[Used with Permission from Srebrenica Genocide Blog.]

Some Serb sources persist in justifying genocide by stating that the Srebrenica Massacre was ‘retaliation’ of Serb forces for Bosniak attacks on Serb-held villages around Srebrenica from which Serb launched brutal offensive on Srebrenica enclave.

The U.N. Report 53/35 concluded:

“Even though this accusation [that Srebrenica massacre was ‘retaliation’ of Serb forces for Bosniak attacks on Serb villages] is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it.” (Read copy of U.N. Report)

The genocide justifiers have consistently ignored the strong VRS (Serb) military presence in some Bosnian Serb villages around Srebrenica. 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.

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 Serbia)

The Research and Documentation Center concluded 480 Serb deaths around Srebrenica; 329 (or 68.5%) were soldiers and 151 (or 31.5%) were civilians. They died as a result of counter-offensive measures taken by starved defenders and civilians of Srebrenica who were forced to attack surrouding Serb military strong holds in search for food and other basic supplies which were blocked by the Serb Army from entering Srebrenica. Long before there were any Serb casualties around Srebrenica, thousands of Bosniaks were killed and ethnically cleansed from predominantly Bosniak area of Podrinje (region where Srebrenica is located).

Serbian politicians have often used grossly inflated numbers of Serbs victims around Srebrenica to justify genocide against Bosniaks. Radical nationalist Belgrade researcher, Milivoje Ivanisevic, was responsible for circulating most of this unreliable and incomplete data about Serb casualties. It is important to note that Ivanisevic recently published a book denying Srebrenica genocide – so much about his credibility.

During the Bosnian war (1992-1995), Srebrenica was under constant siege by Bosnian Serb millitary; no food or medical supplies were allowed into the enclave. Apart from never ending starvation, the civilian population of Srebrenica was subjected to constant Bosnian Serb artillery attacks. The only way to survive was to counter-attack surrounding Bosnian Serb villages (which served as Bosnian Serb military bases) and search for food and other supplies. In fact, long before Naser Oric counter-attacked Bosnian Serb forces around Srebrenica, close to 90% of Bosniak population of Eastern Bosnia was ethnically cleansed by Bosnian Serb and Serbian military forces.

From Simon Mardel, a WHO doctor who was based in Srebrenica at the time, wrote:

“People are completely trapped. The water supply from higher up the valley is now cut off. The present situation can only be described as an impending holocaust.” (source: IWPR)

Office of the Chief United Nations War Crimes Prosecutor also made a statement confirming lack of reliability with respect to Serb sources grossly inflating number of Serb victims around Srebrenica. Asked to comment on the different number of Serb victims in the Srebrenica region published in Belgrade, Florence Hartmann, Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor, made the following statement:

“First of all, the OTP is always very careful in the use of the word ‘victim’. Military or Police casualties from combat should not be considered victims in a criminal investigation context, in the same way people are victims from war crimes, such as summary executions. Before speaking about the whole area of Podrinja, including at least the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, I would comment on the various figures circulating around the Kravica attack of January 1993. The figures circulating of hundreds of victims or claiming that all 353 inhabitants were “virtually completely destroyed” do not reflect the reality…. For the whole region, i.e the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, the Serb authorities claimed previously that about 1400 people were killed due to attacks committed by the B&H Army forces for the period of May 1992 to March 1995, when Srebrenica was under the control of Naser Oric. Now the figure has become 3,500 Serbs killed. This figure may have been inflated. Taking the term “victims” as defined previously, these figures just does not reflect the reality.” (source: ICTY Press Release)

In a “Myth of Bratunac: Blatant Numbers Game” the internationally evaluated Research and Documentation Center examined Ivanisevic’s claims and concluded the following:

“The allegations that Serb casualties in Bratunac, between April 1992 and December 1995 amount to over three thousand is an evident falsification of facts. The RDC research of the actual number of Serb victims in Bratunac [just outside of Srebrenica] has been the most extensive carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina and proves that the overall number of victims is three to nine times smaller than indicated by Serbia and Montenegro. Perhaps the clearest illustration of gross exaggeration is that of Kravica, a Serb village near Bratunac attacked by the Bosnian Army on the morning of Orthodox Christmas, January 7, 1993 . The allegations that the attack resulted in hundreds of civilian victims have been shown to be false. Insight into the original documentation of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) clearly shows that in fact military victims highly outnumber the civilian ones. The document entitled ‘Warpath of the Bratunac brigade’, puts the military victims at 35 killed and 36 wounded; the number of civilian victims of the attack is eleven…” [source: Research and Documentation Center]

Serbian Human Rights Watch’s conclussions were in line with the RDC research, quote:

“The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party launched an aggressive campaign to prove that Muslims had committed crimes against thousands of Serbs in the area. The campaign was intended to diminish the significance of the July 1995 crime, and many in Serbia were willing to accept that version of history. But as the Oric judgment makes clear, the facts do not support the equivalence thesis. Take the events in the village of Kravica, on the Serb Orthodox Christmas on January 7, 1993, for example. The alleged killing of scores of Serbs and destruction of their houses in the village is frequently cited in Serbia as the key example of the heinous crimes committed by the Muslim forces around Srebrenica. 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. The critics also invoke unreliable statistics. A spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party of Serbia in the wake of the Oric judgment, for example, claimed that “we have documents showing that 3,260 people were found dead around Srebrenica from 1992-1995.” However, the book Hronike nasih grobalja (Chronicles of Our Graveyards) by the Serb historian Milivoje Ivanisevic (the president of the Belgrade Centre for Investigating Crimes Committed against the Serbian People), uses the significantly lower figure, of “more than 1,000 persons [who] died,” and contains the list, mostly made of men of military age. Among those killed, there were evidently a significant number of Bosnian Serb soldiers who died in the fighting, like in Kravica.” [source: HRW in Serbia]

With respect to Naser Oric (defender of Srebrenica), he was found not guilty of any direct involvement in the murders of about 5 and mistreatment of another 10 Serbs. Contrast that with over 8,000 Bosniaks who were summarily executed by Serb forces under the command of Serb war crimes fugitives Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. Naser Oric was also found not guilty for the “wanton destruction” of homes and property. But he was found guilty of failing to control and discipline men under his command. The incidents took place from December 1992 to March 1993 (before Srebrenica became “Safe Heaven”), when Serb forces were ethnically cleansing, torturing, raping, and killing Bosniak Muslim population of Eastern Bosnia.

One cannot even compare the case of genocide with the individual incidents of war crimes, because Srebrenica Bosniaks were subjected to Genocide, not Serbs. It should also be noted that Naser Oric was not on trial for genocide, nor was he on trial for mass murder of Serb civilians.

Many of the 52 witnesses that the Oric prosecution called were members of the Bosnian Serb Army who participated in the seige and massacre of over 8,000 Srebrenica Bosniaks. The prosecution also stood criticised for providing forged documents which three expert witnesess failed to authenticate, and has also been warned but not sancioned for witholding exculpatory evidence. The judges at one point attempted to reduce the time that defence witnesses were allowed to testify, until an appeals chamber overturned this decision. There was also outrage at the 18 year sentence that the prosecution has asked for. Take Drazen Erdemovic as an example; he was a Serb soldier serving in Srebrenica and although he confessed to killing approximately 1000 Bosniak civilians during the Srebrenica massacre he only received a 5 year sentance.

The judges in Naser Oric case described conditions in Srebrenica at the times of the crimes in 1992 and 1993 as abysmal. They noted that militarily superior Serb forces encircled the town and that there was an unmanageable influx of refugees there, as well as a critical shortage of food and the breakdown of law and order. Oric was given 2 year sentence and immediately released, because he already spent more than 3 years on trial. Consequently, the sentence imposed reflects this uniquely limited criminal responsibility.” – concluded judges. (source: ICTY Press Release).

Used with Permission from Srebrenica Genocide Blog.