Bosnian Genocide (1992-1995). List of Genocides of the 20th Century

Yugoslavia | Source

Pre Genocide: Troubles in Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia was made up of the republics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

There was an imbalance of power in Yugoslavia, with Serbia dominating the republics and having the most influence. This led to nationalist protests including the significant “Croatian Spring” in Croatia, which had major support from the Croatian people. The Croatians, and other nationalities of Yugoslavia, demanded that Serbia’s power be reduced to ensure equality among the states.

The Croatian protesters were arrested, but president, Josip Broz Tito, carried out their wishes regardless and created two new provinces in Serbia, Kosovo and Vojvodina. This would reduce Serbia’s influence and power by distributing some of it across its new provinces.

This did not a have a positive reaction in Serbiawhere they believed that Tito was giving priority to Croatian nationalists and Albanians nationals who made up about 80% of Kosovo’s population at the time. Kosovo was also not happy they were only given province status and that they would not be eligible to leave Yugoslavia (at the time).

These tensions, among others were threatening the unity and stability of Yugoslavia.

In the 1970’s a massive economic crisis erupted, due to enormous errors made by the Yugoslavian government, hundreds of companies went into liquidation with 600,000 workers laid off and many not being payed. Yugoslavia was in a crisis and the instability would worsen following the death of Tito, on the 4th of May 1980.

Pre Genocide: Yugoslavia Breaks

Ethnic tensions, political conflicts, republics wanting to leave or to have lesser ties,Serbia wanting full control of Yugoslavia and other disagreements led to the breakdown of Yugoslavia, over the years 1991 to 1995. Warring and conflict between Yugoslav nations occurred throughout these years, including war in Bosnia and Herzegovina known as the Bosnian War.

Pre Genocide: Bosnian War

In 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina was declared an independent nation. Bosnia’s Serbian population were not happy as they saw Bosnia as part of a greater Serbia. The Serbians of the recently Independent Croatia had also been uneasy and were just arising from a year long conflict between Croatia and the Yugoslav army, which was mainly Serb and was trying to protect the Serb communities in Croatia.

The dominating Serbs then set their eyes on Bosnia and eventually invaded which led to their control of a major proportion of the eastern region of Bosniathat they called Republika Srpska. The Bosnian Serbs were now in control of 75 percent of the country. Many of Bosnia’s ethnic groups, the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Bosnian Croats (Bosnian people from Croatian decent), were living in the now Serb Republika Srpska, but they would find themselves subjected to racism and cruelty and most eventually driven out of the new Serb area of Bosnia.

The UN sent in peace keeping troops to protect 6 areas, of mainly Bosniak ethnicity, within Bosnia. Sarajevo and Srebrenica were two areas under the protection of UN forces. The UN failed and all safe areas fell to the Serbs, excluding Sarajevo. These areas were ethnically cleansed from the any ethnic Bosnians other that Bosnian Serbs and spelled disaster for the Muslim Bosniaks, who would soon be victims of genocide.

Town of Srebrenica
Town of Srebrenica | Source

Bosnian Genocide Begins

The town of Srebrenica located in eastern Bosnia, within the Bosnian Serb area of Republika Srpska, was a UN safe area of mainly Bosniaks. The Bosniak population accounted for 75 percent of the town population, just under 7000 people, and the rest being mainly Bosnian Serbs.

Dutch personnel were among those responsible for the safety of people within this safe area, but they were ill equipped and with a lack of personnel.

In July 1995, the Serb forces shelled the town from the surrounding countryside, destroying buildings and killing civilians and soon they made their way closer to the town.

The Dutch UN peacekeepers, “Dutchbat”, were desperate and requested assistance from France. The invading Serbs were warned that there would be air strikes if they did not remove themselves from the town’s vicinity. The French assistance never arrived.

The Serb presence intensified and the Muslim Bosniaks, in a state of fear, fled to the Dutch UN HQ which was a factory just outside Srebrenica in the town of Potocari, while being fired upon my the Serb army close by.

Around 20,000 to 30,000 mainly women and children Bosniaks, from Srebrenica and the surrounding areas fled to the Dutch base in Potocari, with only about 6000 being admitted inside to due lack of space. The rest had to wait outside or hide in nearby factories and fields.

The Serbs began to make their way towards the thousands of Bosniaks at the Dutch HQ and the Dutch were powerless and could do very little.

Having arrived, the Serbs displaced themselves in the crowds of Bosniaks, where they picked out men and boys to be executed on site. Witness say that they saw hundreds of males being murdered behind a zinc factory and their bodies transported off. Male teenagers and boys were taken from the crowed during the night and murdered, children were found with their throats slit.

The Dutch peacekeepers and Bosniaks were powerless and witnessed these atrocities while incapable of intervening. Some people became so terrified that they sadly committed suicide.

On July 12, the refugees were taken from the Potocari Dutch HQ to other locations nearby with the promise that they’d be allowed to leave Serb territory. The men and boys were taken separately from the women and girls and brought to a place known as the “White House” to be supposedly screened to find suspected war criminals. Dutch personnel soon heard that men were not arriving at the same locations as the women. This was of course because the Serbs were mass murdering the males.

The bodies, young and old, were thrown into large pits and buried, some buried alive.

While the men and boys were being murdered, there was mass rape, including gang rape, occurring with the women and girls, by the Serb soldiers.

There were witness reports of gang rapes, child slaughter, an incident of a proposed forced incest, pregnant women having their unborn children cut out of them and so on.

In the end, just under 20,000 people were reported as missing, 7,714 were men who disappeared after the fall of Srebrenica. Approx. 38 percent of the Bosnian War missing people are from Srebrenica. The disappeared were most likely murdered and buried in mass graves.

Today the once Muslim majority town has been transformed to a Serb town without a Muslim in sight.

The Srebrenica genocide was described by the Secretary General of the United Nations as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.

Under the Muslim town of Tuzla, in north easternBosnia and Herzegovina, 1000 unknown bodies are stored in the salt mines with the hope of some day being identified.

Dutchbat HQ
Dutchbat HQ | Source
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska and Brko Regions
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska and Brko Regions | Source

Post Genocide: Bosnia and Herzegovina

In 1995 an agreement was singed in Dayton, Ohio, whereby Bosniawas split into two political entities, the Croat Muslim Federation (now the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Republika Srpska, both holding power to themselves. The Repubika Srpska section of Bosnia till today remains an area of Bosnian Serbia majority and racism still remains in this area as well as in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The infamous town of Srebrenica, is now part of the Republica Srpska area, much to the dislike of the Bosniaks who want it free from Serb hands.

Another district was created, recently, in the northeast of the county called the Brčko District. It was made using both Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska territories, is self governing and also is ethnically diverse. The Brčko District has a level of prosperity well above the Bosnian average.

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