Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts
established pursuant to
security council resolution 780 (1992)
Annex IV The policy of ethnic cleansing
M. Cherif Bassiouni
Chairman and Rapporteur on the Gathering
and Analysis of the Facts, Commission of Experts
Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 (1992)
Peter M. Manikas, IHRLI Staff Attorney
Contributors to Part II:
Jan Brakel, IHRLI Staff Attorney
Duane Layton, IHRLI Volunteer Attorney, Attorney at Law,
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, IHRLI Volunteer Attorneys
Part III Prepared by:
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, Vienna, Austria
Part I of the following Annex briefly describes the historical antecedents to the current conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Part II describes the development of the policy of «ethnic cleansing» and the early stages of its implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Part III focuses upon one «ethnic cleansing» campaign in the Bosnian city of Zvornik and describes the military attack on and expulsion of the Muslim population of the city.
As used in this report, «ethnic cleansing» means rendering an area ethnically homogenous by using force or intimidation to remove from a given area persons from another ethnic or religious group.
All parties involved in the conflict have committed «grave breaches» of the Geneva Conventions and other violations of international humanitarian law. These violations include the killing of civilians, rape torture, and the deliberate destruction of civilian property, including cultural and religious property, such as churches and mosques. But, there are significant qualitative differences. Most of the violations were committed by Serbs against Bosnian Muslims. The second largest group of victims were Croats, whose perpetrators have been Serbs from Serbia, BiH, and the Krajinas. Both Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats have also victimized Serbs in BiH and Croatia, but in lesser number. The policy of «ethnic cleansing», however, has been systematically carried out by Serbs in BiH and Croatia against their opponents, though Croats have also carried out similar policies, but on a more restricted scale, against Serbs in Croatia and Muslims in Herzegovina. Forceful population removal by BiH of Serbs has also occurred in some limited areas, but not as a policy. In fact, BiH occupied areas contain both Croats and Serbs, while Bosnian Serb areas have been cleansed of all but Serbs. The Krajinas in Croatia also have been cleansed of Croats, while eastern and western Slavonia (Croatia) have been cleansed of Serbs.
Croatian forces in the Republic of Croatia and BiH have engaged in «ethnic cleansing» practices against Serbs and Muslims. Croats, for example, have conducted «ethnic cleansing» campaigns against Serbs in eastern and western Slavonia and in parts of the Krajina region, as well as against Muslims in the Mostar area. While Bosnian Muslim forces have engaged in practices that constitute «grave breaches» of the Geneva Conventions and other violations of international humanitarian law, they have not engaged in «ethnic cleansing» operations. The vast majority of reports alleging «ethnic cleansing» operations involved Serbian forces who have used means, such as the mass killing of civilians, torture, sexual assault, the bombardment of cities, the destruction of mosques and churches, and other practices to eliminate Muslim and Croat populations that lie within Serb-claimed territory.
«Ethnic cleansing» by Serb forces has been systematic and apparently well-planned. As early as mid-1990, the Yugoslav Army (JNA) began to arm and supply local Serb forces in BiH. The «ethnic cleansing» campaigns in the early stages of the conflict involved coordinated attacks by JNA and paramilitary forces that sometimes operated from the Republic of Serbia. As the war and «ethnic cleansing» continued, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) persisted in supplying logistical support, arms, fuel, and other supplies to Serb forces in Croatia and BiH. «Ethnic cleansing» has involved means, such as the mass killing of civilians, sexual assault, the bombardment of cities, the destruction of mosques and churches, the confiscation of property and similar measures to eliminate, or dramatically reduce, Muslim and Croat populations that lie within Serb held territory.
According to the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, by late 1993, over 2.1 million people had been displaced from their homes since the conflict in the BiH region.*1
The Slavic people migrated from the caucuses to the Balkan peninsula between the Sixth and the Eighth Century. Between the Ninth and Twelfth Century, Croats, Bosnians, and Serbs developed distinct historical and cultural identities.
The division of the Christian Church in 1054 reinforced the fault line that earlier divided the Roman Empire. *2 On the eastern side of the line lie the cultural heritage of the Greek world, the Eastern Orthodox Church and users of the Cyrillic script. On the western side lie the Roman Catholic Church.
In the 17th Century the Ottoman Turks encroached on the Balkan peninsula and defeated Serb, Bosnian, and Albanian forces at the Battle of Kosovo Polje (Field of Blackbirds) in June 1389. The event was to become of particular historical significance to the Serbs and is commemorated as the symbolic end to the independent Serbian medieval kingdom. *3
Members of the Bosnian Church, which was distinct from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, converted to Islam during this period. These conversions were in part due to the promise of better conditions by Turkish rulers.
In the 17th Century, the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires clashed and the Treaty of Karlowitz transferred some Ottoman lands to Christian powers in 1699. The entry of the European powers into the region further accentuated the divisions that had occurred earlier. Croats and Slovenes were firmly part of the west, embracing Catholicism and looking towards the western powers for leadership. The Serbs and Bosnians remained within the Ottoman Empire. For the Serbs, Russia became a growing influence, and as Ottoman power in the region waned Russia assumed the rule of protector of all Orthodox Christians in the Balkans.
Independence movements appeared in Serbia in the early 19th Century and by 1830, Serbia had achieved autonomous status within the Ottoman Empire. Strong nationalist sentiments continued to grow throughout the Nineteenth Century. Serbs increasingly viewed their mission as one of liberating and unifying the lands in which Serbs lived. It was during this period that the idea of a «Greater Serbia» first emerged.
Two Balkan wars were fought in 1912 and 1913, finally freeing the peninsula from Ottoman control. *4 Serbia made territorial gains by absorbing Kosovo and part of Macedonia. However, Serbia did not achieve its objective of uniting with Serbian regions of the Hapsburg Empire, including sections of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Vojvodina. *5 The two Balkan wars experienced ethnic conflict on a massive scale. The worst atrocities appear to have been related to efforts to unite the peninsula's Serbian population. In 1914, an International Commission found:
«[h]ouses and whole villages reduced to ashes, unarmed and innocent populations massacred en masse, incredible acts of violence, pillage and brutality of every kind--such were the means which were employed by the Serbo-Montenegrin soldiery, with a view to the entire transformation of the ethnic character of [these] regions.» *6
Serb nationalists, incensed by the Hapsburg annexations of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. The event, on the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, sparked the first World War.
Following the First World War, unity was finally achieved when King Alexander of Serbia proclaimed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The new state, however, was plagued by ethnic conflict from its inception. Croats, fearing Serbian domination, sought greater self-government within a looser confederation. It was during this period that the Croatian Ustasa (Uprising) movement was born. Its goal was Croatian independence, through violence if necessary.
Yugoslavia surrendered to the Axis powers in 1941, leading to German and Italian occupation of the country. In Serbia, the Germans installed a regime headed by Serbian General Milan Nedic. During the war, the Croatian leadership launched a campaign of annihilation against its Serbian population. Some Muslims joined the Croats' efforts against the Serbs, though many have fought alongside the Ustase regime and against the Germans and the Italians. Pavelic sought to create an ethnically and religiously homogenous state. The Serbs of Croatia were faced with the alternatives of extermination, expulsion, or conversion to Catholicism. Serb officials maintain that a system of death camps, covering 210 square miles, ran along the Sava River. It has been estimated that between 350,000 and 750,000 Serbs were killed during this period.
In October 1944, Tito's partisans, with Soviet assistance, took Belgrade and a communist regime was established. A federal system was constructed, consisting of six Republics: Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro. Serbia included two autonomous provinces, each containing a high concentration of an ethnic minority: Kosovo and Vojvodina. Ethnic tensions persisted in the post war years. Tito, however, effectively repressed ethnic and nationalist movements, such as the Croatian reformist movement of the early 1970s.
After Tito's death in 1980, a resurgent Serbian nationalism was led by Slobodan Milosevic. To achieve, and later to consolidate his power, Milosevic organized massive demonstrations in support of Serbs living in the province of Kosovo, which had a predominantly ethnic Albanian population. When disturbances broke out in Kosovo in 1989, Milosevic imposed martial law.
Within the Republic of Serbia, the tenor of political life became increasingly strident. Faced with a disintegrating nation- state, Milosevic denounced his domestic political opponents as «enemies of Serbia». *7 His opponents in the other Republics were compared to vampires and fascists. *8
In February 1989, the Serbian Republican Assembly amended its constitution and revoked the autonomous status of Kosovo and Vojvodina. This display of Serbian nationalism, coupled with the use of force in Kosovo, generated apprehension within the other Republics. The resulting tension between the six Republics led to the breakup of the League of Communists in early 1990. In January of that year Slovenian delegates to the Extraordinary Congress of the League of Communists demanded an end to the Communist party's «leading role» and the establishment of a multi- party state. Clashing with the Serbian delegates, the Slovenians walked out of the Congress.
The present conflict emerged in early 1990 when Serbia and three of the other five republics failed to reach an agreement concerning the structure of the federal government. The Republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) sought a loose confederation in order to exercise greater autonomy. Serbia, on the other hand, wanted a more centralized federation in order to maintain its dominant role. This conflict resulted in efforts by Croatia, Slovenia, and later BiH and Macedonia, to secede from Yugoslavia.
Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence on 25 June 1991, Two days later, the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA) attacked the provisional militia. The war in Slovenia lasted only ten days, but it soon spread to Croatia , where the conflict would be more protracted and bloodier.
In response to the Croatian vote for independence, Serbs living in Croatia's Krajina region established a Serbian National Council and scheduled an August referendum on their secession from Croatia. Breakaway republics were also established by the Serbs in BiH. These breakaway republics received small arms, artillery, missile launching systems and other support from their supporters in Serbia. In addition, Croats living in BiH established the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna, and they received arms and other assistance from supporters in Croatia. *9
The JNA, according to numerous reports, was involved in the conflict in Croatia from its inception. When the Serbs of Croatia's Krajina region declared their independence, there was a massive transfer of heavy weapons from the JNA to Serb paramilitary forces. In addition, there was an influx of supplies from Serbia itself. Serb paramilitary units operating in Croatia have worn federal army uniforms and used JNA topographical maps. They also were able to obtain a large number of sophisticated weapons and vehicles. *10
Coordination between the JNA and local Serb forces was apparent in the destruction of Vukovar in 1991. A mass grave found at Ovcara is thought to contain the remains of at least 200 Croats who had been taken from a Vukovar hospital, summarily executed, and buried in a shallow grave.
In April 1992, when the conflict in BiH broke out, the JNA had approximately 80,000 troops deployed there. In early May, General Ratko Mladic was appointed JNA commander. Under pressure from the international community, on 19 May 1992, the FRY announced that it was withdrawing its forces. However, Yugoslav officials said that JNA personnel from BiH could remain there and fight on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs (see Annex III, Military Structure).
In the weeks following BiH's recognition by the European Community, JNA and Bosnian Serb forces attacked Bosnian towns such as Prijedor and other villages in the Kozarac region of northeast BiH, and Zvornik in northwest BiH. Similar attacks have occurred in many cities and villages along the Drina and Sava Rivers. These areas of BiH have high concentrations of Bosnian Serbs. The purpose of the attacks seems clear: Serb forces have sought to consolidate their control over these territories and link them with each other, as well as with Serb- controlled areas of Croatia.
Although «ethnic cleansing» occurred to some extent in the conflict in Croatia, it was in BiH that a distinct pattern of «ethnic cleansing» could be discerned. First, Bosnian Serb paramilitary forces, often with the assistance of the JNA, seize control of the area. In many cases, Serbian residents are told to leave the area before the violence begins. The homes of non- Serb residents are targeted for destruction and cultural and religious monuments, especially churches and mosques, are destroyed. Second, the area falls under the control of paramilitary forces who terrorize the non-Serb residents with random killings, rapes and looting. Third, the seized area is administered by local Serb authorities, often in conjunction with paramilitary groups. During this phase, non-Serb residents are detained, beaten and sometimes transferred to prison camps where further abuse, including mass killings, have occurred. Non-Serb residents are often fired from their jobs and their property is confiscated. Many have been forced to sign documents relinquishing their rights to their homes before being deported to other areas of the country.
According to one military expert of Jane's Information Group:
«[the Commander of the Bosnian Serb military forces] has a clear military aim: the consolidation of Serb-held territory of Bosnia; the eradication of Muslim enclaves within them, such as Gorazde, and the severance of any possible military link between Muslims in Bosnia and those in the Sanzak area of Serbia.» *11
The policy of «ethnic cleansing» has been implemented consistently throughout an area incorporating an arc that ranges from north-eastern BiH through the regions of eastern and western BiH, adjacent to the Serb Krajina area of Croatia.
The Serbs «ethnic cleansing» campaign was shaped by several factors. First, the demographics of the region ensured that any attempt to establish «ethnically pure» areas would entail tremendous dislocations. In BiH, the pre-war population was approximately 40 per cent Muslim, 32 per cent Serb, and 18 per cent Croat. *12 The areas of Serb preponderance are primarily located in the north-east, south-east and north-west portions of the country. However, these areas are neither homogenous nor contiguous. The areas in which Serbs are numerically dominant include substantial populations of Muslims and Croats.
Populations can be removed, even forcibly removed, without extreme bloodshed. Ethnic minorities could have been ejected from their homes, gathered at a central locations, and transported to another region. This, however, would have required a strong and well-organized regular army. The Bosnian Serb Army was neither numerically strong enough, nor sufficiently well-organized, especially in the first stages of the conflict in BiH, to accomplish this task. Thus, Serb officials relied on the use of terror, entailing mass killings, torture, rapes, and prison camps to eradicate the non-Serb population. The non-Serbs had to be sufficiently terrorized to ensure that they would flee the area and never return.
The character of «ethnic cleansing» was partly determined by its reliance on local officials and paramilitary leadership. Local officials relied on police and militia to help expel non- Serbs from Serb-controlled land, and these forces were often ill- equipped and untrained. The use of terror was their most efficient weapon. Police and local militia were frequently supplemented by paramilitaries. These groups often operated outside any discernable centralized command and control structure. Paramilitaries were often recruited from a population of rural, uneducated youth. Sometimes a deliberate effort was made to recruit those with criminal backgrounds. The apparent lack of control over paramilitaries conveyed the message that the most brutal acts would be permitted, or at least they would go unpunished.
The fragmentation of authority has provided FRY and Bosnian Serb officials with «plausible deniability». If ties between paramilitaries and officials are obscured, government officials might be able to evade responsibility for «ethnic cleansing». Thus, even after the JNA became better organized and able to assert greater control in 1993, it did not establish effective command and control over the paramilitaries.
While regular military units, militia, police and local citizens have all participated in «ethnic cleansing» campaigns. Paramilitary units are responsible for some of the most brutal aspects of «ethnic cleansing.» Two of the units that have played a major role in the «ethnic cleansing» campaign in BiH, the «Cetniks» associated with Vojislav Seselj and the «Tigers» associated with Zeljko Raznjatovic (Arkan), have been active in the Republic of Serbia as well. Seselj's followers have reportedly waged «ethnic cleansing» campaigns against ethnic minorities in Serbia's provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo. Arkan's «Tigers» have staged military training exercises allegedly designed to intimidate Albanian residents in Kosovo.
These paramilitary units have launched operations from within the Republic of Serbia. In addition, paramilitary training camps are located within the Republic of Serbia.
The attack on Zvornik, in north-eastern BiH, reveals a similar pattern of events that was repeated throughout much of the area. In the weeks prior to the attack (which occurred on 8 April 1992), tensions between ethnic groups in the city had increased. Members of each ethnic group had obtained weapons for their personal use. Muslims were warned by their Serb friends that they should leave the area. Prior to 8 April, many Serbs left Zvornik, apparently having been forewarned of the impending attack. On the weekend before the attack, Serbs constructed a barricade, preventing many Muslims from reaching their work site or school. In retaliation, Muslims also erected a barricade at the same location. It was protected by Muslim police officers and armed volunteers.
On the day before the attack, JNA troops moved into the region. On television, a Belgrade commentator reported that the JNA was needed in the region because they expected an attack by Muslim extremists.
On 8 April, Serb representatives of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), as well as the paramilitary leader known as «Arkan,» called for the Muslims to peacefully surrender the city. Negotiations proceeded in which the division of the city into Muslim and Serb enclaves was discussed. The negotiations broke down, however, apparently because Arkan was dissatisfied with the result.
After the failure to reach an agreement, the attack on the town began. The JNA, using tanks, artillery and infantry units, was joined by Arkan's paramilitary troops, sometimes known as «Arkanovci.» There was heavy shelling of the Muslim sections of the city.
The next day Arkan's troops, along with paramilitary units known as «Seseljovci» and the Beli Orlovi (White Eagles), entered the city. Serb territorial defense units (TOs) also participated. It was reported that these troops committed random executions and rapes after entering Zvornik.
The next day, a provisional government was established that was headed by local Serbs, primarily members of SDS. A curfew was imposed, and residents had to obtain a police permit to travel within the city. Several Muslims who went to the police station to obtain a permit were taken into custody and deported to an outlying prison camp. Except for indispensable personnel such as hospital employees, Muslim men were prevented from working. During the following days, paramilitary units continued to patrol the streets, and there were many reports of looting, rape and other acts of brutality.
In late April, an appeal was made to Muslims to return to the area from which they had fled. Many returned because they feared losing their property. On arriving in Zvornik, Muslims were told that they must register their property. An «agency for the exchange of houses» was established. In exchange for relinquishing their homes, Muslims were promised the former homes of Serbs in Tuzla. Departure from the town was only possible on the condition that their property was turned over to Serb authorities. From late May to early June 1992, the entire Muslim populations of villages in the surrounding area were deported. The expelled Muslims were allowed to take few personal possessions with them. Even these items were often stolen at Serb check-points on the roads leaving the area.
According to an account in Vreme, the «cleansing» was followed by organized looting. «Some stole gold, hard currencies, household appliances or cars. Others robbed department stores. Electricity plugs were torn out of the walls and children's toys were sold and bought. Even entire bedroom suites could be seen floating down the river». *14
This overview is designed to place the current conflict in the former Yugoslavia in a historical perspective. Many of the issues discussed in the following sections of this report, such as those dealing with «ethnic cleansing» and military structure, have historical antecedents (see Annex III, Military Structure). Ethnic rivalries and the fear of Serbian hegemony in the region, for example, have deep historical roots. Events which occurred during World War II that led to a large number of brutal killings and expulsions of Serbs from Croatia are also relevant to contemporary events. However, an appreciation of the tumultuous history of the Balkan peninsula can help understand the perspectives of the parties involved in the current war.
Mindful of the different historical perspectives, what follows is as objective an account that can be made of the conflict's historical background. It is only intended to provide background and context to the extent that it is relevant to the purposes of this Annex. No judgments are made regarding the positions or historical claims of the warring factions.
Early in the First Century A.D., the Dalmatian Coast was annexed by the Roman emperor, Tiberius. The Roman domain gradually moved inland, encompassing the land that would become Yugoslavia. The Romans called this domain Illyria, named after the region's inhabitants.
The Roman empire was divided into eastern and western districts during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). This boundary became one of the region's major fault lines. On the eastern side of the line lie the cultural heritage of the Greek world, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and users of Cyrillic script; on the western side, lie the cultural heritage of the Roman world, the Catholic Church, and users of the Latin alphabet.
The Slavic peoples migrated to the area from the Caucuses between the Sixth and Eighth Centuries. By the end of the Eighth Century, most of the area of the former Yugoslavia south of the Sava-Danube line was colonized by the Slavs, whose influence expanded into Albania and Greece. *15
Throughout the Ninth Century, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church struggled to gain adherents among the Slavs. In 803 A.D., the Croats accepted the suzerainty of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne. The Serbs and the Macedonians adopted the Christian faith in the mid-Ninth Century. In 891, the Serbs were placed under the jurisdiction of Byzantium and ruled by the Zupan (ruling prince) of Raska, a Serbian principality.
In the 10th Century, King Tomislav founded the kingdom of Croatia. By the early 12th Century, Croatian nobles had relinquished power to the King of Hungary. This transfer of power began a relationship with Hungary which was to last for centuries.
In the late 12th Century, a Bosnian state emerged, led by Kulin Ban, who rejected Christianity and embraced the Bogomil heresy instead. *16 Other new converts were principally Slavic Serbs. Most of the Slavs who were to convert to the Islamic religion in the 15th Century had belonged to the Bogomil sect, rather than the Catholic or Eastern Orthodox faiths.
In 1389, the Ottoman Turks defeated Serbian forces at the battle of Kosovo Polje (Kosovo Field). By the end of the 15th Century, the Ottoman Empire had gained control over much of the peninsula. Ottoman rulers granted a considerable degree of self- government through churches and other local institutions. Nevertheless, persons who retained their religious identity were not considered equals, and by converting to Islam a local inhabitant could enter a privileged section of society. *17
In the 16th Century, continuous Turkish encroachment on the borders of Croatia and Slavonia led the Hapsburgs to establish a southern border region, called the Military Frontier. The Frontier was to act as a bulwark against the Ottoman empire. The Frontier, however, was sparsely settled. To establish an effective line of defence, the Hapsburgs resettled the area with Orthodox Serbs. *18
The Treaty of Karlowitz transferred some Ottoman lands to the Christian powers in 1699. The Hapsburg Empire acquired Croatia, Slavonia and other Balkan territories. *19 Despite the repeated battles that were to take place during the 18th Century between the Ottomans and the European powers, relatively little territory changed hands on a long-term basis during this period.
The entry of the major European powers into the Balkans adumbrated the conflicts that were to recur, and the alliances that would persist, for centuries. The Catholic Slovenes and Croats would look to the west, influenced by centuries of close contact with Austria, Hungary and Italy. The Orthodox Serbs, on the other hand, would look east towards Russia.
In the early 19th Century, a Serbian Rebellion against the Ottomans was crushed. However, in 1815, another insurrection led to substantial concessions. By 1830, Serbia had achieved an autonomous status within the Ottoman Empire. *20 It was during this time that the Serbs forged close ties to Russia. Russia shared the Serb's desire to expel the Turks from the region. As the seat of the Orthodox Church, the Russians also shared a common religious background with the Serbs.
In 1867, the Hapsburg Empire split into two parts: one ruled by Austria from its capital in Vienna, the other ruled by Hungary from Budapest. Austria assumed control over Dalmatia, Bukovina and the Slovene lands, while Hungary ruled Croatia, Slavonia and Vojvodina. *21 The Balkan peninsula was refigured again in 1878 by the Congress of Berlin. This accord permitted Austria-Hungary to administer Bosnia-Herzegovina, although the Ottoman Empire officially retained sovereignty over that region. In addition, Serbia and Montenegro became independent states. *22
Throughout this period, Serbian nationalists viewed their mission as one of liberating and unifying the lands in which Serbs lived. According to the historian Barbara Jelavich,
«[t]heir [the Serbian nationalists'] major objective throughout the nineteenth century had been the unification of the lands they regarded as Serbian, including Bosnia- Hercegovina, Old Serbia, Macedonia and the Serbian-inhabited lands of the Habsburg Empire.» *23
In June 1903, Serbian King Alexander Obrenovic and his wife Draga were assassinated by military officers. In an event that reverberated throughout Europe, the assassins threw the king and queen's mutilated bodies out of a palace window. The officers involved became members of the terrorist groups that were created in the following years.
Intense Serbian nationalist sentiment led to the formation of secret societies. These societies--using distinctive symbols, flags, oaths and ceremonies--flourished at the end of the 19th century and in the early 1900s. In 1908, for example, the Narodna Odbrana (National Defence) was founded. It established a network of agents throughout South Slav lands. *24 Another organization, Vjedinjenje ili Smrt (Union or Death), commonly called the Black Hand, appeared in 1911. *25 The Black Hand was headed by Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic (a.k.a. Apis) who had participated in the assassination of King Alexander and his wife.
Two Balkan wars were fought in 1912 and 1913, finally freeing the peninsula from Ottoman control. *26 Serbia made territorial gains by absorbing Kosovo and part of Macedonia. However, Serbia did not achieve its objective of uniting with Serbian regions of the Hapsburg Empire, including sections of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Vojvodina. *27 The two Balkan wars experienced ethnic conflict on a massive scale. The worst atrocities appear to have been related to efforts to unite the peninsula's Serbian population. In 1914, an International Commission found:
«[h]ouses and whole villages reduced to ashes, unarmed and innocent populations massacred en masse, incredible acts of violence, pillage and brutality of every kind--such were the means which were employed by the Serbo-Montenegrin soldiery, with a view to the entire transformation of the ethnic character of [these] regions.» *28
Serbian nationalists were incensed by the Hapsburg's annexations of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908. It was this Pan- Serbian sentiment that led to the 1914 assassination of Austria- Hungary's Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb. The event sparked the First World War. *29 The Archduke, who was the heir to the Hapsburg throne, and his wife were killed on 28 June, the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo.
Following the First World War, unity was finally achieved when King Alexander of Serbia proclaimed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The new state, however, was plagued by ethnic conflict from its inception. Croats, fearing Serbian domination, sought greater self-government within a looser confederation. It was during this period that the Croatian Ustasa (Uprising) movement was born. It was created by Ante Pavelic in 1929, with the support of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Its goal was Croatian independence, through violence if necessary. *30 During these inter-war years, hundreds of thousands of Bosnian Muslims, also fearful of Serbian hegemony, fled to Turkey. *31
In 1929, King Alexander attempted to deal with rising internal conflicts by suspending the constitution, declaring a dictatorship and changing the country's name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. These actions, however, further alienated the nation's non-Serbs and, in 1934, King Alexander was assassinated by Macedonian terrorists. *32
Yugoslavia surrendered to the Axis powers in 1941, leading to German and Italian occupation of the country. In Serbia, the Germans installed a regime headed by Serbian General Milan Nedic. In Croatia, an independent state, Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska (NDH), was established which included Bosnia-Herzegovina. *33 There were more than two million Serbs living within NDH, approximately one third of the entire population. Despite its status as an independent state, Croatia was split into two spheres, the dividing line running north to south. Italy controlled the western section, adjacent to the Adriatic. The German military command was assigned to Zagreb, to the east. *34 Mussolini, however, was permitted to determine who would be the head of state. He selected Ante Pavelic, the Ustasa leader. *35
During the war, the Croatian leadership launched a campaign of annihilation against its Serbian population. *36 Some Muslims joined the Croats' efforts against the Serbs. *37 Pavelic sought to create an ethnically and religiously homogenous state. The Serbs of Croatia were faced with the alternatives of extermination, expulsion, or conversion to Catholicism. Serb officials maintain that a system of death camps, covering 210 square miles, ran along the Sava River. It has been estimated that between 350,000 and 750,000 Serbs were killed during this period. *38
Resistance to the Axis powers came from the Cetniks, who tended to be anti-Croat and anti-Communist, *39 and from communist partisan forces, led by Josip Broz Tito. Tito also served as general secretary of the Yugoslav Communist Party. At first, the Cetniks, who were loyal to King Peter's London-based government- in-exile, worked with the partisans to resist the Axis powers. However, serious disagreements over resistance strategy and over Yugoslavia's post-war future soon became apparent. The two groups struggled, each seeking a more favourable position in the emerging post war period. To enhance their position, the Cetniks began collaborating with the Axis occupation forces. *40 When this collaboration became apparent to the British, the allies developed closer ties with Tito's partisan forces. *41
In October 1944, Tito's partisans, with Soviet assistance, took Belgrade and a communist regime was established. *42 A federal system was constructed, consisting of six Republics: Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro. Serbia included two autonomous provinces, each containing a high concentration of an ethnic minority: Kosovo and Vojvodina. The communist party and Leninist ideology were centripetal forces. The Socialist Republic successfully established a federation of ethnic communities, each with its own territorial base. *43 Although each Republic generally maintained its ethnic identity, the prewar boundaries of the Republics were altered in the peace negotiations that followed the Second World War. Changes also were made by the Tito regime in the following years.
Ethnic tensions persisted in the post war years. Tito, however, effectively repressed ethnic and nationalist movements, such as the Croatian reformist movement of the early 1970s. *44 In the late 1960s, for instance, tensions between Croats and Serbs increased when the Republic of Croatia demanded that the Serbian and Croatian languages be recognized as separate languages, with Croatian being used in the schools. Serbs countered with the demand that the 700,000 Serbs living in Croatia be given reciprocal rights. *45 The most significant Croatian grievances, however, were economic. Croats complained that the most prosperous enterprises, including the nation's largest banks and insurance companies, were located in Belgrade. Croatian officials also complained that the Republic did not receive its fair share of foreign currency. This was especially troubling, they argued, because a large proportion of that foreign currency was earned by the tourist industry on the Dalmatian coast. Furthermore, most of Yugoslavia's foreign trade went through Croatian ports. *46
The movement had begun with demands for greater decentralization and autonomy. By the end of 1971, however, the demands had escalated. Croatian nationalists called for self- determination and the right to secede. *47 When Croatian officials failed to respond to Tito's warnings, he intervened. As a result, 400 Croatian nationalist leaders were dismissed or resigned from their official positions. *48
In the late 1960s, problems also erupted in the Kosovo district of Serbia. Although the area's population is overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian, Serbs had a disproportionate number of top state and party positions. Serbian officials also controlled the local police and security forces. Allegations of Serbian abuses of the Albanian population led to riots in 1968. In response, the districts of Kosovo and Vojvodina, an area with a large Hungarian population, were given greater autonomy. Kosovo was granted the use of its own flag and anthem. The Albanian language was also permitted greater use in education and local administration. *49
Political repression in Yugoslavia, however, was relatively benign compared to its eastern European neighbours. Yugoslavs, for example, could travel fairly freely, visas were granted to foreign visitors or were not required at all, and foreign books, periodicals and newspapers were available. *50 In the 1950s and 1960s, the economy was liberalized and laws were passed eliminating state control over most investments. It was the loosening of these political and economic bonds, however, that fueled nationalist or ethnic sentiments. *51
After Tito's death in 1980, the power of Yugoslavia's central government rapidly diminished. Public corruption scandals and the collapse of the Soviet Union impeded the government's ability to deal with its mounting problems. *52 In 1981, Albanian demonstrations broke out in Kosovo. The disturbances were suppressed by the Yugoslav military, but they led to allegations that ethnic Albanians had committed atrocities against the district's minority Serb population. *53
A resurgent Serbian nationalism, led by Slobodan Milosevic, fueled Yugoslavia's crisis. *54 Milosevic, who had become President of the League of Communists of Serbia in 1986, fanned the fires of Serbian nationalism, which he had opposed earlier in his career. He proceeded to establish himself as a strongman ruler, gradually eliminated democratic opposition, and prepared for the eventual conflict and break-up of the federation. *55 By the late 1980s, however, he was expressing sympathy with the Serbs of Kosovo. In 1988 and 1989, Milosevic orchestrated mass demonstrations by his supporters to topple communist party leaders in Kosovo, Vojvodina and the Republic of Montenegro. They were replaced by leaders who were loyal to Milosevic. *56 Disturbances again broke out in Kosovo in 1989, and Milosevic sent a large contingent of the Yugoslav army to support the regime. In 1989 and 1990, approximately 40 persons were killed in rioting within the province. Most of those killed were ethnic Albanians. *57
The plight of Kosovo's Serbs was taken-up by Serbian intellectuals in the mid-1980s with the publication of a document prepared by the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU). *58 Referred to as the SANU Memorandum, the document asserted that Serbia had suffered economic discrimination within the Yugoslav federation, especially in relation to the more prosperous Republics of Croatia and Slovenia. However, the Memorandum's greatest concern was directed towards the Serbs of Kosovo. The report referred to the «genocide» of Serbs by Albanians and to crimes including arson, murder, rape, and necrophilia. *59
The SANU Memorandum, according to Misha Glenny, «prepared the ideological ground for Milosevic by focusing public opinion yet more tightly in the Kosovo issue . . . .» The report also indicated that «there was a real base among intellectuals for the nationalist assault on the leadership of the Serbian League of Communists». *60
The Memorandum permitted Milosevic to organize the demonstrations by his supporters in the provinces. The demonstrations,
«were part of a well-organized plan designed to intimidate the non-Serb peoples of Yugoslavia, instill among Serbs the idea that their fellow Serbs were being widely discriminated against, but on a higher political plane, to underline Milosevic's determination to mark his territory as the undisputed master of post-Titoist Yugoslavia.» *61
In February 1989, the Serbian Republican Assembly amended its constitution and revoked the autonomous status of Kosovo and Vojvodina. This display of Serbian nationalism, coupled with the use of force in Kosovo, generated apprehension within the other Republics. *62 The resulting tension between the six Republics led to the break-up of the League of Communists in early 1990. In January of that year Slovenian delegates to the Extraordinary Congress of the League of Communists demanded an end to the Communist party's «leading role» and the establishment of a multi- party state. Clashing with the Serbian delegates, the Slovenians walked out of the Congress.
The immediate origins of the present conflict emerged in early 1990 when Serbia and three of the other five republics failed to reach an agreement concerning the structure of the federal government. The Republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) sought a loose confederation in order to exercise greater autonomy. Serbia, on the other hand, wanted a more centralized federation in order to maintain its dominant role. *63 This conflict resulted in efforts by Croatia, Slovenia, and later BiH and Macedonia, to secede from Yugoslavia. *64
In April and May 1990, Slovenia and Croatia held the first free elections in post-war Yugoslavia. *65 In both states, the newly elected non-Communist governments threatened to secede if Yugoslavia was not transformed into a looser confederation. *66 Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence on 25 June 1991. *67
In response to the Croatian vote for independence, Serbs living in Croatia's Krajina region established a Serbian National Council and scheduled an August referendum on their secession from Croatia. The Council proposed the establishment of a community of opstinas (counties) that would adopt the Cyrillic alphabet and celebrate Serbian holidays such as St. Vitus Day. *68
In August 1990, armed Serb irregular forces entered Croatia «to protect the villages of ethnic Serbs from discrimination». These troops took over the town of Knin and promised to hold a referendum on independence. *69 During the same month, a Serbian Council of National Resistance was formed. Its members included Milan Babic, Milan Martic, and Jovan Raskovic. *70
Croatian Serbs declared their autonomy on 1 October 1990. *71 President Milosevic urged federal forces to intervene to «defend Serbs from repression». When the Croatian Government labeled the declaration illegal, Vuk Draskovic, the leader of the Serbian Renewal Party, called for a declaration of war against Croatia. Between August 1990 and April 1991, almost 200 bombing and mining incidents, as well as 89 attacks on Croatian police forces, were reported. These attacks occurred mainly in Knin. *72
During 1990, tensions had increased considerably throughout the former Yugoslavia as newly elected governments in the Republics expressed strong nationalist sentiments. In Croatia, for example, after Franjo Tudjman and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ--Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica) came to power in April of 1990, a law was enacted adopting Croatian as the official language of state administration and the red and white checkered shield, a symbol of the Croatian nation, hanged from many windows. *73 Furthermore, many Serbs were dismissed from their jobs, especially within the police forces, and replaced by Croats. *74 In addition, the new Croatian constitution spoke of the «national state of the Croatian nation». *75 As one scholar put it, the constitution's repeated use of the term «Croatian nation» (Hrvatski narod) «has an ethnic rather then political connotation and excludes those not ethnically Croat». *76 In any case, the Serbian minority of BiH clearly felt threatened. *77 The symbols, such as the flag and coat of arms adopted by the new Croatian government, were quite similar to those used by the fascist Croatian government during the Second World War. *78 The Croatian Ustasa state, as mentioned earlier, had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Serbs. Some of these symbols were modified within a few months by the new government. However, many Serbs, especially those in the Krajina region, had already been alienated. Moreover, the fears of Croatian Serbs were undoubtedly heightened by officials in the Republic of Serbia who asserted that a fascist Croatian state had been reborn.
Violent confrontations took place in western Slavonia in March 1991 when Croat officials replaced Serb personnel in the town of Pakrac. In early May, Croat forces attacked the predominantly Serb village of Borovo Selo where apporoximately 20 Serb civilians were killed. After the fighting in Borovo Selo, the conflict escalated. *79
Throughout 1991, the leadership of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) appeared to be unable to assert control over the escalating crisis. *80 The State Presidency, for example, was unable to maintain its ethnic balance when Croat Stipe Mesic resigned his position. Prime Minister Ante Markovic also resigned in late 1991 after a no confidence vote by one chamber of the Federal Assembly. Markovic resigned in December, protesting a war budget in which 80 per cent of the nation's expenditures were designated for the military. *81 Thus, during the year, power within the federal government slipped away from the moderates and the national executive was left in the hands of pro- Serb forces.
Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence on 25 June 1991. *82 Two days later, on 27 June, the Yugoslav's Peoples' Army (JNA-- Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija), attacked the provisional Slovenia militia. Slovenian officials announced that a «state of war» existed, and appealed for international assistance. *83
The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), on 1 July 1991, called for a cease-fire between Slovenia and the JNA. Less than one week later, European Community (EC) mediators obtained an agreement providing for withdrawal of JNA forces in Slovenia and the disarming of the Slovenian militia. *84 The conflict between Slovenia and the Federal Republic had lasted for 10 days. However, violence within the former Yugoslavia erupted again in late June 1991 when Serbian irregular forces, with the help of the JNA, mounted an attack on Osijek, in eastern Croatia. This area, called «Slavonia», was depicted by news agencies as the «fighting in Slovenia». *85
On 27 August 1991, the EC indicated that it would not recognize any border changes as a result of the conflict. The EC also denounced the military support that the JNA had provided to the Serbian minority within Croatia *86 and called upon the parties to agree to arbitration. On 1 September 1991, a cease-fire agreement was reached. *87 The agreement, however, was not long- lasting. The truce collapsed when JNA and Serb irregular forces launched attacks on Croatian towns in Dalmatia, as well as the city of Vukovar. The fighting intensified throughout September 1991. Lord Carrington, who had been asked by the EC to help mediate the dispute, negotiated another cease-fire agreement in mid-September. However, that same day Yugoslav ships began their blockade of Croatia's Adriatic coast. On the following day, the Croatian cities of Split and Zagreb were shelled.
The United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 713 on 25 September 1991, which imposed an arms embargo prohibiting weapons from entering the region. *88 Following the adoption of the Resolution, the United Nations Secretary-General, Javier Perez, asked former US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to represent the United Nations as a mediator and to cooperate with Lord Carrington of the EC in resolving the conflict. *89
As the fighting in Croatia continued, a coalition of Bosnian Muslims and Croats supported a declaration of sovereignty that was adopted by BiH's legislature. Bosnian Serbs, members of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS - Srpska Demokratska Stranka), refused to support the measure. Instead, they organized a referendum in predominantly Serb areas of BiH. The vast majority of Serbs voted to remain in «a common Yugoslav state». *90
Between September and November 1991, ethnic Croatian regions within BiH formed their own «Croatian Communities». These communities, located in western Herzegovina, threatened secession if BiH became part of a Serb-dominated Yugoslav state. *91 The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the party to which most Bosnian Croats belong, was split on the issue of independence. Mate Boban, the leader of Herzegovina's Croats, urged an irredentist position, seeking the linkage of Croat controlled areas in BiH with Croatia. Other prominent Croats, such as then Vice President Stjepan Kljujic, were committed to maintaining a multi- ethnic, independent state. *92
On 18 October 1991, Lord Carrington proposed a draft document calling for the protection of human rights and the establishment of autonomous regions in areas in which a minority ethnic group was dominant. Presidents of five of the six Republics agreed to the plan which also provided for a loose confederation. Serbia, however, rejected the agreement on 5 November. *93 In early November, the coastal resort city of Dubrovnik fell under heavy bombardment and the EC ordered its peace monitors to withdraw from the city. By mid-November, the city of Vukovar fell to Serbian forces after an 86-day siege. Several early battles in Croatia occurred in the Krajina region, which is densely populated by Serbs. The conflict then spread to Slavonia, the region between Zagreb and Belgrade. In a major campaign, Croat forces attempted to expel Serbs from over 20 villages in western Slavonia, forcing thousands of Serbs to flee BiH. The Serbs, on the other hand, expelled thousands of Croats from villages in eastern Slavonia. *94
On 20 November 1991, Serbia petitioned the Arbitration Commission *95 to recognize the post-conflict borders between Serbia and Croatia, and between Serbia and BiH, as international borders based on principles of international law. *96 The Commission extended the protection of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter--concerning the principles of territorial integrity and political independence of member states--to the individual republics. This action marked the first time that the international community extended the concept of territorial integrity to political subdivisions within a state.
Representatives of Croatia, the FRY, and the Republic of Serbia, signed a «Memorandum of Understanding» on 27 November 1991. The agreement pledged the parties to comply with particular provisions of the Geneva Conventions. *97
The EC released guidelines in mid-December, which the Republics had to endorse before the EC would consider recognizing them as states. The guidelines required the Republics to respect the Charter of the United Nations, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, and the Charter of Paris. The Republics were also required to disavow any territorial claims on the territories of other UN- recognized states. They were also to provide guarantees for the rights of ethnic groups and minorities. *98
Slovenia and Croatia accepted the EC guidelines and applied for recognition as independent states. *99 A cease-fire agreement was reached between Croatia and Serbian forces on 3 January 1992. The agreement effectively ended the conflict. However, approximately one-third of Croatian territory was occupied by Serbian forces and there were hundreds of thousands of refugees. On 15 January 1992, the EC granted recognition to Slovenia and Croatia. *100
BiH accepted the EC's guidelines on 20 December 1991 and applied for recognition as an independent state. The Arbitration Commission, however, determined that the will of the Serbian minority had not been expressed in BiH's earlier declaration of sovereignty. *101 Consequently, a referendum was held on 29 February and 1 March - 63 per cent of the population supported independence. The Bosnian Serbs, however, boycotted the election, fearing that they would become a disadvantaged minority, permanently aligned against a coalition of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats.
To help safeguard the cease-fire agreement in Croatia, the United Nations Protection Forces (UNPROFOR) was established on 21 February 1992. *102 The UN deployed 14,000 troops, which were in place by July. The troops were deployed in United Nations Protected Areas (UNPAs) in Croatia where ethnic Serbs are in the majority. *103 UNPROFOR's original mandate in this region was to prevent a renewal of the conflict between Croats and Serbs, oversee the withdrawal of JNA forces, and assist in the return of displaced persons. *104 In the summer of 1992, UNPROFOR's mandate was expanded to provide for the delivery of humanitarian aid to BiH. *105 UNPROFOR's role has repeatedly been strengthened, and by June 1994 UNPROFOR could request air power to enforce the mandate. *106
Early in March 1992, the EC attempted to negotiate an agreement that would bring peace to the area. At a meeting held in Brussels, between 7 and 9 March 1992, the EC approved a plan that would have maintained BiH's independence. However, the plan also permitted the division of BiH into ethnic cantons. The plan failed to receive the support of the various factions. The Serbs and Croats could not agree on how BiH's territory was to be divided. The Bosnian Muslims remained skeptical of any plan to partition the country. *107
Bosnian Serb leaders approved a constitution for the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SRBiH) on 27 March 1992. The break-away republic would become part of a reconstituted all-Serb state of Yugoslavia, containing--in addition to a large portion of BiH--Serbia, Montenegro and parts of Croatia. *108 On 6 April 1992, the EC formally recognized BiH. *109 It was on this weekend, between April 4th and 6th, that the JNA and Bosnian Serbs began the shelling of Sarajevo.
Following the referendum in late February and early March, sporadic conflicts between Bosnian Serbs and Muslims occurred throughout the country. Road blocks, for instance, were set-up by Bosnian Serbs to demonstrate their displeasure with the referendum results. On 22 March, fighting broke out between Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims in Gorazde. In late March, the fighting spread to Bosanski Brod and Kupres, where Bosnian Serbs battled Bosnian Croats for the control of territory. *110
In late March and early April 1992, the fighting spread to northern and eastern Bosnia, along the Serbian border. It was there that a pattern of «ethnic cleansing» first clearly emerged, with the JNA shelling a village, followed by an attack by paramilitary forces sent in to «cleanse the territory». *111
The UN condemned, on 24 April, the use of force and demanded that all outside parties cease interfering in the conflict in BiH. *112 The UN also called for an immediate cease-fire and demanded that unrestricted access be given to all humanitarian organizations. *113 On 27 April 1992, the former Republics of Serbia and Montenegro proclaimed the FRY (FRY). *114
The Republic of Croatia, on 11 May 1992, declared that it was bound by the four Geneva Conventions and the two additional Protocols. At approximately the same time, BiH indicated that it considered itself bound by general treaty obligations undertaken by the socialist FRY. *115 On 22 May 1992, the UN admitted Slovenia, BiH, and Croatia as member states. *116
The JNA announced the withdrawal of its forces from BiH on 19 May 1992. However, the troops, including General Ratko Mladic, who were from BiH, were permitted to stay and fight as part of the forces of the Serb Republic of Bosnia. Thus, approximately 80 per cent of the JNA troops stationed in BiH were permitted to remain. The tanks, equipment and supplies that belonged to the Yugoslav Army also stayed in BiH. *117
This report examines the policy and practice of «ethnic cleansing» in the former Yugoslavia. As used in this report, the term «ethnic cleansing» means rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area. Reports received by the Commission of Experts allege that all of the parties involved in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia have committed «grave breaches» of the Geneva Conventions and other violations of international humanitarian law. But, as the Commission noted in its Final Report, there are qualitative and quantitative differences. Thus, no «moral equivalence» argument should be advanced. The grave breaches and other violations of international humanitarian law include acts such as the killing of civilians, rape, torture, destruction of civilian, public, and cultural property, looting and pillaging, and the forcible relocation of civilian populations. *118 Croatian forces in the Republic of Croatia and in BiH have engaged in «ethnic cleansing» practices against Serbs and Muslims. Croats, for instance, have conducted «ethnic cleansing» campaigns against Serbs in eastern and western Slavonia and some parts of the Krajina region, and against Bosnian Muslims in the Mostar region.
Bosnian Muslim forces have also engaged in practices which constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other violations of international humanitarian law. However, abuses by Bosnian Muslims have not been part of an «ethnic cleansing» campaign, and the number of reported violations is substantially lower than for those of the other warring factions. *119
The vast majority of reports received by the Commission allege that Serbian forces have used means such as the mass killing of civilians, rape and sexual assault, torture, the bombardment of cities, the destruction of mosques and churches, the confiscation of private property, unlawful detention of civilians in harsh and sometimes inhuman conditions, and other unlawful practices designed to eliminate Muslim and Croat populations that lie within Serb-claimed territory. Unlike the violations committed by the other warring factions, «ethnic cleansing» by the Serbs appears to be the result of a highly- developed policy that has been planned, coordinated, and financed by Serb officials with support from the FRY and the JNA which was, at times, directly involved in some of these operations. *120
«Ethnic Cleansing», as a practice, is not new to history *121 nor, as the previous section on the history of the conflict has shown, is it entirely new to the Balkans. Ethnic conflict has been involved in efforts to establish nationhood and define national boundaries in the Balkans since the 19th century. *122 This report, however, discusses «ethnic cleansing» as part of a broader policy, pursued by Serbian forces within BiH, Croatia, and the FRY, to create a «Greater Serbia».
The described events are put in a historical context. However, in Part I of this Annex, no attempt is made to assess the validity of historical claims by any of the warring factions. There is no justification under international law for committing crimes such as the deliberate killing, rape, and torture of civilians during an armed conflict. The distinction between jus ad bellum and jus in bello instructs us that combatants are not necessarily responsible for the outbreak of war, but they are responsible for their conduct during the war. *123 Even a just war can be fought unjustly. Those who have committed serious violations of international law should be held accountable, regardless of the justifications offered for the conflict itself.
While the notion of establishing a «Greater Serbia» has deep historical roots, the concept gathered new momentum within Serbia during the mid-1980s. It was then that Serbian intellectuals and political leaders began to embrace a new nationalism. The decade of 1980 began with the death of President Josip Broz Tito and with demands by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population for greater autonomy. While Kosovo's population is overwhelmingly Albanian, *124 the province contains Kosovo Polje, the site of the Serbs' defeat by the Ottoman Turks in 1389. Kosovo is widely considered by Serbs to be the cradle of their culture. Demonstrations by Albanian students in Spring 1981 led to military intervention by Yugoslav military forces and the brutal repression of the dissenters. *125 The demonstrations, which were accompanied by some violence against Serbs, gave rise to the allegation that the Serbs of Kosovo faced genocide at the hands of Albanians.
In the mid-1980s, Serb intellectuals, as well as public officials, took up the cause of Kosovo's Serb minority population. The SANU Memorandum, referred to in Part I of this Annex, *126 expressed in emotional terms the plight of Kosovo's Serbs. The Memorandum, drafted by the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, was considered by many to be the heralding of a new ethnic nationalism. It was, apparently, instrumental in spreading anti-Albanian sentiment. Perhaps most important, it also placed the imprimatur of Serbia's most prestigious intellectuals on the cause of militant Serbian nationalism. *127 Political figures such as Dobrica Cosic, who was to become President of the FRY, and Slobodan Milosevic, the President of the Republic of Serbia, embraced the cause of Kosovo's minority Serb population. Allegations of «genocide» against Kosovo's Serbs became commonplace. *128
The Serbs' *129 sense of injustice was not confined to concern over events in Kosovo. The writings of Serbs throughout the decade reflect a strong sense of victimization. «The Serbs», Aleksa Djilas has written, «more than any other nation of the former Yugoslavia, are fully convinced that history has treated them unfairly». *130 Thus, the Serbs' collective historic memory recounts domination by the European powers, conquest by the Ottoman Turks, occupation by the Axis powers during the Second World War, betrayal by their fellow Slavs of the Croatian Ustasa regime, and discrimination under President Tito's communist government. *131
This «dark vision», *132 stressing the role of the Serbian nation as a victim, has led to the demonization of Serbia's adversaries and the promotion of an idealized image of the Serbs. *133 Thus, Croats have been repeatedly referred to as «Ustase» and «fascists», recalling the animosities of the Second World War. In addition, Bosnian Serbs have been warned of the impending establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic State, although Bosnian Muslims are largely secular and committed to a multi-ethnic state. *134
Just as political opponents of the regime were demonized, the attributes of Serbs were idealized. Jovan Raskovic, who was to become a founder of Croatia's Serbian Democratic Party (SDSC), for example, wrote that «[t]he Serbs are . . . the only ones with an instinct for leadership and they must exercise it over the other peoples of Yugoslavia. They must dominate them.» *135 Croats, according to Raskovic, «are castrated and afraid of everything. They cannot exercise any authority. It is up to the Serbs to guide them.» On the other hand, «Muslims have anal-erotic personalities and are the sort who love to amass riches.» *136
Raskovic, a psychiatrist, helped to organize the referendum on political autonomy for the Krajina Serbs in Croatia. The event led to an armed confrontation between Croats and Croatian Serbs. *137 Shortly before he died, Raskovic stated on Belgrade television that he felt responsible for having «lit the fuse of Serbian nationalism». There has been much speculation that Radovan Karadzic, also a psychiatrist, may have been influenced by Raskovic's theories of Serb superiority. *138 In May 1990, when Karadzic was asked if he had a role-model or mentor, he responded, «above all, Jovan Raskovic». *139
Although the war in the former Yugoslavia is fueled by past hatreds, it has also involved discrete policy choices by governmental leaders. «[H]istory can be a weapon, and tradition can fuel ethnic conflict», Donald Horowitz has said, «but a current conflict cannot generally be explained by simply calling it a revived form of an earlier conflict». *140
As the Yugoslav nation disintegrated in the late 1980s and 1990s, each of the Republics that composed the state began to express strong nationalistic sentiments. As Part I of this Annex indicated, many Serbs living in Croatia were dismissed from their jobs and suffered other forms of discrimination as Croatia approached statehood. Croat officials also restored many of the symbols of the Ustasa state, which had been responsible for the mass murders of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies during the Second World War. Later, during the conflict in Croatia in the Spring of 1991, Croat forces «cleansed» Serb villages in western Slavonia. Croat paramilitary forces, such as the «Glavas Unit» headed by Branimir Glavas, have committed atrocities against Serbs similar to those committed by Serb paramilitary forces. *141 Serbs living in Croatia then were genuinely fearful of Croatian nationalism. These apprehensions were exploited by some Serb leaders who increasingly viewed the cause of a «Greater Serbia» as the path to power.
Slobodan Milosevic, for instance, reportedly pursued a domestic political strategy based «on appeals to a xenophobic and authoritarian version of Serbian nationalism». *142 The strategy was designed to help him attain and consolidate his political power. *143 In the late 1980s and early 1990s, for example, President Milosevic used appeals to nationalist sentiment and Serbian unity to obtain and maintain his hold on the party leadership. In launching an «anti-bureaucratic revolution», the party leaders of Vojvodina--who were critical of Milosevic's leadership--were accused of being «autonomists» (seekers of autonomy and opposed to Serbian unity) and removed from power. By 1989, Kosovo had been placed under martial law and the party leadership of Montenegro--who were also potential adversaries of Milosevic--was forced to resign. As a result, according to Branka Magas, «by 1989 Serbia had acquired control of four out of eight votes on the federal state presidency», and control over the leadership of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY). *144 Thus, as the 14th Extraordinary Congress was about to convene in January 1990, Serbia had already revoked the autonomous status of its two provinces (Vojvodina and Kosovo); established considerable control over Montenegro; and used military force (in Kosovo) to enforce Serbian rule.
In the early 1990s, Serbia's political leadership faced not only a dissolving nation-state, but also growing opposition within the Republic. *145 Milosevic labeled the Serbian anti-regime protesters «enemies of Serbia». *146 In referring to his political opponents in the other Republics, the rhetoric became even less restrained. In addressing Serbia's parliament in 1991, for example, Milosevic, said that:
«Serbia and the Serbian people are faced with one of the greatest evils of their history: the challenge of disunity and internal conflict. . . . All who love Serbia dare not ignore this fact, especially at a time when we are confronted by the vampiroid, fascistoid faces of the Ustashas, Albanian secessionists and all other forces in the anti-Serbian coalition which threaten the people's rights and freedoms.» *147
Within Serbia, some of Milosevic's political opponents have promoted an even more aggressive nationalism. *148 The Serbian Radical Party (SRS), *149 led by Vojislav Seselj, for instance, has accused Milosevic of being too timid in protecting the rights of Serbs who reside outside of Serbia. *150 An even more vehemently nationalistic party, the Serbian Unity Party (SSJ), was formed in November 1993 by Zeljko Raznjatovic (Arkan). The SSJ, which is based in Kosovo, failed to win any parliamentary seats in the 1993 election. *151
Both Seselj and Arkan control paramilitary units that have conducted «ethnic cleansing» campaigns in BiH. Arkan's «Tigers» allegedly have also engaged in ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and in Serbia's Sandzak region, where a large Muslim community is located. *152
Vuk Draskovic, the leader of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DEMOS), while more moderate than Seselj and Arkan, has also criticized Milosevic for failing to adequately advocate a «Greater Serbia». *153 The criticisms of Milosevic suggest that his political opponents believe that even the most militant appeals to nationalistic sentiment resonate among Serbs.
In response, Milosevic and the ruling party have taken repressive measures against the ruling party's opponents on both the right and left. Vuk Draskovic, for example, was arrested after a demonstration in June 1993 and his party offices were raided by police. *154 The Serbian Prosecutor General has asked the Constitutional Court to ban Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Party. *155 The Constitutional Court previously had been asked to ban another political rival, the Sandzak Democratic Party. *156
Government control and manipulation of the mass media have been used to generate support for a «Greater Serbia» and to selectively punish dissenters within the mass media. *157 The UN's Special Rapporteur on Human Rights recently expressed concern over «the incitement to national and religious hatred in public life and in the media». *158 He also stated that «leading political figures make inflammatory and threatening statements against minority groups on a regular basis». According to the report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights,
«[t]he prevailing climate of ethnic and religious hatred is also encouraged through misinformation, censorship and indoctrination by the media. . . . In particular, the coverage of atrocities committed in the conflict between Serbs and Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina is selective and one-sided. The media denigrates Muslims and Islam through sensationalist and distorted accounts of historical and existing `crimes' which they have committed `against the Serbian people' while grave violations perpetuated against Muslims are either rarely reported or discounted as malicious accusations forming part of an `anti-Serbian conspiracy.'» *159
There have also been allegations that President Milosevic ordered the dismissal of journalists who have publicly criticized the government's war policies. *160 Glenny, for example, has stated that Milosevic ordered a thorough purge of Politika and Radio- Television Belgrade. *161
The resentments bred by virulent nationalism have also proved to be instrumental in engendering the support of some Bosnian and Croatian Serbs. For instance, Serb leaders, including Karadzic and Milosevic, have taken advantage of the resentments that had grown among the recently urbanized Serb populations in BiH and Croatia. In BiH, for example, many Serbs had emigrated to more urbanized areas in the hope of finding greater material prosperity. Often, however, they have remained less affluent than their Muslim neighbours. The allure of pillaging Muslim and Croatian communities has become a means of attracting new adherents to the cause of a «Greater Serbia». *162
The growing nationalistic sentiment, and the repression of dissent, created an environment in which support for establishing a «Greater Serbia» could flourish. In fact, the objective of establishing a «Greater Serbia» has been endorsed by the major Serbian leaders and political parties both within and outside of the Republic of Serbia. President Milosevic, for instance, who is also the leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), has repeatedly stated that all Serbs should enjoy the right to be included in Serbia. *163 In August 1991, the Belgrade newspaper, Borba, reported that:
«[Milosevic] believes he now has the historic opportunity to, once and for all, settle accounts with the Croats and do what Serbian politicians after World War I did not--rally all Serbs in one Serbian state.» *164
Vojislav Seselj, *165 the head of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), stated that he hoped to see «the republics of BiH, Macedonia and Montenegro, and the Serbian areas of Croatia. with the borders at Karlobag, Karlovac, and Virovitica» incorporated into Serbia. *166
The Serbian Renewal Movement (SRM), headed by Vuk Draskovic, also has called for the creation of a «Greater Serbia» which would include Serbia, Kosovo, Vojvodina, Macedonia and Montenegro, as well as regions within BiH and Croatia with high concentrations of Serbs. *167 In addition, Mihajlo Markovic, the Vice President of the Main Committee of Serbia's Socialist Party, has urged the rejection of any solution that would make Serbs outside Serbia a minority. *168 The optimal solution, according to Markovic, would entail establishing a federation consisting of Serbia, Montenegro, BiH, Macedonia and Serbs residing in the Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina, Slavonia, Baranja, and Srem. *169
A preliminary step towards formally creating a «Greater Serbia» took place when representatives from the Serb Republic of BiH and delegates from the break-away Serb republic in Croatia voted to merge into «one government, one army, one police and one administration». *170 However, the President of the Serb Republic of Bosnia, Radovan Karadzic, has repeatedly denied that the creation of a «Greater Serbia», is the Bosnian Serbs' objective. *171
These factors framed the backdrop to the resurgent Serbian nationalism that emerged. This revived nationalism would spur the quest for a «Greater Serbia» and help to launch the «ethnic cleansing» campaign that was to follow.
The history and demographics of the BiH region leave little doubt that any attempt to establish «ethnically pure» areas will necessarily entail tremendous dislocations and bloodshed. Ethnic Serbs constituted approximately 34 per cent of the population of the former Yugoslavia, according to the prewar census. *172 Within BiH, Serbs accounted for approximately 31 per cent of the population. In BiH, however, the areas of Serb preponderance are not contiguous; they are primarily located in the north-east, south-east and north-west portions of the country. Moreover, the areas in which Serbs are dominant include substantial percentages of ethnic minorities, primarily Bosnian Muslims and Croats. *173
Prior to its break-up, a central political problem of the Yugoslav state lay in the numerical and political dominance of the Serbs over other ethnic groups. A critical issue in BiH has been how Bosnian Serbs could come to terms with a numerically and politically dominant coalition of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats. *174 Facing the prospect, real or imagined, of becoming a permanent minority aligned against a coalition of Muslims and Croats, the Serbs adopted an irredentist strategy. Serbs residing outside the Republic of Serbia would be united into one political unit - a «Greater Serbia». As a military strategy, this has been described as «the consolidation of Serb-held territories in BiH, the eradication of Muslim enclaves within them such as Gorazde, and the severance of any possible military links between Muslims in BiH and those in the Sandzak area of Serbia». *175 The strategy is reflected in the Serbs' «ethnic cleansing» campaign. The areas that have been cleansed can be represented by an arc which extends from Gorazde in the south- east and follows the Drina River through Zvornik, Banja Luka and Prijedor. The arc continues along the Sava and Korenica Rivers, which form the boundaries with the Serb Krajina area. Through the practice of «ethnic cleansing», the goal of creating a «Greater Serbia» has largely been achieved. Serbian forces now control approximately 70 per cent of BiH and one-third of Croatian territory.
In late June 1991, as the 10-day conflict with Slovenia was coming to an end, *176 violence again erupted as the Yugoslav Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitary groups mounted an attack on the Slavonian village of Osijek, in eastern Croatia. In the following weeks, similar attacks would occur in numerous Croatian villages, such as Celije and Bobota. In these villages, the homes of non-Serbs were looted and burned as the Serbs' «ethnic cleansing» campaign commenced. In the months that followed, the city of Vukovar in eastern Slavonia would be almost completely destroyed. On the Dalmatian coast, the ancient city of Dubrovnik would be shelled.
The shelling of Dubrovnik (like the later attack on Prijedor, in BiH) indicates that Serbian ethnic cleansing is not confined to areas in which Serbs are a majority of the population. Ethnic Serbs occupied approximately 11.6 per cent of Croatia and 32 per cent of BiH prior to June 1991. As would later occur in BiH, a breakaway government (The Serb Republic of Krajina) was formed in Krajina, an area of Croatia heavily populated by Serbs. By the time a cease-fire was signed in Spring 1992, Serbian irregular forces and the JNA had captured one-third of Croatia's territory; over 16,000 persons were killed, and there were hundreds of thousands of refugees. *177
In a pattern that would be repeated in BiH, local Serb forces in Croatia would coordinate their military operations with the JNA. In Serb-controlled areas such as Knin, in the Krajina region, and in eastern Slavonia on Serbia's border, non-Serbs would be expelled from their homes. The forced evacuation of non- Serbs would often be followed by the resettlement of Serbs in the homes of those who had fled. There is strong evidence that massive human rights violations have occurred in Croatia, including the mass execution of Croatian prisoners in Ovcara, outside of Vukovar in November 1991. Helsinki Watch has also reported that in Serbian Krajina, Serb authorities have executed Serbs who were willing to reach an accommodation with Croat officials.
The first sustained clashes between Serbian and Bosnian Muslim forces occurred in the Spring of 1992. *178 This violence erupted after BiH's Declaration of Independence on 1 March of that year. The level of violence escalated following the European Community's recognition of BiH's statehood on 6 April 1992. *179 There is evidence, however, that the JNA, the Republic of Serbia and Serbs in Croatia and BiH were preparing for war as early as 1990. It was then that the Yugoslav military began providing arms to Croatian and Bosnian Serb groups and encouraging unrest in Serb-populated regions of Croatia and BiH. *180 In a project (operating under the acronym «RAM») coordinated from Belgrade, thousands of weapons were reportedly delivered to Serbs in Bosanska Krajina in the north-west, Herzegovina in the south- west, and Romanija, a mountainous area east of Sarajevo. *181
In August 1991, Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic released a tape- recorded conversation between Serbian President Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs. According to Misha Glenny, the tape recording revealed that Milosevic instructed Karadzic to accept delivery of weapons. The arms would be supplied by General Nikola Uzelac, the head of the Banja Luka Corps. *182
According to a report appearing in the Ljubljana newspaper Delo, an additional plan was developed by the JNA to supplement RAM. The plan reportedly called for the mass killings of Muslims and the use of mass rapes as a weapon of psychological warfare. *183 According to the Delo article, the JNA plan stated that, «[a]nalysis of the Muslim's behaviour showed that their morale, desire for battle, and will could be crushed most easily by raping women, especially minors and even children, and by killing members of the Muslim nationality inside their religious facilities». *184
As the war in Croatia continued, the JNA began military movements in BiH. *185 The federal army relocated its troops from the cities to the countryside and deployed units at major communications points. *186 In late 1991 and early 1992, as the war in Croatia came to a close, the JNA redeployed troops from Croatia to BiH. *187 The 37th Corps, for instance, was transferred to the 4th military district in Sarajevo. *188 The Corps' headquarters was established in Mostar, the capital of Herzegovina. *189 JNA's General Staff appointed only Serbs and Montenegrans to fill the higher posts in the redeployed units. *190
The JNA also adopted a new defence plan in early 1992 calling for the protection of the Serbian population outside of Serbia. Territorial defence units in Croatia and BiH were to be supplied with small arms, artillery, armour and missile launching systems. *191 Moreover, the Ministry of Defence of the Serbian Autonomous Regions (SAOs) in Croatia and BiH were to be subordinated to the Serbian Ministry of Defence. The JNA and the SAOs were to coordinate their defence plans and jointly protect their external borders and constitutional system. *192
In the months preceding the independence referendum, the JNA also began to disarm Bosnian troops. The JNA maintained that in order to secure the peace in BiH, it must place all of the Republic's weapons in the hands of the federal army. *193 The disarmament campaign ostensibly included weapons held by Bosnian Serbs, thus the campaign to collect the weapons initially had the support of the Bosnian government. *194 The net effect of these measures, however, was that by Spring 1992, the JNA was in an advantageous position to launch its «ethnic cleansing» campaign and establish a «Greater Serbia». According to James Gow, a military analyst at King's College, University of London:
«[a]s a result of these measures, the Serbs had succeeded in prepositioning their forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of their strategy of securing the infrastructure that was to be a part of a `mini-Yugoslavia', carving up the new state in the process: the eastern part was to be attached to Serbia, the southern part to Montenegro, and the western part to Serb-populated and -occupied regions in Croatia.» *195
In April 1992, when the conflict in BiH broke out, the JNA had approximately 80,000 troops deployed there. In early May, General Ratko Mladic was appointed JNA commander. Under pressure from the international community, on 19 May 1992, the FRY announced that it was withdrawing its forces. However, Yugoslav officials said that JNA *196 personnel from BiH could remain there and fight on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs. *197 Thus, General Mladic and 55,000 JNA troops, as well as JNA military weaponry and equipment, were transferred to the Territorial Defence Forces of the SRBiH. *198
In the weeks following BiH's recognition by the European Community, JNA and Bosnian Serb forces attacked Bosnian towns such as Prijedor *200 and other villages in the Kozarac region *201 of north-east BiH, and Zvornik *202 in north-west BiH. Similar attacks have occurred in countless cities and villages along the Drina and Sava Rivers. The purpose of the attacks seems clear - both north-east and north-west BiH have high concentrations of Bosnian Serbs. Serb forces have sought to consolidate their control over these territories and link them with each other, as well as with Serb-controlled areas of Croatia. *203
These attacks have followed a similar pattern. First, Bosnian Serb paramilitary forces, often with the assistance of the JNA, seize control of the area. In many cases, Serbian residents are told to leave the area before the violence begins. The homes of non-Serb residents are targeted for destruction and cultural and religious monuments, especially churches and mosques, are destroyed. *204 Second, the area falls under the control of paramilitary forces who terrorize the non-Serb residents with random killings, rapes and looting. *205 Third, the seized area is administered by local Serb authorities, often in conjunction with paramilitary groups. *206 During this phase, non- Serb residents are detained, beaten and sometimes transferred to prison camps where further abuse, including mass killings, have occurred. *207 Non-Serb residents are often fired from their jobs and their property is confiscated. Many have been forced to sign documents relinquishing their rights to their homes before being deported to other areas of the country. *208
In Prijedor, for example, witnesses have stated that there was tension between the three ethnic groups, Muslims, Croats and Serbs, prior to the Serbs' seizure of the town on 30 April 1992. *209 Serbian authorities assumed control of Prijedor through a nighttime coup. The next day, Muslims were dismissed from their jobs at hospitals and schools. Bosnian Serb snipers positioned themselves on rooftops. *210
The takeover was engineered by the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), *211 working in conjunction with the JNA. In addition, paramilitary forces, known as «White Eagles» roamed the streets. A curfew was imposed between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. *212 In the following weeks, prominent non-Serb residents were arrested, such as the President of the local chapter of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). In mid-May, the JNA attacked surrounding villages and towns. *213
On 30 May 1992, the military attack on Prijedor began. There was some resistance from the Patriotic League, a group of Muslims and Croats who served in the local militia, but the battle lasted less than fourteen hours. *214 JNA and paramilitary forces took an active part in the conflict. The following day Muslims and Croats were forced out of their homes and interrogated. In many cases, their homes were robbed during their absence. Many non-Serbs were later taken to prison camps. *215 In Bosnian villages such as Bukovica, Mala Vukovica, Tombak and Zajir, similar attacks occurred and the entire non-Serb populations of these towns appear to have been killed or deported. *216
According to a report by Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders), the non-Serb population in the outlying villages in the Kozarac region suffered a similar, and sometimes worse, fate. *217 Based on interviews with 60 residents from the Kozorac region who had been held in prison camps, the study found that:
The attack on Zvornik, in north-eastern BiH, reveals a similar pattern of events. *219 In the weeks prior to the attack (which occurred on 8 April 1992), tensions between ethnic groups in the city had increased. *220 Members of each ethnic group had obtained weapons for their personal use. Muslims were warned by their Serb friends that they should leave the area. *221 Prior to 8 April, many Serbs left Zvornik, apparently having been forewarned of the impending attack. On the weekend before the attack, Serbs constructed a barricade, preventing many Muslims from reaching their work site or school. In retaliation, Muslims also erected a barricade at the same location. It was protected by Muslim police officers and armed volunteers. *222
On the day before the attack, JNA troops moved into the region. On television, a Belgrade commentator reported that the JNA was needed in the region because they expected an attack by Muslim extremists. *223
On 8 April, Serb representatives of SDS, as well as the paramilitary leader known as «Arkan», called for the Muslims to peacefully surrender the city. *224 Negotiations proceeded in which the division of the city into Muslim and Serb enclaves was discussed. The negotiations broke down, however, apparently because Arkan was dissatisfied with the result. *225
After the failure to reach an agreement, the attack on the town began. The JNA, using tanks, artillery and infantry units, was joined by Arkan's paramilitary troops, sometimes known as «Arkanovci». *226 There was heavy shelling of the Muslim sections of the city. *227
The next day Arkan's troops, along with paramilitary units known as «Seseljovci» *228 and the Beli Orlovi (White Eagles), *229 entered the city. Serb territorial defence units (TOs) also participated. It was reported that these troops committed random executions and rapes after entering Zvornik. *230
The next day, a provisional government was established that was headed by local Serbs, primarily members of SDS. A curfew was imposed, and residents had to obtain a police permit to travel within the city. Several Muslims who went to the police station to obtain a permit were taken into custody and deported to an outlying prison camp. Except for indispensable personnel such as hospital employees, Muslim men were prevented from working. *231 During the following days, paramilitary units continued to patrol the streets, and there were many reports of looting, rape and other acts of brutality. *232
In late April, an appeal was made to Muslims to return to the area from which they had fled. Many returned because they feared losing their property. *233 On arriving in Zvornik, Muslims were told that they must register their property. An «agency for the exchange of houses» was established. In exchange for relinquishing their homes, Muslims were promised the former homes of Serbs in Tuzla. Departure from the town was only possible on the condition that their property was turned over to Serb authorities. *234 From late May to early June 1992, the entire Muslim populations of villages in the surrounding area were deported. The expelled Muslims were allowed to take few personal possessions with them. Even these items were often stolen at Serb check-points on the roads leaving the area. *235
According to an account in Vreme, the «cleansing» was followed by organized looting. «Some stole gold, hard currencies, household appliances or cars. Others robbed department stores. Electricity plugs were torn out of the walls and children's toys were sold and bought. Even entire bedroom suites could be seen floating down the river». *236
The events in the Kozarac region and in Zvornik demonstrate the use of terror to expel Muslims from Serb-claimed land. Killings, rapes and torture were carried out in a manner that was designed to frighten the non-Serb population into leaving and never returning to the area. Thus, killings, and sometimes rapes, are committed openly, often in front of large numbers of witnesses. *237 In other instances, however, killing seems to have been an end in itself. The UN's Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, for example, found that Serb troops prevented civilians from escaping the encircled town of Cerska by ambushing Muslims as they attempted to flee. *238
Borislav Herak, a captured Serbian fighter, has stated that before attacking Muslim families near the village of Vogosca, Serbian commanders described the military operation as «ciscenje prostora» (cleansing the region). *239 According to Herak, his unit had been told to leave no one alive. *240 Herak stated that his unit was:
«. . . told that Ahatovici [a village near Vogosca] must be cleansed Serbian territory, that it was a strategic place between Ilidza and Rajlovac, and that all the Muslims there must be killed . . . We were told that no one must escape, and that all the houses must be burned, so that if anybody did survive, they would have nowhere left to return to. It was an order, and I simply did what I was told.» *241
Herak admitted to killing 29 persons. He killed many of them in their homes by shooting them or slitting their throats. He also said that he had raped and murdered eight Bosnian Muslim women and abandoned their bodies on hilltops and other deserted places.
According to a news report of Herak's confession, «his account offered new insights into the ways that tens of thousands of civilian victims of the war have died, most of them in towns and villages where there have been no independent witnesses». For example, Herak said that he saw a Serb unit machine-gun 120 men, women and children in a field outside of Vogosca. Their bodies were transported to a railway yard, piled in an open pit, doused with gasoline, and set afire. *242
A similar pattern of killing occurred in many prison camps. Although the prisoners had already been forcibly removed from their homes, many were deliberately tortured and killed anyway. In the Omarska camp, for example, Serbian guards were said to have executed prisoners in groups of 10 to 15 every few days. *243 Instances such as these suggest that mass killings are not always committed for the purpose of terrorizing others into fleeing. In at least some instances, the killing of non-Serbs appears to be an alternative means of «cleansing» Serb-claimed territory.
According to Pero Popovic, a former prison guard at the Bosnian-Serb prison camps of Susica, executions at that camp were a nightly occurrence from June through September 1992. *244 A victim of the camp also reported that men were frequently shot to make room for more civilians who came from the nearby town of Vlasenica. The former prison guard stated that mass executions also took place, generally in reprisal for the killing of a local Serb. In mid-June 1992, he stated that he witnessed the killing of 26 persons. However, he estimated that at least one thousand persons had been executed in mass killings at the camp during the summer of 1992. Popovic also reported that shortly before the camp was closed, a decision was made to execute the 200 surviving prisoners. According to Popovic, «[o]ver half of them were taken up to the ravine and shot», while the others were put to work digging trenches. *245
«Ethnic cleansing» campaigns have continued through 1994. In September 1994, for instance, over 500 Bosnian Muslims were reportedly driven from their homes in Bijeljina, in northern BiH. In addition, more than 2,000 persons were expelled from their homes in the areas of Banja Luka and Rogatica. A United Nations official characterized these expulsions as «a final push to create a Serb-only state». *246
Among Bosnian Serbs, there appears to be widespread involvement in various aspects of «ethnic cleansing». Neighbours have attacked Bosnian Muslim and Croat families whom they have known for years; and they have guarded them at prison camps as well. Serb families have moved into the homes of Muslims and Croats who had been killed or expelled. Serb civilians have also taken part in looting the homes and stealing the possessions of Muslim and Croat families. *247 In many cases, however, it is not known whether civilians acted pursuant to orders from Serb authorities. *248
Many Serbs, on the other hand, have taken actions to help persons of other ethnic groups and have protected them from harm. Serbs who have helped their neighbours, however, risk being labled as traitors by local Bosnian-Serb officials.
The involvement of civilian police units in «ethnic cleansing» has primarily involved the deportation and detention of non-Serbs. Serb police forces, for example, were chiefly responsible for the forced movement of civilian prisoners from the detention facility at Trnopolje to the town of Travnik in BiH. *249 Reports indicate that from 150 to 200 men were taken from two buses and summarily executed in a mountainous area known as Vlasic. *250 In addition, police units were involved in administering the detention facility at Omarska. *251
Paramilitary units are responsible for some of the most brutal aspects of «ethnic cleansing». Two of the units that have played a major role in the «ethnic cleansing» campaign in BiH, the «Cetniks» associated with Vojislav Seselj and the «Tigers» associated with Zeljko Raznjatovic (Arkan), have been active in the Republic of Serbia as well. *253 Seselj's followers have reportedly waged «ethnic cleansing» campaigns against ethnic minorities in Serbia's provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo. *254 Arkan's «Tigers» have staged military training exercises allegedly designed to intimidate Albanian residents in Kosovo. *255
In addition, Mirko Jovic's «Knights» and Dragoslav Bokan's «White Eagles» are also based in Serbia. Seselj, Arkan and Jovic are also leaders of political parties in the Republic of Serbia. *256
Seselj's «Cetniks» have reportedly committed some of the worst atrocities of the conflict. In the Krajina region of Croatia, for example, members of Seselj's «Cetnik» forces are believed to have participated in the torture of Muslim civilians at the Prijedor detention facility. *257
A former monarchist, Seselj dropped his support of Prince Alexander when the Prince praised the democratic elections held in Slovenia and Croatia. *258 He has stated that he envisions a Serbia whose borders encompass all of BiH, as well as Macedonia and Serbian areas of Croatia. *259 In August 1991, Seselj told a Der Spiegel interviewer that his troops received weapons from Belgrade. Seselj's troops are sent «from Belgrade to the crisis areas» in Croatia and BiH. «If there are 20 to 30 Cetniks in every village, this is sufficient to encourage the people there», Seselj said. *260 Troops loyal to Zeljko Raznjatovic (Arkan) have been most active in eastern BiH, *261 such as Zvornik *262 and Bijeljina. *263 The «Tigers» have a reputation for extreme brutality. Photographs taken at Bijeljina, for instance, show Arkan's soldiers shooting Muslims and kicking their corpses. *264
The «Tigers», and Arkan himself, allegedly have been involved in organized plunder. A Belgrade journalist who was with the «Tigers» at Zvornik reported that Arkan's troops stole television sets and VCRs. After expelling Muslim families from their homes, they even dug up gardens looking for buried valuables, such as jewelry. *265 These plundered goods are loaded onto trucks and transported across the Danube to Serbia where they are resold. *266
Although Arkan has described himself as being a «sweet shop proprietor», he is reported to be involved in a number of businesses including a detective agency, a chain of money- exchange shops and gas stations. *267 Arkan, who was born in Slovenia, reportedly has a criminal record dating back to his teens. *268 He is alleged to have been involved in bank robberies throughout Europe. Sweden, and other countries, have outstanding warrants for his arrest on charges of bank robbery, attempted murder and other crimes. *269 According to NIN, Serbia's major news weekly magazine, *270 the Italian police are seeking Arkan in connection with the 1974 murder of a restaurant owner. The Yugoslav press has also reported that Arkan is suspected of being involved in the 1983 slaying of a Croatian oil company executive. *271
Seselj's Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and Arkan's Serbian Unity Party (SSJ) have competed in elections for Serbia's parliament. Arkan's SSJ is based in Kosovo and has pursued a militantly anti-Albanian policy. *272 SRS has a substantial presence in Serbia's parliament, having 39 seats in the 250-seat legislature. Seselj's party received 13 per cent of the votes cast in the December 1993 elections. Arkan's Serbian Unity Party failed to take any seats. *273
During the 1993 election campaign, Milosevic's Socialist Party (SPS) accused SRS and its supporters of committing war crimes against Bosnian civilians. According to an account in Borba, Milosevic supporters «furnished allegations and eyewitness accounts» of Cetniks under Seselj's command slaughtering civilians and stealing property. *274 The allegations appear to have been prompted by a motion of no confidence in Milosevic's government that SRS introduced on 7 October 1993. *275 Seselj has accused members of Serbia's Socialist party of committing war crimes, as well. *276
Dragoslav Bokan's «White Eagles» borrowed its name from an organization that was active during the Second World War. According to Bokan, it was «the only orthodox anti-communist movement at the time». *277 Bokan revived the former organization when he returned from the United States in 1990. *278
The «White Eagles» were active in Borovo Selo, Croatia in 1991. *279 According to Bokan, his troops operated under the direction of the Territorial Defence units (TOs) established in Serb-controlled territory in Croatia and BiH. Bokan has stated that the «White Eagles» were not permitted to control territory that had been seized. *280
Dragoslav Bokan was arrested in 1992 for the possession of a hand grenade and bullets found in his apartment. He received a suspended sentence of six months imprisonment. *281 Following his arrest, Bokan severed his relationship with Mirko Jovic, the head of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO). *282 When the war in BiH broke out, Bokan said that he «started [his] private war», *283 and departed for Rajlovac in BiH. Although Bokan has been identified as a suspected war criminal, he has claimed that he does not «belong to [sic] the same bag with the people on the list of Helsinki Watch» *284 (i.e., Arkan and Seselj).
The paramilitary forces of Arkan and Seselj appear to have received support from the Serbian government, or agencies within the government. For example, while Serbia's Defence Minister has disavowed any involvement with Arkan, he has indicated that Arkan is protected by Interior Ministry officials. *285
Seselj has criticized the federal army and has stated that «[w]e retreat immediately if the army appears». *286 However, he has also stated that his paramilitary forces have received weapons from the JNA, if only «discarded German guns». *287 Seselj, as a member of Serbia's parliament, is a public official.
The top civil and military leaders of the break-away republic have also been identified as having committed war crimes. *288 For example, Radovan Karadzic, the President of the Serbian Republic, and General Ratko Mladic, Commander of the BSA, may be held accountable under the principle of command responsibility for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and for crimes against humanity committed under their direction or with their knowledge. *289
President Karadzic cooperated with Serbian President Milosevic in arming Bosnian Serbs. *290 Karadzic's role in planning «ethnic cleansing» activities with Milosevic was mentioned earlier. *291 President Karadzic has continued his control over the military units that have shelled civilian targets in Sarajevo. *292 He has also publicly stated that «almost all of the [Bosnian Serb] commanders are under our [the Serbian Republic's] control». *293
Roy Gutman has also reported that close associates of Karadzic have been directly involved in military assaults, such as the attack on Foca in April 1992. *294 For instance, Velibor Ostojic, a minister in the Serbian break-away government, is said to have
«conceived and organized war crimes in the Foca region, helped plan and organize the arming of Serbian Democratic Party members, prepared the attack and invited paramilitary forces from Serbia `to undertake the armed conquest of a large portion of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina and ethnic cleansing through annihilation, terror, persecution, detention, mistreatment and murder'». *295
General Ratko Mladic, a former officer in the JNA, became a commander for the breakaway Serb Republic of BiH in May 1992, just days after he had been assigned to BiH by Serbia's President Milosevic. *296 Before coming to BiH, he had commanded troops in the war in Croatia. *297 He is known to have ordered the shelling of Sarajevo's civilian areas. *298
Mladic's military campaigns are characterized by fierce artillery barrages designed to level enemy towns. *299 Colonel Gajo Petkovic, a former editor of the military journal Narodna Armija, has described Mladic's tactics as «giving vent to his inherent sadism». *300 Several groups have identified Mladic as a suspected war criminal; most recently, allegations have centred on Mladic's shelling of the civilian population of Gorazde which killed 390 persons and wounded more than 1,000 of the city's residents. *301 It has also been reported that General Mladic has recruited persons convicted of violent crimes to serve in the Bosnian Serb Army. Persons serving lengthy prison terms for violent acts have had their sentences suspended after agreeing to join the Bosnian Serb troops. *302
There is substantial evidence that President Slobodan Milosevic and JNA forces have been involved in the conflict in BiH from its inception. Moreover, their involvement has continued.
As previously mentioned, paramilitary units operating within BiH are based in the Republic of Serbia and have also conducted «ethnic cleansing» operations within the Republic of Serbia (in Vojvodina, Kosovo, and Sandzak). *304 Seselj reportedly has regularly transported plundered goods from BiH across the Danube to Serbia, with the apparent permission of Serb authorities. In addition, paramilitary groups have established training centres in Kosovo, where they operate free from interference from Serbian police and the JNA. *305
The JNA, according to numerous reports, was involved in the conflict in Croatia from its inception. When the Serbs of Croatia's Krajina region declared their independence, there was a massive transfer of heavy weapons from the JNA to Serb paramilitary forces. In addition, there was an influx of supplies from Serbia itself. Serb paramilitary units operating in Croatia have worn federal army uniforms and used JNA topographical maps. They also were able to obtain a large number of sophisticated weapons and vehicles. *306
Coordination between the JNA and local Serb forces was apparent in the destruction of Vukovar in 1991. A mass grave found at Ovcara is thought to contain the remains of at least 200 Croats who had been taken from a Vukovar hospital, summarily executed, and buried in a shallow grave.
According to military analyst James Gow, after the FRY announced its withdrawal from BiH in May 1992, its assistance to Bosnian Serbs continued. The Belgrade government, for example, continued to supply Bosnian Serb troops. Gow has stated that «General Ratko Mladic maintained daily contact with both the Bosnian Serb and the federal Yugoslav Defence Ministries in Belgrade; and officers in the field claimed that they could not hold their fire until they received orders from Belgrade». *307
Milan Vego, writing in Jane's Intelligence Review, has also reported that the defence plan adopted by JNA in 1992 called for the federal army to protect Serbs outside of Serbia. *308 The plan called for the transfer of JNA's
«command structures into Territorial Defence Units and supplying these forces with small arms, artillery, armour and missile launching systems. The Ministry of Defence of the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous Regions (SAO) in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina was subordinated to the Serbian Ministry of Defense.» *309
According to UN observers, the JNA's involvement has been even more direct. For example, a Yugoslav army jet was observed as it dropped a cluster bomb on a Muslim-controlled hill near the centre of Sarajevo in June 1992. *310 UNPROFOR officials have also stated that the JNA has been directly involved in the attacks on Srebrenica. According to a US Senate Committee report, JNA artillery units positioned themselves in Bratunac, or Bosnian territory, in order to better target the city. *311
Reports from military analysts also indicate that Serbian forces in BiH regularly receive supplies and military equipment from Serbia. This includes fuel for aircraft, tanks and armoured vehicles. Serbian tractor-trailers, including oil tankers, reportedly deliver supplies to BiH on a daily basis. Serb vehicles transport these supplies and equipment from north-west BiH, across the Drina River to Bijeljina and then to Banja Luka and other cities in western BiH. *312
For the military discussion, and the implementation of the policy of «ethnic cleansing», see Annex III, Military Structure; Annex III.A, Special Forces; and Annex VIII, Prison Camps. The case-study of Zvornik follows in this Annex and the case study of Prijedor is contained in Annex V.
In August 1994, President Milosevic tacitly admitted that the Belgrade government had supplied arms to Bosnian Serbs. In announcing that it would severe most political and economic links to Serb-held portions of BiH, Milosevic stated that the self- proclaimed Bosnian Serb state «would not survive» without aid from Serbia. *313 News reports of the embargo imposed by Serbia on Serb-controlled territory in BiH noted that Milosevic's government has been the «principal source of weapons, supplies and political support» for Bosnian Serbs. *314
This report reconstructs the genesis and pattern of the expulsion («ethnic cleansing») of nearly the entire Muslim population of the city of Zvornik. While attempting to evaluate events in a detailed and chronological manner, the investigation focused primarily on the identification of those responsible for the military operations, for war crimes and for human rights violations. The study also sought to identify a likely structure or distinct system of operations, ranging from the attack on the city to the expulsion of its Muslim citizens.
The investigation relied on information that the Ludwig Boltzman Institute for Human Rights (BIM) obtained from a preliminary evaluation of 500 interviews which were part of an interview study of some 900 Bosnian refugees from the Zvornik region. It was conducted within the context of the research project «Human Rights Violations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Perspectives for Repatriation and Integration of Bosnian Refugees» (subsequently «BIM-project»). In addition, complementary information was obtained from additional interlocutors, as well as from 31 in-depth interviews conducted by the BIM.
The Institute designed a complex questionnaire using open and closed question techniques, as well as a special «check list» available to the interviewers only. The purpose of the latter was to double-check and question events and reports recounted already once, and to clarify remaining questions. The BIM interviewed individuals whose names and addresses were known to the Institute, and who are knowledgeable about the events described in this report. Some of the interviewees had occupied key positions in the socio-political life of the city.
In one part of the questionnaire the respondents were asked to identify the groups participating in the military attack and in the expulsion units of the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and paramilitary units. Furthermore, respondents were asked to render these troops' positions during the military operations, and to describe any likely cooperation between the single units.
The expelled respondents were also asked to reconstruct the course of the events in chronological order. The following phases were identified for this purpose:
Subsequently, the expelled respondents could recount freely how they had experienced the individual phases, with particular focus on the behaviour of units of the former JNA, the paramilitary troops (former territorial defence units and guerilla units), the members of the militia, and the Serbian Democrat Party (SDS), all of which stayed in the city. The interviewers initiated the response to each phase asking the following question: «Please describe as exactly as possible how you experienced the respective phase». In addition, the interviewer could use the above-mentioned «check-list» on every phase to complement the open-question technique, if necessary. Furthermore, structured questions had been prepared regarding important events during the attack, as well as during the occupation (ultimatums, call to return after the first escape wave, forced registration, forced expropriation, deportation, detention in camps, war crimes, human rights violations, etc.).
During the interviews, the expelled respondents could rely on two city maps: one of the city of Zvornik itself and the other of Karakaj industrial area situated outside the city limits. These maps served to identify the positions of the troops participating in the attack, the starting points, targets, and the developments of the military operations, as well as the site of «concentration camps», particularly in Karakaj.
The interviews were conducted by experienced, bilingual interviewers, who had been particularly trained for the special requirements of the report. They took place in the Austrian federal states of Vienna, Lower Austria, Styria, in the refugee camp near Gabelkovo, Slovakia, and in the refugee shelter in Dusseldorf, Germany, between 10 and 28 March 1994. The interviewers themselves translated the records from the Bosnian or Croatian language into German.
According to the 1991 census data, the district of Zvornik had a population of 81,111: 48,208 (59.4 per cent) of which were Bosnians Muslims and 30,839 (38 per cent) were of Serbian nationality. A total of 14,600 people lived in the city of Zvornik, 8,942 (61.0 per cent) of them were Bosnians Muslims, 4,281 (29.2 per cent) of the Serbian nationality, 74 (0.5 per cent) of Croatian nationality, and 1,363 (9.3 per cent) were defined as «others».
The following additional municipalities are relevant for the study: The municipality of Jardan north of Zvornik, which includes the towns of Jardan and Lipovac, had a population of 2,503, with a 53.1 per cent share of ethnic Serbs, and a 46 per cent share of Bosnians (Muslims). These villages were situated at the border to the industrial area of Karakaj, where JNA units were stationed prior to the attack; later the «headquarters» of both the «Serbian militia» and the JNA units were moved there, and several camps were established. The municipality of Celopek, situated north of Jardan, had a population of 1,894, of which 93.1 per cent were of Serbian nationality and 6.3 per cent were Bosnians (Muslims). Well before the attack, units of the former JNA were stationed in Celopek.
In 1981, a total of 27,095 (38.5 per cent) people held jobs - 9,487 of them in the farming and forestry sector and 18,308 in the non-agrarian sector. The total number of self-employed was 2,202. The «Birac» company in the industrial area of Karakaj was the biggest single local employer. It produced preliminary material for aluminum production (it was one of the biggest producers world-wide and part of the «Energo Invest» concern in Sarajevo).
Being a border town situated at the Bosnian-Serb Drina river, Zvornik had a strategically important position. It is significant because Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia are linked at that point not only through a road bridge between the Zvornik urban area and the Karakaj industrial zone, and another one in Zvornik itself, but also via a railroad bridge between Karakaj and the town of Celopek. Thus, Zvornik represents an important link along the Belgrade-Sarajevo line, as well as within the Belgrade-Tuzla line.
Control over Zvornik meant that possible troop or logistical movements from Serbian territory towards Tuzla or Sarajevo could be accomplished without any hindrance. The early deployment of units of the former JNA indicates that the plan to secure control over the two corridors of Belgrade-Tuzla and Belgrade-Sarajevo, via control over Zvornik, was pre-conceived. For the Bosnian side, Zvornik was strategically important only in a defensive sense, i.e., to interrupt the above-mentioned supply lines. Moreover, because of its geographic location, Zvornik was not relevant to the armed conflicts and military movements within BiH and Herzegovina.
Apart from units of the former JNA, paramilitary units (guerilla-type units, «volunteers», and members of the former Territorial Defence units (TO)) participated in the attack as well as in the ensuing occupation of the city. The following formations could be identified as the main participants:
Officially, there was no garrison of the former JNA in the Zvornik district. The Zvornik region itself was controlled by the 17th Corps Tuzla. Up to the fall of 1991, the 17th Corps consisted of 3 brigades and one partisan brigade, and was part of the First Military District of Belgrade.
After the re-organization of the JNA in the spring of 1992, it formally fell under the command of the Second Military District of Sarajevo, but most likely continued to be led by the First Military District of Belgrade.
By the turn of the year 1991/1992, preliminary tank units (apparently from the abandoned Jastrebarsko garrison in Croatia) were stationed near Zvornik. By February or March 1992 (at the time of the referendum on independence), additional units of the former JNA-tank units and artillery and anti-aircraft positions were stationed in the Zvornik region. Initially, the tanks still carried the JNA emblems. It was only later that they were replaced by the Serbian flag and the coat-of-arms emblem. But, the troops themselves, officers and soldiers, had Serbian badges (showing a Serbian flag on the front part of the beret and on the upper arm).
On the Serbian side of the Drina river bank, various tank positions could be identified as well. Additional forces, including artillery, anti-aircraft weaponry, and tanks were being positioned there.
According to witness accounts, former JNA troops from the following garrisons were involved during the attack: (a) Garrisons
Members of the units from Tuzla were already stationed near Zvornik, particularly on the Bosnian side of the Drina river bank, prior to the attack. In Celopek, in the «Dom Kulture», there were «small barracks» housing roughly 100 soldiers (infantry unit); moreover, there were also barracks in «Novi Standard» in Karakaj, which purportedly housed more soldiers than the ones in Celopek. According to accounts by some of the individuals interviewed, the soldiers accommodated in both towns were from Tuzla; even General Jankovic from Tuzla is said to have visited the unit. But there is also some evidence that the infantry units in «Novi Standard» belonged to a newly-formed so- called territorial defence force (see B. Paramilitaries, below), while the one at the «Dom Kulture» in Celopek was the reserve unit from Bijeljina. Another facility for soldiers was said to have been located in an apartment building in Meterize. Soldiers were put up in the workers' apartments of the «Birac» company, while the Muslim population was expelled.
The planes and helicopters which participated in the aggression are also reported to have come from Tuzla.
Prior to the attack, these units were partly stationed along the Serbian side of the Drina river bank, and partly on the Bosnian side. They further participated in the attack on Zvornik, operating from Serbian territory. One unit from Sabac purportedly was housed in the «Dom Kulture» in Mali Zvornik. It was further claimed that there was a «small barracks» also in Radalj north of Mali Zvornik. (a) Nis (Serbia) *319
There were indications that a «special unit» from Nis might have been involved in the attack on Zvornik and later on Kulagrad. This could have been part of the 63. Airborne Brigade NTS of the «Special Task Corps Belgrade». It was specially trained to handle «issues pertaining to the policies of domestic security».
Infantry units which had been withdrawn from the combat area in Croatia (Vukovar) and which were reported to have been involved in the aggression against Zvornik could not be allocated in greater detail.
A number of commanding officers were reported, but their names were not included for confidentiality and prosecutorial reasons. Zvornik was part of the second Military district of the JNA after its reorganization.
Canons 122 millimetres and 130 millimetres; howitzers 60 millimetres, 80 millimetres, and 120 millimetres, T 12; Anti- aircraft artillery; Samohodka; Tanks T 55, T 84, T 72 and 3 «Marda(er)» armoured personnel carriers with 2 automatic canons; T 54, T 55, T 34, older versions; transporters; 2 kinds of anti- tank grenade launchers; Machine-guns M 70A and M 70B; hand grenades fired from M 59 and M 66; (portable) mortars; knives and bayonets.
Machine-guns M 52, M 65, M 66, M 70A, M 70B, M 72; hand grenade launchers Zolja; kalashnikov; knives.
(c) Air Force
MIG 21 and Mig 29, Jastreb with machine-guns and gunners, Gallop, «Eagles» (aerial photographs); helicopters MT 6 or MT 8, actually only for procurement of food and weapons (except for an attack operation against Liplje and Sekovici on April 9 around 12:00) MT 9, Gazella.
Paramilitary units, except for Arkanovci, were under the authority of two identified JNA officers. However, regarding their non-military actions, the paramilitaries operated without any reservations, particularly when murdering or looting.
Apart from the Arkanovci, who participated in the attack, the most important paramilitary units were the «territorial defence units» (TO), the Seseljovci, and the Beli Orlovi. It was not possible to distinguish these three units clearly from each other, nor from the infantry divisions of the former JNA.
Regarding the infantry units, there is evidence that these units were not only composed of the «regular members» of the former JNA and of mobilized reserve forces, but also of «volunteers». Several of the individuals interviewed said that they had noted that prior to the attack, (i.e., in March 1992), and throughout the attack, the soldiers--and, some claimed, officers as well--no longer wore the badges of the former JNA. Instead, they had Serbian badges and cockades. However, at that time, the vehicles and machinery still had the old Yugoslav identity symbols. Moreover, many soldiers wearing «old JNA uniforms», used a «white band» on the upper arm as additional identifying marks. This identification only made sense if somebody wanted to distinguish himself from the uniformly dressed soldiers. At the time of the attack on Zvornik and during its occupation, such a distinction was only relevant if one stood out among «other JNA units», or among «forces in JNA uniforms» which participated (with the «Serbian side») in the attack, since a Muslim counterpart did not exist in this form. Furthermore, the soldiers wore long beards, which would not have been permitted for a regular member of the former JNA. Moreover, the description of how these units looked and where they were stationed corresponded to the description and location of the «territorial defence units», the Seseljovci, and the Beli Orlovi, provided by other respondents. Members of the latter three units have also frequently taken part in the attack in composite units.
Some of the officers of this reserve infantry unit came from the Zvornik region while at the same time being well-known SDS activists.
In addition, respondents said they had recognized the same persons from the surrounding towns in Serbia proper showing up one time with the Seseljovci, another time with the Beli Orlovi, and then again with the «volunteer forces».
The so-called «territorial defence» (TO) was reportedly integrated into the infantry units of the JNA at a later point.
Most of the members of the Beli Orlovi could be recognized by their «white eagles». The Seseljovci could be recognized because of the fur caps and cartridge bands which they carried in a cross-shaped manner over their chests.
Thus, it is fair to assume that an essential part of the infantry belonged to the newly-formed «territorial defence units», which purportedly were established for the Zvornik region approximately six months prior to the attack on the city.
Nevertheless, a differentiation of these groups has been made below. Regarding the units of the former JNA, it was assumed that infantry units had already existed.
Shortly after the dissolution of the Yugoslav territorial defence in BiH (in the fall of 1991), SDS leaders in Zvornik began recruiting, equipping, and apparently also training a new «Serbian territorial defence». Most of their members came from Serbian villages (Celopek, Scemlije) near Zvornik, or from Serb- populated parts of Zvornik (Lisicnjak). Its commando base was in Karakaj.
However, many of those interviewed also pointed out that the TO's headquarters was reportedly in Lisicnjak. The unit itself stayed at the «Novi Standard» in Karakaj. These forces wore old JNA uniforms. Like all other paramilitary units, they cooperated with the JNA and honoured their command. Being locals, they could have had a special role, i.e., as informants for the military officers, and later in the looting and the turning-over of rich and important Muslims to the Arkanovci. The TO arrived early in the attack, shortly after the arrival of the Arkanovci.
Their hair was cut short, and they wore black woollen caps, black gloves cut off at mid-finger, and black badges on the upper arm. According to descriptions by other witnesses, they wore multi-colored uniforms, red arrows, knit caps, a badge showing the Serbian flag on the right arm, and an emblem showing a tiger and the words «Arkanove delije» on the shoulder.
A main characteristic was their strict disciplinary code. The supreme command was held by Arkan. Other well-known figures apart from Arkan included «Rambo» (Arkan's brother-in-law, who was killed in the battles over Kulagrad) and a number of identified persons who committed and ordered torture, killings, and other violations.
The Arkanovci, and in particular Arkan himself, are unanimously described as the key figures in the attack. During the actual attack operations, Arkan's standing was reportedly above that of the commanders of the former JNA, as well as that of the leading figures of the local SDS.
Arkan reportedly arrived in Zvornik on 8 April. It has been confirmed that he not only participated in «negotiations» on Zvornik's future on 8 April and the following day, but that he actually dominated those talks. An ultimatum for the surrender of the town and of the weapons in the morning of 9 April was reported to have been announced by Arkan himself. Members of the Arkanovci were reported to have been present in the city since the end of March.
Their participation in the fighting began on 8 April with mortar fire and attacks by snipers located in Mali Zvornik. They conquered the city and assumed control of it on 9 April. They conquered the most important bases and took control of the city until they could hand it over to the Serbian administrators. Throughout the battle, the Arkanovci were supported by JNA artillery and logistics.
Later the securement of the city was taken over by other groups, Seseljovci, Beli Orlovi, the so-called «territorial defence», and «volunteers» from neighbouring towns in Serbia. After the occupation of the city (10 or 11 April) the core troops left Zvornik, but later returned when necessary, as was the case with the attack on Kulagrad.
The Arkanovci were highly mobile and had many privately owned vehicles. Apart from their «military tasks», the Arkanovci were responsible for many of the atrocities and lootings. Arkan himself ordered Muslims and patients from the hospital to the execution sites. They were responsible for mass killings and murders. For example, Arkanovci murdered 4 men in the house of Salim Donjic, and committed massacres in Zamlas and Hrid (about 150 people). In the morning of April 9, they were said to have committed another massacre in Vidakove Njive and at the access road in Zvornik. Also, they purportedly committed a massacre in the «Klempic» coffee house that same morning. However, this might refer to the same massacre, as the coffee house was situated in the direction of Vidakove Njive.
They had a reputation of being extremely cruel. There is indication that they had lists containing the names of rich Muslims whose gold and money were stolen. Local Serbs were accused of having drawn up these lists. For example, the Arkanovci were reported to have been accompanied by local Serbs during the first few days as they went from house to house, killing and raping the residents and looting the buildings. The «right to be the first to loot», which they apparently enjoyed, obviously served as a means of «payment».
Their armament included: guns and grenades; automatic rifles M 70A, M 70B and US rifles, «Skorpion» rifles, hand grenades; anti-tank launching grenades; ropes for choking people; long «Rambo-style» knives; only light weapons; bullet-proof jackets.
They are described as «bearded» men. They wore Serbian military berets with the Serbian flag on the front side, or black fur hats with a Serbian cockade. A further identifying characteristic was their ammunition which they wore in a cross- shaped manner over their chests, and the hand grenades on their belts.
The leaders wore a giant pointed fur hat with a coat of arms. Several of them were identified.
Reports said they were always drunk, and they always recruited additional new people, criminals, or «weekend fighters». They are said to have been particularly active as regards violence against civilians.
It was difficult to identify their headquarters. Some mentioned the «Standard» in Karakaj, the companies «Inzinjering», «Alhos», and «Vezionica» in Karakaj, the hotel «Drina» and the pre-school in the radio station.
Members of the Seseljovci were already present as civilians prior to the attack. It is further reported that Seselj himself had been in Zvornik to meet with his local party friend Bosko Ceranic. They participated in the attack very early on and stayed involved throughout the entire period of the occupation until the seizure of Kulagrad. They assumed control of various parts of the city and were responsible for lootings everywhere. They always cooperated with the JNA, both with regard to strategy and command structure.
Their armament included: automatic rifles M 59, M 66, M 70A, M 70B; long, curved knives, hand grenades; ammunition worn in cross-shape over chest.
They were sloppily dressed and wore uniforms from various JNA stocks, or civilian clothes, and had a white eagle badge on the cap and the upper arm. For the most part they came from surrounding towns in Serbia (Loznica, Valjevo, etc.). Their headquarters, too, was hard to locate. They reportedly have stayed in the «Alhos» together with the Arkanovci, and in the «Jezero» hotel.
They only participated (like the Seseljovci) in the second wave of the attack. Their «task» was to assist in the fighting, and to secure strategic points. They participated in the shelling, siege, and occupation of the city, as well as in the later attack on Kulagrad.
Apparently, however, they were primarily responsible for arrests, deportations (securing of deportations), and looting. They were frequently seen near road crossings, in the streets, etc., drunk or provocative. They repeatedly held up or arrested «suspects» on the street, or took what the Arkanovci had left after pillaging the city. They drew white eagles on houses and storage buildings, and it was forbidden to remove them. They cooperated with the JNA.
They had only light weaponry (no details given).
The Draganovci of «Kapetan Dragan» (Captain Vasiljkovic Dragan) was another important unit. Although it did not participate in the attack, it played a key role later in the occupation of Zvornik. Members wore red (French) berets, were rather well disciplined and dressed properly. Their commander «Kapetan Dragan» was described as second in importance to Arkan. The Draganovci arrived at the end of May and participated only occasionally in the fighting. Their «main task» was patrolling the city, executing deportations, and intimidating the population. Their headquarters was at the hotel «Vidikovac» in Divic.
They had only light weaponry (no details given).
Other formations participating during the entire course of the raid included: Anticevci (who are being blamed for one massacre in the district of Srpska Varos on 15 April); special forces of the local Serbs wearing a stocking tied over the knee; Serb volunteers from Loznica, Sabac, Valjevo (dressed in black), who may have been part of the Beli Orlovi; the «Dusan Silni» unit which also may have been part of the Beli Orlovi; the Group of Pusula from Rastosnica, a Group from Padinska Skela (prisoners; big black hats with shining ribbons; cowboy-look); and the Vukovarci.
Many partisans, particularly from the towns of Loznica, Valjevo, and Sabac, apparently came to the city as part of several groups (Seseljovci, Beli Orlovi, «volunteers»), and at various times. All of these partisan units carried only light arms.
For a chronology of the aggression, the following classification was used: after a brief outline of the time preceding the attack, the period of the aggression is differentiated along two lines of development. The first line covers the military events, i.e., the (military) attack on Zvornik and the decisive attack on Kulagrad just two weeks later. The second line illustrates the civilian development in the town, which can be clearly split into different phases that are linked to the military developments. Accordingly, the crucial moment in the civilian development line is the attack on Kulagrad on April 26. A further decisive disruption of civilian life occurred in mid-May.
As could be observed in the context of the BIM project, social life between the various ethnic groups rapidly deteriorated in the months before the attack. There were tensions in the workplace, at school and in the neighbourhood. Each ethnic group began to distance itself from the others. There was an increasing militarization of the society, and the Serbian side was suspected by the respondents to have been informed about any kind of impending action.
There are various pieces of evidence indicating that both the attack and the expulsion of the Muslim population was pre- planned.
About 2-3 months prior to the attack, military training exercises lasting up to 2 weeks were conducted in Osmaci near Kalesija and other villages. The JNA organized these exercises and only Serbs were invited under the pretext that the TO had to be trained.
Already in the weeks prior to the attacks, members of all ethnic groups procured weapons for their personal use. According to those interviewed, Serbian citizens of Zvornik obtained their weapons mainly through the SDS or the JNA, while the Muslim population procured weapons through «private channels». *320
In regard to the month of March preceding the attack, there was agreement among the respondents--and this was also consistent with the results of the BIM project--that many Serbs left the city for the weekend, but showed up back at work on the following Monday. It cannot be proven that this was an SDS-organized training exercise for the evacuation of Serbian citizens in the event of an actual attack on Zvornik. However, there were strong reasons to assume that this was an organized action. For example, a majority of Serbian families had left town over the weekend. Likewise, women and children of Serb nationality were away from the town when the attack began.
In the days preceding the attack, respondents were repeatedly warned by Serbian friends and colleagues that they had better leave the town rather soon. This supported the assertion of many respondents that the Serbian inhabitants of Zvornik had been informed about the attack, at least on short-notice.
On the weekend before the attack (4 or 5 April), a barricade was erected near Meterize by Serbs using company trucks owned by the firm «Boksit» (a bauxite pit at Milici, 30 km south of Zvornik). On the following day, 6 April, Muslims were prevented from going to work. Additionalluy, students going to the technical training centre at Karakaj were forced to turn back at the barricade.
These events, as well as the fear of a military conflict, were also causing many Muslim families to leave the town via the Old Bridge. In reaction to the Serbian barricade, the Muslims erected a barricade of their own at the same site which was composed of trucks and protected by the Muslim police and by armed volunteers. Initially, however, there were only verbal conflicts going on at the barricades. Demonstrations were held at the barricades, in the course of which members of all ethnic groups advocated a state of peaceful coexistence.
On 6 April, a few days before the attack, the local police force was divided. The police headquarters in Zvornik was liberated by the Serbian police staff, who transported the weaponry, equipment and vehicles to the industrial zone of Karakaj in the north of Zvornik. In the weeks before that, there had still been joint patrols driving around the town and at the bridges in order to demonstrate the togetherness of the two ethnic groups.
Already, on 6 and 7 April, a large part of the Muslim population of Lipovac and Karakaj fled to Zvornik. On the evening of 7 April, i.e., one day before the attack, the large numbers of JNA units present were explained by the Belgrade TV station as being due to an impending attack by «Muslim extremists» positioned on the Kulagrad hill.
On 8 April, negotiations took place in Mali Zvornik between the SDS from Zvornik (Branko Grujic), the Party of Democrat Action (SDA) from Zvornik (district president Asim Jusbasic), and Arkan. The talks reportedly aimed at a «peaceful surrender of the city», i.e., a «capitulation by the Muslim population». Moreover, the two representatives from Zvornik apparently reached an «agreement» which aimed at dividing the city. The centre of the city of Zvornik would remain «Muslim», while the northern part, including the Karakaj industrial zone, would be «awarded» to the Serbs. According to one person interviewed, who had briefly talked with the chief negotiator of the SDA shortly after the meeting, the SDS and the SDA agreed to this scenario. However, the SDA representative still feared an attack, since Arkan was said to have been dissatisfied with this meeting and reportedly announced that he would take charge of things from then on. According to similar reports, Arkan even attacked the two other individuals. In the morning of 9 April, negotiations were also conducted in Mali Zvornik, but they were not successful. This pattern of negotiations was designed to calm the other side, while concurrently preparing a military attack, which had been observed on the international level, was thus applied locally as well.
The military attack on Zvornik occurred on 8 April. Later, there were sporadic military operations with units of the former JNA cooperating with paramilitary units. These operations mainly focused on the medieval fortress of Kulagrad, situated to the south-west of Zvornik, where some dozen resistance fighters were holding out. However, on 26 April, this fortress was conquered in a concerted attack by former JNA troops, with air support, and by paramilitary units. Immediately after the fall of Kulagrad, the town of Divic, situated south of Zvornik, was attacked. Divic was almost exclusively populated by Muslims and was situated at the hydro-electric power plant. Since Divic could also be controlled from Kulagrad, the aggressors did not consider a decisive attack on Divic possible until after the capture of Kulagrad. Divic was also considered a «Muslim stronghold» from where strong resistance could be expected, and where the power plant dam might possibly have been mined.
The attack on the town was conducted both from the Serbian side and from Bosnian territory, using tank forces, artillery, and infantry units with portable mortars. JNA units and paramilitary units cooperated. Arkanovci operated in front-line positions, taking the city. Their core troops left the city after the successful attack to prepare a raid on the next city, Bratunac.
The attack began on the morning of 8 April, with mortar fire on the Bukovik and Meterize city districts, as well as on the Muslim-held defence positions on the Debelo Brdo hill. It came from the artillery positions in Karakaj, from the Bosnian side before Meterize, and from the Serbian side of the River Drina (Mali Zvornik). First shots were fired in the Meterize suburb. This attack was mainly carried out by the heavy equipment of the JNA (artillery and tanks). There are also reports of Arkanovci snipers firing from Mali Zvornik on the opposite river bank, and of snipers aiming at residents from positions on highrise buildings in Zvornik itself. The Muslim position on Debelo Brdo, however, fell on that same day and was occupied by the aggressors.
During the night there was heavy shelling of the town. The capture of the city did not begin until the following day, 9 April. In the morning, there were again negotiations with Arkan, which ended in an ultimatum for the surrender of weapons and the town by 8:00 a.m. At 8:00 a.m. artillery fire started again, followed by the capture of the town by the infantry. The Arkanovci assumed a leading role in the take-over of the city, proceeding from the north via the Bukovik and Meterize city districts heading for the city centre. In addition, infantry units of the JNA in cooperation with «Serb volunteers» (Seseljovci, Beli Orlovi, «TO») also took part in the seizure of the city. They approached the city primarily from the west--from Scemlije and Lisicnjak in a «second wave». It was reported that on the very first day, as well as during the subsequent weeks, there were random executions, rapes, and massacres. In these, the units of the Seseljovci, Beli Orlovi and the so-called «territorial defence» were also involved. On 10 and 11 April, Zvornik was captured. The Kulagrad fortress north of Zvornik and the town of Divic bordering Zvornik to the South had not yet been occupied.
Kulagrad is a settlement in the vicinity of a medieval fortress on the Kula hill, located on the south-western outskirts of Zvornik. In view of the geographical location of Zvornik and the strategic positioning of the attacking units, there were only two escape routes open to the population after the beginning of the artillery fire: either to the east across the Old Bridge to Serbia or in a south-western direction via Kulagrad and Liplje to Tuzla. Kulagrad and Liplje were only used as short stopovers and, during the period after the attack, had to accommodate highly fluctuating numbers of refugees.
On 9 April, artillery attacks on Kulagrad started as the attacking units were expecting major Muslim resistance forces. Even before the attack, Serbian media reported that «several thousand Muslim extremists» were hiding in Kulagrad. In fact, there were probably no more than a few dozen armed Muslims under the command of a former JNA officer who spontaneously organized a resistance movement with light equipment (small arms).
From 11 April onward, there were almost daily attempts by small combat groups from various paramilitary units to capture the fortress. These attempts failed, however, despite the fact that Kulagrad was constantly under fire from mortars, anti- aircraft guns and tanks. The reason for this failure might be due to the apparent lack of coordination of the attacks, as well as deficiencies in the training of the infantry units involved.
On 25 April, an identified senior JNA officer presented an ultimatum to the inhabitants of Divic to turn in their arms. The defenders of Kulagrad had been given a number of ultimatums since the beginning of the attack on April 11. The last ultimatum came on 26 April, the day of the decisive attack on Kulagrad.
In the morning of 26 April, the villages around Kulagrad were the first to fall in the wake of a concerted attack. At the same time, Kulagrad and Divic were attacked by heavy artillery fire from the Serbian bank of the Drina river. This enabled the attackers, who this time had coordinated their actions, to capture Kulagrad. The units were able to approach the fortress from all directions, including from the power station in the south. In addition, the attack was conducted more effectively. Some respondents stated that a special unit, possibly members of the 63rd Nis parachute brigade, were involved in the decisive attack and the seizure of Kulagrad.
The Muslims remaining in Kulagrad, along with the other inhabitants and refugees in Kulagrad (approximately 100 persons), left town at approximately 10:30 a.m. together via Liplje in the direction of Tuzla. In Liplje, they were only able to stay very briefly, as later that afternoon this village was also taken by the aggressors without any resistance. On the same afternoon, paramilitary units marched into Divic and pillages were reported. Some time later, Divic was also occupied by the JNA.
Thus, the attack on Zvornik and the capture and occupation of the city took place before 5 May (i.e., prior to the time when the Yugoslav national Presidium officially gave up the supreme command over the units of the JNA in BiH). Those troops originating from «left-over Yugoslavia» were given orders by the Belgrade national Presidium to withdraw from BiH.
Control over the «civil administration» was first in the hands of the so-called «emergency staff» which above all included members of the local SDS and the militia. Some of these persons were also integrated into the so-called «territorial defence». On the basis of a document, it becomes clear that the «emergency staff» not only was in existence on 8 April, but had already decided on an «ordinance on the introduction of the general work requirement» within the borders of the Serbian district of Zvornik. All workers were required to report to their employer. However, already during the early days of the aggression (around 10 April), a «Provisional Government» of the so-called «Serbian District of Zvornik» was founded.
A few days later (around 10 or 11 April) the above-mentioned «ordinance on the introduction of the general work requirement», along with an extension of the deadline, was broadcast by Radio Zvornik. But this appeal was not followed either, as there were still numerous paramilitary troops in town who were looting and terrorizing the locals. Therefore, the appeal was broadcast once more a few days later (approximately 15 or 16 April). The overall response to these appeals was however rather poor. The experiences of those who did follow the appeal to return to the workplace showed that the true purpose of this appeal, and of others that followed, was to monitor the male Muslim inhabitants.
Immediately after the occupation of the town, a night curfew was imposed which remained in force until the «ethnic cleansing» was completed. During the day, men were allowed to move around only with a permit issued by the Serbian police *321 at Zvornik. Many of the men who went to Karakaj (or later to the police office in Zvornik) in order to apply for a «permit» were suddenly deported into one of the camps in the industrial district of Karakaj. While at the camp, they were subjected to severe torture and murder, in particular by members of the paramilitary troops whose quarters were partly in the same buildings as those in which the prisoners were detained. *322 The detainees were entirely at the mercy of their torturers. *323 Many of the men, therefore, did not dare to pick up their passes themselves, but remained in hiding in houses. However, even persons with a pass were not safe from random aggressions by the numerous paramilitary units in town. It was reported by some witnesses that immediately upon leaving the police station, they had their passes taken away or torn into pieces by members of a paramilitary group. Some of them were attacked and deported into camps.
Women were permitted to leave the house during the daytime in order to go shopping. However, they were obliged to cross the old bridge to Mali Zvornik (Serbia) as the stores in Zvornik had already been looted. At the check-points on the bridge, the women were frequently molested. There were also several reports of rape.
From the onset of the occupation, Muslims were prohibited from working, except for persons deemed indispensable by the aggressors (e.g. hospital personnel, who were not released until the end of May). Everyday life was dominated by the fact that maraudering paramilitary troops, who were not controlled by any authority, terrorized the Muslim population of Zvornik.
There is little available data on the behaviour of the local Serb population because the respondents were almost exclusively Muslims. Also, there were only a few Serbs left in Zvornik at the time of the attack. When asked why they thought the Serbs had left town during that period, many respondents expressed a suspicion that the Serbs «had been fully informed» and had therefore left town in time before the attack. This suspicion is substantiated by the fact that some of the Muslims were warned by Serbian friends about an impending attack. Apart from that, local Serbs took part in numerous acts of violence in town as members of paramilitary groups and units of the police and the SDS. Apparently, it was disadvantageous for local Serbs to talk to the Muslim inhabitants. However, there were also reports indicating a positive behaviour on the part of the Serbs. These reports included cases of food being supplied as well as the much- cited example of a young Serbian woman whose throat was cut by fighters of paramilitary units when she tried to protect her Muslim friends.
There is agreement on the fact that after the fall of Kulagrad the situation in Zvornik became less strained. Many members of the paramilitary units, as well as parts of the troops of the former JNA, were reported to have left town by the end of April. Many of the Serb inhabitants who had also fled from Zvornik returned to town. The SDS started to organize an administration in the new «Serbian District of Zvornik».
At the end of April, probably immediately after the fall of Kulagrad, the «Serbian District of Zvornik» issued a further appeal for the Muslim refugees to return to Zvornik. On the basis of a large number of consistent reports, the message of the appeal could be summarized as follows: the situation in town was back to normal and everyone would be able to return unharmed. Any personal property would have to be registered with the Zvornik police by 15 May as it would otherwise fall to the «Serbian District of Zvornik». This appeal to return was broadcast daily for a period of approximately two weeks by Radio Zvornik, Radio Loznica and, most likely, also by the Belgrade TV station in a variety of versions. The appeal was more successful with the escapees than an earlier appeal to return to the workplace.
The fear of losing their property as well as the situation in town seemed to have been the decisive reason for an astonishingly large number of persons to return. However, the normalization and the establishment of a regular municipal organization, in connection with the appeal to return, had grave consequences for the Muslim inhabitants. Now that the paramilitary groups had left town again, it was possible to convert the existing general chaos into an organized «Serbian administration» of the town. The systematic conduct of the «ethnic cleansing» procedure was only possible after a large part of the Muslim escapee population had returned. Therefore, it was not until the fall of Kulagrad that one could actually speak of an organized expulsion of the Muslim population.
Consequently, after a relatively short time, around 10 May, the situation for the Muslim inhabitants began to deteriorate again. New paramilitary units came into town, breaking into Muslim homes, frightening the residents and mistreating them in a variety of ways, as well as frequently deporting men in the camps at Karakaj. In particular, former members of the SDA fell victim to such deportations into the camps in Karakaj or Batkovic near Bijeljina. The militia and other local Serbs who were frequently referred to as members of the SDS appear to have been regularly involved in these aggressions. There seems to have been a further exacerbation of the situation around the end of May or the beginning of June. This is seen by some respondents as being linked to the arrival of the Draganovci in town.
After the stage of «unorganized» expulsion of the Muslim population by means of terror, the next step was to prepare the total expulsion of the Muslim inhabitants with the support of administrative measures. The first step had already been the appeal to return. The registration of property that was mandatory for all inhabitants, including the Serbian population, served above all the purpose of registering the male Muslim population. For this reason, only men were eligible for registration, which had to be completed before the «Serbian municipality» or the «Serbian militia», even if a property was originally registered under the wife's name. As a result, these registrations led to arrests and deportations to camps, apparently on the basis of pre-established lists.
An «agency for the exchange of houses» was set up, to which the Muslim inhabitants were to transfer their houses. In return, the Muslims were promised houses belonging to Bosnian Serbs (e.g. in the Tuzla region) who supposedly had also assigned their homes to the agency. In order to make this «offer to exchange houses» more attractive looking, Serbian radio stations transmitted broadcasts about the successful exchange of houses by prominent Muslim inhabitants. These exchanges were, in many cases, found out to be falsified, incorrect, or conducted under coercion.
Departure from the town was only possible on the condition that the property was renounced and transferred to the «Serbian District of Zvornik». This forced transfer of property was executed by the «Serbian District of Zvornik» in cooperation with the police and paramilitary units, especially the Draganovci. Eventually, the Muslims were glad to sign the deed in order to get away from the terror.
It is difficult to precisely reconstruct the «model type» procedure employed by the authorities for the conduct of the ethnic cleansing during the following weeks. The measures of forced registration and assignment of property preceding the actual expulsion were characterized by a variety of approaches. Despite the fact that there was no clear indication as to the method used for expulsion, the following pattern emerges from a large number of consistent cases:
After their return, the refugees first had to be registered. This registration had no immediate consequences for the «organized deportations». Registration was, however, a prerequisite for the subsequent transfer of property. Registration had to be done before the police, and, in many cases, it immediately preceded the actual deportation. The forced transfer of property to the «Serbian District of Zvornik» made registrants eligible for obtaining an official entry of change of domicile on their ID card. This ID card entry was a prerequisite for being allowed to leave the town. Some expellees, especially men, were also required to prove that they had «donated blood» (large quantities were indeed taken by coercion from many of the camp prisoners). *324
Documents that had to be shown upon leaving the town included:
From the end of May to early June, there were days in which the Muslim populations of entire municipal districts or neighbouring villages were deported. A chronological accumulation of deportations could be observed on 22 and 23 June. These organized deportations were reportedly carried out by means of vehicles provided by the firm «Drinatrans», which brought the deportees to Mali Zvornik and from there via Loznica to Subotica *325 or into the Bosnian territory of Tuzla. The deportees were only permitted to take a very limited number of personal belongings along with them. Quite frequently, however, even these were taken away from them at the check-points.
A detailed assessment of the level of involvement of the former JNA in the attack on Zvornik is possible only to a limited degree. What is certain is the fact that units of the former JNA were involved.
It is also certain that a tank unit (or parts thereof) was deployed that, until the winter of 1991, had been stationed in Jastrebarsko/Croatia and integrated into the 17th Corps Tuzla, following the abandonment of JNA positions in Croatia. The unit was stationed in the village of Celopek north of Zvornik, with a number of tanks located in the industrial district of Karakaj and proceeding towards the Zvornik city limits (precinct of Meterize) when the attack began. The artillery and air defence emplacements localized on the Bosnian side may be counted as part of the former JNA.
As regards the infantry units, which some of the refugees have attributed to the JNA, there are indications that they are not composed exclusively of «regular members» of the former JNA and draftees of the reserve corps, but also of «volunteers». This assumption is supported by several factors.
First, according to some respondents, the soldiers and the officers had, prior to the attack (i.e., in March 1992) as well as during the attack, begun to wear Serbian badges and cockades instead of the badges of the former JNA on their uniforms. Vehicles and machinery, however, still had the old Yugoslav identification signs. Many of the soldiers wearing «old JNA uniforms» were also using a «white ribbon» around their arms or other identification marks. These identifications only make sense, if they serve to differentiate the person using them from others wearing basically the same uniforms. Such a differentiation, however, was only relevant at the time of the attack or the occupation of Zvornik in regard to «other JNA units» or «units in JNA uniforms» taking part in the attack (on the «Serbian side»), since there was no counterpart on the Muslim side.
For those former JNA units that were stationed on the Serbian side, such a detailed distinction is not possible. Here, temporary military barracks were installed (in Radalj and Mali Zvornik). The unit stationed in the «Dom Kulture» in Mali Zvornik was said to have come from Sabac.
The responsible officers of the former JNA during the attack and occupation periods were identified. After the fall of Kulagrad and the final consolidation of «Serbian control» over Zvornik, the respondents identified the successor commanders.
This change from the former JNA to a (newly established) «territorial defence» (and not to the «Serbian Army in Bosnia and Herzegovina») may be seen as yet another indication that there had already been cooperation between «regular» members of the former JNA and «irregular» members (reserve, volunteers) at the time of the attack on Zvornik.
From the analysis of these factors the following can be concluded:
The strategic preparation of the attack was carried out by officers of the former JNA who were also responsible for coordinating and directing the actual attack.
The squads, which were identified by many respondents as JNA units, were to a large extent at least composed of «volunteers» or «reservists». This assessment is consistent with the fact that the former JNA was already suffering from great personnel losses during the Croatian war and, above all, at the end of the military actions there (especially with many «non-Serbian» recruits refusing to report for active duty and many «non- Serbian» soldiers and officers deserting). The personnel- intensive infantry units, in particular, required additional manpower, a fact which is supported by the observations made in Zvornik. The fact that local SDS activists were named as «officers», especially of the infantry, also suggests that they acted in their capacity as «officers of the reserve» or as officers of the so-called territorial defence.
The tank units, which were also active in Zvornik, were less labour-intensive, but required better training. This suggests that these units were made up of «regular» JNA personnel. Intelligence reports and observations of the troops in combat further showed that there were only rare occasions where a complete brigade was deployed and that «combat groups» were instead usually formed consisting in parts of infantry, artillery and tank units.
In May 1992, the Commander of the JNA's Tuzla Corps resigned. JNA officers and military equipment, however, continued to be part of the attack and occupation of the city and surrounding areas. This implies orders and coordination from another command source.
The attack was initiated by barrage fire from artillery and tank units of the former JNA that supported the seizure of the town by units of the Arkanovci. According to several respondents, destruction caused by artillery and tank fire was rather infrequent. There was no indication that the town was to be destroyed, but rather that the aim was to frighten and terrorize the inhabitants. This suggests that the attackers wanted to take over the town.
The seizure of the town was carried out by a «special unit» of the Arkanovci. This assumption is supported by the fact that members of the Arkanovci who were involved in the capture of the town left again a few days later, whereas other Arkanovci stayed in town and were joined by more members of Arkanovci. The seizure of the town may therefore have been carried out by a «special unit», which had already captured Bijeljina and which after the seizure of Zvornik, went on to occupy Bratunac. The other paramilitary units arrived in a second wave, led by Seseljovci, with the Beli Orlovi and the so-called «Serbian territorial defence» with «volunteers» from adjacent Serbian villages or from neighbouring towns in Serbia.
It is difficult to determine which groups exerted control over Zvornik at the various stages following the occupation of the town. In general, supreme control has frequently been ascribed to the JNA. The fact that these were high-profile personalities and former JNA officers may have led many expellees to assume that supreme control was in the hands of the JNA. Indeed, these two officers had supreme control over the town, albeit not as JNA, but as leading officers of a new «territorial defence» which had been established by local leaders. This later formed the core element of the «Serbian Army in Bosnia and Herzegovina» in the region of Zvornik and was officially declared in May 1992.
It may be assumed, however, that there was a concerted effort to distribute responsibilities and thus authority over the town. At least during the period until the fall of Kulagrad, there appears to have been a sharing of power between the officers of the former JNA (Pejic and Pavlovic) and SDS (Grujic) and the militia.
These testimonies, though, were modified by the fact that nearly all of the respondents said that the various paramilitary units marauder around Zvornik had unlimited freedom of action (terrorizing the civilian population, randomly performing executions and arrests or looting). The JNA units were reported by the respondents to have participated in war crimes and severe human rights violations only to a very limited degree throughout the entire period. They were, however, accused of looting. Guards working in those camps where war crimes and human rights violations were committed were partly members of JNA units. It is unclear, though, whether they were «regular units», drafted reservists or members of the so-called «territorial defence».
There are many indications that the complete freedom of action on the part of the paramilitary units led to a tolerated chaos, which was due to the fact that the potential authorities of the JNA and local militia were not accepted as such by these violent paramilitary units. The Arkanovci, especially, acted completely autonomously and rarely bowed to the authority of JNA officers or, even less, to the local authorities. Overall, the descriptions given by the respondents create the impression that the various paramilitary units only accepted the authority of their respective «leaders» and that many of the less strictly organized paramilitary groups regarded their complete freedom of action as a kind of «remuneration» for their work. This circumstance may, however, also be seen as suggesting that the uncertain distribution of power only served to cover-up those responsible for the war crimes and human rights violations. At this point, the violent chaos may not yet have been associated with the aim of using the terror exerted by the paramilitary groups in order to accelerate the expulsion of the Muslim population.
After the attack, the control authority was initially in the hands of the «emergency staff», which later became known as the «Serbian District of Zvornik». Its president became the apparent principal decision maker.
The logistics of the attack on Zvornik appear to have been prepared on the civilian level. In February, for example, a truck was reported to have brought uniforms and arms to Bosko Ceranic, and another respondent stated that Vojislav Seselj visited Ceranic on 25 March 1992 and brought arms into the church of Scemlije.
The civilian preparations also included an «evacuation exercise» on the last or next to the last weekend in March 1992. On that weekend, to the surprise of the Muslim inhabitants of Zvornik, the greater part of the Serbian families had left town on Friday and did not return until Monday.
The local SDS representatives, who were reported to have had contacts with Seselj's Radical Party in Serbia, had already made provisions for enforcing their seizure of power, during the months preceding the attack. Back in the fall of 1991, they had declared Zvornik to be part of the «Autonomous Serbian Region of Semberija and Majevica». As can be seen from the document on the dismissal of a Muslim citizen from his workplace, the «emergency staff» had decided on 4 April on an «ordinance on the introduction of the general work requirement». Apparently, preparations for an «access to power» were already being taken on the civilian administrative level as well.
The preparations for the attack seem to have been coordinated with the regional business leaders, several of whom were identified by the respondents. Some of the business leaders were seen distributing arms, while others provided means to transport expellees from Zvornik to Serbia. The director of the largest local employer was also accused by the press in the fall of 1991 of having provided the SDS with large quantities of fuel.
Shortly after the dissolution of the Yugoslav territorial defence in BiH and Herzegovina in the fall of 1991, SDS leaders in Zvornik began with the recruiting, equipping, and apparent training of the new «Serbian Territorial Defence» (TO). During the months before the attack, there were also military exercises organized by the JNA. Only Serbs were drafted for these exercises, which were allegedly held for the purpose of training the «territorial defence».
This new «territorial defence», which had taken part in the attack on Zvornik as part of an infantry unit, was mostly dressed in old JNA uniforms or camouflage uniforms. Men dressed in civilian clothing were also involved in the combat activities. They were equipped, at least during the attack, with traditional infantry armament. Among them were former members of the territorial defence from the Serbian villages near Zvornik or from Zvornik which had been dissolved in the fall of 1991, as well as SDS members from the suburbs of Scemlije, Lisicnjak, Celopek, and newly recruited Serbs from the neighbouring villages.
One possible indication supporting this hypothesis is the fact that many Serbs from the neighbouring villages who were known by name could be identified either as Territorial Defence commanders (among them important SDS members). Others are reported to be JNA officers.
They arrived in town early (either together with or after Arkan, but in any case, during the attack and together with the Seseljovci). This frequently-made statement is supported by further allegations. After the assault detachment of the Arkanovci, which was protected by mortar sections had captured the town, the second line of combat became operational. The second line of combat included local Territorial Defence units and the Seseljovci, consisting mostly of people from the nearby places in Serbia. One of their tasks at that time was to deliver to the Arkanovci outstanding Muslim personalities on the basis of pre-established lists.
The military operations against the Muslim-controlled position at Kulagrad, which started after 11 April, were mostly conducted by the «territorial defence» (TO) and by «volunteers» from Serbia and the neighbouring villages. In the actual attack on Kulagrad, the tanks were followed by operations also carried out by the TO and the Beli Orlovi.
After the fall of Kulagrad on 26 April, the situation in Zvornik became more stabilized. The SDS began to rebuild the local administration and simultaneously started to prepare for the expulsion of the Muslim inhabitants of Zvornik.
The first step was, paradoxically, an appeal to the escaped Muslim inhabitants to return. In that appeal, which was broadcast by Radio Zvornik and Radio Loznica, as well as by the Belgrade TV station, the escapees were called upon to come back as the situation had returned to normal. They were required to return by a certain date (probably 15 May) in order to have their property registered. They would otherwise lose any title to their property. The exact wording of the appeal could not be ascertained anymore as it was apparently broadcast frequently and in a number of different versions. Similarly, there were several testimonies as to who had issued the appeal. Essentially, however, these statements are consistent with each other.
The registration, which the respondents were required to do from the end of April onward (first mentioned on 28 April), had to be done before the «Serbian municipality» or the «Serbian militia». When people showed up for registration, the true purpose of the procedure was revealed: a registration of male inhabitants. Only men were permitted to register with the authorities. There were even reports of cases where a man had to register for an apartment despite the fact that this apartment had been registered under his wife's name. In line with the true purpose of the registration, men were arrested and deported into camps on the basis of lists which had apparently been prepared beforehand. The conduct of these forced registrations was the responsibility of the new local administration (SDS) and the militia.
After the forced registration, the situation of the Muslim population deteriorated rapidly. The increasing terror caused by, to the greatest extent, the newly arrived unit of one «Kapetan Dragan» was the preparatory stage for the ultimate, forceful expulsion of the Muslim inhabitants of Zvornik.
Some time later, around the end of May to early June 1992, the first forced deportations were carried out, preceded by a «compulsory transfer of property», without which it was not possible to leave the town. The Serbian administration then issued documents which «permitted» the person to leave the town in the direction of Mali Zvornik and which were frequently connected with an ID card entry stating that the person moved to a Serbian town. These documents had to be shown upon departure or were a prerequisite for being «allowed» to leave the town. The task of the militia was to organize these compulsory assignments, while the subsequent forced expulsions were carried out in cooperation with the paramilitary units.
It may be concluded on the basis of the present facts that not only were the aggression and the expulsion of the Muslim inhabitants intended and initiated by the local Serbian authorities but other hierarchically superior institutions were also involved both in the preparation and the actual attack and expulsion operations.
The employment of heavy equipment, trained personnel and officers of the former JNA can be proved. The squads themselves, especially the personnel-intensive infantry units, were composed of drafted reservists, «volunteers» and members of paramilitary units. The equipment of these units came partly from the JNA, and partly from other sources, such as supplies of the former territorial defence or private arms, and was equivalent to the usual infantry equipment.
Several important facts are indicative of an involvement of supra-local institutions:
All in all, these facts also support yet another hypothesis, namely that these newly equipped units formed the core element of the subsequent «Serbian Army in Bosnia and Herzegovina». The «Serbian Army in Bosnia and Herzegovina», as those members of the former JNA who had remained in BiH were called, was not officially founded until 5 May 1992. However, the attack on Zvornik was carried out one month earlier. The establishment of this new army and the furnishing of its equipment must therefore not only have been planned sometime before (i.e. long before the attack on BiH), but was already carried out in March 1992.
The local civilian preparations for the conduct of the impending attack, as well as the local measures aimed at the creation of a «Serbian territorial defence» in Zvornik, coincide with the establishment of a new «Serbian Army» in BiH. This territorial defence may even have been involved in the preparations for the new «Serbian Army in Bosnia-Herzegovina» and may have served as a basis for the 36th infantry brigade of the Drina corps of the «Serbian Army in Bosnia-Herzegovina», meanwhile stationed in Zvornik.
The expulsion of the Muslim inhabitants of Zvornik, like the military attack, required preparation. When the various stages of the assault are examined, an underlying systematic approach is revealed.
The SDS leadership had declared in the fall of 1991 that Zvornik formed part of the so-called «Autonomous Serbian Region of Semberija and Majevica». Before the attack, requests for a separation of the town according to ethnic principles were voiced by representatives of the local SDS. During the military occupation phase, lasting until the fall of Kulagrad on 26 April 1992, the aim of the violent chaos imposed on the town by the paramilitary units and the massive and systematic war crimes and human rights violations was not yet intended to accelerate the expulsion of the Muslim inhabitants. However, the preparations for a total and final expulsion had commenced at that stage. The specific terror activities designed to expel the Muslim population only started in May 1992.
These preparations for a total, and final, and systematic expulsion became obvious when the proclamation for the Muslim inhabitants to return to Zvornik was announced. Apart from an allegation that order and peace in the town were restored, the proclamation was linked to an appeal to the Muslims to return in order to have their property registered. If owners failed to do so, their property would fall to the «Serbian District of Zvornik». A great number of expellees followed the appeal. They did so not only in view of the above-mentioned allegation and appeal, but also because many of them were concerned about the fate of members of their families who had stayed in town.
The registration conducted upon their return revealed the primary purpose of the appeal: to register all male Muslim inhabitants. The men who had fled to surrounding Bosnian and Serbian regions were to be neutralized as potential resistance fighters. As a result, many of the returning men were immediately deported into a camp.
The appeal to return, however, had yet another, even further-
reaching aim: the systematic expulsion of the Muslim population.
For it was only after the Muslim inhabitants, not only from the
town but from the entire region, had returned and were thus ready
to be «gathered» that their total and final expulsion became
possible. This enabled the aggressors not only to move them away
from Zvornik, but also to deport them in an organized and
comprehensive manner across the national boundaries of the former
Yugoslavia. The geographical location of Zvornik, as a border
town to neighbouring Serbia, enabled the Bosnian-Serb leaders to
deport the expellees from of BiH to other countries without any
problems. By means of bussed mass deportations, the expellees
were brought as far as Subotica at the Serbian-Hungarian border.
There, many of them were issued a «Yugoslavian passport», with
which they were sent, mostly in corridor trains, via Hungary to
The reference to places and camps as well as to perpetrators is based on corresponding statements by witnesses. It is therefore safe to say that these did, in fact, exist. However, one has to take into account that the list is by no means complete.
The Dom Kulture has served as headquarters since December 1991 and is said to have served as an internment camp as well.
Ekonomija was an agricultural cooperative. Due to its secluded location, its buildings were used in particular to torture and kill numerous individuals. According to corresponding witness accounts, this must have been the «worst» of all camps. In a chamber which used to be a slaughter area, people were literally butchered. Not only people from Zvornik and its surroundings were detained there, but also members of the Croatian National Guard (ZNG), among others.
The principal, Fehim Kujundzic, was murdered by Arkanovci in the Technical School Centre on 9 or 10 April. In the school's training labs in particular many acts of violence were committed.
Alhos was a garment factory. Initially, the factory accommodated the police (from 6 April on). In addition, the emergency staff also stayed there.
Novi Standard was a new building of the shoe factory complex. At the time of the attack, the entire shoe production had been stopped. For some time it served as headquarters of the Serbian police (it was moved from Alhos to Novi Standard). It further accommodated paramilitary units--reportedly the Arkanovci, Seseljovci, and the «volunteers» from Loznica. Individuals who had picked up their pass certificate from the police were kept there for days and severely tortured. In addition, citizens who had been randomly arrested were carried off to the quarters of the paramilitary units, where they were severely tortured.
At the time of the attack, Novi Izvor consisted of two plants: «Kamenolom», a quarry, and «Ciglana», a brick factory. Both were in operation during the attack. Captured Muslims were forced to work alongside regular Serbian employees in three shifts. The Muslims routinely faced violent attacks by various groups. In early June, the camp counted about 70 prisoners. Some of them had been held there since mid-April. Many acts of torture and killings are reported.
A number of persons were identified as guards and torturers in the camps (in some cases only the nick-names are known).
At this prison inmates were tortured during interrogation, and several were killed.
This building was turned into a prison. Women and children from Divic who had witnessed and/or survived the massacre at Celopek were detained and mistreated there.
This hotel served as quarters for the police. Acts of torture and arrests are reported.
In mid-April, Arkan took all patients hostage, so that the remains of his brother-in-law «Rambo» be handed over to him. Men were detained on the street and forced to donate blood. Murders even occurred as a result of excessive withdrawal of blood. Patients and staff were frequently attacked, in particular by Arkanovci. Several people were detained in the basement.
On 15 July, a great number of prisoners from various camps
were transferred to Batkovic near Bijeljina. It is unclear
whether any prisoners were left behind.
Based on numerous, consistent witness accounts, the following mass graves can be identified.
Kazanbasca: Kazanbasca is a Muslim cemetery in Zvornik's Meterize district. According to reports, the first mass graves were dug there very soon after the attack.
City dumping grounds: These grounds are situated by the Drina. Their name is unknown.
Krecana: Krecana is a lime pit in Mali Zvornik.
Ranun Grob: This site is located between Radakovac and Scemlije.
Sljunkara: Sljunkara is a flint pit north of Celopek by the Drina.
Drina: Many respondents stated that numerous corpses were
thrown into the Drina (mostly from bridges).
The BIM holds a list of numerous massacres and mass killings by gun shots. In order to prevent any premature attribution of guilt, the following list includes only those perpetrators who have been identified independently and in consistent statements by several witnesses. Moreover, we have witness accounts of massacres and mass shooting deaths by individual respondents.
Thirty citizens from Divic, who had been deported there around mid to end of May, were shot to death.
On 9 April, Arkanovci randomly shot to death people they had dragged out of basements in Hrid and Zamlaz.
Seseljovci and Arkanovci together committed mass killings in Hrid and Bukovik.
At the checkpoint by the Old Bridge in Zvornik, Muslims were shot to death and dumped into the Drina river.
Around mid to end of May, a considerable number of Muslim patients were shot to death in front of the hospital of Zvornik by Arkanovci. In the pediatric ward, dozens of babies were murdered with bare hands.