[Used with Permission from Srebrenica Genocide Blog.]

Is Netherlands’ NIOD Report objective with respect to the events leading to Srebrenica genocide?

The NIOD Report was published by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation. This is the document, commissioned by the Dutch government to wash its hands from responsibility for failures leading to Srebrenica massacre.

Dutch NIOD Report is not as objective as one might have expected it to be. It’s a piece of moral equivalism never seen before. Critics of the NIOD Report allege that the massive tome is full of inaccuracies and amounts to a whitewash designed to clear the Dutch of any wrongdoing. NIOD Report was published by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation. This is the document, commissioned by the Dutch government following criticism of the way its peacekeeping force in the Srebrenica behaved at the time of the massacre. (sources: A Toast to the Dead by Der Spiegel; Survivors of Srebrenica Massacre Sue United Nations by the International Herald Tribune; and the latest piece by Der Spiegel titled Srebrenica Survivors Sue Netherlands, UN republished at our blog).

Although the Dutch government refused to apologize for the failure of Dutchbat to prevent the Srebrenica massacre, the NIOD Report was the Netherlands’s attempt to wash their hands of direct involvement in the Srebrenica massacre. The report is extremely biased in some parts, depending on the sources or references used.

For example, Part II – Chapter 2 talks about “The history preceding the conflict in Eastern Bosnia up until the establishment of the Safe Area“. By reading this part of the report, one can easily get the impression that Bosniaks constantly attacked Serb villages while Serbs were constantly defending themselves from Bosniaks. But since this report was Netherland’s attempt to shift blame by virtues of ‘moral equivalency’, no wonder they came up with such grotesque claims. Earlier U.N. Report 53/35 concluded:

Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. Dutchbat personnel on the ground at the time assessed that the few “raids” the Bosniaks mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organized in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them. (source: read copy of UN Report 53/35)

The judgment in Naser Oric case clearly shows that surrounding Serb villages were used as bases to attack Srebrenica on a daily basis from day one:

Between April 1992 and March 1993, Srebrenica town and the villages in the area held by Bosnian Muslims were constantly subjected to Serb military assaults, including artillery attacks, sniper fire, as well as occasional bombing from aircrafts. Each onslaught followed a similar pattern. Serb soldiers and paramilitaries surrounded a Bosnian Muslim village or hamlet, called upon the population to surrender their weapons, and then began with indiscriminate shelling and shooting. In most cases, they then entered the village or hamlet, expelled or killed the population, who offered no significant resistance, and destroyed their homes. During this period, Srebrenica was subjected to indiscriminate shelling from all directions on a daily basis. Potocari in particular was a daily target for Serb artillery and infantry because it was a sensitive point in the defence line around Srebrenica. Other Bosnian Muslim settlements were routinely attacked as well. All this resulted in a great number of refugees and casualties. (source: Naser Oric Judgement, pdf format page 43-51)

Serb forces continued to attack Srebrenica even after Srebrenica became a “Safe Heaven”:

Later, a Dutch battalion replaced the Canadian troops. The weapons of Bosnian Muslims were, at least to some extent, turned in or confiscated. Larger military operations by both Bosnian Muslims and Serbs were effectively brought to a halt. However, incidents of Serb military action continued to occur, causing casualties among the Srebrenica population. (Naser Oric Judgement, pdf format, page 52-53)

The genocide justifiers have consistently ignored the strong VRS military presence in some Bosnian Serb villages. For example, the village of Fakovici was used as a military outpost through which Bosnian Serb forces launched massive attacks on Bosniak civilians. Secondly, the Oric judgment found the presence of Serb military in several villages that the Bosniak forces launched an offensive on, including the presence of sophisticated weapons such as tanks, anti aircraft, rocket launchers etc. Therefore, putting the offensive actions against those specific villages where there was a VRS presence in much different light than the one purported by the genocide deniers.Serbian Human Rights Watch agrees:

In fact, the Oric judgment confirms that there were Bosnian Serb military forces present in the village at the time of attack. In 1998, the wartime New York Times correspondent Chuck Sudetic wrote in his book on Srebrenica that, of forty-five Serbs who died in the Kravica attack, thirty-five were soldiers. Original Bosnian Serb army documents, according to the ICTY prosecutor and the Sarajevo-based Center for Research and Documentation of War Crimes, also indicate that thirty-five soldiers died. (source: Human Rights Watch in Serbia)

The NIOD report cites too many biased Serb sources and even suggests that over 1,000 Serbs died around Srebrenica, which was discredited by both the internationally sponsored Research and Documentation Center and the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. Manipulating the number of victims is a form of propaganda that in practice is very difficult to deal with. IWPR’s piece, titled Controversial Srebrenica Report Back on Table (source: IWPR), exposes flaws of NIOD Report:

“They [the critics] claim that the government-financed report now provides a ‘one-stop shop’ of information for all sides if the conflict, because it was watered down too much for it to take a real position on anything. According to Jan Willem Honig, senior lecturer in war studies at London’s Kings College and co-author of the highly-praised “Srebrenica, Record of a War Crime”, the truth lies somewhere in between. Although he says the report “has an aura of independent academic research,” Honig is critical of its length, saying the sheer abundance of information makes it possible for anyone to pluck from it whatever they need to make their point. This, he says, is a liability because the report is not always consistent. ‘It’s possible to draw different conclusions from the different parts in the book. Therefore one can imagine it is useful to both defence and prosecution,’ he said. Honig said he found numerous errors in the report as well. For example, he said an explanatory map inserted as a graphic aid to explaining the Bosnian Serb battle plan does not correspond with the plan as described in the text. And neither the written description nor the map accurately describe the actual plan. Worse than the inaccuracies, according to Honig, is the fact that the report has no clear objective. ‘They [the researchers] should have considered better what they wanted to establish with the report. That might have saved thousands of pages. With its leisurely narrative approach they shot themselves in the foot. The project escaped their control; it became too big,’ he said.Honig is not alone in criticising the report. Many readers have complained that the index is poorly organised and full of errors, particularly regarding peoples’ names. Even those who worked on the NIOD report have been critical of it. One of the nine NIOD-researchers, anthropologist Ger Duijzings recently told the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, ‘Information from sources that I found unreliable, I found back in Part 1 [of the report] – used by [fellow-researcher] Bob de Graaf, if he thought it fitted in his argumentation.'”

The direct Dutch involvement in the Srebrenica massacre and subsequent shameful collaboration with Ratko Mladic’s genocidal forces is one of the issues in the upcoming lawsuit against the Dutch government and the United Nations (source: Der Spiegel). Dutch forces have direct (although not primary) responsibility for the fall of Srebrenica and the subsequent massacre of over 8,000 Bosniaks.According to Hasan Nuhanovic, who survived Srebrenica massacre, the NIOD Report has not determined the level of responsibility and guilt of the Dutch troops and officials for genocide in Srebrenica (source: Hasan Nuhanovic) .According to ambassador Arria, who initiated the visit of the UN Security Council delegation to Srebrenica in April 1993, and was at its head, described the situation in the enclave as “genocide in slow motion”. (source: SENSE Tribunal) Shocking images of poverty, destruction, starvation and squalor were hidden from the public. As the Venezuelan ambassador testified, this was done with the collusion of the UNPROFOR troops deployed in the enclave declared a “protected area” a little while ago.Arria took the first photographs of the destruction of Srebrenica and its starving inhabitants. Those were the only photographs in existence at the time. He refused to hand over his camera to UN members.Ambassador Arria testified at the International Tribunal that the international community “did not move its little finger” to protect the Muslims in the enclave and “did not make it possible for them to defend themselves”. He openly accusing the then UN Secretary General Boutros Ghali and his staff of withholding the reports about the real situation in Srebrenica and misinforming the Security Council.The report on the “humanitarian disaster in Srebrenica”, Arria claims, appeared before the Security Council 12 days after the dramatic appeal by the then UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata. There was a tendency in the Security Council, he said, to “morally equate the victims and the aggressor”, thus avoiding the need to take action to prevent the humanitarian disaster. The Venezuelan diplomat claims that the blue helmets in the enclave did nothing to prevent the “gradual genocide”. Quite the contrary, during the visit of the Security Council delegation to Srebrenica, the then UNPROFOR commander, Brigadier Hayes did all he could to prevent them from seeing the real situation and the truth about the area which had already been officially declared as “protected”.As he said, the international community had been hoping, before the declaration of the safe haven, that the Serbs would overrun the enclave quickly, thereby “solving the problem”. The defenders of Srebrenica, Arria contends, were a problem for the international community. It turned out that the UN-protected enclave was in fact a “scene set for genocide”, Arria said, adding that today he was “sorry [he] proposed the establishment of the protected area together with the other representatives of the non-aligned countries in the Security Council”.

Used with Permission from Srebrenica Genocide Blog.