N° 21, March 1997
The Victimization of Women:
Rape and the Reporting of Rape in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992-1993*
Norma von Ragenfeld-Feldman, Berkeley University, USA
Summary: The focus of this paper is on the way German and American news media dealt with rape against women in the first year of Bosnia’s inter-ethnic conflict between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims. Virtually from the outbreak of the war in the spring of 1992, reporters accused the Serbs of launching a massive, pre-planned campaign of aggression against the Bosnian Muslims. Using mass rape as a conscious instrument of a war of conquest, the Serbs allegedly violated and tortured tens of thousands of-primarily-Bosnian Muslim women in order to achieve their territorial aim of an ethnically cleansed “Greater Serbia.” In short, mass rape in the Bosnian war constituted an integral part of the Serbs’ plan to either expel or annihilate the non-Serbian population of the region. Examining some of the reasons for this extraordinarily one-sided view of the Bosnian rapes, this paper attempts to demonstrate to what extent it rests on exaggerated numbers, dubious facts, and the misuse of evidence. It also points to the detrimental effects which the use of evidence as a tool in political conflicts has on the attempt to arrive at an objective or accurate view of events of war and their participants. Furthermore, it indirectly raises the question as to the dangers of such instrumentalization of evidence for the purpose of condemning rape or in the struggle against male violence generally. Ultimately, such a procedure implies the reduction of women themselves to instruments of precisely the kind of (usually male dominated) politics and propaganda from which they have been trying to liberate themselves.
In the fall of 1992, with Bosnia-Herzegovina in its sixth month of appalling ethnic conflict, reports of rapes that were being committed on a massive scale became the shocking headline news in Western Europe and the United States. Particularly shocking about these rapes were their enormous scope, their extraordinary brutality, and the fact that, reportedly, of the three warring groups the Serbs were the perpetrators. According to the press, up to 60,000 rapes occurred alone in the period of April to November 1992, and the terror of rape was magnified by reports of repeated beatings and other tortures as well. Sexual violations were said to be frequently carried out in numerous so-called “rape camps,” set up in Serb-controlled areas to facilitate the systematic brutalization of women. The other characteristic feature of the Serbian rapes, as disclosed by the media to an increasingly outraged public, was that they formed an integral part of the official Bosnian Serb “ethnic-cleansing” policy against the Muslims. The policy itself, press and television repeatedly charged, was rooted in the preconceived plan of the Bosnian Serb government and military to rid Bosnia of its Muslim population; this would be achieved through a series of genocidal sweeps, of which systematic “mass rape” of Bosnian Muslim women was the centrepiece.
In the months following this grim newsbreak, the United Nations (UN) and the European Community (EC) set up official fact-finding commissions, while other international organizations, semiofficial and private groups, and reporters – individually or as teams – also conducted inquiries, involving the gathering of testimonies from rape victims or secondary accounts from eyewitnesses.1
Already the first findings of international investigative commissions, made available to the public at the end of 1992 and in the spring of 1993, diverged sharply from the media’s insistence on Serbian “mass rape” affecting more than 50,000 victims.2 The line of division henceforth ran between international agencies on the one hand and a host of reporters and political commentators on the other. Both sides generally agreed on the horrific nature and widespread occurrence of rapes in Bosnia, as well as their systematic use as an instrument of terror against civilian women. Their disagreement over the Bosnian rape issue concerned three major aspects which became closely interrelated in the media, namely, that rape occurred massively and systematically so as to warrant the accusation of “genocide,” that the Serbs – to a lesser extent also the Croats – were the perpetrators, and that the Serbs used rape-predominantly of Muslim, but also of Croatian women – as a tool to implement their predetermined genocidal program of “ethnically cleansing” Bosnia of its Muslim population.
These disparities, above all, have prompted the following examination of the Bosnian rape issue. The gap between the assessments of international fact-finding (and, later, war crimes) commissions, on the one hand, and an ever growing number of media reports on “mass rape” and “genocide” in Bosnia, on the other, was immense. Who was right? – The host of journalists, political commentators, and academic authors with their insistence on the enormously high number-between 50,000 and 60,000-of rape cases? Or were the international agencies to be believed, whose estimates amounted to 20,000 in January 1993, steadily decreasing in the course of 1993 and later years to 2,400, then 800, and finally to estimates of 330 documented cases, a fraction of the original assertions in the media? Did it indeed make a difference whether it was 50,000, 20,000, 2,400, 800, or 330 women in Bosnia who were raped by the Serbs (and sometimes by Croats)? After all, a rape is a rape, a terrible crime, an age-old instrument of terror against women,3 and one or a few are too many, giving justifiable cause for outrage.
It was not the wide divergence of statistical figures per se, of course, that was worth examining, but the specific interpretation which hinged on them. Enormous numbers of Muslim rape victims, within a short span of six months no less, were central to the allegation that this was a case of genocide and that the Serbs were culpable. Thus, from the moment the rape issue was publicized, the media propounded the close correlation between the extent of rapings by Serbian forces and the existence of a calculated policy involving the mass expulsions and mass killings of Bosnian Muslims. This goal, supposedly, to achieve a Greater Serbia through territorial conquest and purification, drove Serbian forces to prosecute this war as a genocidal war. In this sense, the astronomical figures cited by the media testified to the systematic policy of genocide as well as to the fact that the Serbs were the genocidal rapists and killers.4
These and other issues concerning the representation of the Bosnian rapes in the media and, to some extent, the literature on the war in the former Yugoslavia form the subject of the following paper. Since the view that the Serbs were the perpetrators and the Muslims the victims probably found its most persistent, if not most vehement, advocates in the United States and Germany, my analysis will focus primarily on the German and American press.
In the United States, the media’s revelations of the Serbs as genocidal rapists undoubtedly owe their greatest debt to the publicity given them by the New York Newsday reporter, Roy Gutman. In the summer of 1992, as a horrified world looked on an increasingly vicious war in Bosnia, with the daily occurrence of atrocities and the “ethnically-cleansed” refugees already numbering in the tens of thousands, Gutman launched a series of articles that sent a clear message to the world community: none other than the Serbs were responsible for this catastrophe. His “dispatches” out of Bosnia, dramatically entitled: “Prisoners of Serbia’s War: Tales of Hunger, Torture at Camp in North Bosnia,” “Death Camps: Serbs Imprison Thousands for Slaughter, Starvation,” “Gulag: The War against Muslims and Croat Civilians …,” “Serbs’ Death Camps: How the Guards Chose the Victims,” “Deadly Transfers: Many Reported Killed, Missing in Move from Serb Camp,” attested to alleged genocide and holocaust in the former Yugoslavia.5 On the basis of these and similar reports, assembled in his Pulitzer-Prize winning Witness to Genocide, Gutman concluded that “random slaughter, organized deportations, death camps, systematic rape and castration, and assaults on refugees fleeing for their lives” -all by the Serbs – took an enormous toll. By June 1993, according to Gutman, possibly one quarter million, that is, “well over 10 percent of the Muslim population,” had allegedly become victims of this Serbian genocide.6 The horror of the “Serbs’ Death Camps,” to which thousands of Bosnian Muslims were being carted off-in boxcars cars “like Jews … to Auschwitz”-was equalled only by the horror of the “rape camps.”
Gutman’s “dispatches” also capture stirringly the ordeal of Muslim women, who were beaten and tortured, repeatedly raped, and often killed after that. Alone the titles are indicative of the victims’ ghastly experiences, suffered – tens of thousands of times over – at the hands of Serbs: “Bosnia Rape Horror,” “The Rapes of Bosnia,” “Nights of Terror at Makeshift Bordello,” “A Daily Ritual of Sex Abuse,” “‘One by One’. The Ordeal of Women Raped and Beaten in Bosnia Camp,” and “Mass Rape: Muslims Recall Serb Attacks.”7
In the same summer of 1992, Gutman’s explosive stories of the Bosnian cataclysm in the wake of Serbian “aggression” were given a photographic face. A number of “shocking images from battered Bosnia,” of scantily dressed, skeletal figures behind barbed wire, or prisoners with shaven heads shuffling along in long queues, was to demonstrate Gutman’s previously announced Serbian operation of genocide at work.8 More importantly, the harrowing images of inmates, ostensibly testifying to staggering numbers of victimized Muslims civilians – at Omarska, Manjaca, or Trnopolje, to name the three most notorious camps – were to pressure the international community into action. In the United States, the combined stories and images out of Bosnia galvanized public opinion from general disinterest in the events in the former Yugoslavia to approval of government intervention in the Bosnian war. During his campaign for presidency, a visibly moved Clinton, sounded the call for tougher measures; in February 1993, the new Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, assured the American public that, with reference to the “terror and bloodshed” brought on by Serb aggression, “[o]ur conscience revolts at the idea of passively accepting such brutality.”9
The widespread publicity generated around these gender-and ethnic-directed crimes against humanity, all attributed to the Serbs,10 explains in part the immediate sympathy for the (Muslim) victim and the wholesale condemnation of the (Serbian) aggressor. More critically, the strong impact of the “mass-rape” issue was possible because it was fit into an environment that was particularly sensitive to rape. This was as much the case in Germany as in the United States.
In Germany, the feminist Alexandra Stiglmayer became the major proponent and popularizer of the argument that Bosnian Muslim women were systematically subjected to “mass rape” by the Serbian military. The results of her inquiries, which, like Gutman, she had conducted in Bosnia in the summer of 1992, were first published in the Weltwoche of November 5. The article, under the dramatic title “Die Demütigung als Waffe: In Bosnien-Herzegowina wird systematisch vergewaltigt, um die Moral des Gegners zu untergraben-Die totale Degradierung der Frau zur Ware” (Humiliation as a Weapon: In Bosnia-Herzegovina Rape is Systematic in Order to Undermine the Morale of the Opponent.-The Total Degradation of the Woman to a Piece of Goods) appeared not only in a number of daily newspapers, but was used as evidential basis for all media articles on the subject, for example, Stern, Taz, Die Zeit, and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Stiglmayer also gained notoriety through television, especially the 2nd channel (ZDF) program “Mona Lisa.” Indeed, it was due to her efforts, as one commentator pointed out, that “Vergewaltigungen in Bosnien international, aber vor allem in Deutschland und der Schweiz zum Thema der Politiker wurde (that “rape in Bosnia became, internationally, but above all in Germany and Switzerland, a topic of discussion for politicians”).11
The national and international attention which Stiglmayer received for her disclosures on “mass rape” derived largely from the fact that they struck a sensitive chord in her audience. In Germany, as in the United States, this receptivity to issues concerning rape, and especially mass rape, is closely linked to an increasing engagement on the part of society and government in women’s and human-rights questions. Moreover, the public’s readiness to take reports on “mass,” that is, genocidal rape in Bosnia at face value was probably reinforced by a renewed interest in Germans as victims rather than as the-conventionally portrayed-perpetrators of the Second World War. Stiglmayer’s dramatic news-break of presumed Serbian “mass rape” as an instrument of “ethnic cleansing” coincided with a growing trend in Germany to emphasize the suffering of the civilian population; this found repeated expression in the historical and autobiographical literature, and related, in particular, to the fate of east Germans in the last phases of World War Two. Outstanding in these devastating experiences to which German civilians had been subjected – bombings, hunger, and mass flight – was the victimization of women through “mass rape” by the advancing Soviet troops.12 Furthermore, Stiglmayer’s story of Serbian “mass rape” fell on fertile ground – even more so than in the United States – because it had been well prepared in the preceding months by a predominantly pro-Croatian German press. Leading the chorus of anti-Serbian voices was Johann Georg Reißmüller, co-editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who applauded especially Croatia in having broken away from the communist, Serb-led Völkergefängnis (prisonhouse of nations), Yugoslavia, in the spring of 1991 and gave his warm support to the German government’s decision to recognize Croatia (together with Slovenia) at the end of the year despite strong international opposition.13
Following the lead of Gutman and Stiglmayer, the international community too was quick to condemn the Serbs, even before the evidence had been gathered.14 Nevertheless, its various fact-finding commissions were well aware of the difficulty in accessing specific and reliable data. In the case of the EC mission, headed by Dame Anne Warburton, for example, which investigated the charge of Serbian mass rape, the findings relied on the “general view expressed by interlocutors … that a horrifying number of Muslim women had suffered rape and that this was continuing.” The EC investigators thought “it possible to speak of many thousands” and initially accepted the approximate figure of 20,000 as the “most reasoned estimate” possible.
By January 1993, then, with the completion of EC inquiries the number rape cases had dropped appreciably, that is, by a third, from a massive 60,000 to 20,000, still a very high figure. The commission, however, still held that, even though “rape and sexual abuse [were] neither nationality – nor gender – restricted issues,” and a number of “disturbing reports” indicated also “rape of Croat and Serbian women,” the “vast majority of rape victims were Muslim women” and the rapes themselves were “systematic” in nature.15
While the EC mission’s findings met with considerable criticism,16 it was a special United Nations Human Rights Commission, led by Tadeusz Mazowiecki, which radically reduced the numbers reported by both the media and the EC delegation. The most significant aspect about Mazowiecky’s report, which also asserted the systematic nature of the rapes, was that the number of estimated rape cases – 2,400 – was calculated from the basis of documented evidence, such as depositions of testimonies and reports by witnesses, interviews with medical personnel, and so on. Furthermore, according to the commission, there was “clear evidence” for the rapings of Muslim, Croat, and also Serb women as “rape has been used as an instrument of ethnic cleansing” in both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. The commission thus established the complicity of Croat as well as Muslim forces in the rapes.17 Not only Mazowiecky’s team, as Warburton’s mission before that, recognized the difficulty in collecting specific data. It was a common observation of most investigative and relief agencies, as of reporters, that, unlike the relative ease with which stories of witnesses could be gathered, personal testimonies of raped women were very hard to come by.18
But whatever the uncertainties as to the evidence that was now available and verifiable, one thing was sure, already by the beginning but definitely by the end of 1993. Clearly, what had been occurring in wartorn Bosnia was neither genocidal “mass” rape nor mass murder by the Serbs. Yet, Stiglmayer in her introduction to the collection of articles assembled in Mass Rape. The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina makes two completely different statements concerning civilian casualties. As a result of the “Serbs’ march of conquest through former Yugoslavia,” she writes one occasion, “150,000 to 200,000 people have lost their lives, among whom the Bosnian Muslims have by far the most victims.” A few pages later, probably in order to drive home the point about the massive victimization of Bosnian Muslims in the first year of the war, the author writes that now “the Muslims are crowded together on 15-20 percent of the area of Bosnia-Herzegovina and bewail the loss of 150,000 to 200,000 of their people.” An oversight? A deliberate distortion? Who would notice the two different versions anyway? Having been persuaded of the Serbian military’s ability to victimize between 20,000 and 60,000 Muslim (and Croatian) women within the span of six months, why should the reader also not believe the Serb forces capable of murdering-“in intentional acts of mass destruction” – 150,000 to 200,000 Bosnian Muslims within the span of one year?19 One could allege, of course, that what mattered in the final analysis was not the actual numbers-the quantitative aspect – but the very enormity of the crime-the qualitative aspect. Or as a British official stated the problem when defending the EC mission’s assessment of – by now seriously questioned-20,000 rape cases, “we felt we had to give our ministers some idea of the probable scale of the crime that had been committed.”20
It is not easy to determine the reason for the cavalier attitude toward numerical evidence. With respect to the media, one reason possibly is the almost narcissistic pride investigative journalists take in their work, coupled with an intense desire to pressure governments into action on behalf of the victims whose plight they have given worldwide exposure. This attitude, for example, finds repeated expression in the contributions to Mass Rape, published well after doubt was cast on the highly publicized number. With apodictic certainty, nevertheless, that “mass” rape – implying tens of thousands of victims – is the only valid interpretation, Stiglmayer angrily recalls the international community’s “conscious refusal to disclose any crimes … [as] one way to avoid having to act.” Similarly, she views the repeated denial of “mass” rape by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who acknowledged only “isolated cases of rape” for some time after Stiglmayer and other journalists had broken the news on the Serbs’ horrific atrocities, as tantamount to a cover up. “Normally,” she continues, “such a story would end here. The journalists would write down the explanations of the international organizations and pack up. But they kept on writing.” At long last, the “pressure of publicity caused by press reports” resulted in “a mysterious turnabout” in the attitude toward the Bosnian “mass rape” question, so that what previously had been a denial or minimization of Serbian (war) crimes against women became a “worldwide outrage” over them.21
The disrespect for numerical evidence, as can be seen from the above statements, stems from an effort on the part of journalists to give their case – of Serbian genocidal rape – the widest possible exposure as well as to mobilize the international community.22 Equally common too, when pleading the Muslim cause, is a dismissive attitude toward historical-political evidence. The argument of Serbs as genocidal rapists of Muslim women, ostensibly buttressed by enormous figures, leaves little room for Croatian, and practically no room for Muslim rapists. By the same token, in the Bosnian war, only or mainly Muslim women suffer, just as, the year before, only or mainly Croatian women suffered, since it is Serbian aggression that leads to the Croatian-Serbian conflict in Croatia.23 Of course, the proponents of the “Serbs- as-genocidal-rapists” argument may not be able to overlook historical reality completely, for example, with respect to the atrocities and “ethnic cleansing” in the wake of a raging Muslim-Croat conflict, just as the German edition of Mass Rape was being prepared for publication in English.24 But they are able to attenuate this historical reality, at least to such an extent that it still fits the picture of the Serbs as perpetrators of systematic genocidal rape.
This is done in a number of ways. Of these, the more significant probably is to ignore or downgrade the reality of a large number of Serbian rape victims. To be sure, Stiglmayer admits to the occurrence of rape on all sides. There is, however, not a single reference to Serbian records by Stiglmayer herself nor the contributors to her volume on Mass Rape, just as Gutman in his collected dispatches fails to acknowledge, let alone use, such sources. Yet, Serbian records were as readily accessible25 as the Croatian and Bosnian Muslim documents which underlie the research of Stiglmayer and Gutman and many other writers concerned with the subject of rape and “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia.26 The insistence, however, that Serbs alone bear the guilt, together with the refusal to take into account the commission of war crimes by the non-Serbian combatants, leads not only to self-justificatory explanations for the savage behavior of Croats and Muslims, but also, in effect, to the demonization of the Serbs. Thus, when Croats are noted – albeit reluctantly -for merciless acts of “ethnic cleansing,” they are said to be “aping” the Serbs. Atrocities on the Muslim side, if acknowledged at all, are interpreted not as a tool of government policy, but as “spontaneous” and “sporadic” acts of war.27 Indeed, the “agony in the former Yugoslavia,” if one goes by the media in these years, does not encompass to any significant degree Serbian victims of rape and “ethnic cleansing.”28 How could it, after all, if the image of the Serbs in pursuit of planned genocide had become so firmly entrenched in the public mind that all that mattered was to punish them and bring them to justice?29
In this sense, one of the most important issues emerging from the representation of Bosnian rapes in the media, and the social-scientific literature generally, is that of evidence. There can be no doubt whatsoever that rape, whether committed in war or domestically, constitutes a severe crime against humanity. Central to this paper, however, is the dimension of rape that has to do with its politicization. The fact of rape becomes a political tool, I have tried to argue, at precisely the point when certain views which are predicated on assumptions that cannot be proven are instrumentalized to serve a political purpose. In this case, the tens of thousands of unverified rapes provide the justification for the view that the Serbs systematically pursued a plan of “ethnic cleansing” that was calculated to deliberately expel or kill the Bosnian Muslims. In none of the literature on the Serbian mass rape, however, is there any evidence for the existence of such a plan, let alone a program of extermination. This means that the notion of systematic policy is deduced from the unproven fact that massive numbers of women were raped. Arguing the point of a systematic policy back from the fact of rape, that is, from huge quantities, has profound implications for both the discourse on and the practical politics with respect to Bosnia. If the numbers constitute the evidence for systematic genocidal rape, they cannot be treated with disdain. Yet, in the case of rape, as in various other “mass” claims made in connection with the Bosnian war – for example, the enormously high civilian casualties, mass slaughters, mass graves-numbers have been dismissed all too lightly.30
My concluding remarks deal with what I consider some of the more serious ramifications not only for understanding, but also for dealing with the issue of rape in war.
First, the claim of “mass rape” in Bosnia opens the way for the ideologization of the issue. The accusation that the Serbs committed “mass rape” between April and November 1992 by pursuing a previously planned program to ethnically purify Bosnia was treated as gospel truth by the media. The consequences for the image of the Serbs, as they were demonized into latter-day Nazi stormtroopers and annihilators of Bosnian Muslims, were devastating. Even when revised numbers, in the wake of ongoing inquiries into the charge of “mass” rape, finally did find their way into the press, along with reports of rape by the other combatants, the reading public paid little or no attention to such unexciting news.
Second, the ideological use of the rape issue frequently informed government action on behalf of the Bosnian Muslims and promoted a growing US involvement on the side of the Croats and the Muslims.31
Third, the highly political argument of Serbian motives to wage a war of conquest and annihilation, buttressed by incorrect statistical evidence and often dubious facts, engenders disastrous consequences for the very victims it purports to champion, both in the present and the future. Exaggerated or misrepresented facts and facile analogies with the past not only give rise to doubt, but are also likely to foster skepticism and cynicism. If the veracity of the evidence for the view – and indictment – of the Serbs as Nazi-style perpetrators of genocide, is questionable, so too will the reality of the victims’ suffering be cast into doubt. What if it turns out that, indeed, it was not 200,000 – let alone 200,000 Muslims – who had been killed? Similarly, with respect to the rapes, do we feel the same sympathy when the tortured, raped, butchered, and exterminated victims turn out to number “only” 800, or 330, or “even” less?32 How do we view the suffering of rape victims if a significant proportion does turn out to be Serbian?33 Or do we believe, together with the feminist Helke Sander, that even though all women – “no matter what the nationality” – experienced fear and horror in this war, it was worse for the non-Serbian side? For, after all, it was the “Bosnian Serb army” which, in an alleged “war of annihilation” “did the attacking.”34
By this logic, however, rape in war derives its significance from war guilt – not always the clearest of questions in a civil war. By this logic, likewise, true instances of mass rape, such as occurred in Germany in 1945, are implicitly trivialized. The step from rape being identified with the “aggressor” to the relativization of the issue of rape is small indeed. How should one deal, for example, with the case of German women who were being mass raped in the spring of 1945 by the invading Soviet troops? According to the logic used by Gutman, the atrocities against civilians which the Soviet troops committed on their march westward would simply be an “aping” of the Germans, just as the Croats were “aping” the Serbs. Moreover, if one adheres to the argument of Stiglmayer and others of her persuasion that systematic “mass rape” is an instrument only of the “aggressors” -thereby excluding Croatians and Bosnian Muslims as perpetrators of “mass” rape – one wonders how one is supposed to treat the allegation that Soviet troops committed “mass rape” against German women. For not only were the Russians not the “aggressors” in 1945, but they also continued to rape on a large scale long after they had exchanged their role as invaders with that of occupiers.35 Thus, if seen from the perspective of the Stiglmayer-Sander argument, the alleged Russian “mass rape” turns out to have been little more than propaganda after all.
To be believable or to arouse to action, the tragedy of Bosnia’s women, indeed of all civilians suffering the ravages of inter-ethnic civil warfare in former Yugoslavia, does not need to hinge on inflated numbers and, conversely, on war guilt. On the contrary, the combined ideologization and instrumentalization of rape in this manner appears less than a helpful way in dealing with the problem of rape, mass or otherwise, in war.
*This is the longer version of a paper presented at the Fifth Annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference “Conquering Women,” March 15-16, 1997, at the University of California, Berkeley. For the many helpful suggestions in researching and writing this article my thanks go to Danilo Tomasevich, Gerald D. Feldman, and Dusan Batakovic.
1. Paralleling these investigative activities, a number of women’s groups, together with national and international human rights and relief organizations, such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC), or Amnesty International, became involved in the practical effort of assisting the traumatized women victims of Bosnia. Understandably, women in particular, appalled by accounts of atrocities against tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslim women, rallied their support to the victims of sexual violence; they came to play, individually or as organized groups, a major role not only in the inquiries and practical medical, social, and psychological work, but also in press and television, international conferences, and, generally, in the arena of publicity. For women’s active involvement on behalf of rape victims, see especially Maja Korac, “Understanding Ethnic-National Identity and Its Meaning: Questions from Women’s Experience,” Women’s Studies International Forum, vol. 18, nos. 4-5 (Summer 1995).
2. Judy Mann, “Rape and War Crimes,” Washington Post, 13 January 1993, refers to Katherine MacKinnon, “widely regarded as the foremost American legal theorist in developing laws against pornography and rape,” who put the total number of women and girls raped by the Serbs “at more than 50,000, and another 100,000 killed.”
3. By far the best analysis of the history, sociology, and politics of rape is the pioneering work by Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will. Men, Women and Rape (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1975).
4. In other words, the huge numbers of civilian casualties, as reported by the media, attested to the intention of the Serbs to kill off (genocide) and drive out (ethnic cleansing) a whole population group; had the numbers of killed been smaller or small, the claim that they represented “genocide,” together with a preconceived plan to perpetrate it, would have lacked credibility. In this way, the significance of numbers stands in direct relation to the assertion that “genocide” was committed: they have to be enormously high, lest the assertion for which they are said to provide the evidence fails to carry conviction.
5. The dispatches are to be found in Newsday of, respectively, 19 July, 2 August, 3 August, 5 August, and 26 August 1992.
6. See Roy Gutman, A Witness to Genocide (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993), xxxi.
7. Gutman, ibid., titles cited: 60, 36, 64, 68, 74, 144, 164. See also Gutman, “Mass Rape: Muslims Recall Serb Attacks,” Newsday, 23 August, 1992.
8. The “images,” reproduced in the article “‘Ethnic Cleansing’. Bosnia’s Cry for Help,” Newsweek, 17 August, 1992, p. 16, refer to the photographic documentation of Serbian detention camps by the British ITN television team. First televised on August 7, 1992, the ITN pictures were seen instantly the world over. The sensational headlines, in large letters and thick print, associated concentration camps with Nazi extermination camps, leaving little doubt in the mind of the reader as to the fate of Bosnian Muslims in the grip of genocide and holocaust: “War camp hell stuns the world. Belsen 1992” (Daily Star). “Shame of camp Omarska” (Guardian); “The proof. Behind the barbed wire, the brutal truth about the suffering in Bosnia” (Daily Mail). The French press-Le Nouvel Observateur, Humanité, Paris Match, Figaro, etc.-followed suit, disclosing to the public “La terreur prémédité” or the “crimes contre l’humanité des nationalistes Serbes.”
Shortly after the “death-camp” news in August 1992, the pictures of the Bosnian Muslim rape victims (taken by the photographer on Gutman’s team on his second visit to Bosnia) appeared in the western press as the photographic documentation of the Serbian-run “rape camps.” Of the dozens of cover stories prompted by Gutman’s pictures, see, for example, “A Pattern of Rape. War Crimes in Bosnia,” Newsweek, 4 January, 1993, pp. 32-37.
For the publicity which the disclosures of British ITN and Gutman’s team received in the western media, see also The Media Happened to be There, eds. & authors Zoran Petrovic-Pirocanac, V. Hadzivukovic, et al., Belgrade: Jugoistok, 1994, pp. 36-43, 54-57, 60-61.
9. Probably the best critique of Clinton’s policy decisions on Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially as they emerged under the strong impression which media reports and images out of Bosnia made, is Elisabeth Drew, On the Edge. The Clinton Presidency, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 138-163, (also 271-284), quote 147. Christopher’s view of a more active role on behalf of Bosnia, both in terms of American “humanitarian interests” and “strategic concerns,” signalled the trend toward ever greater strictures of the Bosnian Serbs.
10. In the forefront of media coverage on alleged Serbian “mass” crimes were the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Christian Science Monitor, although it would have been well-nigh impossible to find any media in the US (and Western Europe) in 1992-1993 which did not advocate the view of Serbian war guilt in vehement terms. From early on, moreover, it became usual to equate “mass rape” and holocaust. When, for example, MacKinnon was asked in an interview whether the horrifying stories told by witnesses of the rapes in Bosnia were “at one with the worst atrocities that came out of the Nazi concentration camps,” she answered without hesitation “‘[a]bsolutely, … [a]bsolutely yes.'” Mann, “Rape and War Crimes,” Washington Post. MacKinnon has been widely quoted since that time. See also, Grace Halsell, “Women’s Bodies a Battlefield in War for ‘Greater Serbia’, Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, vol. XI, no. 9, April/May 1993.
A useful collection of articles by French, British, American, and Italian correspondents who are critical of the media’s biased reporting and the frequently sensational publicity given these reports on the Yugoslav conflict, see Zivota Ivanovic, ed., Media Warfare. The Serbs in Focus (Belgrade: Tanjug, 1995).
11. For a sharp critique of Stiglmayer’s impact on the media in the fall of 1992, see Martin Lettmayer, “Da wurde einfach geglaubt, ohne nachzufragen,” in Serbien muß sterbien, ed. Klaus Bittermann (Berlin: Edition TIAMAT, 1994), 37-49, quote 41. Stiglmayer’s findings were published in 1993 in Massenvergewaltigung-Krieg gegen die Frauen, which she edited and brought out in English translation in 1994. See Alexandra Stiglmayer, ed., Mass Rape. The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Foreword by Roy Gutman (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994. See also, Stiglmayer, “The Rapes in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Mass Rape, 82-169.
12. On the problems regarding the appropriate forms of memorializing the demise of the Third Reich and the end of Nazism, for example, the extraordinarily insightful article by Robert G. Moeller, “War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany,” The American Historical Review, vol. 101, no. 4 (October 1996), 1008-1048. Atina Grossmann presents her extensive historical research on the Russian rapes of German women at the end of World War Two in the fascinating and astute analysis “Unfortunate Germany: Rape, Motherhood, and Survival 1945-1950,” Working Papers, University of California Center for German and European Studies, Working Paper 5.28, September 1996. An equally discerning and stimulating historical examination of the Russian rapes in 1945, which continued on even into the period of the peacetime Soviet Military Administration, can be found in Norman M. Naimark, The Russians in Germany. A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949 (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1995), 69-140.
13. A host of articles and editorials in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in 1991-1993 document the pro-Croatian stance of Johann Georg Reißmüller. The term “Völkergefängnis”, describing the alleged communist repression by an allegedly Serb-dominated Yugoslav state, was used in its most sensational context on the cover page of the Spiegel, 8 July 1991.
For a perceptive analysis of the German media’s anti-Serbian, pro-Croatian/pro-Slovenian bias, especially in the early days of Yugoslavia’s imminent breakup, and the implications of biased reporting for both the image of the Serbs and the journalistic profession as a whole, see Mira Beham, Kriegstrommeln. Medien, Krieg und Politik (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1996), especially 206-239, reference to Reißmüller, 211. Similarly, in her essay “Die Medien als Brandstifter,” in Serbien muß sterbien, 118-143, Beham traces the German media’s overwhelming partisan support-on both the political right and left-for the Croatian (and Slovenian) struggle for independence. While rooting for the Croatian “victims,” the media completely ignored the consequences which the deliberate break-up of the multinational Yugoslav state, together with the recognition of Croatia, would have not only for the Serb minority in Croatia, but also for the status of multi-ethnic Bosnia-Herzegovina in its dependency on the integrity of the Yugoslav federation.
An especially astute analysis of the foreign-policy implications of Chancellor Kohl’s and Foreign Minister Genscher’s decision to recognize Croatia is the article by Beverly Crawford, “Explaining Defection from International Cooperation. Germany’s Unilateral Recognition of Croatia,” World Politics, vol. 48, no. 4 (July 1996), 482-521.
14. I thank Mirjana Samardzija of the North American Analysis Group, San Francisco, for pointing out that the EC and UN issued several strong resolutions condemning Serbian acts of sexual violence before the inquiries began. None of these resolutions was in fact substantiated by documented evidence. Thus, EC representatives at the European Council held at Edinburgh on December 11 and 12 stated that they were “[a]ppalled by the systematic detention and rape of Muslim women, … [and] acts of unspeakable brutality, which form the deliberate strategy to terrorise the Muslim community in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in order to achieve the purpose of ethnic cleansing,” and resolved that “[t]hose responsible for these crimes against humanity will be held personally accountable and brought to justice.” (Quoted from the “Declaration on the Treatment of Muslim Women in the Former Yugoslavia,” Conclusions of the Presidency, Edinburgh Summit, December 12, 1992). In the days following, UN Security Council representatives of Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland, also censured the Serbian military for crimes against Muslim women. (See, for example, Declaration on former Yugoslavia, UN Security Council, Distr. General, S/24960, 14 December 1992, Annex I and II). Similarly, a UN press release of December 18 pointed to shocking reports of “massive, organized and systematic detention and rape of women, particularly Muslim women” and of “acts of unspeakable brutality,” demanding that “all detention camps, particularly, camps for women should be closed immediately.” (Quoted from United Nations, Press Release, SC/5521, Security Council, 3150th Meeting, 18 December 1992.)
15. The investigation of the EC Delegation, under the leadership of Dame Anne Warburton, was conducted in two phases, the first from December 18-24, 1992 and the second from January 19-26, 1993. With respect to the gathering of data, the EC report stated that “[t]he inherent difficulties involved in compiling statistics on rape and other sexual abuse have been hugely accentuated in the current chaotic conditions. Given these limitations, the mission nevertheless concluded that the “rape of Muslim women has been … perpetrated on a wide scale and in such a ways as to be part of a clearly recognisable pattern, sufficient to form an important element of war strategy.” Indeed, the EC mission concluded, rape was “part of a pattern of abuse, usually perpetrated with the conscious intention of demoralising and terrorising communities, driving them from their home regions and demonstrating the power of the invading forces.” From this perspective, rape could “not be seen as incidental to the main purposes of the aggression but as serving a strategic purpose itself.” Quoted from the Reports of the EC Investigating Mission into the Treatment of Muslim Women in the Former Yugoslavia, Phase I: 18-24 December 1992, Phase II: January 19-26, 1993.
16. For the series of objections voiced at a hearing on the findings of the EC commission, see “Public Hearing on the Rape of Women in Former Yugoslavia,” Committee on Women’s Rights. Parlament Europeen: Cahiers. Schriftenreihe. Specials, Nr. 11, Brussels, 17 & 18 February 1993. For a summary of the main points of this critique see “Rapes in Yugoslavia. Separating Fact from Fictin,” North American Analysis Group, San Francisco, MS, n.d., 5-6. The most frequently voiced criticisms of the EC commission’s assessment was that there was little or no direct contact with the victims, that the EC report ignored the victimization of non-Muslim women, that it failed to stress the fact that abuses were perpetrated against women of all ethnic groups, and that the data gathered by the EC mission would not stand up in a court of law.
In her excellent article, “Bosnia: Questions about Rape,” New York Review of Books (25 March 1993), 1-6, the Helsinki Watch relief worker, Jeri Laber, also mentions that the EC “report did not give the basis for the figure [of 20,000-N.v.R.F.] or any sources.”
17. Special Rapporteur (Tadeusz Mazowiecki), “Report of the Team of Experts on their Mission to Investigate Allegations of Rape in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia from 12 to 23 January 1992, I/CN. 4/1992750, 10 February 1993, 64-75. Investigating the Bosnian rapes under the broader category of human rights, this team of experts concluded, like the preceding EC missions, that rape in Bosnia was widespread and was committed on all sides, though the largest number of rape victims were to be found among Bosnian Muslims. But as to the rape camps, “[a]ttempts … to locate specific places where women were allegedly detained and raped have proved unsuccessful to date,” since the commission lacked precise information and some of the “alleged rape camps were found to be empty.” Ibid., 64.
More importantly, in an attempt to gain as wide a variety of documentary evidence as possible, the commission held “interviews with physicians” and reviewed “medical records” from (6) major hospitals. On the basis of these evaluations, as well as a number of testimonies, Mazowiecky’s “team of experts was able to identify 119 pregnancies resulting from rape during 1992,” Ibid., 64.
18. In an “analysis of statistical data and medical records,” Mazowiecky’s investigative commission concluded that “[r]ape is among the most under-reported crimes in peacetime throughout the world. Because of the stigma attached to rape, shame and secrecy often silence the victims. According to many physicians and psychologists whom the team of experts met in the former Yugoslavia, even in peacetime women rarely disclosed that they had been raped, whether Croatian, Muslim or Serbian …. Rape continues to be under-reported during wartime. Women who are raped by soldiers see it as useless to press charges or demand justice. … Soldiers who have license to rape because of their military association is a form of institutionalized violence that leaves victims with little recourse.” Ibid., 66. On the “under-reporting” of rape, see also Slavenka Drakulic, “Women Hide behind a Wall of Silence”, The Nation, (1 March 1993), 267-272.
The hazards in collecting evidence, for both fact-finding missions and victims themselves, are summed up well by Laber: “Our mission to collect credible testimony of rape was complicated by the presence, especially in Zagreb, of local and international women’s and human rights groups, as well as journalists and television crews-all looking for rape victims to interview. Some victims have refused to be interviewed, feeling that they will be exploited yet again, this time by foreigners and the press. The plucky few who have been willing to talk have been interviewed over and over again, and some of them, aware of what the press is seeking, have been embroidering the facts for maximum effect.” Laber, “Bosnia,” New York Review, 4.
19. Stiglmayer, “The War in the Former Yugoslavia, in Mass Rape, 17, 24.
20. One of the strongest criticism had come from Simone Veil, the prominent French politician who participated in the first EC mission at the end of 1992. See “Public Hearing on the Rape of Women,” Cahiers, 4-5. For the statement of the British official who had acted as a coordinator of the Dame Warburton’s mission, see New York Times, 20 October 1993.
21. See Stiglmayer, “The War in the Former Yugoslavia,” in Mass Rape, 25, 26. Aside from Stiglmayer and Gutman, who wrote the Preface to Mass Rape, many writers are convinced that the high numbers of Muslims killed attest to the systematic Serbian “genocide” of the Bosnian Muslim population. A few of the more prominent authors, often also activists for the Bosnian Muslim cause, who put forth the thesis of a Serbian holocaust are: David Rieff, Slaughterhouse. Bosnia and the Failure of the West (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995; Thomas Cushman and S. G. Mestrovic, “Introduction,” in This Time We Knew. Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia, ed. Thomas Cushman and S. G. Mestrovic (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 1-38; Philip J. Cohen, “The Complicity of Serbian Intellectuals in Genocide in the 1990s,” in This Time We Knew, 39-64; Mark Thompson, “The Final Solution of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” in Why Bosnia, eds. Rabia Ali and L. Lifschutz, 165-185; Ed Vulliamy, Seasons in Hell. Understanding Bosnia’s War (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994); Beverly Allen, Rape Warfare. The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996)
22. For Gutman, Stiglmayer’s major achievement lay in her ability to document “the systematic rape of Bosnian women of Muslim or Croat origin by Serb forces” as a “central element in the genocide.” Even though such documentation is largely “anecdotal”-as precise numbers are impossible-the hundreds of stories of Serb brutality in their aggregate nevertheless “suggest a regime of terror, regimentation, and a pattern of criminality that easily recalls the Third Reich.” See, Gutman, “Foreword,” in Mass Rape, ix, xii. The comment by Drakulic, albeit in a different context, also highlights the extent to which data-even if it was questionable- was considered legitimate, especially if serving a political-in this case the Muslim-cause, In Drakulic’s words, “even if rapes were used for political propaganda, this could be justified because of the Serbian policy of exiling and destroying the Muslim population. If an entire ethnic group is systematically destroyed to the point of genocide, it is legitimate to “use” accounts of rape (or anything else for that matter) as a means of getting attention and influencing public opinion.” Drakulic, “Women Hide Behind a Wall of Silence,” ibid., 272.
23. For the view that in the Serbian-Croatian war in June 1991 only Croats (asserting their constitutional right to independence) were victims (because of Serbian aggression), see Stiglmayer, in Mass Rape, 16; Allen, Rape Warfare, 54-55; Cohen, “The Complicity of Serbian Intellectuals,” in This Time We Knew, 42-45; Slaven Letica, “The ‘West Side Story’ of the Collapse of Yugoslavia and the Wars in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina,” ibid., 180-181.
The argument for the propensity of the Serbs for genocidal rape is set forth in a highly sensational manner by the feminist-activist Catherine A. MacKinnon, “Turning Rape into Pornography: Postmodern Genocide,” in Mass Rape, 73-81. Serbs allegedly video-taped rapes as “‘they [were] happening’,” then “switched ethnic labels,” forcing victims (Croatian women) to confess that it was Croatian men who had raped them. MacKinnon’s thesis was-justifiably-attacked from several sides for misrepresentation of facts or lack of evidence altogether. A trenchant, as well as moving, critique is by Vesna Kesic, “A Response to Catharine MacKinnon’s Article ‘Turning Rape Into Pornography: Postmodern Genocide’,” Hastings Women’s Law Journal, vol. 5, no. 2 (Summer 1994), 267-280. Another explanation for the absence of rape among Muslims points to certain factors in Muslim culture which are seen as constraining on the practice of rape. Since, in one such explanation, “male supremacy is completely assured” in Muslim societies, they generally have a “lower incidence of rape.” See Ruth Seifert, “War and Rape: A Preliminary Analysis,” in Mass Rape,” 56. A more impressionistic interpretation of such “cultural models” is rendered by Azra Zahlihic-Kaurin, The Muslim Women, ibid., 170-173. This describes the hearkening of Muslims, especially Muslim women, to venerable traditions (which had been suppressed by Communism), but the process of returning to pristine values (symbolized in the story of “Emina,” the young girl who saves her honor by dying at the hands of Chetnik would-be-rapists) is rudely interrupted by war, rapes, and sexual abuses. The reference is obviously to the current Bosnian war.
24. As one reporter in the field pointed out, in an opinion rarely heard in the first two years of the Bosnian war, Serbs “didn’t hold monopoly rights on evil. There were massacres also by Croats and even by Muslims, and villages burned by both.” This certainly was the case in mutual “ethnic-cleansing” actions during the Muslim-Croat conflict in 1993, when Croats “cleansed” Muslims as much as they were cleansed by Croats. For many insightful observations in this respect, see the account by the war-reporter Martin Bell, In Harm’s Way. Reflections of a War-Zone Thug, rev. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 1996), quote 114. No side is spared, similarly, in the balanced account of the Yugoslav war by the reporter and close observer of events in the Balkans, Misha Glenny, The Fall of Yugoslavia. The Third Balkan War, 3d. rev. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 1996).
25. The first official documentation of personal testimonies by Serbian women who had been sexually abused and tortured by Croatian and Muslim soldiers was submitted to the United Nations already on December 18, 1992 by the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Yugoslavia to the United Nations. See UN General Assembly Security Council, “Human Rights Questions: Human Rights Situations and Reports of Special Rapporteurs and Representatives,” Document A/47/813, S/24991, 18 December 1992. These “Depositions of Serbian Women,” coming just as the first EC mission was launched, represented the only Bosnian rape documentation of an international agency at that time. The report was not released, however, until more than two weeks later, January 5, 1992, when the results of the first EC mission also had been completed. See “Separating Fact,” 3.
Personal testimonies of Serbian women on Muslim and Croatian atrocities have been available since 1993. See “Documentation on the Violation of Human Rights, Ethnic Cleansing and Violence by Croatian and Moslem Armed Formations Against the Serb population in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” and “Rape and Sexual Abuse of Serb Women, Men and Children in Areas Controlled by Croatian and Moslem Formations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, 1991-1993,” Council of Information Center, Belgrade.
At a meeting in Geneva in the fall of 1992, the three warring parties indicated the numbers and distribution of detention camps that had been set by each ethnic group, respectively, for civilian refugees fleeing war zones or forcible driven out. See Kovacevic, Slobodanka and Putnik Dajic, Chronology of the Yugoslav Crisis (Belgrade: Institute for European Studies), esp. 112, 152. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, there were 25 detention centers in Bosnia-Herzegovina containing a total of 2,692 civilians. Of these, 1,203 detainees were held by Bosnian Serbs in 8 camps, 1,061 by Muslim forces in 12 camps, and 428 by Croats in 5 camps.”
For the location of camps where a considerable number of Serbs were being abused and tortured since the beginning of the Bosnian war, see “Map of Settlements and Camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina in which Systematic Rape and Sexual Harassment of Ethnic Serb Women, Men and Children was Performed, Council of Information Center, Belgrade, 1993.
26. Stiglmayer and Gutman base their accounts on personal interviews with victims, on eyewitness stories, and on the official sources provided by the Bosnian and Croatian government, such as the Croatian Ministry of Health, Zagreb, the Prijedor Homeland Club, and the Sarajevo State Commission for Investigation of War Crimes.
27. Gutman, “Foreword,” Mass Rape, xi; Cohen, “The Complicity of Serbian Intellectuals,” in This Time We Knew, 53; Allen, Rape Warfare, 250-251, n. 2. Here Allen cites extensively from a report by the Chairman of the UN appointed Commission of Experts (October 1992), Cherif Bassiouni: “Bosnian Government camps are reported to have been the site of cases of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. These allegations include killing and torture of Croatian and Serbian prisoners. The number of reports and allegations are, however, limited. The Commission has not been able to detect any particular policy of wrongdoing.” With respect to the Bosnian-Croat and Croatian Defence Council camps (mostly in the Krajina and eastern and western Slavonia), where Serbs and Bosnian Muslims were subjected to “killing, torture and rape,” the Commission could likewise not “detect any particular pattern or policy in operating these camps.” Quoted from, United Nations General Assembly, “Final Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 (1992),” Chair, Commission of Experts, Cherif Bassiouni. General Document S/1994/674, May 27, 1994.
28. The quote refers to the title of the exhibit “Faces of Sorrow: Agony in the Former Yugoslavia,” which opened at the United States Holocaust Museum in September 1994. Despite many protests against the use of the “Holocaust as a political forum,” the Chairman of the US Holocaust Memorial Council, Miles Lerman, justified the decision of the Museum in words that clearly pointed to the Serbs as perpetrators and the Croats and Muslims as victims in this war: “In view of the contemporary events in the former Yugoslavia-the murder of women and children, and the renewed acts of ‘ethnic cleansing’-morality demands of us that we not remain complacent. Silence is lethal.” Needless to say, the exhibit did not show many Serbian “faces of sorrow.” See the brochures accompanying the exhibit which provide historical background and explain the aim of the exhibit; also Alfred Lipson, “Anger at the Holocaust Museum Exhibit,” Midstream, (December 1994).
29. The international criminal court, mandated by the United Nations Security Council (under considerable pressure by the United States), emerged in response to the ongoing atrocities in the former Yugoslavia, especially the media’s “death-camp” and “rape-camp” stories in the summer of 1992. Set up in The Hague in May 1993, this International Criminal Tribunal was to prosecute persons who had seriously violated humanitarian law, but until 1995 the court had indicted Serbs only. For some of the legal and practical problems, especially in connection with the court’s legitimacy and effectiveness as an international tribunal, see Alfred P. Rubin, “An International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia?” Pace International Law Review, vol. VI, no. 1 (Winter 1994), 7-17; Ruth Wedgwood, “War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia: Comments on the International War Crimes Tribunal, Virginia Journal of International Law, vol 34, no. 2 (Winter 1994), 267-275. In a Memorandum on the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia of January 8, 1996 (privately distributed), the former well-known news correspondent and author Nora Beloff questions the “lopsided proceedings” of the Tribunal by incriminating primarily Serbs for atrocities in which all sides have engaged, and for violating principles of justice by charging Bosnian Serbian leaders with “genocide” before the pertinent evidence had been collected.
30. One of the earliest voices warning against exaggerating numbers of rapes was that of Jeri Laber. In her view, “[g]overnments, journalists, and organizations that have used numbers arbitrarily in discussing cases of rape may be doing a great disservice to the victims. It would be unfortunate if the irresponsible use of figures led to a backlash, raising doubts about the credibility of many of the claims that have been made.” “Bosnian Questions,” New York Review, 4.
The first critically analyze the highly inflated numbers of civilian and military casualties in the war was George Kenney, “The Bosnia Calculation: How Many Have Died?,” New York Times Magazine, vol. 42 (23 April 1995), 2 pages. Kenney’s findings of 25,000 to 60,000 civilian and military deaths in the Bosnian war-as opposed to the claim of 250,000-has not only been attacked by those claiming Serbian “genocide,” but also, apparently, largely ignored. The continuing numbers game, based solely on allegations by the Muslim side without any corroboration, has led to totally contradictory claims with respect to the victimization of Muslims. The dangers of such numbers games, leading to a seemingly endless regurgitation of horror stories that pull on the reader’s emotional strings, are reiterated by Kenney in his “Steering Clear of Balkan Shoals,” The Nation (January 8/15, 1996), 21-24.
31. This involvement culminated in American support, primarily through technical know-how and military training, of Croatian armed forces. With this kind of assistance, the Croatian military was able to launch the completely successful offensive in August 1995 against the Krajina Serbs. “Operation Storm” forced well over 150,000 Serbs out of their age-old homelands in what has been called by one author “the largest single exodus in Europe since the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans.” Croatia, for all intents and purposes, had become ethnically pure. The US government’s tacit approval of this biggest “ethnic-cleansing” operation to date in the former Yugoslavia represented a 180-degree reversal of its previous strictures against the practice of forcibly expelling ethnic minorities. See Glenny, Fall of Yugoslavia, 282-286; quote 284.
32. Aryeh Neier, “Watching Rights,” The Nation, (March 1, 1993), 259, makes a powerful plea against citing inflated numbers without citing supporting evidence.
33. The media response to the Croatian “Operation Storm” in August 1995 gave a hint of how the American government and public viewed the victimization of Serbs in general. An endless stream of Serbian refugees, driven out of their homes by the Croats, made their weeks-long trek across country under the taunts, jeers, and stones of bystanders and even bombs by the Croatian military. Yet the news coverage of this event in the United States was sparse. Furthermore, the American government downplayed this tragedy, which was in full sight of the whole world, by insisting that through the Croatian offensive a “Window of Opportunity” (for peace) had been created; the press often saw a certain justice in the fact that the Croatian Serbs, formerly “occupying” the Krajina, now themselves experienced the ravages of “ethnic cleansing.”
In view of a consistently and largely anti-Serbian media, it comes as no surprise perhaps that crimes of rape in Bosnia are still, even after four years, associated primarily with Serbs. The media has not covered Croatian, let alone Muslim, rapes in remotely the same way as those attributed to Serbs. Moreover, all materials – films, publicized stories, interviews-on the Bosnian rape issue relate to Croatian and Muslim victims, thus completely bypassing Serbian victimization. For the most recent efforts to arouse public sympathy on behalf of Croatian and Muslim rape victims, see Gayle Kirshenbaum, “Rape Prosecuted as War Weapon,” Ms, January/February 1997. The article describes the ordeal of Jadranka Cigelj and Nusreta Sivac, two rape victims from Bosnia and Croatia who travel through the States showing the film documentary “Calling the Ghosts.” The are widely seen “as representatives of the many women who have told their stories.”
Also the review “Taking Two Bosnian Women’s Case to the World,” The New York Times, (23 February 1997), reminds the reader, in the words of David Rieff and others, of the administration’s “unwillingness to stop the genocide early on and its apparent hesitancy now to help bring war criminals to justice.” It is understood that the “genocide” and “war criminals” referred to here are “Serbian.”
34. Helke Sander, “Prologue,” in Mass Rape, xxi.
35. Naimark, Russians in Germany, 106-109.