mladic at the meeting. Mladic and Smith had a long discussion. Despite their disagreement on several points, the meeting reestablished dialog between the two generals. An informal agreement was reached in the course of the meeting on a number of points between the two generals, which will however have to be confirmed at their meeting scheduled for 19 July. In view of the highly sensitive nature of the presence of Mladic at the meeting, it was agreed by all participants that this fact should not be mentioned at all in public.''
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So this was at that time a secret meeting. If I knew that the meeting was taking place, I would have expected these people to ask Mladic and Milosevic what happened with the people who were taken away from Potocari. According to the official document issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross, it's a book on missing persons which lists almost 20,000 persons missing in Bosnia.
One thousand eight hundred and eighty nine men, mostly men and boys and some women, which means the total number of missing persons from Potocari is 1,889. So many people disappeared in front of the eyes of all these representatives of the international community, and it seems like no one has asked about these people. But what is even worse than what I have told already is that the following day on 16 July, which means only 1 day after this meeting on 16 July, the Serbs killed 1,500 men and boys in Pilica. This has been proved by also the witnesses and also the indicted for war crimes, Mr. Damovic, who is in the Hague. Which means that all these facts show that there was very little interest to save the lives of anybody.
Ms. PAUL. I just wanted to add to that that what was discussed at this meeting was the safety of U.N. troops and the hostage situation in terms of Dutch troops, and also essentially an agreement, perhaps not stated quite so bluntly, but an agreement that there would be no further air strikes. Therefore, there was not a focus, again, on the fate of civilians, many of whom whose lives could have been saved had there been insistence or had there been some kind of plan developed at this meeting as a result. It was not even brought up.
Mr. NUHANOVIC. It was not even mentioned. It was not even mentioned. You see only 2 days after 2,000 people were taken away, this meeting took place. It was not even brought up.
Ms. JAGGER. I would like to add something more to that. Besides the safety of the Dutch troops, they were there to request for the military equipment of the United Nations, but I would like to read you in an unpublished interview that Carl Bildt gave to Rob Guttman from Newsday. He said, ''We had to meet with Milosevic. He was the only person who could get the two generals together. Milosevic ordered Mladic to Belgrade. This leaves no doubt as to who was pulling the strings within and without the now ravaged enclave in Srebrenica. The point of the meeting, said Bildt, was to arrange access for the International Red Cross to an enclave in which the United Nations knew well that no Muslims were now living. Bildt made it clear that he knew a lot of details about the violence. He said we knew about men being separated.''
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Newsday asked Bildt, ''Did you raise the issue of massacres with Mladic and Milosevic?'' ''No, we didn't,'' replied Bildt. ''We had unconfirmed reports of massacres, but we didn't raise the issue.'' Later in the interview he contradicted himself directly. ''Of course we raised these issues.'' So it shows you and he was then the head of the Office of the High Representative and the former Prime Minister of Sweden.
Mr. SMITH. Let me ask Ms. Paul if perhaps you could elaborate on the issue of chemical weapons and ask your associate if he would come and give us his name and tell us some information that he might have.
How much of it was used, how many people were affected? I think you said it was BZ? What is the consequence of coming in contact with that chemical agent?
Mr. HOGENDOORN. Well, it's difficult to tell what really happened because of course most of the people we believe were
Mr. SMITH. Could you identify yourself for the record?
Mr. HOGENDOORN. I'm sorry. My name is E.J. Hogendoorn. I am a researcher with Human Rights Watch.
It is quite difficult to get the facts straight because of course most of the witnesses of these alleged attacks are dead. Because it appears clear from the testimony that most of the symptoms that were described to us were experienced by people in the rear of the column. These were the people that were cut off on the second day of the march out of Srebrenica and the majority of these people were then either killed in the area or executed later on.
The reason we suspect it is BZ or some kind of BZ-like agent is because of the effects that were described to us, which is disorientation and incapacitation. We were aware of the information that the Yugoslav national army had developed an incapacitant which they called BZ. They had weaponized it, and that they had actually developed doctrine for its use.
Ms. PAUL. In addition, there were some of the survivors interviewed who identified peculiar looking shells in terms of the way they exploded, that they described colored substance coming from the shells rather than an explosion, a detonation with shrapnel. These accounts varied.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are possibly other explanations for some of the behaviors that occurred. There were, however, some very bizarre behaviors which experts felt could not be explained by the traumatic stress of this situation which some people have said might explain some of the symptoms. There were a number of suicides and people who were very disoriented. One of the effects of BZ can be even the thought that someone near you is in fact the enemy. People weren't recognizing others in their vicinity whom they were believed to have known, et cetera. So there was a great deal of psychological reaction that doesn't seem to be adequately explained.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Stover, does a gassing of this kind show up when bodies are exhumed? Second, in looking at these gruesome pictures and some of the pictures that we saw on the slides that you presented, how many of those people have been identified and the survivors have been made aware of the fact that either their father or their son or husband or daughter has now been positively identified? Are the dental records sufficiently well kept in Bosnia? Are there other signs? Or is it usually just things that they might have been carrying that leads to a positive ID?
Mr. STOVER. I will deal with the first question. In the late 1980's, I was involved not directly, but I sent a team of forensic experts to Iraqi Kurdistan. The team was actually going to investigate mass graves, but took on investigating possible chemical weapons use. They were able to recover, and this was certainly early 1990's, they were able to recover from craters that were found in the area traces of serin and traces of mustard gas. In fact, it was the first time in history that traces of a chemical agent had been found so many years actually not in test situation, but had been found ''in sites''. They were analyzed in Britain and in England. The results were positive.
In this case, I don't know. It is something that certainly could be looked into and samples should be taken from some of the bodies in the clothes that are exhumed. A lot of it is the conditions and the type of agent and how long it lasts.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In terms of how many identifications have been made, it's been some weeks since I have had any new information, that some 800 bodies have been exhumed or collected from the trail from Srebrenica to Tuzla. Of those, around a dozen or so have been identified. Most of those have been identified on the basis, I believe, of DNA analysis.
One of the things that I feared from the beginning is that the families may be led to believe that a large number of the dead will be positively identified. It is a very difficult situation because you have such a large number of men who were executed and buried at certain sites. Anti-mortem records are not as widely available as they were in Vukovar and so on. However, the forensic efforts need to continue. Perhaps by the end of this year, just simply my own projection, I mean it could be no more than 40, and this is insignificant, and the effect on the families is tremendous.
So any effort and support that can be given to help Physicians for Human Rights and the other organizations helping with the examination work would be beneficial.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Nuhanovic implied that, absent a concrete identification, there is some hope that perhaps a relative might still be living. Is there any evidence that the Bosnian Serbs or Milosevic's people are holding in concentration camps or in any other situation people from either Srebrenica or any other Bosnian Muslims?
Mr. STOVER. You know, one of the women from Srebrenica who I spoke to about this said, ''You know, all I have is hope. You know, you take away hope, I have nothing.'' It is understandable. We saw this in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala. It is very unlikely, in my opinion, and this is based primarily by ICRC visits, that there may at this date still be men being held in Serbia or other areas. However, this is my own personal feeling.
But then, you never know. We need to continue to press for that information. But also a process of coming to understand that probably most of the men and boys are dead and that they are not being held in mines or in prisons also needs to be accepted.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. PAUL. If I might add to that. We have done some investigations into this. There is not much evidence that suggests that at least a large number of people survived or were taken either into Serbia or elsewhere. However, I think out of respect for the survivors and the need to get at the truth, that we should not discount those allegations. I have been told recently that a man was released from servitude in a mine in Serbia and arrived in Sarajevo and spoke on Bosnian television. We have not interviewed him so I can't say what I think about the veracity of his statement.
But what I would say is that through investigations that I have done starting back in 1994, when I was looking at the issue of forced labor in the Bozonska Cryena region of what is now Republic of Srpska, that there were a number of allegations of persons being taken into Serbia proper to work in the mines at Aleksinac and the area around Nis. So I think that we can't discount it.
I was never able, however, to find an individual who had actually been in the mines or even have a second hand story that I felt was solid enough to go on. But knowing what I know about the process of forced labor and what was happening during that period, it seems entirely conceivable to me that something like that could occur.
I think though one has to be cautious because one doesn't want to give false hope to the survivors. At the same time, it is completely unfair to discount their stories as mere wishful thinking. I think that we have not done a full enough investigation or satisfactory investigation of these issues.
Mr. SMITH. Let me ask just one final question. Why do you believe the U.N. peacekeepers and the UNHCR did not insist that the Muslims be evacuated through their good offices or on their trucks and buses rather than allowing the Serb captors? I mean, did they just trust Mladic, that somehow he was going to act benignly toward the Muslims, or was it just incompetence, or worse?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NUHANOVIC. I think that they just didn't care. According to what I have seen there, I can give you many details but it would take a long time. The Dutch soldiers, the representatives from MSF who were there, and also UNHCR representatives who were there for maybe 1 or 2 hours while this was happening in Potocari didn't show an interest in protecting the civilians at all. I mean no one has shown any interest at all. Everybody just waited to pack up his things and leave. That's all. And leave that hell on earth.
But you mentioned UNHCR. I have managed to find out something concerning the UNHCR complicity, which has not been mentioned in any book. At the moment when people were being thrown out of the camp, there were two UNHCR trucks just arrived at the Potocari area. They were parked along with the Serb trucks and the Serb buses. There were still a few hundred people left in the camp. Two UNHCR officers were there on the spot. I saw them. I know their names. They didn't even try to suggest to the Dutch officers that maybe at least the remaining refugees should be evacuated by the UNHCR trucks because they were there.
Not only that, but later on, I found out that those two UNHCR officers have never written any report on what they have seen in Potocari. When I tried to contact them and ask if they have seen where the people were taken away, into what direction, the UNHCR spokesman in Sarajevo, Mr. Christianofsky in 1997 when I went to his office, told me but Hasan, we had no international staff in Srebrenica during the whole issue. So the spokesman of UNHCR and some other high officials in the organization didn't even know that UNHCR international staff was present in Srebrenica. Everything was just covered up.
Ms. JAGGER. I would like to quote the words at the debriefing by the Dutch Brigadier General van der Wind. The debriefing says, ''In order to prevent excesses with regard to transport, the battalion commander decided to cooperate in the evacuation. When the first buses arrived, they were stormed by a large number of refugees who wanted to board as quickly as possible. Dutchbat personnel then formed an orderly pathway to the buses. But more extraordinary than that is the Dutchbat transferred 30,000 liters of fuel to the Bosnian Serbs in accordance with Mladic demands. The Dutch were fueling the very vehicles that Mladic used to bring the executioners to Potocari and the buses that brought the victims to the killing fields simply because General Mladic demanded it. The Bosnian Serbs held 55 Dutch personnel in Braternag,'' wrote General van der Wind. That is the excuse that he gave why they were cooperating with the Serbs in such a way.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. You know, I do have one additional question to you, Ms. Jagger. You spoke of the Dutch investigation that has been undertaken. When is that expected to be concluded? How extensive is it? Does it have high-level, competent jurist investigators working on it? And do you think that might be the catalyst for additional investigations and are U.N. documents going to be part of the discovery?
Ms. JAGGER. Yes. There is a gentleman I think at the moment here present and maybe it would be good if he would be willing to speak. I do not know if he is still
Mr. SMITH. He is coming up right now.
Mr. KERSTEN. My name is Albert Kersten. I am a member of the team of the Institute for Documentation in Amsterdam. Our institute is investigating what has happened in Srebrenica in July 1995. It's an independent investigation by the Dutch Government. We have access to all Dutch documents. We are in contact now with the United Nations, with NATO, and other international organizations to reach agreement on access to their documents.
So far, we have an agreement with NATO. We hope to get soon an answer from the United Nations. We are also discussing this issue with the U.S. Government at the moment. We have also asked the French Government and the British Government to cooperate with the investigation.
Mr. REES. A technical question about that. Congressman Smith has requested that the United Nations release all of its internal documents, minutes of meetings, debriefings, communications, both within Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia and two other U.N. officials and even to the Security Council and member states. Have you made similar requests to the United Nations? Do you feel that the release of those sorts of documents is essential to being able to conduct a thorough investigation?
Mr. KERSTEN. Yes. I think access to the documents is essential for a thorough investigation. We have not asked for release of the documents. We have asked for access to the documents. After we have searched the documents, we will continue the discussion with the United Nations on which part of the documents or which documents we can use for our report. So the final decision on publication of the report is with the United Nations, but in general we have the impression that the United Nations will be cooperative with our investigation. We have had no negative indications so far, but we have to experience in practice how it will work out.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. REES. Is there anything that the U.S. Congress should do to encourage that cooperation that has not been done already?
Mr. KERSTEN. Well of course all assistance is welcome. At the moment I couldn't be very specific on what the U.S. Congress could do to help us. I think because we are an independent institute we have to do it on our own, contacts. So far, we are very grateful for what we have reached on cooperation.
Ms. PAUL. Although if I might add, intelligence information that's related certainly would be useful, I would imagine as well as the photographs.
Mr. KERSTEN. Oh, yes.
Ms. PAUL. So that is something the U.S. Congress could ask for, certainly would be the release of classified data.
Mr. REES. I think the Chairman will be making a request very shortly that those documents be declassified.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much, Mr. Rees. Your associate from Human Rights Watch I think wanted to make a comment? No, he covered it.
I want to thank you very much for your testimony. You have long provided leadership very often not clearly taken by people in positions of authority. That's entirely regrettable. But for your good work on behalf of human rights and trying to prevent this from happening again and to get to the bottom of what happened in Srebrenica, I know that this Subcommittee is very, very grateful. Thank you.
As I said earlier, any additional comments, data that you would like to be made a part of the record, please get it to us and we will make it a part of the record.
The hearing is adjourned, and thank you.
[Whereupon, at 12:28 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]
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