used without permission, for "fair use" only
Ties for Untying
by Fatmir ALISPAHIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, February 19, 2001
The story about our beautiful country is slowly reaching its end. The masters of political drama are constructing a show in which causes and consequences will form a logical structure. Already today many imperatives from Dayton are facing a fait accompli. The time is solidifying existing divisions. 65,000 of children of Bosnia-Hercegovina (BH) have been scattered all over the world. Out of 1,700,000 of displaced persons in BH and refugees from BH, how many have managed to return home? Our defeat is measured in daily losses. How many persons are leaving every day, every week, every month? These questions do not have a reassuring answer. We are a nation in waiting. Bosnians and Bosniaks are waiting for BH, while Serbs and Croats are waiting for the planned outcome. It is easy to be a director and wrap uncivilized projects in the wrapping of democracy and humanism. Everything would have been different had the foreign political producers been loyal to universal ideas. In that case they would have tried to reconstruct BH based on her historical, multiethnic, neighborly values. But, the stuff we are being served is based on the logic of the political flee market in which cheap political passions have suppressed the noble character of civilizational influence and significance of Bosnia-Hercegovina. There is no constructive critical resistance to trends that go against our country. No wonder. Our genes were shaped under totalitarian regimes. Free thinking is treated as a sickness and silence as a fleeting survival. Trauma has been grafted onto this historical deviation. About 60 percent of our children are suffering from the post-traumatic stress syndrome. How many adults are caught in the vicious circle of trauma and helplessness? That is the majority, the critical mass of consciousness that should change the reality with its attitude. We are stumbling around in illusions while in front of our eyes somebody else's players make decisions about our fate. We are getting used to the situation in which the Bosnian spirit is atrophying imprisoned in one quarter of Bosnia. We are not reacting to the obvious preparations for the establishment of a third entity, which was given legitimacy by the way realistic HDZ demands were ignored. And who ordered that the HDZ be ostracized? The same director who produced the homogenization of the HDZ electorate through the referendum. We do not realize that the struggle for multiethnic BH is based on the recognition of trends stemming from Milosevic's and Tudman's agreement in Karadjordjevo. We are right now, with the approval of international officials, getting yet another confirmation that the idea from Kradjordjevo determines the future of this increasingly temporary state. The agreement about special links between Yugoslavia and the Republic of Srpska has been signed. Instead of insisting that the state BH should have "special links" both with Serbia and Croatia, because that is a natural South Slav integration, the OHR insists on the deepening of divisions in BH. Besides, why should the constituent nations in RS have special links with Serbia, and not with Croatia? Or why would constituent Serbs in the Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina (FBH) need special links with Croatia and not with Serbia? These acts are not in the spirit of the decision regarding the constituent character of nations everywhere in BH. It does not contribute to the closing of fractures in BH. The former FBH Parliament supported the establishment of special links with Croatia. The public opinion pointed out that such a decision would provide conditions for the establishment of similar links of RS with Yugoslavia. However, the Federation representatives did not heed this warning. It is understandable that the HDZ supported greater Croatian international initiative. But, how can we explain the fact that both the SDA and the SDP fell for yet another act in the solidification of the division of BH? These two parties are loudest advocates of the "united and democratic BH", so that one should not be blamed for expecting that they posses enough healthy logic to spot the tendency stemming from the ties established between entities with neighboring states. The Dayton Agreement left the jurisdiction over the foreign affairs to the BH state, rather than to entities. This is the same fable as the one in 1990, about "the alliance between the SDA and the HDZ", which gave legitimacy to the "right to separatism" of the Serb nation. By establishing special links with Croatia the Federation parliament gave the same right to RS. If the SDA and the SDP had political intuition and patriotic attitude, they would have rejected special links with Croatia and thereby prevented this claim on RS by FR Yugoslavia. But they rarely think on their own... Our friend Jacques Klein made an appearance at the session of the FBH Parliament. In Holbrooke's bulldozer-style, he stood at the rostrum and ordered that, supposedly in the interest of BH, the agreement about special links with Croatia be adopted. The order was carried out. Only one or two representatives opposed this assault on the paramount goal of the reintegration of BH. The rest obediently raised their arms and surrendered. One should not get angry over the visit of FRY president to Banja Luka. The responsibility for his special visit to the "Serb entity" is borne above all by the SDP and the SDA, the parties whose representatives gave FBH to Croatia and, similarly, the Republic of Srpska to Serbia.
Step Towards Justice
by Senka KURTOVIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, February 23, 2001
Sedija Hadzisehovic, today a retired psychiatrist from the Sarajevo clinic "Nedo Zec", admitted, fairly recently, to our journalist that her professional neutrality was shattered when three girls from east Bosnia showed up in her office in March 1993. "They were actually young girls. The youngest one of them had just turned fifteen," spoke Dr. Hadzisehovic, recalling "dark blue rings around one of girl's eyes". She also said that she had forgotten "everything [she] had known about rape when that girl looked at [her]". The Hague the International Tribunal for War Crimes started the trial of three residents of Foca, Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac, and Zoran Vukovic, almost exactly seven years after the girls crossed the threshold of doctor's office in Sarajevo. For a rape. That was the first trial in front of an international tribunal exclusively for rape. Between March last year and Thursday, February 22 2001, fates and bloodcurdling stories, painful and unbelievable testimonies followed each other in the courtroom of the Hague Tribunal. These stories cannot be found even in the most brutal Hollywood movies. "I was raped literally every day," the girl with a stare of an old woman spoke on that day in the year 1993 in the office of Dr. Hadzisehovic. Another two girls spoke about their pain, memories that make even the most beautiful day dark. They were born in 1977. They said that in Foca, the town in which they had been born, they had been tortured, raped, maltreated, and sold. They told the story of their co-sufferer, who was only fourteen at the time, who had been taken by Zoran Samardzic to an apartment and kept there for six months. But, many others could visit that apartment. They raped and tortured her. Although they would like to forget all of that and erase it from memory, the girls and women kept in the Sports Hall "Partizan" and the High School building do remember. They were starved, physically and mentally tortured, sexually maltreated, they were denied medical assistance, even if they had been beaten up, were bleeding or suffering from pain after being raped by one of "heroes" from Foca. They remember. Two of their co-sufferers died in "Partizan", after being beaten by soldiers. What they do not remember, the Tribunal already knows. Radomir Kovac, sentenced to 20 years in prison, had a strange nickname. They called him the "Foca angel of death". They called him the messenger of trouble, humiliation, fear and pain. The indictment records that he sold a twelve (12!) year old girl to a soldier for $100. He also sold another two women for $250 each to some soldiers from Montenegro. An angel of death! A slave trader. A monster who walked free through Foca for seven and a half years after committing these crimes. A ghoul who started trading after trying to cure his personal frustration with a child. Just as if he were trading with objects, a car of furniture for example. Should it be said that no one else will ever see that girl. Not even her mother who is even today deeply bereaved, and whose sorrow cannot be compared with any other anywhere in the world. Zoran Vukovic was sentenced to 12 years in prison. A hero who first raped a mother and then her 15 years old daughter. The same one who was capable of "switching" his perverse mind to a different track. The coward defended himself in court by claiming that he could not rape anyone. That he was impotent. Supposedly, he could not be guilty. One should record the words of the girl to whom he said that she was "the same age as his daughter". And because of that he wasn't going to do to her anything he would not do to his daughter. How can one believe that a human being could say something like that? How can one believe that a father could say something like that? A father who will during at least ten years spent in a shady cell in the Hague sometimes, perhaps, recall his own daughter. Three residents of Foca were given all together 60 years for contemplation. And for sleep. That will not be and must not be ever again the sleep of the just. But a nightmare. In which just as on a conveyer belt, just as in the darkness of the Sports Hall and High School pass faces of women and girls whose dreams of future were replaced during that summer of 1992 by humiliation and sorrow. Has justice been done? No it hasn't! It won't be as long as a single "hero" from Foca, from the camp in which they awaited life or death, does not make it to the Hague. It won't be done until even a single indicted war criminal is not jailed in a cell in Scheveningen. It won't be as long as rapists, murderers, and criminals walk free in Foca, Visegrad, or any other town in east Bosnia. The road to justice is long. And it starts very often with very small steps. The verdict for Kunarac, Kovac and Vukojevic is a small step. But it is important that we are going towards justice!
Same rhetoric, different packaging
They are not Protecting Batko, but Seselj, Mandic, Lugonja...
by Edina KAMENICA
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, February 21, 2001
The shameless simplification of the so-called Batko case (which hurt his surviving victims to the bone) exhibited two days ago during the visit of the Montenegrin foreign affairs minister, Branko Lukovac, to the Bosnian capital, could be dismissed as a result of ignorance only by na´ve individuals.
What is the Problem?
The rhetoric used by the senior Montenegrin official on Tuesday to explain why a suspected war criminal, Veselin Vlahovic, in spite of two official and several unofficial requests from BH institutions has not been extradited to the state in which he slaughtered, raped, and looted, is nothing but a new packaging for something that we have heard many ties in the past, and which so far amounted to plugging up of holes. Until the plumber leaves. The public hasn't been informed regarding what the hosts told to their guest regarding Batko, but we have indications that the guest, after plugging that hole, happily went home. The indication is the (verified) information that no one of those who talked with Lukovac had previously contacted Mustafa Bisic, the Sarajevo cantonal prosecutor, without doubt the official with most knowledge regarding that case. Regarding the extradition, Lukovac reminded that Vlahovic, a former member of the Serb Army (of course, an outlaw) cannot be extradited because he is a FRY citizen. The same Lukovac, however, stated that the FRY representative in Sarajevo, Radoslav Jankovic "does not have the right to represent Montenegrin interests... We have our diplomatic representatives in Sarajevo..." What is the matter here? Obviously, in one case (Batko) for Lukovac and the authorities represented by him, FRY is very useful scapegoat, while in the other case (diplomatic representatives) FRY does not exist for them, even before the holding of a referendum. Those who even superficially followed the statements of Montenegrin officials in connection with Batko over the last few months have convinced themselves that as far as Montenegrin authorities are concerned there are no changes. However, that is not as depressing as the fact that, apart from prosecutor Bisic, no one in the BH authorities is willing to publicly state why Vlahovic is currently in jail in Spuz [in Montenegro], rather than in Sarajevo. Secretary General of the Children's embassy Dusko Tomic, who spent about two hours with Vlahovic in his cell some time ago, and whose testimony is in our possession, although without a permission for publication, could resolve the last existing doubts, if any doubts still exist, by granting us that permission. Is there anyone left who does not understand that in that whole story about a crime without punishment the least important factor is the executor, a former failed boxer who, when brought to Sarajevo, was not even able to read time from his own watch. And he needed a lot of time to read names on apartment doors, which, it must be admitted, saved many lives.
Mandic Definitely in Sarajevo
Politicians form Podgorica, as well the local politicians, know very well that Bisic's documentation does not only contain names of Batko's victims, but also of all those who can be linked to him, such as Momo Mandic, Marko Lugonja, Biljana Plavsic, Vojislav Seselj... Isn't that the reason that from time to time the hungry people is thrown a bone that "if the Hague requests extradition, we shall extradite Vlahovic..." It would be a scandal if Lukovac did not know, or if , God forbid, his interlocutors in Sarajevo did not know, that bilateral treaties are not necessary for extradition in crimes for which Vlahovic has been indicted. Even the European extradition convention and its supplementary protocol (article 3) state that in similar, gravest international crimes, such as genocide, crime against humanity and war crimes, the European convention is the basis for extradition. (If, for example, Batko did not find shelter in Montenegro, but in the South African Republic, which also does not have an extradition treaty with BH, the basis for extradition would be the Geneva Conventions about the prevention and lack of term of limitations and Nurnberg principles from 1946, which are considered to be a part of internal laws of every UN member nation). "The Hague Prosecutor's Office gave its agreement that the case should be tried by the Sarajevo Cantonal Court," emphasizes cantonal prosecutor Mustafa Bisic, adding that that has been done "in accordance with the Rome Rules of the Road, an international treaty signed by FRY, which also obliges Montenegro". Therefore a tragicomic story, which Lukovac's hosts swallowed one more time, about some visits of witnesses to Podgorica or visits of investigators to Sarajevo makes one's stomach churn, above all because the fundamental issue here is what our state thinks for example about Moma Mandic. And, according to his own words he sneaks around the most representative hotel in BH, Holiday Inn [in Sarajevo], as if in his own backyard, captures hijackers of his brother and then thanks local policemen for good cooperation. He promised, in the end, that he would buy them a cool car, as a sign of his gratitude. What if that car has already been in Sarajevo?
Strong Willed Mission
by Zija DIZDAREVIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, February 24, 2001
The Democratic Alliance for Changes has taken two decisive steps in taking over the government on the level of the BH state and Federation BH. The Alliance, as the first truly peacetime BH political force in the last decade, is taking over the responsibility for the crucial attempt in the yearning to finally place BH on the path towards full normalization, democratizaton, economic reform, and economic and social prosperity. With Alliance and those who support it, we get a new political structure opposed to the protagonists of the wartime and criminal inertia. For the first time since the war we have the atmosphere in which the central state institutions should in the full capacity take control of their constitutional rights and responsibilities. The problem will be the thin majority commanded by the Alliance in the BH Parliament, and especially the ideological and political discrepancies with respect to the BH Presidency. True, a new member of the BH Presidency will soon be elected to replace Halid Genjac, but in that company he was the least problem. Legally and politically utterly illogical situation in which the member and future president of the Presidency, Ante Jelavic, leads a double anti-constitutional action goes on. On the one hand he is obstructing the constitution and the functioning of the new authorities and on the other hand he has formed anti-constitutional parallel authorities on the territory dominated by the HDZ. And Zivko Radisic is still the acting political relict of pro-Milosevic obsession. This BH presidency is completely incompatible with the political option gathered around the Alliance. At this moment all eyes are directed towards Bozidar Matic and the Council of Ministers, from whom it is expected to start a practical political and economic turnaround. Aware of the limited power of the Council of Ministers, and respecting the Constitution and the principle of decentralization, Matic is offering a coordinated (rather than imposed) program of action of state and entity authorities in the economy. If such consensus is reached, we would have a completely new context in which, however, nothing important could be done if the international support is not immediately followed by financial support. The situation in the Republic of Srpska remains the biggest BH problem. Mladen Ivanic brought a new political approach based on reality and legality. However, even he is not immune to the obsession with the exclusive rights of the Republic of Srpska, which is especially pronounced in his post-election alliance with the SDS. Ivanic sits on two political chairs. His position in RS depends on the SDS, which has from its founding been the most dangerous anti-Bosnian organization in the country, and on the BH level he supports the Alliance thereby securing international support. The return of refugees and displaced citizens and the return of their property should be a daily test for Ivanic's government and the local authorities in RS; if they fail it, they should be eliminated. The SDS is a dominant force on the local level. The American segment of the peace mission in BH has expressed determination in the defense of the right to return, especially to east Bosnia. The High Representative, Wolfgang Petritsch, warned Ivanic because of Nazi and Fascist disturbances in Visegrad where a Serb mob tried to lynch Alija Sabanovic. The future behavior of the police in RS will speak about the policies of Ivanic's government. Fearing punishment for renewed arson of Bosniak returnee's houses in Srebrenica, the SDS immediately gave up Milorad Mihajlovic. However, one should be aware that Serb extreme nationalists are hoping that this post-election pressure will be short-lived. And new arrests of war criminals would dispel such hopes. The Alliance in FBH must not wait for the denouement of the radicalization imposed by the HDZ, because the population of this entity demands quick evidence that its status will improve. Petritsch made the task that much easier by hitting Edhem Bicakcic in the face and thus thoroughly shaking up the SDA leadership. The struggle against corruption and other numerous illegalities seems at this moment to be a hopeless job, but the thing with Bicakcic is a big encouragement for all those who are responsible for upholding the law. Further unmasking of criminal character and results of the SDA and HDZ rule will give a new impetus to the democratic forces. The international good will mission in BH (which hasn't always been that) now shows strong will to make a key break in the peace process. Mostly due to their efforts, the November elections produced a better outcome than warranted by their results. In return, the international authorities for the first time have a promising political partner, regardless of how much it may be ideologically and politically diverse and splintered. The Alliance includes individuals who personify the time of dangerous political illusions. However, having in mind previous experience, their participation will be useful for those who otherwise support the civic option. The option without which there can be no reaffirmation of Bosnian-Hercegovinian ethnic, religious, cultural and all other multifaceted nature.
It is Worst to Live in Dreams
by Fatmir ALISPAHIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, February 12, 2001
At a round table discussion organized by the Council of Congress of Bosniak Intellectuals (VKBI) Retired general Rasim Delic presented a futuristic vision of a united defense system for Bosnia-Hercegovina (BH). He said that that system should be constructed by year 2003 and that it would open doors of all European integrations. Does that mean that the united military is a formal question? Everywhere and always, the same story. What benefit do we get from calling this country a state if the loyalty of its citizens is either strategically dying off or has never existed? We seek encouragement from empty form, while time is scattering the last remnants of patriotism. We are exalted and grateful for the fact that that geometric flag is flying above East River. What is flying?! The reality in which, with time, there is increasingly less of Bosnia and increasingly more of fait accompli! Why is this happening to us? Because in everything we say, traumatized, we see a reality that does not exist, an illusion. Those who would like to seal the life of Bosnia would promote the uncritical, utopian thought. If you achieve that the Bosnian intellect flies like the flag above East River, you've done your job. The population in any case simply follows orders, so that it is not surprising that it is floating on the pond of forgetting and blind faith in deceit. General Delic says that "no one has the right to accept compromise that solidifies the existing state". And exactly he, by shutting his eyes, is making a compromise with the current tendencies. It would be wonderful if BH had a single army that would "contribute to the strengthening of the internal security and the accession of BH to the European Union and NATO". Just like this cross-eyed Army of the "Federation BH"? The army of one country stems from the state-making idea, from the loyalty of its citizens; in BH that idea and loyalty are exhausted by the Dayton Agreement, whose only achievement is that it stopped the war; by following the same logic, a single army cannot be the result of the current Dayton Agreement. Without nurturing of the political system in BH, it is impossible to even discuss that. And even then, it should be kept in mind that there is no stability of BH without the stability of the region. Whether we like it or not, political options that prefer chronic hegemonies of back-up homelands to equality within BH are still strong in the Serb and Croat peoples in BH. Any political or military disturbance would shatter the unity of a BH army and send Serbs and Croats to side with their "motherlands". There is no option in which a significant number of Croats or Serbs would defend BH from a possible aggression from Croatia or Serbia. General Delic does not mention this. As long as we keep rooting for a BH with wrapping and without content, we shall be stuck in quick sand. What would be the purpose of a unification of national BH armies, if each of them kept its ideological opposition to the idea of BH? If it kept its history and traumas? The reanimation of the BH idea should be approached bottom up, on foot, by criticizing tendencies which are opposed to universal values. What sort of military unity can we discuss if one army celebrates Pavelic [leader of pro-Nazi Croatian WWII movement which participated in genocide of Serbs, Jews and Roma in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina during WWII], the other Mihajlovic [Serb nationalist leader from WWII; his forces committed crimes against Croats and Bosniaks] and the third Arab bedouin [nomadic desert] warriors? Why are we afraid to say that? We can essentially change these historical pigsties only through open critical discussion! General Atif Dudakovic at the time was much more realistic in his analysis of a single BH Army: "Who is the enemy? Where does the threat come from? As long as we wonder about that, only SFOR can defend peace." Unfortunately we shall wonder about that as long as our historical memory serves us, regardless of any global solutions. It would be useful if the retired general spoke about the security of the retired Bosnian people. Moreover because today, in case of an aggression, a significant number of Bosnians would refuse to defend BH; patriotism has been discredited with omnipresent immorality and pan-Islamic delusions. The past aggression has confirmed that a successful defense depends more on spiritual and less on technical factors. Today, we lack both. In vain extra-terrestrials keep releasing trial balloons and test our pulse. Soon, the RS Parliament will discuss a proposed declaration about demilitarization of BH. That idea is supported by intellectuals hippies in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica... They do not understand that every military issue in BH is related to Serbia and Croatia. What good is demilitarization of Bosniaks if the storerooms in back-up homelands of their neighbors are full? In the analysis of this topic one should recall the proposal of the Bosnian Party from 1996, when they demanded that "with the goal of establishment of an embryo of a united BH Army, IFOR should be reorganized by setting up the commanding cadre staffed by NATO officers, while multiethnic troops would consist of professional soldiers from the ranks of all three BH nations". This proposal was ignored at the time and forgotten soon afterwards. Today Carlo Jean, the OCSE representative on military issues, advocates a similar idea. Our problem is that we have no views and show no initiative. What do we want? What can we do? How? It's worst to live in illusions. Then reality is only used by those who are awake.
Translated on April 13, 2001