Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA 24401
by Prof. Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
The sequence of Serb-run policy in Banja Luka, as recounted by David Rieff in Slaughterhouse, pp. 84-106, illustrates one of the key techniques used to accomplish genocide in the Balkans in the 1990s. Political killing began on the first day of the Serb militia's take over, but was not widespread at first. It formed a backdrop throughout a 13 step, systematic extermination of the culture of the Muslims there. The tactics Rieff described Serbs to have employed in Banja Luka were not unique to that northern Bosnian city. Begun first in Eastern Slavonia, Croatia, and employed first in Bosnia in the eastern city of Zvornik, these methods were used throughout areas dominated by the Bosnian Serbs. At one time at the height of the conflict in Bosnia, Bosnian Serbs --about a third of the national census-- came to dominate three fourths of the area of Bosnia. For these and other crimes, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the Bosnian War (1992-95), Radovan Karadzic, was indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in 1995. Karadzic and his fellow indictee, military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic, remain fugitives from justice. Karadzic long lived in Pale, Bosnia, a city in the French zone of security responsibility under the structure of command of the SFOR contingent of N.A.T.O.
1. Bar non-Serbs from jobs as managers, leaders.
2. Elitocide. Dismiss/demote, then fire non-Serb shop foremen. Only permit menial jobs by non-Serbs. Take leaders to concentration camps. Torture, kill them.
3. Mobilize all men (all ethnicities) into Bosnian Serb Army.
4. Fire from jobs all non-Serbs who failed to report.
5. This deprived non-Serbs of health coverage, and in many cases their apartments.
6. Without work, non-Serbs also lost access to medicines, ration cards, etc.
7. Deprive indigent non-Serbs of UN aid intended to be delivered to them.
8. If UNHCR (or other NGO aid workers) object, bar them entirely from the area.
9. Intimidation: Public looting of non-Serb shops; nighttime street violence, etc.
10. Published death lists: target leaders, teachers first.
11. Mass Killings.
12. Destruction of the cultural and religious monuments, e.g., the National Library (Sarajevo), 900 mosques.
13. Use atrocities (rapes; camps; massacres) to deter refugees' return.
Unlike the rapid genocide in Rwanda that occurred faster than the international community could respond, ethnic cleansing was a means of genocide in Bosnia which occurred in slow motion, in full view of a disinterested West.
Serb leader Milosevic seems to have learned from this distinction. When slow motion expulsion of the Kosovars in 1998 elicited sharp reactions from the West, a plan (Operation Horseshoe) was designed to achieve rapid expulsion of the Kosovars. It was put into effect in Spring 1999.
But unlike the response of the West to Serb-run genocide of Muslims in Bosnia, the West acted swiftly to Serb-run genocide of Muslims in Kosovo. Eleven weeks of NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, not just Kosovo, from March 24 to June 11, 1999, forced complete Serb withdrawal and transferred the province of Kosovo to U.N. administration.
David Rieff, Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995).
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