September 12, 1992
A Rare Glimpse at the Reality of the Bosnian War
-- Associated Press Article
-- Comments by Jared Israel
[Posted 18 December 2002]
During the trial of ex-Bosnian Serb official Biljana Plavsic, Madeleine Albright and Elie Wiesel made speeches about the supposedly monstrous Bosnian Serbs. They portrayed Bosnian Muslims as analogous to Jews and Bosnian Serbs as analogous to Nazis. As I shall demonstrate in an upcoming article on that trial, what Albright and Wiesel said amounts to Holocaust denial. In addition, I will demonstrate that in his so-called testimony, Mr. Wiesel lied.
Anyway, while researching Elie Wiesel's earlier statements about Yugoslavia, I happened to read a most revealing 1992 Associated Press (AP) dispatch. It is posted below.
The AP dispatch is notable for three reasons:
1) It describes an all-out attack on the Serbian civilian population in and around the Bosnian town of Gorazde.
Prior to the attack, there had been sustained fighting between Bosnian Serb troops and Muslim military forces who controlled the town of Gorazde which had a mixed Muslim/Serb population. The Serbian troops withdrew as a peace gesture. After that, on August 26th, a column of cars and buses including:
"3,000 Serbs, mostly women and children, was ambushed by Muslims at Gnjila canyon, 11 miles north of Gorazde."
The attackers were merciless:
"People were trapped in their burning cars. Others crawled looking for their relatives, or jumped down the cliff in panic," she said, standing frozen next to the grave of her 11-year-old son, Dragan, who was killed in the ambush."
The AP dispatch was published on September 12th, that is, 17 days after the attack. Yet up until then,
"No one has dared to remove the remaining corpses, fearing another attack from nearby forests."
The attack was not limited to the one gruesome ambush:
"After the Serb forces left their positions on the hills above Gorazde, Muslim residents, 70 percent of the town's prewar population of 40,000, looted and torched the houses of fleeing Serbs, witnesses said."
This AP dispatch is unusual in that it actually *mentions* the attack on these Serbs. Mostly the media was silent when Serbs were attacked. As we shall show in a soon-to-be-published article by Prof. Francisco Gil-White, in fact it was the Serbs and also their moderate Muslim allies who were the main victims of anti-civilian terror in Bosnia. This was not because the Serbs were saints. It was because the people whom they and their Muslim allies were fighting were fanatical Islamic Fundamentalists, misportrayed in the Western media as peace loving, moderate democrats. But all that is discussed in Prof. Gil-White's forthcoming article. (When posted, it will be at
The point here is: this AP dispatch stands out because it at least reports the anti-Serb atrocities.
2) But even this article reveals anti-Serb media bias. From the start the article refers to anti-Serb violence as "revenge." Revenge for what? What does the AP claim happened to provoke such "revenge"? The article gives no details, saying only that the town had been under siege.
By using the terms, "siege" and "revenge," the writer creates the impression that monstrous crimes must have been committed *by the Serbs* because how else could what the Muslims did constitute "revenge"?
Let us consider this a bit more.
The article says the Muslims outnumbered the Serbs in the Gorazde area, 70% to 30%. A 30% minority is probably not in a position to terrorize a 70% majority. Moreover, this particular majority included people who were armed and prepared to carry out the sort of atrocities described in the AP dispatch.
Supporting this point, the AP uses the term, "siege." If Gorazde was under siege *from Serbian forces* then it must have been controlled *by Muslim forces.* So: the town had a mainly Muslim population; it was militarily controlled by Muslims; some of them were quite capable of carrying out massacres. This hardly sounds like a situation in which the Serbian forces would feel safe in provoking the Muslims, even if they wanted to.
Moreover, as the article states, the Serbs withdrew their forces as a peace gesture. Would they have done so without first rescuing the Serb civilian inhabitants of Gorazde if, having committed outrages, they had every reason to expect anti-Serb "revenge?"
The withdrawal of Serbian troops, the coordinated assault on the Serbian neighborhoods, the desperate flight of columns of cars and buses without troops to protect them, the ambush and the extreme violence all suggest that a) the Serbs naively misestimated their foes' capacity for terror and b) after the troops withdrew, the Serbian civilians were caught unaware by the anti-Serb attack and fled in disarray.
The comments of a Serbian man supports this view:
"'The decision to give up Gorazde is a treason. Karadzic should be ashamed,' said 68-year-old Marko Ratkovic, who *managed* to flee to Mladenovac, 75 miles northeast of Rogatica, in neighboring Serbia." (My emphasis. Note the word, "managed." That suggests he was caught unaware. That suggests he had no reason to expect "revenge.")
And a Serbian military official says: "'Muslims have abused our peace gesture by launching attacks on innocent civilians.'"
Based on all of the above, I would suggest this hypothesis: the presence of Serb military forces near Gorazde *prevented* atrocities against Serbian civilians. When the Serbian military withdrew, the extremists among Muslims launched a pogrom: ambushes, horrific murder, torching and looting of houses, slaughter of livestock.
3) Speaking of livestock, note that the article describes the attackers as having slaughtered pigs in the Serbs' yards. The Bosnian Serbs were/are mostly peasant farmers, many of whom do indeed breed pigs. This is an important detail. Let me explain why.
The AP dispatch states that, "The Serb forces hold about two-thirds of Bosnia's territory." It was common for the Western media to make such statements, suggesting that the Serbs had *seized* most of Bosnia, i.e., they were aggressors.
A small point that the media neglected to mention was: the Serbs *owned and occupied* roughly 2/3 of Bosnia.
Before the fighting broke out in Bosnia, the Slavic *Muslim* population was comprised mainly of city dwellers. The Slavic *Orthodox* population was overwhelmingly farmers.
Because farming is land-intensive, in 1991 the Serbian population owned about 2/3 of the land in Bosnia - that is, they owned the land they lived on and farmed. Bosnian Serb farmers were important food producers for Yugoslavia and other European countries.
During the Bosnian conflict, many media reports included sentences like the following, taken from a different Associated Press dispatch:
"During the first two years of the war, Serb forces took about two-thirds of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the Muslim-led government controlling the remainder." (AP, October 27, 1994,
In fact, by limiting their military presence to the 2/3 of Bosnia where Serbs and their Muslim allies were concentrated, the Bosnian Serb army was demonstrating a defensive strategy. As Prof. Gil-White's article will show, the Bosnian "Government" army was Islamic Fundamentalist. One 6000-man division was named after the World War II Waffen SS Division, Handzar, which means "scimitar." These Fundamentalist troops, often trained and led by fanatical veterans of the Afghan war of the 1980s, preyed on Serbian peasants.
One such detachment controlled the town of Srebrenica. Its leader was Nasir Oric, a Yugoslav Islamist. Here is a Toronto Star reporter's account of an evening spent listening to Oric boast about slaughtering Serb farmers:
[Start Toronto Star Quote]
...I sat in his living room watching a shocking video version of what might have been called Nasir Oric's Greatest Hits.
There were burning houses, dead bodies, severed heads, and people fleeing.
Oric grinned throughout, admiring his handiwork.
"We ambushed them," he said when a number of dead Serbs appeared on the screen.
The next sequence of dead bodies had been done in by explosives: "We launched those guys to the moon," he boasted.
When footage of a bullet-marked ghost town appeared without any visible bodies, Oric hastened to announce: "We killed 114 Serbs there."
Later there were celebrations, with singers with wobbly voices chanting his praises.
These video reminiscences, apparently, were from what Muslims regard as Oric's glory days. That was before most of eastern Bosnia fell and Srebrenica became a "safe zone" with U.N. peacekeepers inside - and Serbs on the outside.
[End Toronto Star Quote]
Note the sentence: "These video reminiscences, apparently, were from what Muslims regard as Oric's glory days." Oric's glory days! When he could raid Serbian villages with impunity, cutting off heads and launching people to the moon. His *glory* days! And the Fundamentalist monsters who committed these crimes were portrayed as moderate democrats by the Western media.
Note also that Oric curtailed his raids *because of the increased strength of Serbian military forces*!
What the Western media called "laying siege to Muslim towns," was in fact the heart of Serb military strategy: to have sufficient military presence to protect civilians from being slaughtered by the Islamic Fundamentalist army.
Here's the AP dispatch on Gorazde.
-- Jared Israel
September 12, 1992, Saturday, AM cycle
SECTION: International News
LENGTH: 660 words
HEADLINE: Serb Refugees Face Bloody Muslim Revenge
BYLINE: By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: ROGATICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Charred human skeletons, decomposing corpses and burned-out cars are the grim remnants of a Muslim assault on a column of Serb refugees fleeing war-ravaged Gorazde.
When Serb forces on Aug. 26 eased their four-month siege of the town in southeastern Bosnia, most of Gorazde's Serb inhabitants tried to escape. Many feared retaliation by majority Muslims who had been under Serbian guns during the siege.
At dawn the next day, one of the columns of cars and buses carrying 3,000 Serbs, mostly women and children, was ambushed by Muslims at Gnjila canyon, 11 miles north of Gorazde. Witnesses said at least 50 people were killed and many more injured. Others managed to escape the hail of bullets and grenades by jumping down the steep rocky ravine or by hiding in bushes and woods, they said.
"It was like hell. Everyone was screaming as people and children, some cut in half by volleys of bullets, stumbled all over the place," said Dragica Gavrilovic, one of the refugees.
"People were trapped in their burning cars. Others crawled looking for their relatives, or jumped down the cliff in panic," she said, standing frozen next to the grave of her 11-year-old son, Dragan, who was killed in the ambush.
She said she carried Dragan's body so she could bury him in Rogatica.
"Many others were not that lucky. They had to leave their dear ones behind," Gavrilovic said.
Evidence of the massacre was still visible two weeks after the ambush. No one has dared to remove the remaining corpses, fearing another attack from nearby forests.
Skeletons sat in burned-out cars, and decomposing corpses lay on the side of the dusty road. Stray dogs were eating the remains.
Many Western governments and international organizations, including the United Nations and the European Community, have blamed Serb forces for much of the violence in the civil war that has killed thousands. The Serb forces hold about two-thirds of Bosnia's territory.
But rival Muslims and Croats have also come under increasing international criticism for crimes and human rights abuses, including "ethnic cleansing" of territories under their control.
"Ethnic cleansing" is the term used to describe the expulsion of people to create ethnically homogeneous areas.
After the Serb forces left their positions on the hills above Gorazde, Muslim residents, 70 percent of the town's prewar population of 40,000, looted and torched the houses of fleeing Serbs, witnesses said.
Almost every building, including Serb Orthodox churches, has been torched in the Serb quarter on the southeastern bank of the Drina River that divides Gorazde, a trading center about 35 miles southeast of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
Pigs with slashed throats sprawl in yards belonging to Serbs.
The move to loosen the siege on Gorazde coincided with an international London peace conference in which all warring groups participated. The decision by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic angered local Serb warlords - and those who had to flee.
"Muslims have abused our peace gesture by launching attacks on innocent civilians. We may have to counterattack to regain the territory," Dusan Kornjaca, the commander of Serb forces, said in an interview.
The Serbs still hold sway on the approaches to Gorazde.
In Rogatica, heavy cannon and machine-gun fire could be heard from the direction of Gorazde as trucks towing howitzers headed there.
"The decision to give up Gorazde is a treason. Karadzic should be ashamed," said 68-year-old Marko Ratkovic, who managed to flee to Mladenovac, 75 miles northeast of Rogatica, in neighboring Serbia.
"All of us here have lost at least one family member in this brutal war. It has to stop before we all exterminate each other," said Ruza Blagojevic, one of about 200 Gorazde Serbs who settled in the Mladenovac refugee center after a harrowing journey.
She said when a charity organization offered them clothes, all the women chose black - for mourning.
(c) AP 1992 - Posted for educational and fair use only
Momo Lorić, chairman of the Veteran organization said that immediately after the capture horrible torture of the eight Serbian guards started; that was a crime against the laws and customs of war.
-Atrocious suffering of the Serbian heroes started at capture, 20 August, 1992. First they (Bosnian Muslims) kept them enchained in the silo, where they killed Rato Klačar; others were transferred to the conc. camp for Serbs, located at the MUP (Police) building in Gorazde. After several days of additional torture and starvation, the dying Serbs were taken to Ladjeva stijena under Kopac and thrown into the river.
All the possible doubts and uncertainties about destiny of the captured, tortured and guessing concerning the bestial throwing into the river has been silenced during 2011. after the bones of two Serbian martyrs from Trovrh: Tijosav Radovic and Budimir Todorovic have been found at the bottom of the lake Perucac. There’s a rational suspicion that a mass grave for the remaining 92 Serbs from Gorazde lies in the depths of the Drina lakes.
It was stressed that the Bosnian Muslim officials keep on obstructing search for the remains of the killed; the family of Budimir Todorovic, retrieving his remains from Visoko, has experienced great humiliation and pain after he Ministry of Interior at Gorazde issued documents that say all Serbian guards “were killed in fighting around Trovrh “!
- Just a little hope and comfort that is against the perpetrators of these atrocious crimes were prosecuted. We hope that justice will win and the criminals get their just deserts, Lorić said in his address to the Trovrh.
The marble plaque bears names of the captured and slain engraved, in order to keep the memory on their sacrifice for future generation:
Bosko Lasica and his son Djoko,
Budimir and Branislav Todorovic and
Tijoslav and Radisav Radovic,
Read More About Gorazde.................
WAR CRIMES against Serbs on the territory of the county of Gorazde (1992 - 1994)
Serbian Defence League
General Michael Rose
The Rivver Drina Graveyard 1 of 3