This timeline is part of the Srebrenica propaganda process. It appears to present a sequence of important detail, but in reality merely suggests a context that does not correspond to the known facts. The casual reference in the entry for 28 June 1995 to “the Serb religious holiday of St Vitus” gives a clear sign of the political nature of the calendar
From at least the beginning of 1995 it was becoming clear that different parts of the US administration were pursuing radically different policies towards Bosnia. The official position remained one of neutrality between the warring sides; others were pushing the policy of “lift and strike” – i.e. lift the arms embargo and strike the Bosnian Serbs – more and more strongly and openly. The White House was clearly moving towards this.
There were also areas of dissent within NATO. Yasushi Akashi, the UN Secretary-General’s personal representative in Yugoslavia, was very reluctant to allow the UN to be drawn further into the conflict in Bosnia. NATO’s senior commander, General Bernard Javier, was also disinclined to approve strikes against the Bosnian Serbs. There are indications that he did not want NATO to be seen to be fighting on the Bosnian Muslim side. There were also allegations that he had given secret guarantees to General Mladic when the Serbs took hostages to stop some earlier NATO bombing of Bosnian Serbs positions.
1995 had started with a resumption of the series attacks on outlying Serbian agricultural communities in the safe area by the 28th division of the Bosnian Muslim Army which was headquartered in the town of Srebrenica. There were some 6,000 soldiers in the town, dug in to excellent defensive positions, equipped with plenty of state-of-the-art weaponry which had been smuggled through the arms embargo during the early months of 1995 thanks to US assistance.
The Serb commander, General Mladic, had long since accepted that retaking Srebrenica was not a practical proposition. But the continuing murderous attacks on Serb farming communities demanded a response. Between 1,500 – 3,500 Bosnian Serbs had been killed in this way between 1992-95.
Mladic’s plan was to enter the safe area to deliver yet another warning to the Bosnian Muslims that further atrocities of this kind would lead to reprisals. This was why the force he took with him to the town of Srebrenica consisted of just 300 men and 4 tanks.
It was a great surprise to Mladic to learn that the town had been abandoned. Although no doubt pleased that this had solved one of his problems, he was immediately aware that it created others that were very threatening.
Immediate negotiations with the UN and Bosnian Muslim community leaders resulted in a plan to move all women and children to refugee centres already being prepared by the UN. The greatest concern was the threat posed by the 12,000 -15,000 strong column of men who had left the town to make their way through the forest to Muslim lines. With 6,000 armed soldiers among their number, this column potentially posed a great threat to Serbian towns such Zvornik which were along their route.
We don’t know exactly what happened over the next ten days or so in the forests, largely because the world’s understanding was shaped by a mass of unsupported claims which have never been subject to rigorous, independent investigation. What we can say is that many of these claims are contradictory and cannot all be true. We can also say, thanks to video evidence, that some alleged atrocities, such as the claim that 1,000 men were executed at the Kravica warehouse, certainly did not happen in the manner suggested – for example, film taken for the BBC Storyville documentary broadcast in 2007 shows wooden fencing inside the warehouse undamaged despite claims that grenades and mortars were used in the killing spree. (See
We know also that The Hague Tribunal had the greatest difficulty in finding evidence to support the charges of genocide listed in its indictments – to the extent that the indictments invariably had to be re-written and the ICTY had to revise its Statute to include new crimes, such as Joint Criminal Enterprise, which were much less demanding as regards proof.
But perhaps the clearest indication of the many-faceted manipulation of evidence can be seen from the fact that a substantial team of UN human rights investigators spent a week at the Tuzla refugee camp without finding a single person who claimed to have witnessed an atrocity; yet many hundreds of ‘eyewitnesses’ gave evidence in ICTY trials. Much harder to coach witnesses to give a clear and consistent account in a few days in a refugee camp than it is to prepare them over many months away from the public eye.
The bottom line is that the evidence presented in Hague Tribunal trials was invariably unsupported by hard fact. The radio intercepts which purported to reveal the sinister plotting of the Bosnian Serb political and military leadership were not grounded in hard fact. Transcripts unsupported by recordings that have been independently scrutinised and verified would not be considered evidence in any court worthy of the name. Similarly, reports of forensic work and DNA identifications which merely report the conclusions of the investigators are of no value when the primary evidence has not been made available for independent examination. Body counts mean nothing when they are no more than claims. Where is the evidence on the detail of the forensic processes and DNA identification techniques used by the International Commission for Missing Persons? It has deliberately been withheld on the basis of laws passed in Bosnia and Croatia which give the ICMP complete immunity to resist any subpoena (See https://bit.ly/2ytmC7c
In its superficial and dishonest handling of Srebrenica, the ICTY has shown itself for exactly what it is, a political court. In the place of a search for truth based on reliable evidence the ICTY created an overwhelming smokescreen. Trials lasting years, spawning transcripts which take thousands of hours to read through, all without real substance. It remains possible that some revenge killings took place at Srebrenica, though the arithmetic makes even that more unlikely than likely. There may also have been deaths during the fighting that took place in the forests. But the figure of 8,000 murdered is impossible and so are most of the other claims made over the years. Srebrenica was the means to allow Operation Storm, the Croatian invasion of Serbian Krajina, the NATO bombing of Serb positions in September 1995, and the United States’ imposition of the Dayton conference and agreement in November 1995. A means to several ends.