Overture for 1991
by Emir HABUL
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, March 2, 2001
There are two concurrent processes in Bosnia-Hercegovina. On the one hand, the reintegration of the state is becoming increasingly likely, and on the other hand, the HDZ's separatist yearnings have never been as loud as these days, especially on the eve of the holding of the All Croatian Assembly in Mostar. These processes are related and cancel each other. One leads to the strengthening of the state and its institutions and the other one to its division. The governing board of the Contact Group opted for the strengthening of the central institutions at its meeting in Brussels last month. The continuation of the setting up of the state border service favors that process; in the spring the decision of the Constitutional Court about the equal status of nations everywhere in the state will be implemented; the decision about the establishment of the Supreme Court of the state has been made; the idea of the establishment of the state Police has received support etc. The company gathered around the Alliance could quickly push thorough some thirty laws that would assist the integration of the economy and further strengthen the joint, Dayton state. The radicalization of the HDZ is not only a response to the loss of power but also represents the opposition to the process of integration. There are interpretations that the defense of about one hundred privileged families (that have since the time of pumping in of Yugoslav dinars in 1991, through the trade with weapons and oil during the war, and suspicious privatization and illegal trade in the post-Dayton period, amassed significant wealth) is actually behind the demagogic phrases about the defense of endangered national interests. Only a monopoly on power secures for these individuals peaceful dreams and protection from possible prosecution. Normalization of circumstances does not favor Jelavic, Rojs, Sopta and other war veterans. Unlike the Boban's period when there were public and secret policies (Grude, November 1991), Jelavic's company decided to go for broke, putting down the idea of the creation of a separate "Croat Republic". Verbally, on the scene, we have a repetition of the year 1991, but political and international context is completely different. Now, the stake is Bosnia-Hercegovina and in the end the rope will be pulled by Jelavic and Petritsch.
War of Holidays
by Zija DIZDAREVIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, February 28, 2001
The SDP requested that March 1, the day of Independence of Bosnia-Hercegovina be a holiday in the District Brcko. Late last year and early this year, the district had 14 public holidays, based on various religious and other holidays. They included January 9, the day of the Republic of Srpska. District Brcko was established as the essence of Bosnia-Hercegovina, as a core for the reaffirmation of the Bosnian-Hercegovinian essence and future chances, and it would make sense if mayor Sinisa Kisic in time made the decision about the celebration of March 1. January 9 was chosen for the day of the Republic of Srpska. On that day in Pale "the Independent Parliament of the Serb Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina", the basis for the Republic of Srpska, convened for the first time. The "parliament" in Pale was the final point of the pre-war destruction of the constitutional order of Bosnia-Hercegovina by the SDS and its mentors. It was the advance political support for the aggression against Bosnia-Hercegovina, genocide and total destruction. Against January 9, we have honorable March 1, 1992. A democratically constituted majority of citizens supported in a referendum an independent and democratic state of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Among them, in spite of everything, were numerous Serbs and Croats. That was the expression of the historical state-making self-consciousness of Bosnia and her civilizational self-respect. That was the condition for the international recognition of the independence of Bosnia-Hercegovina that coincided with the unprecedented attack on its unique character as a member of the United Nations. The international intervention on behalf of Bosnia-Hercegovina would come tragically late, when it became obvious that the will expressed on March 1 could not be eliminated even with incomparably more powerful military power or unprecedented crimes. The Republic of Srpska was accepted in Dayton but that acceptance was baseless according to historical, legal and demographic arguments. These days the Republic of Srpska will establish special links with FR Yugoslavia. And the HDZ BH, under whose direction only holidays of the neighboring Croatia are celebrated, is still working on the destruction of BH in whose existence the same party supposedly swore in 1992. Opposite to these wartime relics we still have the will of the citizens expressed in March. And look, nine years later, we have a chance to implement that will, which obliges the new authorities.
by Sejad LUKICIN
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, February 27, 2001
If all of this were not taking place in Bosnia-Hercegovina the news published in the daily newspapers on Monday, about the request of the soccer club Celik that experts from the office of Wolfgang Petritsch participate in the cleaning up of corruption and legal machinations in soccer, would be, really, more than ridiculous. However, as this is Bosnia-Hercegovina, and as here for more then five years everyone has been ruling as he sees fit, Celik's appeal to the High Representative of the International Community should be accepted as a mere reflection of reality. Petritsch and his office, respectively, have become the only institution that the confused and abused people can believe in and that is considered to be powerful enough to stop all injustices. Before the soccer players, refugees, then pensioners, knocked on the same door. The way things are going, it is only the matter of time before the high representative starts dealing with municipal issues, such as the removal of garbage, sewage etc. Of course, Petrisch's power in this whole story is not questionable. Many times so far he has demonstrated that in his hands he holds a sword with which he can cut entangled threads produced by the previous authorities. But the key question for Bosnia-Hercegovina is to what extent this state will benefit from his increasingly frequent use of the sword. The international community, let us recall, after entering Bosnia-Hercegovina at the end of the war, tried to avoid turning this state into a protectorate. On the contrary, its role, according to these initial ideas, was to assist the local authorities in as quick as possible construction of a stable system. As, however, destructive forces were stronger than the creative forces, that position changed and interventions of the international representatives became increasingly frequent. After the coming of new authorities to power, the authorities that were desired by the international community, this practice should end. Whether this will happen, when and to what extent it will happen, depends not only on the local leaders, but also on Petritsch and those like him. They should put their sword back in the scabbard, and begin to trust the local politicians. And for example, allow the newly appointed minister of foreign affairs of Bosnia-Hercegovina to discuss both special and normal relations with Yugoslavia. Until that day comes, Wolfgang Petritsch must put up with the title of the president of Bosnia-Hercegovina, which is given to him partly out of cynicism, and partly as a reflection of reality.
Truth Under Islamic Veil
by Fatmir ALISPAHIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, September 18, 2000
Ideological opposites agree that the Bosniak people should not worry about its future. Izetbegovic's followers have even asserted that "Bosniaks have never had it better" and should continue to reward themselves by supporting the SDA. The others, the knights of democracy, claim that the concern for the future of Bosniaks is "a reaffirmation of anachronistic and rejected philosophies". The policy that drove during the ten hardest years Bosniaks to the edge of an abyss abhors open discussion about the state of the nation; it would become obvious that mistakes have been made. The other lot, those coming from the future, cannot hide their unease whenever facing the question about the equality of Bosniaks. That space age elite does not demonstrate the will to face the facts that back up the doubt that the Bosniak people has entered a process leading to its long-term disappearance. One would hope that those intellectuals, who define themselves by the idea of Bosniakdom, would have to know that there can be no Bosnia-Hercegovina without equality for Bosniaks. Without the Bosniak core this country would be a pile of Serb and Croat mountains and meadows. Serb and Croat intellectuals in Bosnia-Hercegovina are expected to spot the trends that create inequality for Bosniaks. Exactly those from the Socialdemocratic alternative, who engage in "civic Serb and Croat nationalism" within the Serb Civic Council (SGV) and the Croat National Council (HNV), should permanently appeal against apartheid in the Republic of Srpska and western Hercegovina. But not in an uncommitted manner, by relating dry stories about the need for democratic changes. Their loyalty to the idea of Bosnia-Hercegovina can be accepted only if they offer concrete condemnation of subjugation of Bosniaks in ethno-national deserts. Many years of oppression are dispersing Bosniaks; they give up return, sell their property, emigrate abroad... And to museums. It is already clear that at the territory of the Republic of Srpska, created by genocide, and similar "Herceg-Bosna", Bosniaks will never again be what they used to be in the past. That is impossible physically. But it is possible to fight for the idea of equality of Bosniaks in these (hopefully temporary) oases of Nazism. That is the biggest achievement of Bosnian patriotism, democratic and multicultural consciousness. And what are those engaged in "civic Serb and Croat nationalism" doing? Well exactly by their silence or shrieks they provide legitimacy for the SDS paw over Bosniaks!!! If for example a Herceg-Bosnian intellectual from hundred percent Croat Siroki Brijeg appealed against the apartheid in Stolac against Bosniak returnees, not only would he do good for his people and the idea of Bosnia-Hercegovina based on equality, but would also unmask the attempt of the SDA to keep exclusive rights to decide about the fate of Bosniaks. That is the calculation that turned the HDZ in Tuzla into a minor political party. Bosniaks protected the equality of Croats there. Projected hypocrisy is a suitable reference point for ravens that try to condemn criticism of the apartheid reality as nationalism, something that is anachronistic and paranoid. It is exactly the opposite! A Croat or Serb who puts on a civic disguise and anathemizes the truth about the oppression of Bosniaks essentially engages in a sophisticated form of nationalism and anachronism. How? By persecuting the truth about the Bosniak tents he works on the preservation of apartheid. If we ignore the OSCE's parceling out of Bosnia-Hercegovina to electoral districts, which cements the atmosphere in Grude and Trebinje, we shall note parallel strategies for the protection of Serb and Croat occupations. The first one is obvious (Jelavic, Dodik...), and the other one is hiding under the Islamic veil of (Social)democracy. The ones hiding under an Islamic veil find it normal that all the Dayton rights apply to Sarajevo district, in which not a single returnee lives under a tent nor is expecting to get a bomb for dinner. They are even prepared to reduce the Bosniak presence in the Sarajevo authorities and appoint Serbs and Croats for mayors of the municipalities with Bosniak majority. So that soon a Bosniak could be a mayor of Siroki Brijeg. This gesture of Bosniak will makes sense until we note that the idea of Bosnia-Hercegovina is implied whenever Bosniaks are in majority. What if Bosniaks stay in this ashtray sized ghetto, which is equally in the interest of the pan-Islamists and Serb and Croat hegemonists? Today, while waiting for Bosnia, we can still understand that culture in Tuzla has been directed for eight years by non-Bosniaks; and that the number of Croat managers is proportionally larger than the percentage of Croat population. What if tomorrow we find out that the ownership of largest companies has in the name of spineless proof of the idea of Bosnia-Hercegovina passed into the hands of Croats? Bosniaks would not be the first people in history that has disappeared as majority due to economic disempowerment. These are realistic assumptions, not my paranoia! Who is afraid of dialog on this topic? Who is satanizing the right to equality? Only those who have counted that Bosniaks, wounded by tragic Alija Izetbegovic's policies, will like geese in the fog be drowned in the calculated non-Bosnian interests. There is no honorable excuse for the satanization or ironic approach to the question of Bosniak future. That question determines the future of Bosnia-Hercegovina as a historical and cultural entity. That question is not only a Bosniak question. It also belongs to non-Bosniaks, those who have been talking about the idea of Bosnia-Hercegovina so much. Shall we hear them? Or, perhaps, we have already heard them.
"Murderer of the Family of Surviving Boys is Now a Police Detective in Sarajevo"
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, March 30, 2000
"I've had enough of 'cleansing' of senior officers in connection with the crime in Grabovica. 'Cleansing' that goes on my account and on the account of the Ninth Motorized Brigade. At the same time, all of them know, for example, the name of a multiple murderer and it does not bother them that that murderer works at a very sensitive position," Ramiz Delalic Celo told us yesterday. At the time of the crime in Grabovica, on September 9, 1993, he was the deputy commander of the Ninth Motorized Brigade.
The interview of the commander of the joint staff of the Federation Army, Rasim Delic, published on Wednesday in Oslobodjenje was obviously the last straw that resulted in our conversation with Delalic and the revelations that, in our opinion, will significantly influence many current developments.
Delalic first addressed Delic's order from September 12, whose photocopy we also published, and in which the commander demands that the truthfulness of the information about "genocide of civilian population by the members," as is written in the order, "of the 9th Mountain Brigade of the First Corps" be checked. "At the end, this document includes the order," said Delalic, "that the deputy commander of the brigade, that is I, immediately return to Sarajevo for the sake of resolution of problems in this unit, as was explained. I claim and I have said that many times in the past, including all of my contacts with the Hague investigators, that no one at the time asked me to return to Sarajevo. Neither my superior Alispaga, nor Halilovic, no one. I even claim, and that is more important, that no one knew about this order."
Sefer and Zulfikar Tore Up Alija's Orders
According to Delalic, everyone knew about the order by president Alija Izetbegovic, who, once he heard about the crime, ordered that the offensive be stopped. "With my own eyes I saw how Sefer Halilovic and Zulfikar Alispaga tore up that order," claimed Delalic, adding that he was not the only witness of that incident. He drew attention to the fact that the command of the Ninth Mountain Brigade had received orders from the then commander of the First Corps Vahid Karavelic to move one company from Sarajevo to the Jablanica region in preparation for fighting. "That order precisely stated that in the Jabalanica zone this company was under the command of Zulfikar Alispago, while I would become its commander upon its return to Sarajevo."
The commander of the Brigade at the time was Sulajman Imsirevic. "I deny that at that time, in the region we were, I had any command responsibility. I deny that I had any connection with the crime," explained Delalic. According to him, at the time the crime took place, he had gone to get weaponry. In connection with those weapons, he emphasized, he is still facing charges in the Sarajevo cantonal court for abuse of power.
"Namely, someone, by digging through the old documentation of the Brigade, found a minus of $7,500. I had given that money, before Grabovica, to Alispago, to get a PAM and other weaponry. Therefore, I went to pick up those weapons, and Erdin Arnautovic came to Jablanica to inform me about the crime. Therefore, I was not there when the crime took place..."
Delalic said that during the investigation about this money Alispaga, with whom he has severed all contacts, confirmed these facts. "Unfortunately, I did not even get a PAM at the time. I got some small weapons," mentioned Delalic, adding that after his return to Grabovica he heard about the two boys from his soldiers (there were about one hundred of them).
They had found the boys near their house, where they had hidden. "I immediately lined up the unit and asked the boys to pick out the murderers of their parents, grandfather, grandmother and three-years-old sister. They did not recognize them. I do not know whether they were scared or really could not recognize the murderers. However, I found out a month ago that one of the members of the Ninth Mountain Brigade was the murderer. He took a ring from their mother..."
Delalic claimed that he found this out at the same time as one of the Hague investigators. His name is Nikolay. "He knows the name of that murderer. I can now only say that he is a detective in the Sarajevo Police and that our institutions have been aware of that information for a while now. Why didn't they do anything? Who are they protecting and why?" wondered Delalic, emphasizing that he himself under the influence of various stories at times thought that Mustafa Musa Hota was the murderer of the loved ones of those boys. "However, he wasn't... And that was not done either by Malco Rovcanin, or Nihad Vlahovljak, or Fikret Kajevic... They are all clean... But it was necessary to incriminate them to hide the real perpetrators. In vain!"
They Demanded That I Get Rid of Boys
"After the meeting with the Hague investigators, I realized that they knew everything! That is why some individuals are panicking. My conscience is clear. I do not claim that Delic, Halilovic, or Alispago ordered the slaughter, but they are guilty because they were responsible at the time... They did nothing to find the culprits... It is clear why that happened. There was a lot of grass (drugs, author's remark) and former camp inmates were staying next to the soldiers. Bosniaks... There was about one thousand and two hundred of them. All sorts, suffering, raped, miserable... Of course, I do not justify any crime. A child aged three, for example the sister of these boys, could not be blamed for anything. I want to say that out of all brigades from Sarajevo, only the Ninth Mountain Brigade cannot be blamed for any crimes... I mean a collective crime... Therefore, then in Grabovica, not only no one ordered an investigation, but I heard myself that the information about the crime was supposed to be suppressed..."
Delalic claimed that the whole Army Staff was in the field when he brought the terrified boys. All the members of the Army Staff heard their story.
"Why didn't anyone react at the time? Why did not they request an investigation? No one did. All of them were silent. Karic, Sefer and Bilajac. On the other hand they asked me to 'get rid' of the boys. I refused. I told them to get rid of them themselves. And that is why these boys are still alive. They stayed in Zuka's command until the end of the offensive and were after that transferred to their uncle and aunt. They could have been transferred earlier, but were not in order to suppress the information about the crime. Your journalist knows that. He also heard when they told me to 'get rid' of the boys..."
Delalic refused to say who had ordered him that, but he admitted that he had given that information to the Hague investigators. "They knew that already," Delalic said. He hasn't seen the boys, the only surviving witnesses of the crime in Grabovica, since then, but he would like to see them. He is aware that he still cannot go to Hercegovina.
Who committed the crime? "The Hague investigators know. They have names and witnesses. They also know who ordered that even after three-four days policemen from Jablanica not be allowed to the village. I tell you, it's amazing how much they know..."
Translated on May 8, 2001