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Will Federation BH government move military training grounds to no man's land?
Million KM A Month For "Barbara" and "Pelican"
by A. OMERAGIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, August 7, 2002
The Ministry of Defense of Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina (BH) has proposed expropriation and moving of military training grounds deep into the Glamoc wasteland, but at the time when the country is in the midst of return of everything, including property that was taken away 50 years ago, the Government did not have an easy time making that decision. At the government session held last Friday the Ministry of Defense proposed, namely, that military training grounds "Pelican" and Barbara", created after the war on the property owned by 700 Bosnian [Serb] families be moved a bit further, to no man's land. The Ministry proposes that owners of the land to which the military training grounds are to be moved be paid a compensation. The Federal Ministry of Defense claims that the move would not be expensive, but the Federation could make a lot of money by renting the training grounds to NATO for, according to the estimate by Vinko Bosnjak, official of the Ministry of Defense of Federation BH, no less than $500,000 a month.
"In Hungary, NATO pays $500,000 a month for the military training ground that is much smaller and worse equipped than the training grounds we propose to build near Glamoc," Bosnjak says for Oslobodjenje. The Federation Army hasn't been using the training grounds for a while. Explosions can be heard coming only from the part used by SFOR units. However, even the area used by SFOR has been reduced due to a request of the Human Rights Court. In Glamoc wastelands, where even electricity was not installed before the war, military training grounds spread out over the land and houses owned by 700 families, most of them Serbs. Apart form two Muslim villages, Opacic and Mladesi, most of the pre-war population today lives in the neighboring Republic of Srpska. Most owners of land, according to the data provided by the Glamoc municipality, will not return to homes built far from civilization. However, they demanded in the Human Rights Court return of their property or compensation that should be paid by the Federation BH. In November 1999, the Court, reacting to the lawsuit filed by 10 families, requested from the Federation "to refrain from any activities, especially continuation of military exercises that would additionally damage the property of the plaintiffs". Lawsuits were filed by other property owners, but most of the pre-war residents of the today's military training grounds failed to win either money or the right to return. Namely, due to the construction of the military training grounds, the Federation BH proclaimed the land on which "Pelican" and "Barbara" are based for public goods, where construction, cultivation and life are banned for ordinary citizens. According to the Human Rights Court, 130 owners of the land in Glamoc have filed charges against the Federation BH. The SFOR has "occupied" the land of more than 20 owners, who demanded justice in court. And, while all resolved cases have to do with the land usurped by the Federation BH Army, the Court still hasn't confirmed that SFOR forces are illegally using somebody else's land. Perhaps because the Dayton Agreement confirms that international military forces can be stationed wherever they like in Bosnia-Hercegovina, including the land and homes owned by Bosnian citizens. But, thanks to the judgments issued by the Human Rights Court, last year military training grounds "shrunk" and, according to Dzevad Duvanhodzic, deputy mayor of Glamoc for the economy, ten families should get permits for return to their homes located on the edges of the training grounds. "We hope that next year those who want to return will be get permissions to do so. But, most of prewar inhabitants do not want to return. Life in these villages was hard before the war. People lived from land cultivation, about 20 kilometers from Glamoc, without electricity, water, and other infrastructure," Duvanhodzic says. Local officials in Glamoc do not know anything else. Including the plans about the moving of the training grounds, which, without doubt, would be extremely profitable for the Federation BH Army and a few land owners. The Ministry's proposal requested from the government to provide money for expropriation and abolish "public goods" classification over about 150 kilometers square of land, to allow return of prewar residents.
Officially - No Radiation
"Naturally, the Federation BH will have to pay the damages for the returnees because their property was damaged in military exercises. For starters, we requested 3 to 5 million KM [$1.5 to $2.5 million], but that's only for expropriation. The construction of the training grounds will not be expensive," says Bosnjak, and adds that the Ministry still does not have estimates about the likely price tag for the construction of the new military grounds. And while the Ministry waits for a Government's decision, and owners of the land wait for the return of their right to use their own property, municipal authorities wonder whether explosions and live ammunition exercises will bring sickness to the land and people in this region. Last year the local council demanded that a special commission check whether the region has become radioactive, but... "That was the end of it," Duvanhodzic says. SFOR officials at one point claimed that they did not use radioactive ammunition near Glamoc. Bosnjak confirms that, claiming that, at least officially, there is no DU ammunition in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Whether it will come in the future, when "Pelican" and "Barbara" move deeper to the Glamoc hills, no one can say. Especially because Bosnia-Hercegovina does not have strict environment protection rules like in the West.
Media, religion, politics
"Slobodna Bosna" Announced Lawsuit Against Reis Ceric And Alija Izetbegovic
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, August 14, 2002
Editorial team of the magazine Slobodna Bosna will sue reisu-l-ulema of the Islamic Community of Bosnia-Hercegovina Mustafa ef. Ceric and the honorary president of the SDA Alija Izetbagovic because of statements and charges they made recently against the editorial team of the magazine and its editor-in-chief Senad Avdic, states the press release sent by Slobodna Bosna to international officials, ambassadors and the media. The editorial team of the magazine warns that the employees and their editor-in-chief "became the object of media and political lynching unprecedented in the recent history of Bosnia-Hercegovina" after the publication of the last issue.
Call For Revenge
"The people behind this brutal attack are none other than individuals who were unmasked in a well-founded and resourced article as embezzlers of huge amounts of money earmarked for the citizens and nations in Bosnia-Hercegovina during and after the war. In this attack they are supported by the media that are based on the criminal foundations of the former authorities. It is tragic and sad that religious officials, led by their head reisu-l-ulema Mustafa ef. Ceric are the striking fist of this attempt to destroy Slobodna Bosna. Mr. Ceric, after the article in our magazine in which his speech in Tuzla - about show trials against Bosniaks - was condemned as pressure on the judiciary in Bosnia-Hercegovina, described editor-in-chief of Slobodna Bosna as a "madman" and "mentally disturbed person". At the same time during regular religious services in mosques all over Bosnia-Hercegovina (our readers and sympathizers informed us about at least four such cases) religious officials defamed Slobodna Bosna, referring to our journalists as "enemies of Muslims" and mercenaries working for an anti-Muslim conspiracy, and called on the faithful to boycott our magazine, while in some mosques imams openly called for revenge against our magazine," states the press release of the editorial team of Slobodna Bosna. The editorial team of this magazine claims that everything that has been happening over the last few days provides sufficient evidence that an orchestrated, synchronized political-religious and media campaign against the magazine and people working for it is at work.
"That campaign is organized by the top leadership of the Bosniak political structures, religious and political elites who are afraid that people who have elected them and whom they are used to represent will demand that they be made accountable for embezzlement of enormous amounts of funds over the last ten years," the press release states. Finally, the editorial team of Slobodna Bosna emphasizes that it has taken steps to force Mustafa ef. Ceric and Alija Izetbegovic to prove their assertions in court. "Unlike them, we are fully confident that the judiciary in this country is independent and professional," states the press release of the editorial team of Slobodna Bosna, which has been sent to the high representative Paddy Ashdown, ambassadors of the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany, the chief of OSCE mission in BH Robert Beecroft and the media.
Deputy president of the State Missing Persons Commission
So Far 14,500 Victims Exhumed In Our Country
by Besima KAHRIMANOVIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, August 19, 2002
For more than four years teams of the State Missing Persons Commission have been searching for missing persons, that is their remains, all over Bosnia-Hercegovina. The last hopes of the families of missing persons that some of their loved ones could still be alive are now gone. That prompted us to talk with Jasmin Odobasic, deputy president of the State Missing Persons Commission about the fate of the missing, exhumations and identifications.
OSLOBODJENJE: how many persons have been exhumed so far?
ODOBASIC: Out of 27,719 registered missing persons, so far about 14,500 victims have been exhumed. The State Missing Persons Commission has exhumed about 10,500, while the investigators of the Hague Tribunal have exhumed 4,000.
Once the exhumations and identification of the victims are complete, what will be the conclusions of the institutions engaged in this difficult and lengthy process?
250 Mass Graves So Far
This is a difficult, lengthy and dangerous job, but above all this is a job that must be completed, which means that we have an obligation to find a bit more than 13,000 persons. Until now exhumations of 250 mass graves have been carried out, with between 5 and 374 bodies found in each grave. The largest mass grave found so far, the one in Jakarina Kosa near Ljubija in the Prijedor municipality, contained 374 bodies, there are several hundreds of small graves, with remains of 2 to 5 persons, while most of the remains were found in individual graves. About 95 percent of exhumed victims were civilians, 13 percent of victims were women, and 3 percent children. About 90 percent of victims are Bosniaks, 8 percent Croats, and 2 percent others (Roma, Albanians, Serbs). Most victims were exhumed in the Srebrenica municipality, 2,300, and in the Prijedor municipality, 1,700 victims. At the moment we are working on the exhumation of a large mass grave in Cancari near Zvornik.
On Wednesday, August 21, it will be ten years since the murder of 263 Bosniaks from Prijedor on Koricanske Stijene (Vlasic mountain), and the families of the victims still don't know where their remains are. Can you help them?
We have visited Koricanske Stijene many times, but haven't found anything. I'll tell you why. As early as 1996, a team of the Special Police from Travnik visited the area and they only managed to find remains of small human bones on the rocks. The Hague Tribunal has shown interest in Koricanske Stijene case, but we have failed to find the remains so far only because of the determination of the Serb authorities to suppress the information about this case... Military, police, judicial and civilian authorities that were active in this area since 1992 definitely know where the victims from Koricanske Stijene were buried, but they don't want to reveal this spot.
Would you care to comment on the claims of the representatives of the Missing Persons Commission from the Republic of Srpska that you are obstructing exhumations in the locations where remains of the perished Serb civilians in Sarajevo and the nearby areas were buried?
My view of this is clear. Lacking true mass graves with Serb victims, based on orders of their politicians, they frequently fabricate similar scandals. Let us only recall the Kazani scandal when we pointed out to them the locations where remains of 26 victims had been buried. They spent another month there, searching for other mass graves and, naturally, they failed to find any. Another case is that the Missing Persons Commission in Srpska, representatives of the authorities in Srpska, and the media for a year tirelessly misled themselves, Bosnian and international public with the case of late Andja Bosnjak, who worked in the Presidency and died from a grenade fired from the Serb positions around Sarajevo, after which she was buried at the Lav cemetery. They claimed that a mass grave was hidden under her body, after which the body was moved. At the request of the ICMP, a British institute analyzed the remains and confirmed that the three bodies found under Andja Bosnjak's grave had been buried before 1945. Therefore, even in this case the masks have fallen. They are trying to fabricate a cemetery that they will proclaim for their Srebrenica or Prijedor, and they are moving and burying bodies of persons who died of natural causes from the Federation to Srpska, thereby ethnically cleansing cemeteries, which is total lunacy. In Sokolac [in Srpska], about 450 requests have been made for moving of bodies from Sarajevo cemeteries to new ones in Srpska, for which I fail to detect any moral or any other reason.
In Kamenica near Zvornik mass grave with bodies of murdered residents of Srebrenica found
Largest Mass Grave Found
by Sakib SMAJLOVIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, August 27, 2002
The newly discovered mass grave in Kamenica near Zvornik is located only 500 meters from the three weeks ago found grave that hid the secret of 200 missing persons from Srebrenica. Experts working on the exhumation of the grave believe that at least two weeks will be needed to finish the work on the new mass grave. "This is one of the more difficult mass graves. It is four meters wide, twelve meters long, and two meters deep. Most of the bones and other remains are scattered," Eva Kolonowska, anthropologist of the exert team for search for missing persons said. Emin Halilcevic, investigative magistrate of the Cantonal Court in Tuzla, says that the team has been working for more than 11 days on this mass grave. The working conditions are difficult. Copious rains are making the work difficult. Since this is a secondary grave, it will be difficult to put the bodies together. Bodies are sent to the Memorial Center in Tuzla, while the samples are sent to the DNA laboratory in order to identify the remains. The team consists of four physicians and two anthropologists who are carefully sifting every clump of soil making sure not to miss any body parts. Found objects are carefully investigated, registered and saved together with found bones. While we were next to the grave, members of the expert team found a documents folder, a hand watch, make "Raketa", and a passport issued to Ekrem Delic. Another found watch, make "Seiko", which was on a neck of a skeleton, has an [engraved] date, but the watch was damaged, so it was impossible to read the date. "This is a secondary grave. In 11 days we have exhumed 27 bodies and one hundred bags with human remains. This is a third mass grave in Kamenica, which, according to estimates, contains 400 bodies. Serb forces, trying to hide mass crimes committed in July 1995, dug up mass graves and moved bodies to other locations. This grave contains bodies from mass graves near Bratunac and Kravica, the biggest killing field for Bosniaks," Murat Hurtic, the chief of the expert team for search for missing persons in the Tuzla Canton says. He claims that remains of the victims were taken from Bratunac in three trucks to the secondary grave Kamenica and were broken up by machines. Found objects indicate that victims in the grave were residents of Srebrenica murdered in July 1995, Hurtic says. This year, three mass graves were exhumed in the Podrinje region, containing 750 bodies all together. While bodies of murdered residents of Srebrenica are being moved from one gave to another and exhumed, the perpetrators of this crime, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic and others are still at large.
Translated on August 21, 2003