July 11, 1995. Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic enters Srebrenica, a UN-protected Muslim enclave. He turns to the camera of the Serbian television channel and makes a patriotic declaration: «Here we are in Srebrenica on July 11, 1995. On the eve of yet another great Serb holiday. We present…
July 11, 1995. Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic enters Srebrenica, a UN-protected Muslim enclave. He turns to the camera of the Serbian television channel and makes a patriotic declaration: “Here we are in Srebrenica on July 11, 1995. On the eve of yet another great Serb holiday. We present this city to the Serbian people as a gift. Finally, the time has come to take revenge on the Muslims.”
No one really thought much about these last words, because no one could ever think that it was possible to slaughter more than 8,000 civilians in Europe at the close of the 20th century.
Only a few Greeks know about the worst massacre on European territory since World War II. “A cry from the grave,” a documentary shot by Leslie Woodhead was screened in Belgrade, but it never made it to a Greek theater. Our Orthodox Serb brothers, as it were, and the Greek volunteers who took part in the slaughter are still a taboo subject in this country. The endless mass graves that continue to be unearthed in this ill-fated town are to Greeks a tragic detail of a civil war (as we became accustomed to calling it) rather than the result of years-long systematic ethnic cleansing by Serb troops (ostensibly the Bosnian Serb army).
For most Greeks, the crime is the bombing by NATO aircraft and not their absence in the week that preceded the massacre.
The documentary features Serb footage showing Slobodan Milosevic’s armored tanks bombing the besieged city for days. The film also shows a Dutch UN peacekeeper commander calling for the bombing of Serb positions and the refusal of the international community to come to the aid of the thousands inside the so-called “safe heaven.” If it weren’t for this timidity, if NATO had shelled the Serb tanks mobilized in Bosnia early in the war, then European history would not have been stigmatized by the Srebrenica killings. This is not a Serbian stigma, but one that marks the entire western world – all of us who allowed criminals like Milosevic, Mladic and Karadzic to send thousands of civilians to their deaths.
Twelve years on, the stigma remains. Justice has not yet been administered. Mladic and Karadzic are still on the run while our boys – who went as far as to raise the Greek flag in blood-soaked Srebrenica – enjoy their asylum status.
“I would like the movie to reach as many people as possible in the hope that, next time, we won’t treat a genocide as mere observers,” the film director told the Athens Voice free press in an interview on the occasion of the documentary’s London screening.
And since his film will probably never make it to a Greek theater, lovers of the truth can download it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-DUsQyklUM.
KATHIMERINI English Edition, 03/11/2007