Massacre at Hu?

Massacre at Hu?

Mistake Nr. 2: Only Japanese nationalists co-opt the Nanjing Massacre

The death of Mao and the rise of Deng Xiaoping saw a moderation in official narratives. For the first time in decades, the issue of China’s victimization was more freely discussed and research encouraged. As market reforms were implemented and the infallibility of Maoist thought waned, the Chinese leadership gradually began redirecting the national focus away from class based revolutionary thinking towards more pragmatic nationalism. Chinese nationalism was moulded around the core theme of a sense of shared insecurity as well as the lessons of past weakness and subsequently the drive towards future security.

Chinese nationalism in turn became “not just about celebrating the glories of Chinese civilization it also commemorates China’s Century of National Humiliation. Humiliation has been an integral part of the construction of Chinese nationalism. Heroism and victimization are inseparable antipodes complementing a collective identity,” writes Qian Fengoi in Let the Dead be Remembered: Interpretation of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial. The role (or lack thereof) of Nanjing throughout Maoist China, later during the tenure of Deng and into the 21st century, has been very fluid.

It was only in 2014, under the direction by China's new leader, Xi Jinping that China held its first national commemoration for the Nanjing Massacre

Thomas Berger in The Politics of Memory in Japanese Foreign Relations hits the nail on the head: “collective memory [can be as] much about the present and the future as it is about the past. Societies do not search for the past per se rather they are trying to define a usable past,”

Nanjing has become highly useful to the Chinese government, which, since the 1980s, has repeatedly used the tragedy and the ‘history card’ in general to further its aims concerning Japan. Specifically, Nanjing has become a tool for Beijing to increase nationalist sentiments in the population in an “era when the old Maoist ideology is rapidly losing its appeal and when rival political groups [have] become eager to demonstrate their nationalist credentials,” notes Berger.

For instance in 2005, anti-Japanese sentiment was a weapon in the power struggle between the Shanghai Gang (supporters of retired president Jiang Zemin) and the Tuanpai faction of Hu Jintao. In part to demonstrate his nationalist credentials, Hu designated the Nanjing memorial as a national heritage site and supported the creation of the Sino-Japanese Joint History Project to be discussed in detail later. Similarly, it was only in 2014 that China held its first national commemoration for Nanjing, an event orchestrated by Xi Jinping to cement his nationalist credentials as China’s new leader.

Standoff on the square

The Chinese Government had made the point that no one was actually killed in the square, disregarding the fact they killed as many as 2,000-3,000 civilians on the way. According to June Fourth: The Tiananmen Protests and Beijing Massacre of 1989, once the military made it to Tiananmen, "some people left the square to fight back against or witness the army's attack. Many more slipped away to find safety. Those who decided to stay in the square to await the army's arrival huddled near the Monument to the People's Heroes." The students that remained were getting news of the slaughter and wanted to fight back.

According to "The Last Scene of the Tiananmen Incident," by Wu Renhua, a Chinese historiographer that was in China at the time of the massacre, one student wanted a gun so they could shoot back at the military. Chai Ling, one of the student leaders, told a broadcaster, "All of you who have the ability to resist, pick up anything that can be resisted, go to the edge of the square, prepare to defend yourself, prepare to resist!"

Then the students had a change of heart. They chose to drop their weapons and sing as the military was closing in on them, with some 40,000-50,000 soldiers surrounding the square. Bullets flew into the air, intimidating the students to leave. One of the student leaders was chosen to negotiate a retreat with the military. The majority of students left by 4:30 a.m.

One Hundred Years Later, the Mark of History Still Scars Tulsa Today

Memorial Day marks one year since the murder of George Floyd by the hands of the Minneapolis police. This week also marks the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, a brutal government-aided leveling of a prosperous African American community for which there still has been no accounting and no justice. Few even know about the massacre. It hasn't even been taught in the Tulsa public schools until this year. Although 100 years old, the massacre poses questions of justice and of decency that America cannot avoid.

After World War I, a neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, named Greenwood grew to be among the wealthiest Black communities in the country. Booker T. Washington called it the "Black Wall Street." Here were successful entrepreneurs, doctors, and lawyers who through hard work and good minds were building a prosperous Black community. The district was lined with Black-owned shops. restaurants, a 54-room grand hotel and the Dreamland Theater. It supported two newspapers and a hospital.

No one was held responsible for the deaths and injuries, or the millions in property losses.

Then on the day after Memorial Day, a white mob gathered to lynch a young Black 19-year-old who had startled a 17-year-old white girl, an elevator operator, in an elevator. Rumors inflated the incident into an alleged rape. Black veterans of World War I rushed to the jail to try to protect the young man from the mob. A shot was fired, and the enraged white mob chased blacks back into Greenwood.

Then the massacre began. The police and National Guard joined the mob rather than enforce the peace. Planes circled overhead to drop turpentine bombs on homes and businesses. As Rev. Robert Turner, pastor of the historic Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church that was torched in the massacre, notes, "The first time in American history that airplanes were used to terrorize America was not in 9/11, was not at Pearl Harbor, it was right here in the Greenwood District."

The 2001 report of the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Race Riot of 1921, created by the state legislature, found that the city of Tulsa conspired to destroy Greenwood. According to the commission's report, the massacre destroyed some 40 square blocks. Nearly 10,000 people were left homeless as 1,256 homes were looted and burned down. So too was the thriving commercial district, including the Black hospital.

White hospitals turned away Greenwood's wounded. Many bled to death, including Greenwood's most prominent surgeon. The number of dead is estimated to be as many as 300, but went uncounted. Many were simply dumped in unmarked graves. Ten thousand African Americans were left homeless some 6,000 were herded into internment camps for weeks. Government officials committed no public money to help Greenwood rebuild. Instead, they opposed any revival, even rejecting offers of assistance from outside of Tulsa.

No one was held responsible for the deaths and injuries, or the millions in property losses. Not one insurance company honored a claim by an African American. City and state officials covered up the crime for decades.

As Dreisen Heath, author of a Human Rights Watch report on the massacre summarized, "The Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa was destroyed, but survivors of the massacre and their descendants are still suffering the consequences. Decades of Black prosperity and millions of dollars in hard-earned wealth were wiped out in hours, but nobody was ever held accountable, and no compensation was ever paid."

Legacy of discrimination

That history lives today. Tulsa is still one of the most segregated cities in the country. The current mayor acknowledges "the history of racial disparity that exists in our city. A kid that's growing up in the predominantly African American part of our city is expected to live 11 years less than a kid that's growing up in a whiter part of the city." Tulsa still suffers from discrimination, institutionalized in the police, zoning laws, housing policies and more.

One hundred years later, the African American community still seeks justice. Rev. Turner marches each week to the city council to demand repair, reparations for the damage done. The state-created commission called for reparations such as direct payments to "riot survivors and descendants," a scholarship fund and a memorial. The Human Rights Watch report on the massacre calls on the Tulsa and Oklahoma governments to provide reparations, including "direct payments to the few massacre victims still living and the descendants," efforts to recover remains from mass graves, and a "comprehensive reparations plan," including targeted investments in health, education and economic opportunities." A House subcommittee has opened an inquiry into what can be done.

The issue of reparations always meets with resistance. Why should this generation pay for the crimes of those who lived 100 years ago? Yet once the massacre is admitted, the violation done to people can't be simply ignored. And the damage incurred―erasing a prosperous Black community and enforcing racially discriminatory policies through the decades―is real.

The mark of history scars Tulsa today. There, and elsewhere in America, there needs to be a process that can officially recognize the injustice, act to repair the damages done, and bring us together, so that our society can continue to make its difficult way to an inclusive, and better America.

The Tutsis are thought to have originally come from Ethiopia and arrived after the Hutu came from Chad. The Tutsis had a monarchy dating back to the 15th century this was overthrown at the urging of Belgian colonizers in the early 1960s and the Hutu took power by force in Rwanda. In Burundi, however, a Hutu uprising failed and the Tutsis controlled the country.
The Tutsi and Hutu people interacted long before European colonization in the 19th century. According to some sources, the Hutu people lived in the area originally, while the Tutsi migrated from the Nile region. When they arrived, the Tutsi were able to establish themselves as leaders in the area with little conflict. While the Tutsi people became "aristocracy," there was a good deal of intermarriage.

In 1925, Belgians colonized the area calling it Ruanda-Urundi. Rather than establishing a government from Brussels, however, the Belgians placed the Tutsi in charge with the support of the Europeans. This decision led to the exploitation of the Hutu people at the hands of the Tutsis. Starting in 1957, the Hutus began to rebel against their treatment, writing a Manifesto and staging violent actions against the Tutsi.

In 1962, Belgium left the area and two new nations, Rwanda and Burundi, were formed. Between 1962 and 1994, a number of violent clashes occurred between the Hutus and Tutsis all of this was leading up to the genocide of 1994.


Conflict in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina

The multiethnic Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was mainly inhabited by Muslim Bosniaks (44 percent), Orthodox Serbs (31 percent) and Catholic Croats (17 percent). As the former Yugoslavia began to disintegrate, the region declared national sovereignty on 15 October 1991, and held a referendum for independence on 29 February 1992. The result of that referendum, which favours independence, was opposed by the political representatives of the Bosnian Serbs who had boycotted the referendum. The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was formally recognised by the European Community on 6 April 1992 and the United Nations on 22 May 1992. [32] [33]

Following the declaration of independence, Bosnian Serb forces, supported by the Serbian government of Slobodan Milošević and the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), attacked the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to secure and unify the territory under Serb control, and to create an ethnically Serb state of Republica Srpska. [34] In the subsequent struggle for territorial control, the non-Serb populations from areas under Serbian control, especially the Bosniak population in Eastern Bosnia, near the Serbian borders, were subject to ethnic cleansing. [35]

1992: Beginning of ethnic cleansing campaign

Srebrenica, and the surrounding Central Podrinje region, had immense strategic importance to the Bosnian Serb leadership, as it was the bridge to two disconnected parts of the envisioned ethnic state of Republika Srpska. [36] The capture and ethnic purification of Srebrenica would also undermine the viability of the Bosnian Muslim state. [36]

In 1991, 73% of the population in Srebrenica were Bosnian Muslims and 25% were Bosnian Serb. [37] Tensions between the Bosnian Muslim and the Bosnian Serb in Srebrenica intensified in the early 1990s, as the local Bosnian Serb population began to be provided with weapons and military equipment distributed by the Serb paramilitary groups and the Yugoslav People's Army (the "JNA") and Serb Democratic Party (the "SDS"). [37] : 35

By April 1992, Srebrenica had become increasingly isolated by the Serb forces. On 17 April 1992, the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica was given a 24-hour ultimatum to surrender all weapons and leave town. In April 1992, Srebrenica was briefly captured by the Bosnian Serbs, when it was retaken by Bosnian Muslims on 8 May 1992. Nonetheless, the Bosnian Muslims remained surrounded by Serb forces, and was cut off from outlying areas. Between April 1992 and March 1993, the Naser Orić trial judgement described the situation in Srebrenica as follows: [37] : 47

Between April 1992 and March 1993, the town of Srebrenica and the villages in the area held by Bosniak were constantly subjected to Serb military assaults, including artillery attacks, sniper fire, as well as occasional bombing from aircraft. Each onslaught followed a similar pattern. Serb soldiers and paramilitaries surrounded a Bosnian Muslim village or hamlet, called upon the population to surrender their weapons, and then began with indiscriminate shelling and shooting. In most cases, they then entered the village or hamlet, expelled or killed the population, who offered no significant resistance, and destroyed their homes. During this period, Srebrenica was subjected to indiscriminate shelling from all directions on a daily basis. Potočari in particular was a daily target for Serb artillery and infantry because it was a sensitive point in the defence line around Srebrenica. Other Bosnian Muslim settlements were routinely attacked as well. All this resulted in a great number of refugees and casualties.

During the first three months of war, from April to June 1992, the Bosnian Serb forces, with support from the JNA, destroyed 296 predominantly Bosniak villages in the region around Srebrenica, forcibly uprooted some 70,000 Bosniaks from their homes and systematically massacred at least 3,166 Bosniaks (documented deaths) including many women, children and elderly. [38]

In neighbouring Bratunac, Bosniaks were either killed or forced to flee to Srebrenica, resulting in 1,156 deaths. [39] Thousands of Bosniaks were also killed in Foča, Zvornik, Cerska and Snagovo. [40]

Struggle for Srebrenica 1992–1993

Serb military and paramilitary forces from the area and neighbouring parts of eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia gained control of Srebrenica for several weeks in early 1992, killing and expelling Bosniak civilians. In May 1992, Bosnian government forces under the leadership of Orić recaptured the town.

Over the remainder of 1992, offensives by Bosnian government forces from Srebrenica increased the area under their control, and by January 1993 they had linked with Bosniak-held Žepa to the south and Cerska to the west. At this time, the Srebrenica enclave had reached its peak size of 900 square kilometres (350 square miles), although it was never linked to the main area of Bosnian-government controlled land in the west and remained, in the words of the ICTY, "a vulnerable island amid Serb-controlled territory". [41] During this time, Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) forces under the command of Naser Orić used Srebrenica as a staging ground to attack neighboring Serb villages inflicting many casualties. [42] [43] On one occasion in 1993, the village of Kravica was attacked by ARBIH and resulted in numerous Serb civilian casualties. The actions carried out by the ARBIH under the command of Naser Orić were seen as a catalyst for what occurred in Srebrenica in 1995. According to General Philippe Morillon's testimony at the session of the ICTY 12 February 2004:

JUDGE ROBINSON: Are you saying, then, General, that what happened in 1995 was a direct reaction to what Naser Oric did to the Serbs two years before?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Yes, Your Honour. I am convinced of that. This doesn't mean to pardon or diminish the responsibility of the people who committed that crime, but I am convinced of that, yes. [44]

Over the next few months, the Serb military captured the villages of Konjević Polje and Cerska, severing the link between Srebrenica and Žepa and reducing the size of the Srebrenica enclave to 150 square kilometres. Bosniak residents of the outlying areas converged on the town of Srebrenica and its population swelled to between 50,000 and 60,000 people, which was about tenfold of Srebrenica's pre-war population. [45]

General Philippe Morillon of France, Commander of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), visited Srebrenica in March 1993. By then, the town was overcrowded and siege conditions prevailed. There was almost no running water as the advancing Serb forces had destroyed the town's water supplies people relied on makeshift generators for electricity. Food, medicine and other essentials were extremely scarce. The conditions rendered Srebrenica a slow death camp. [45] Before leaving, General Morillon told the panicked residents of Srebrenica at a public gathering that the town was under the protection of the UN and that he would never abandon them.

During March and April 1993 several thousand Bosniaks were evacuated from Srebrenica under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The evacuations were opposed by the Bosnian government in Sarajevo as contributing to the ethnic cleansing of predominantly Bosniak territory.

The Serb authorities remained intent on capturing the enclave. On 13 April 1993, the Serbs told the UNHCR representatives that they would attack the town within two days unless the Bosniaks surrendered and agreed to be evacuated. [46] The Bosniaks refused to surrender.

Starvation in Srebrenica 1992–1995

With the failure to demilitarize and lack of supplies getting into the city, Naser Orić consolidated his power and controlled the black market. Orić's men began hoarding food, fuel, cigarettes and embezzled money sent by foreign aid agencies to support Muslim orphans. [47] Basic necessities were out of reach for many of the people in Srebrenica due to Orić's actions. UN officials were beginning to lose patience with the ARBiH in Srebrenica and saw them as "criminal gang leaders, pimps and black marketeers". [48]

A former Serb soldier of the "Red Berets" unit described the tactics used to starve and kill the besieged population of Srebrenica:

It was almost like a game, a cat-and-mouse hunt. But of course we greatly outnumbered the Muslims, so in almost all cases, we were the hunters and they were the prey. We needed them to surrender, but how do you get someone to surrender in a war like this? You starve them to death. So very quickly we realised that it wasn't really weapons being smuggled into Srebrenica that we should worry about, but food. They were truly starving in there, so they would send people out to steal cattle or gather crops, and our job was to find and kill them. No prisoners. Well, yes, if we thought they had useful information, we might keep them alive until we got it out of them, but in the end, no prisoners. The local people became quite indignant, so sometimes we would keep someone alive to hand over to them [to kill] just to keep them happy. [49]

When British journalist Tony Birtley visited the besieged Srebrenica in March 1993, he took footage of Bosniak civilians starving to death. [50]

The judgment of the Hague Tribunal in the case of Naser Orić found that:

Bosnian Serb forces controlling the access roads were not allowing international humanitarian aid—most importantly, food and medicine—to reach Srebrenica. As a consequence, there was a constant and serious shortage of food causing starvation to peak in the winter of 1992/1993. Numerous people died or were in an extremely emaciated state due to malnutrition. Bosnian Muslim fighters and their families, however, were provided with food rations from existing storage facilities. The most disadvantaged group among the Bosnian Muslims was that of the refugees, who usually lived on the streets and without shelter, in freezing temperatures. Only in November and December 1992, did two UN convoys with humanitarian aid reach the enclave, and this despite Bosnian Serb obstruction." [51]

Organisation of UNPROFOR and UNPF

In April 1995, UNPROFOR became the name used for the Bosnia and Herzegovina regional command of the now-renamed United Nations Peace Forces (UNPF). [52] The 2011 report Srebrenica: a 'safe' area says that "On 12 June 1995 a new command was created under UNPF", [52] with "12,500 British, French and Dutch troops equipped with tanks and high calibre artillery in order to increase the effectiveness and the credibility of the peacekeeping operation". [52] The report states:

In the UNPROFOR chain of command, Dutchbat occupied the fourth tier, with the sector commanders occupying the third tier. The fourth tier primarily had an operational task. Within this structure, Dutchbat was expected to operate as an independent unit with its own logistic arrangements. Dutchbat was dependent on the UNPROFOR organization to some extent for crucial supplies such as fuel. For the rest, it was expected to obtain its supplies from the Netherlands. From an organizational point of view, the battalion had two lifelines: UNPROFOR and the Royal Netherlands Army. Dutchbat had been assigned responsibility for the Srebrenica Safe Area. Neither UNPROFOR nor Bosnia-Hercegovina paid much attention to Srebrenica, however. Srebrenica was situated in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was geographically and mentally far removed from Sarajevo and Zagreb. The rest of the world was focused on the fight for Sarajevo and the peace process. As a Safe Area, Srebrenica only occasionally managed to attract the attention of the world press or the UN Security Council. That is why the Dutch troops there remained of secondary importance, in operational and logistic terms, for so long and why the importance of the enclave in the battle for domination between the Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims failed to be recognised for so long. [53]

Srebrenica "safe area"

April 1993: the Security Council declares Srebrenica a "safe area"

On 16 April 1993, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 819, which demanded that "all parties and others concerned treat Srebrenica and its surroundings as a safe area which should be free from any armed attack or any other hostile act". [54]

On 18 April 1993, the first group of United Nations Protection Force ("UNPROFOR") troops arrived in Srebrenica. The UNPROFOR deployed Canadian troops to protect Srebrenica as one of the five newly established UN "safe areas". [45] UNPROFOR presence prevented all-out assault on the safe area, although occasional skirmishes and mortar attacks continued. [45]

On 8 May 1993 agreement was reached for demilitarization of Srebrenica. According to UN reports, "General [Sefer] Halilović and General [Ratko] Mladić agreed on measures covering the whole of the Srebrenica enclave and the adjacent enclave of Žepa. Under the terms of the new agreement, Bosniak forces within the enclave would hand over their weapons, ammunition and mines to UNPROFOR, after which Serb "heavy weapons and units that constituted a menace to the demilitarised zones which will have been established in Žepa and Srebrenica will be withdrawn." Unlike the earlier agreement, the agreement of 8 May stated specifically that Srebrenica was to be considered a "demilitarised zone", as referred to in article 60 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I)."

From the outset, both parties to the conflict violated the "safe area" agreement, although a two year period of relative stability followed the establishment of the enclave. [55] Lieutenant colonel Thom Karremans (the Dutchbat Commander) testified to the ICTY that his personnel were prevented from returning to the enclave by Serb forces and that equipment and ammunition were also prevented from getting in. [56] Bosniaks in Srebrenica complained of attacks by Serb soldiers, while to the Serbs it appeared that Bosnian government forces in Srebrenica were using the "safe area" as a convenient base from which to launch counter-offensives against the Army of the Republika Srpska (VRS) and that UNPROFOR was failing to take any action to prevent it. [56] : 24 General Sefer Halilović admitted that ARBiH helicopters had flown in violation of the no-fly zone and that he had personally dispatched eight helicopters with ammunition for the 28th Division. [56] : 24

Between 1,000 and 2,000 soldiers from three of the VRS Drina Corps Brigades were deployed around the enclave, equipped with tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and mortars. The 28th Mountain Division of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) remaining in the enclave was neither well organised nor equipped, and lacked a firm command structure and communications system. Some of its soldiers carried old hunting rifles or no weapons at all, and few had proper uniforms.

United Nations failure to demilitarise Srebrenica

A Security Council mission led by Diego Arria arrived in Srebrenica on 25 April 1993 and, in their subsequent report to the UN, condemned the Serbs for perpetrating "a slow-motion process of genocide." [57] The mission then stated that "Serb forces must withdraw to points from which they cannot attack, harass or terrorise the town. UNPROFOR should be in a position to determine the related parameters. The mission believes, as does UNPROFOR, that the actual 4.5 km (3 mi) by 0.5 km (530 yd) decided as a safe area should be greatly expanded." Specific instructions from United Nations Headquarters in New York stated that UNPROFOR should not be too zealous in searching for Bosniak weapons and, later, that the Serbs should withdraw their heavy weapons before the Bosniaks gave up their weapons. The Serbs never did withdraw their heavy weapons. [57]

Multiple attempts to demilitarise the ARBiH and force the withdrawal of the VRS proved futile. The ARBiH hid the majority of their heavy weapons, modern equipment and ammunition in the surrounding forest and only handed over disused and old weaponry. [12] On the other hand, given the failure to disarm the ARBiH, the VRS refused to withdraw from the front lines given the intelligence they had regarding hidden weaponry. [12]

In March 1994, UNPROFOR sent 600 Royal Dutch Army soldiers ("Dutchbat") to replace the Canadian troops. By March 1995, Serb forces controlled all territory surrounding Srebrenica, preventing even UN access to the supply road. Humanitarian aid decreased significantly and living conditions in Srebrenica quickly deteriorated. [45] UNPROFOR presence prevented all-out assault on the safe area, although occasional skirmishes and mortar attacks continued. [45] The Dutchbat alerted UNPROFOR command to the dire conditions in Srebrenica, but UNPROFOR declined to send humanitarian relief or military support. [45]

Early 1995: the situation in the Srebrenica "safe area" deteriorates

By early 1995, fewer and fewer supply convoys were making it through to the enclave. The situation in Srebrenica and in other enclaves had deteriorated into lawless violence as prostitution among young Muslim girls, theft and black marketeering proliferated. [58] The already meager resources of the civilian population dwindled further, and even the UN forces started running dangerously low on food, medicine, ammunition and fuel, eventually being forced to start patrolling the enclave on foot. Dutch soldiers who left the area on leave were not allowed to return, [57] and their number dropped from 600 to 400 men. [ citation needed ] In March and April, the Dutch soldiers noticed a build-up of Serb forces near two of the observation posts, "OP Romeo" and "OP Quebec".

In March 1995, Radovan Karadžić, President of the Republika Srpska (RS), despite pressure from the international community to end the war and ongoing efforts to negotiate a peace agreement, issued a directive to the VRS concerning the long-term strategy of the VRS forces in the enclave. The directive, known as "Directive 7", specified that the VRS was to:

complete the physical separation of Srebrenica from Žepa as soon as possible, preventing even communication between individuals in the two enclaves. By planned and well-thought-out combat operations, create an unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica. [59]

By mid-1995, the humanitarian situation of the Bosniak civilians and military personnel in the enclave was catastrophic. In May, following orders, Orić and his staff left the enclave by helicopter to Tuzla, leaving senior officers in command of the 28th Division. In late June and early July, the 28th Division issued a series of reports including urgent pleas for the humanitarian corridor to the enclave to be reopened. When this failed, Bosniak civilians began dying from starvation. On Friday, 7 July the mayor of Srebrenica reported that eight residents had died of starvation. [60]

On 4 June 1995, UNPROFOR commander Bernard Janvier, a Frenchman, secretly met with Ratko Mladić to obtain the release of hostages, many of whom were French. Mladić demanded of Janvier that there would be no more air strikes. [61]

In the weeks leading up to the assault on Srebrenica by the VRS, ARBiH forces were ordered to carry out diversion and disruption attacks on the VRS by the high command. [62] On one particular occasion on the evening of 25–26 June, ARBiH forces attacked VRS units on the Sarajevo-Zvornik, road inflicting high casualties and looting VRS stockpiles. [62] These continued attacks prompted a response from Mladić, who contacted the UN headquarters in Sarajevo and advised that he would no longer tolerate ARBiH incursions into the Bosnian Serb countryside.

6–11 July 1995: Serb take-over of Srebrenica

The Serb offensive against Srebrenica began in earnest on 6 July 1995. The VRS, with 2,000 soldiers, were outnumbered by the defenders and did not expect the assault to be an easy conquest. [62] In the following days, the five UNPROFOR observation posts in the southern part of the enclave fell one by one in the face of the Bosnian Serb advance. Some of the Dutch soldiers retreated into the enclave after their posts were attacked, but the crews of the other observation posts surrendered into Serb custody. Simultaneously, the defending Bosnian forces numbering 6,000 came under heavy fire and were pushed back towards the town. Once the southern perimeter began to collapse, about 4,000 Bosniak residents who had been living in a Swedish housing complex for refugees nearby fled north into the town of Srebrenica. Dutch soldiers reported that the advancing Serbs were "cleansing" the houses in the southern part of the enclave. [63]

On 8 July, a Dutch YPR-765 armoured vehicle took fire from the Serbs and withdrew. A group of Bosniaks demanded that the armoured vehicle stay to defend them, and established a makeshift barricade to prevent its retreat. As the armoured vehicle continued to withdraw, a Bosniak farmer who was manning the barricade threw a hand grenade onto it and subsequently killed Dutch soldier Raviv van Renssen. [64] Late on 9 July 1995, emboldened by early successes and little resistance from the largely demilitarised Bosniaks as well as the absence of any significant reaction from the international community, President Karadžić issued a new order authorising the 1,500-strong [65] VRS Drina Corps to capture the town of Srebrenica. [63]

The following morning, 10 July 1995, Lieutenant Colonel Karremans made urgent requests for air support from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to defend Srebrenica as crowds filled the streets, some of whom carried weapons. VRS tanks were approaching the town, and NATO airstrikes on these began on the afternoon of 11 July 1995. NATO bombers attempted to attack VRS artillery locations outside the town, but poor visibility forced NATO to cancel this operation. Further NATO air attacks were cancelled after VRS threats to bomb the UN's Potočari compound, to kill Dutch and French military hostages and to attack surrounding locations where 20,000 to 30,000 civilian refugees were situated. [63] 30 Dutchbat were taken hostage by Mladic's troops. [45]

Late in the afternoon of 11 July, General Mladić, accompanied by General Živanović (then-Commander of the Drina Corps), General Krstić (then-Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the Drina Corps) and other VRS officers, took a triumphant walk through the deserted streets of the town of Srebrenica. [63]

In the evening, [66] Lieutenant Colonel Karremans was filmed drinking a toast with General Mladić during the bungled negotiations on the fate of the civilian population grouped in Potočari. [13] [67]

The two highest ranking Serb politicians from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Karadžić and Momčilo Krajišnik, both indicted for genocide, were warned by VRS commander Mladić (found guilty of genocide at a UN tribunal in 2017) that their plans could not be realized without committing genocide. Mladić said:

People are not little stones, or keys in someone's pocket, that can be moved from one place to another just like that. Therefore, we cannot precisely arrange for only Serbs to stay in one part of the country while removing others painlessly. I do not know how Mr. Krajišnik and Mr. Karadžić will explain that to the world. That is genocide. [68]

Increasing concentration of refugees in Potočari

By the evening of 11 July 1995, approximately 20,000 to 25,000 Bosniak refugees from Srebrenica were gathered in Potočari, seeking protection within the UNPROFOR Dutchbat headquarters. Several thousand had pressed inside the compound itself, while the rest were spread throughout the neighbouring factories and fields. Although the vast majority were women, children, elderly or disabled, 63 witnesses estimated that there were at least 300 men inside the perimeter of the UNPROFOR compound and between 600 and 900 men in the crowd outside. [69] UNPROFOR Dutchbat soldiers [on site] claimed [ citation needed ] their base was full.

Conditions in Potočari included "little food or water available" and sweltering heat. One UNPROFOR Dutchbat officer described the scene as follows:

They were panicked, they were scared, and they were pressing each other against the soldiers, my soldiers, the UN soldiers that tried to calm them. People that fell were trampled on. It was a chaotic situation. [69]

On 12 July, the United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1004, expressed concern at the humanitarian situation in Potočari, which also condemned the offensive by Bosnian Serb forces and demanded immediate withdrawal.

On 13 July, the Dutch forces expelled five Bosniak refugees from the United Nations compound despite knowing that men outside the compound were being killed and abused. [70]

Crimes committed in Potočari

On 12 July 1995, as the day wore on, the refugees in the compound could see VRS members setting houses and haystacks on fire. Throughout the afternoon, Serb soldiers mingled in the crowd and summary executions of men occurred. [69] In the late morning of 12 July a witness saw a pile of 20 to 30 bodies heaped up behind the Transport Building in Potočari, alongside a tractor-like machine. Another testified that he saw a soldier slay a child with a knife in the middle of a crowd of expellees. He also said that he saw Serb soldiers execute more than a hundred Bosniak Muslim men in the area behind the Zinc Factory and then load their bodies onto a truck, although the number and nature of the murders stand in contrast to other evidence in the Trial Record, which indicates that the killings in Potočari were sporadic in nature. Soldiers were picking people out of the crowd and taking them away. A witness recounted how three brothers—one merely a child and the others in their teens—were taken out in the night. When the boys' mother went looking for them, she found them stark naked and with their throats slit. [69] [71] That night, a Dutchbat medical orderly witnessed two Serb soldiers raping a young woman. [71]

One survivor described the murder of a baby and the rape of women occurring in the close vicinity of Dutch UN peacekeepers who did nothing to prevent it. According to the survivor, a Serb told a mother to make her child stop crying, and when it continued to cry he took it and slit its throat, after which he laughed. [72] Stories about rapes and killings spread through the crowd and the terror in the camp escalated. [69] Several individuals were so terrified that they committed suicide by hanging themselves. [71]

One of the survivors, Zarfa Turković, described the horrors of rapes as follows: "Two [Serb soldiers] took her legs and raised them up in the air, while the third began raping her. Four of them were taking turns on her. People were silent, no one moved. She was screaming and yelling and begging them to stop. They put a rag into her mouth and then we just heard silent sobs. " [73] [74]

Separation and murder of Bosniak men and boys in Potočari

From the morning of 12 July, Serb forces began gathering men and boys from the refugee population in Potočari and holding them in separate locations, and as the refugees began boarding the buses headed north towards Bosniak-held territory, Serb soldiers separated out men of military age who were trying to clamber aboard. Occasionally, younger and older men were stopped as well (some as young as 14 or 15). [75] [76] [77] These men were taken to a building in Potočari referred to as the "White House". As early as the evening of 12 July 1995, Major Franken of the Dutchbat heard that no men were arriving with the women and children at their destination in Kladanj. [69] At this time, the UNHCR Director of Operations, Peter Walsh, was dispatched to Srebrenica by the UNHCR Chief of Mission, Damaso Feci, to evaluate what emergency aid could be provided rapidly. Peter Walsh and his team arrived at Gostilj, just outside Srebrenica, in the early afternoon only to be turned away by VRS forces. Despite claiming freedom of movement rights, the UNHCR team was not allowed to proceed and was forced to head back north to Bijelina. Throughout this time, Peter Walsh relayed reports back to UNHCR in Zagreb about the unfolding situation including witnessing the enforced movement and abuse of Muslim men and boys and the sound of summary executions taking place.

On 13 July 1995, Dutchbat troops witnessed definite signs that the Serb soldiers were murdering some of the Bosniak men who had been separated. For example, Corporal Vaasen saw two soldiers take a man behind the "White House", heard a shot and saw the two soldiers reappear alone. Another Dutchbat officer saw Serb soldiers murder an unarmed man with a single gunshot to the head and heard gunshots 20–40 times an hour throughout the afternoon. When the Dutchbat soldiers told Colonel Joseph Kingori, a United Nations Military Observer (UNMO) in the Srebrenica area, that men were being taken behind the "White House" and not coming back, Colonel Kingori went to investigate. He heard gunshots as he approached, but was stopped by Serb soldiers before he could find out what was going on. [69]

Some of the executions were carried out at night under arc lights, and bulldozers then pushed the bodies into mass graves. [78] According to evidence collected from Bosniaks by French policeman Jean-René Ruez, some were buried alive he also heard testimony describing Serb forces killing and torturing refugees at will, streets littered with corpses, people committing suicide to avoid having their noses, lips and ears chopped off, and adults being forced to watch the soldiers kill their children. [78]

Rape and abuse of civilians

Thousands of women and girls suffered rape and sexual abuse and other forms of torture. According to the testimony of Zumra Šehomerovic:

The Serbs began at a certain point to take girls and young women out of the group of refugees. They were raped. The rapes often took place under the eyes of others and sometimes even under the eyes of the children of the mother. A Dutch soldier stood by and he simply looked around with a Walkman on his head. He did not react at all to what was happening. It did not happen just before my eyes, for I saw that personally, but also before the eyes of us all. The Dutch soldiers walked around everywhere. It is impossible that they did not see it.

There was a woman with a small baby a few months old. A Chetnik told the mother that the child must stop crying. When the child did not stop crying, he snatched the child away and cut its throat. Then he laughed. There was a Dutch soldier there who was watching. He did not react at all.

I saw yet more frightful things. For example, there was a girl, she must have been about nine years old. At a certain moment some Chetniks recommended to her brother that he rape the girl. He did not do it and I also think that he could not have done it for he was still just a child. Then they murdered that young boy. I have personally seen all that. I really want to emphasize that all this happened in the immediate vicinity of the base. In the same way I also saw other people who were murdered. Some of them had their throats cut. Others were beheaded. [79]

Testimony of Ramiza Gurdić:

I saw how a young boy of about ten was killed by Serbs in Dutch uniform. This happened in front of my own eyes. The mother sat on the ground and her young son sat beside her. The young boy was placed on his mother's lap. The young boy was killed. His head was cut off. The body remained on the lap of the mother. The Serbian soldier placed the head of the young boy on his knife and showed it to everyone. … I saw how a pregnant woman was slaughtered. There were Serbs who stabbed her in the stomach, cut her open and took two small children out of her stomach and then beat them to death on the ground. I saw this with my own eyes. [80]

There was a young woman with a baby on the way to the bus. The baby cried and a Serbian soldier told her that she had to make sure that the baby was quiet. Then the soldier took the child from the mother and cut its throat. I do not know whether Dutchbat soldiers saw that. … There was a sort of fence on the left-hand side of the road to Potocari. I heard then a young woman screaming very close by (4 or 5 meters away). I then heard another woman beg: "Leave her, she is only nine years old." The screaming suddenly stopped. I was so in shock that I could scarcely move. … The rumour later quickly circulated that a nine year old girl had been raped. [81]

That night, a DutchBat medical orderly came across two Serb soldiers raping a young woman:

[W]e saw two Serb soldiers, one of them was standing guard and the other one was lying on the girl, with his pants off. And we saw a girl lying on the ground, on some kind of mattress. There was blood on the mattress, even she was covered with blood. She had bruises on her legs. There was even blood coming down her legs. She was in total shock. She went totally crazy.

Bosnian Muslim refugees nearby could see the rape, but could do nothing about it because of Serb soldiers standing nearby. Other people heard women screaming, or saw women being dragged away. Several individuals were so terrified that they committed suicide by hanging themselves. Throughout the night and early the next morning, stories about the rapes and killings spread through the crowd and the terror in the camp escalated.

Screams, gunshots and other frightening noises were audible throughout the night and no one could sleep. Soldiers were picking people out of the crowd and taking them away: some returned others did not. Witness T recounted how three brothers—one merely a child and the others in their teens—were taken out in the night. When the boys' mother went looking for them, she found them with their throats slit. [82]

Deportation of women

As a result of exhaustive UN negotiations with Serb troops, around 25,000 Srebrenica women were forcibly transferred to Bosniak-controlled territory.

Some buses apparently never reached safety. According to a witness account given by Kadir Habibović, who hid himself on one of the first buses from the base in Potočari to Kladanj, he saw at least one vehicle full of Bosniak women being driven away from Bosnian government-held territory. [83]

Column of Bosniak men

On the evening of 11 July 1995, word spread through the Bosniak community that able-bodied men should take to the woods, form a column together with members of the ARBiH's 28th Division and attempt a breakthrough towards Bosnian government-held territory in the north. [84] The men believed they stood a better chance of surviving by trying to escape than if they let themselves fall into Serb hands. [85]

Around 10 pm on 11 July the Division command, together with the municipal authorities, took the decision, on their own initiative, to form a column and leave the safe area in an attempt to reach government-controlled territory around Tuzla. [86] Dehydration made finding drinking water a major problem, along with lack of sleep and physical exhaustion—many were exhausted before setting out. There was little cohesion or sense of common purpose in the column. [87] Along the way, the column was shelled and ambushed. In severe mental distress, some of the refugees killed themselves. Others were induced to surrender. Survivors claimed they were attacked with a chemical agent that caused hallucinations, disorientation and strange behaviour. [88] [89] [90] [91] Infiltrators in civilian clothing confused, attacked and killed refugees, including the wounded. [88] [92] Many of those taken prisoner were killed on the spot. [93] Others were collected together before being taken to remote locations for mass execution.

The attacks on the column broke it up into smaller segments. Only about one third of the men succeeded in crossing the asphalt road between Konjević Polje and Nova Kasaba. It was this group that eventually crossed Bosnian Serb lines to reach Bosnian government territory on and after 16 July. The vast majority of the victims of the massacre were members of the column who failed to complete the perilous journey. [ citation needed ]

Other groups

A second, smaller group of refugees (estimated at between 700 and 800) attempted to escape into Serbia via Mount Kvarac via Bratunac, or across the river Drina and via Bajina Bašta. It is not known how many were intercepted, arrested and killed on the way. A third group headed for Žepa, possibly having first tried to reach Tuzla. The estimates of the numbers involved vary widely, from 300 to around 850. In addition, small pockets of resistance apparently remained behind and engaged Serb forces.

Tuzla column departs

Almost all the 28th Division, 5,500 to 6,000 soldiers, not all armed, gathered in the village of Šušnjari, in the hills north of the town of Srebrenica, along with about 7,000 civilians. They included a very small number of women, not more than ten. [94] Others assembled in the nearby village of Jaglići. [95]

At around midnight on 11 July 1995, the column started moving along the axis between Konjević Polje and Bratunac. The main column was preceded by a reconnaissance party of four scouts, approximately five kilometers ahead. [96] Members of the column walked one behind the other, following the paper trail laid down by a de-mining unit. [97]

The column was led by a group of 50–100 of the best soldiers from each brigade, carrying the best available equipment. Elements of the 284th Brigade were followed by the 280th Brigade, with them the Chief of Staff Ramiz Bećirović. Civilians accompanied by other soldiers followed, and at the back was the independent battalion which was part of the 28th Division. [86] The elite of the enclave, including the mother and sister of Naser Orić, [ citation needed ] accompanied the best troops at the front of the column. [97] Others in the column included the political leaders of the enclave, medical staff of the local hospital and the families of prominent persons in Srebrenica. A small number of women, children and elderly travelled with the column in the woods. [84] [98] Each brigade was responsible for a group of refugees, and many civilians joined the military units spontaneously as the journey got underway. [ citation needed ] The column was between 12 and 15 kilometres long, about two and a half hours separating head from tail. [86]

The breakout from the enclave and the attempt to reach Tuzla came as a surprise to the VRS and caused considerable confusion, as the VRS had expected the men to go to Potočari. Serb general Milan Gvero in a briefing referred to members of the column as "hardened and violent criminals who will stop at nothing to prevent being taken prisoner and to enable their escape into Bosnian territory". [99] The Drina Corps and the various brigades were ordered by the VRS Main Staff to assign all available manpower to the task of finding any Muslim groups observed, preventing them from crossing into Muslim territory, taking them prisoner and holding them in buildings that could be secured by small forces. [100]

Ambush at Kamenica Hill

During the night, poor visibility, fear of mines and panic induced by artillery fire split the column in two. [101]

It was around this time that yellow smoke was observed, followed by observations of strange behaviour, including suicides, hallucinations and members of the column attacking one another. [88] Numerous survivors interviewed by Human Rights Watch claimed they were attacked with a chemical agent that caused hallucinations and disorientation. [89] [90] (General Zdravko Tolimir was an advocate of the use of chemical weapons against the ArBiH. [91] [102] )

Heavy shooting and shelling began, which continued into the night. The armed members of the column returned fire and all scattered. Survivors describe a group of at least 1,000 engaged at close range by small arms. Hundreds appear to have been killed as they fled the open area and some were said to have killed themselves to escape capture.

VRS Army and Ministry of Interior personnel persuaded members of the column to surrender by promising them protection and safe transportation towards Tuzla under UNPROFOR and Red Cross supervision. Appropriated UN and Red Cross equipment was used to deceive the refugees into believing the promises. Surrendering prisoners' personal belongings were confiscated and some were executed on the spot. [101]

The rear of the column lost contact with the front and panic broke out. Many people remained in the Kamenica Hill area for a number of days, unable to move on with the escape route blocked by Serb forces. Thousands of Bosniaks surrendered or were captured. Some prisoners were ordered to summon friends and family members from the woods. There were reports of Serb forces using megaphones to call on the marchers to surrender, telling them that they would be exchanged for Serb soldiers held captive by Bosniak forces. It was at Kamenica that VRS personnel in civilian dress were reported to have infiltrated the column. Men from the rear of the column who survived this ordeal described it as a manhunt. [84]

Sandići massacre

Close to Sandići, on the main road from Bratunac to Konjević Polje, one witness describes the Serbs forcing a Bosniak man to call other Bosniaks down from the mountains. Some 200 to 300 men, including the witness' brother, followed his instructions and descended to meet the VRS, presumably expecting some exchange of prisoners would take place. The witness hid behind a tree to see what would happen next. He watched as the men were lined up in seven ranks, each some forty metres in length, with their hands behind their heads they were then mowed down by machine gun fire. [103]

A small number of women, children and elderly people who had been part of the column were allowed to join the buses evacuating the women and children out of Potočari. Among them was Alma Delimustafić, a soldier of the 28th Brigade at this time, Delimustafić was in her civilian clothes and was released. [104]

Trek to Mount Udrč

Snagovo ambush

From Udrč the marchers moved toward the River Drinjača and on to Mount Velja Glava, continuing through the night. Finding a Serb presence at Mount Velja Glava, where they arrived on Friday, 14 July, the column was forced to skirt the mountain and wait on its slopes before it was able to move on toward Liplje and Marčići. Arriving at Marčići in the evening of 14 July, the marchers were again ambushed near Snagovo by Serb forces equipped with anti-aircraft guns, artillery, and tanks. [106]

According to Lieutenant Džemail Bećirović, the column managed to break through the ambush and, in so doing, captured a VRS officer, Major Zoran Janković—providing the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a significant bargaining counter. This prompted an attempt at negotiating a cessation in the fighting, but negotiations with local Serb forces failed. [107] Nevertheless, the act of repulsing the ambush had a positive effect on morale of the marchers, who also captured a number of weapons and supplies. [ citation needed ]

Approaching the frontline

The evening of 15 July saw the first radio contact between the 2nd Corps and the 28th Division, established using a walkie-talkie captured from the VRS. After initial distrust on the part of the 28th Division, the Šabić brothers were able to identify each other as they stood on either side of the VRS lines. Early in the morning, the column crossed the asphalt road linking Zvornik with Caparde and headed in the direction of Planinci, leaving a unit of some 100 to 200 armed marchers behind to wait for stragglers. [ citation needed ]

The column reached Križevići later that day, and remained there while an attempt was made to negotiate with local Serb forces for safe passage through the Serb lines into Bosnian government controlled territory. The members of the column were advised to stay where they were, and to allow the Serb forces time to arrange for safe passage. It soon became apparent, though, that the small Serb force deployed in the area was only trying to gain time to organise a further attack on the marchers. In the area of Marčići – Crni Vrh, the VRS armed forces deployed 500 soldiers and policemen in order to stop the split part of the column (about 2,500 people), which was moving from Glodi towards Marčići. [ citation needed ]

At this point, the column's leaders decided to form several small groups of between 100 and 200 persons and send these to reconnoiter the way ahead. Early in the afternoon, the 2nd Corps and the 28th Division of the ARBiH met each other in the village of Potočani. The presidium of Srebrenica were the first to reach Bosnian terrain. [ citation needed ]

Breakthrough at Baljkovica

On the evening of 15 July a heavy hailstorm caused the Serb forces to take cover. The column's advance group took advantage of this to attack the Serb rear lines at Baljkovica. During the fighting, the main body of what remained of the column began to move from Krizevici. It reached the area of fighting at about 3 am on Sunday, 16 July. [ citation needed ]

At approximately 05.00 hours on 16 July, the 2nd Corps made its first attempt to break through the VRS cordon from the Bosnian side. The objective was to force a breakthrough close to the hamlets of Parlog and Resnik. They were joined by Naser Orić and a number of his men. [ citation needed ]

Around 8 am on the morning of 16 July parts of the 28th Division, with the 2nd Corps of the RBiH Army from Tuzla providing artillery support, attacked and breached VRS Army lines. There was fierce fighting across the general area of Baljkovica. [108]

Captured heavy arms including two Praga self-propelled anti-aircraft guns were fired at the Serb front line and the column finally succeeded in breaking through to Bosnian government controlled territory and linking up with BiH units at between 1 pm and 2 pm on 16 July. [ citation needed ]

Baljkovica corridor

Following radio negotiations between the 2nd Corps and the Zvornik Brigade, the Zvornik Brigade Command, which had lost three lines of trenches, agreed to open a corridor to allow "evacuation" of the column in return for the release of captured policemen and soldiers. The Baljkovica corridor was open from 14.00 to 17.00 hours. [109]

After the corridor was closed between 17.00 and 18.00 hours the Zvornik Brigade Command reported that around 5000 civilians, with probably "a certain number of soldiers" with them had been let through, but "all those who passed were unarmed". [110]

Arrival at Tuzla

By 4 August or thereabouts, the ArBiH determined that 3,175 members of the 28th Division had managed to get through to Tuzla. 2,628 members of the Division, soldiers and officers, were considered certain to have been killed. The approximate number of individual members of the column killed was estimated at between 8,300 and 9,722. [111]

After the closure of the corridor

Once the corridor had closed Serb forces recommenced hunting down parts of the column still in areas under their control. Around 2,000 refugees were reported to be hiding in the woods in the area of Pobuđe. [110]

On 17 July 1995, "searching the terrain", the VRS Army captured a number of Bosniaks. Four children aged between 8 and 14 captured by the Bratunac Brigade were taken to the military barracks in Bratunac. [110] [112] When one of them described seeing a large number of ARBiH soldiers committing suicide and shooting at each other, [ citation needed ] Brigade Commander Blagojević suggested that the Drina Corps' press unit should record this testimony on video. [112] The fate of the boys remains uncertain.

On 18 July, after a soldier was killed "trying to capture some persons during the search operation", the Zvornik Brigade Command issued an order to execute prisoners in its zone of responsibility in order to avoid any risks associated with their capture. The order was presumed to have remained effective until it was countermanded on 21 July. [110]

Mass hysteria

According to a 1998 qualitative study involving survivors of the column, many of the members of the column exhibited symptoms of hallucinations to varying degrees. [113] On a number of occasions, Bosniak men began attacking one another in an apparent fear that the other member in the column was a Serb soldier. Members of the column also reported seeing people speaking incoherently, running towards VRS lines in a fit of rage and committing suicide using firearms and hand grenades. Although there was no evidence to suggest what exactly caused the behaviour, the study suggested that fatigue and stress may have induced these symptoms. [113]

Plan to execute the men of Srebrenica

Although Serb forces had long been blamed for the massacre, it was not until June 2004—following the Srebrenica commission's preliminary report—that Serb officials acknowledged that their security forces planned and carried out the mass killing. A Serb commission's final report on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre acknowledged that the mass murder of the men and boys was planned. The commission found that more than 7,800 were killed after it compiled thirty-four [ citation needed ] lists of victims.

A concerted effort was made to capture all Bosniak men of military age. [114] In fact, those captured included many boys well below that age and elderly men several years above that age who remained in the enclave following the take-over of Srebrenica. These men and boys were targeted regardless of whether they chose to flee to Potočari or to join the Bosnian Muslim column. The operation to capture and detain the Bosnian Muslim men was well organised and comprehensive. The buses which transported the women and children were systematically searched for men. [114]

Mass executions

The vast amount of planning and high-level coordination invested in killing thousands of men in a few days is apparent from the scale and the methodical nature in which the executions were carried out. A concerted effort was made to capture all Bosniak men of military age. In fact, those captured included many boys well below that age and elderly men above it. [114]

The Army of Republika Srpska took the largest number of prisoners on 13 July, along the Bratunac-Konjević Polje road. It remains impossible to cite a precise figure, but witness statements describe the assembly points such as the field at Sandići, the agricultural warehouses in Kravica, the school in Konjević Polje, the football field in Nova Kasaba, the village of Lolići and the village school of Luke. Several thousands of people were herded together in the field near Sandići and on the Nova Kasaba football pitch, where they were searched and put into smaller groups. In a video tape made by journalist Zoran Petrović, a Serb soldier states that at least 3,000 to 4,000 men had given themselves up on the road. By the late afternoon of 13 July, the total had risen to some 6,000 according to the intercepted radio communication the following day, Major Franken of Dutchbat was given the same figure by Colonel Radislav Janković of the Serb army. Many of the prisoners had been seen in the locations described by passing convoys taking the women and children to Kladanj by bus, while various aerial photographs have since provided evidence to confirm this version of events. [98] [114]

One hour after the evacuation of the females from Potočari was completed, the Drina Corps staff diverted the buses to the areas in which the men were being held. Colonel Krsmanović, who on 12 July had arranged the buses for the evacuation, ordered the 700 men in Sandići to be collected, and the soldiers guarding them made them throw their possessions on a large heap and hand over anything of value. During the afternoon, the group in Sandići was visited by Mladić who told them that they would come to no harm, that they would be treated as prisoners of war, that they would be exchanged for other prisoners and that their families had been escorted to Tuzla in safety. Some of these men were placed on the transport to Bratunac and other locations, while some were marched on foot to the warehouses in Kravica. The men gathered on the soccer ground at Nova Kasaba were forced to hand over their personal belongings. They too received a personal visit from Mladić during the afternoon of 13 July on this occasion, he announced that the Bosnian authorities in Tuzla did not want the men and that they were therefore to be taken to other locations. The men in Nova Kasaba were loaded onto buses and trucks and were taken to Bratunac or the other locations. [114]

The Bosnian men who had been separated from the women, children and elderly in Potočari numbering approximately 1,000 were transported to Bratunac and subsequently joined by Bosnian men captured from the column. [115] Almost without exception, the thousands of Bosnian prisoners captured, following the take-over of Srebrenica, were executed. Some were killed individually or in small groups by the soldiers who captured them and some were killed in the places where they were temporarily detained. Most, however, were killed in carefully orchestrated mass executions, commencing on 13 July 1995 in the region just north of Srebrenica.

The mass executions followed a well-established pattern. The men were first taken to empty schools or warehouses. After being detained there for some hours, they were loaded onto buses or trucks and taken to another site for execution. Usually, the execution fields were in isolated locations. The prisoners were unarmed and in many cases, steps had been taken to minimise resistance, such as blindfolding them, binding their wrists behind their backs with ligatures or removing their shoes. Once at the killing fields, the men were taken off the trucks in small groups, lined up and shot. Those who survived the initial round of shooting were individually shot with an extra round, though sometimes only after they had been left to suffer for a time. [114]

The process of finding victim bodies in the Srebrenica region, often in mass graves, exhuming them and finally identifying them was relatively slow.

Morning of 13 July: Jadar River

A small-scale execution took place prior to midday at the Jadar River on 13 July. Seventeen men were transported by bus a short distance to a spot on the banks of the Jadar River. The men were then lined up and shot. One man, after being hit in the hip by a bullet, jumped into the river and managed to escape. [116]

Afternoon of 13 July: Cerska Valley

The first large-scale mass executions began on the afternoon of 13 July 1995 in the valley of the River Cerska, to the west of Konjević Polje. One witness, hidden among trees, saw two or three trucks, followed by an armoured vehicle and an earthmoving machine proceeding towards Cerska. After that, he heard gunshots for half an hour and then saw the armoured vehicle going in the opposite direction, but not the earthmoving machine. Other witnesses report seeing a pool of blood alongside the road to Cerska that day. Muhamed Duraković, a UN translator, probably passed this execution site later that day. He reports seeing bodies tossed into a ditch alongside the road, with some men still alive. [117] [118]

Aerial photos and excavations later confirmed the presence of a mass grave near this location. Ammunition cartridges found at the scene reveal that the victims were lined up on one side of the road, whereupon their executioners shot from the other. The bodies—150 in number—were covered with earth where they lay. It could later be established that they had been killed by guns. All were men, between the ages of 14 and 50. All but three of the 150 were wearing civilian clothes. Many had their hands tied behind their backs. Nine could later be identified and were indeed on the list of missing persons from Srebrenica. [117]

Late afternoon of 13 July: Kravica

Later on the afternoon of 13 July executions were also conducted in the largest of four warehouses (farm sheds) owned by the Agricultural Cooperative in Kravica. Between 1,000 and 1,500 men had been captured in fields near Sandići and detained in Sandići Meadow. They were brought to Kravica, either by bus or on foot, the distance being approximately one kilometer. A witness recalls seeing around 200 men, stripped to the waist and with their hands in the air, being forced to run in the direction of Kravica. An aerial photograph taken at 14:00 hours that afternoon shows two buses standing in front of the sheds. [119]

At around 18:00 hours, when the men were all held in the warehouse, VRS soldiers threw in hand grenades and fired with various weapons, including rocket propelled grenades. The mass murder in Kravica seemed "well organised and involved a substantial amount of planning, requiring the participation of the Drina Corps Command." [119]

Supposedly, there was more killing in and around Kravica and Sandići. Even before the murders in the warehouse, some 200 or 300 men were formed up in ranks near Sandići and then were executed en masse with concentrated machine guns. At Kravica, it seems that the local population had a hand in the killings. Some victims were mutilated and killed with knives. The bodies were taken to Bratunac or simply dumped in the river that runs alongside the road. One witness stated that this all took place on 14 July. There were three survivors of the mass murder in the farm sheds at Kravica. [119]

Armed guards shot at the men who tried to climb out the windows to escape the massacre. When the shooting stopped, the shed was full of bodies. Another survivor, who was only slightly wounded, reports:

I was not even able to touch the floor, the concrete floor of the warehouse. After the shooting, I felt a strange kind of heat, warmth, which was coming from the blood that covered the concrete floor and I was stepping on the dead people who were lying around. But there were even men (just men) who were still alive, who were only wounded and as soon as I would step on him, I would hear him cry, moan, because I was trying to move as fast as I could. I could tell that people had been completely disembodied and I could feel bones of the people that had been hit by those bursts of bullets or shells, I could feel their ribs crushing. Then I would get up again and continue. [69]

When this witness climbed out of a window, he was seen by a guard who shot at him. He pretended to be dead and managed to escape the following morning. The other witness quoted above spent the night under a heap of bodies the next morning, he watched as the soldiers examined the corpses for signs of life. The few survivors were forced to sing Serbian songs, and were then shot. Once the final victim had been killed, an excavator was driven in to shunt the bodies out of the shed the asphalt outside was then hosed down with water. In September 1996, however, it was still possible to find the evidence. [119]

Analyses of hair, blood and explosives residue collected at the Kravica Warehouse provide strong evidence of the killings. Experts determined the presence of bullet strikes, explosives residue, bullets and shell cases, as well as human blood, bones and tissue adhering to the walls and floors of the building. Forensic evidence presented by the ICTY Prosecutor established a link between the executions in Kravica and the 'primary' mass grave known as Glogova 2, in which the remains of 139 people were found. In the 'secondary' grave known as Zeleni Jadar 5 there were 145 bodies, a number of which were charred. Pieces of brick and window frame which were found in the Glogova 1 grave that was opened later also established a link with Kravica. Here, the remains of 191 victims were found. [119]

13–14 July: Tišća

As the buses crowded with Bosnian women, children and elderly made their way from Potočari to Kladanj, they were stopped at Tišća village, searched, and the Bosnian men and boys found on board were removed from the bus. The evidence reveals a well-organised operation in Tišća. [120]

From the checkpoint, an officer directed the soldier escorting the witness towards a nearby school where many other prisoners were being held. At the school, a soldier on a field telephone appeared to be transmitting and receiving orders. Sometime around midnight, the witness was loaded onto a truck with 22 other men with their hands tied behind their backs. At one point the truck stopped and a soldier on the scene said: "Not here. Take them up there, where they took people before." The truck reached another stopping point where the soldiers came around to the back of the truck and started shooting the prisoners. The survivor escaped by running away from the truck and hiding in a forest. [120]

14 July: Grbavci and Orahovac

A large group of the prisoners who had been held overnight in Bratunac were bussed in a convoy of 30 vehicles to the Grbavci school in Orahovac early in the morning of 14 July 1995. When they got there, the school gym was already half-filled with prisoners who had been arriving since the early morning hours and within a few hours, the building was completely full. Survivors estimated that there were 2,000 to 2,500 men there, some of them very young and some quite elderly, although the ICTY Prosecution suggested this may have been an over-estimation and that the number of prisoners at this site was probably closer to 1,000. Some prisoners were taken outside and killed. At some point, a witness recalled, General Mladić arrived and told the men: "Well, your government does not want you and I have to take care of you." [121]

After being held in the gym for several hours, the men were led out in small groups to the execution fields that afternoon. Each prisoner was blindfolded and given a drink of water as he left the gym. The prisoners were then taken in trucks to the execution fields less than one kilometre away. The men were lined up and shot in the back those who survived the initial shooting were killed with an extra shot. Two adjacent meadows were used once one was full of bodies, the executioners moved to the other. While the executions were in progress, the survivors said, earth-moving equipment was digging the graves. A witness who survived the shootings by pretending to be dead, reported that General Mladić drove up in a red car and watched some of the executions. [121]

The forensic evidence supports crucial aspects of the survivors' testimony. Both aerial photos show that the ground in Orahovac was disturbed between 5 and 27 July 1995 and again between 7 and 27 September 1995. Two primary mass graves were uncovered in the area and were named Lazete 1 and Lazete 2 by investigators. [121]

The Lazete 1 gravesite was exhumed by the ICTY Prosecution between 13 July and 3 August 2000. All of the 130 individuals uncovered, for whom sex could be determined, were male 138 blindfolds were uncovered in the grave. Identification material for 23 persons, listed as missing following the fall of Srebrenica, was located during the exhumations at this site. The gravesite Lazete 2 was partly exhumed by a joint team from the Office of the Prosecutor and Physicians for Human Rights between August and September 1996 and completed in 2000. All of the 243 victims associated with Lazete 2 were male and the experts determined that the vast majority died of gunshot injuries. In addition, 147 blindfolds were located. [121]

Forensic analysis of soil/pollen samples, blindfolds, ligatures, shell cases and aerial images of creation/disturbance dates, further revealed that bodies from the Lazete 1 and 2 graves were removed and reburied at secondary graves named Hodžići Road 3, 4 and 5. Aerial images show that these secondary gravesites were created between 7 September and 2 October 1995 and all of them were exhumed in 1998. [121]

14–15 July: Petkovići

On 14 and 15 July 1995, another large group of prisoners numbering some 1,500 to 2,000 were taken from Bratunac to the school in Petkovići. The conditions under which these men were held at the Petkovići school were even worse than those in Grbavci. It was hot, overcrowded and there was no food or water. In the absence of anything else, some prisoners chose to drink their own urine. Every now and then, soldiers would enter the room and physically abuse prisoners, or would call them outside. A few of the prisoners contemplated an escape attempt, but others said it would be better to stay since the International Red Cross would be sure to monitor the situation and they could not all be killed. [122]

The men were called outside in small groups. They were ordered to strip to the waist and to remove their shoes, whereupon their hands were tied behind their backs. During the night of 14 July, the men were taken by truck to the dam at Petkovići. Those who arrived later could see immediately what was happening there. A large number of bodies were strewn on the ground, their hands tied behind their backs. Small groups of five to ten men were taken out of the trucks, lined up and shot. Some begged for water but their pleas were ignored. [122] A survivor described his feelings of fear combined with thirst thus:

I was really sorry that I would die thirsty, and I was trying to hide amongst the people as long as I could, like everybody else. I just wanted to live for another second or two. And when it was my turn, I jumped out with what I believe were four other people. I could feel the gravel beneath my feet. It hurt. I was walking with my head bent down and I wasn't feeling anything. And then I thought that I would die very fast, that I would not suffer. And I just thought that my mother would never know where I had ended up. This is what I was thinking as I was getting out of the truck. [As the soldiers walked around to kill the survivors of the first round of shooting] I was still very thirsty. But I was sort of between life and death. I didn't know whether I wanted to live or to die anymore. I decided not to call out for them to shoot and kill me, but I was sort of praying to God that they'd come and kill me. [69]

After the soldiers had left, two survivors helped each other to untie their hands, and then crawled over the heap of bodies towards the woods, where they intended to hide. As dawn arrived, they could see the execution site where bulldozers were collecting the bodies. On the way to the execution site, one of the survivors had peeked out from under his blindfold and had seen that Mladić was also on his way to the scene. [69]

Aerial photos confirmed that the earth near the Petkovići dam had been disturbed, and that it was disturbed yet again sometime between 7 and 27 September 1995. When the grave here was opened in April 1998, there seemed to be many bodies missing. Their removal had been accomplished with mechanical apparatus, causing considerable disturbance to the grave and its contents. At this time, the grave contained the remains of no more than 43 persons. Other bodies had been removed to a secondary grave, Liplje 2, prior to 2 October 1995. Here, the remains of at least 191 individuals were discovered. [69]

14–16 July: Branjevo

On 14 July 1995 more prisoners from Bratunac were bussed northward to a school in the village of Pilica, north of Zvornik. As at other detention facilities, there was no food or water and several men died in the school gym from heat and dehydration. The men were held at the Pilica school for two nights. On 16 July 1995, following a now familiar pattern, the men were called out of the school and loaded onto buses with their hands tied behind their backs. They were then driven to the Branjevo Military Farm, where groups of 10 were lined up and shot. [123]

Dražen Erdemović—who confessed killing at least 70 Bosniaks—was a member of the VRS 10th Sabotage Detachment (a Main Staff subordinate unit) and participated in mass executions. Erdemović appeared as a prosecution witness and testified: "The men in front of us were ordered to turn their backs. When those men turned their backs to us, we shot at them. We were given orders to shoot." [124]

On this point, one of the survivors recalls:

When they shot, I threw myself on the ground. one man fell on my head. I think that he was killed on the spot. I could feel the hot blood pouring over me. I could hear one man crying for help. He was begging them to kill him. And they simply said "Let him suffer. We'll kill him later."

Erdemović said that all but one of the victims wore civilian clothes and that, except for one person who tried to escape, they offered no resistance before being shot. Sometimes the executioners were particularly cruel. When some of the soldiers recognised acquaintances from Srebrenica, they beat and humiliated them before killing them. Erdemović had to persuade his fellow soldiers to stop using a machine gun for the killings while it mortally wounded the prisoners it did not cause death immediately and prolonged their suffering. [124] Between 1,000 and 1,200 men were killed in the course of that day at this execution site. [126]

Aerial photographs, taken on 17 July 1995 of an area around the Branjevo Military Farm, show a large number of bodies lying in the field near the farm, as well as traces of the excavator that collected the bodies from the field. [127]

Erdemović testified that, at around 15:00 hours on 16 July 1995 after he and his fellow soldiers from the 10th Sabotage Detachment had finished executing the prisoners at the Branjevo Military Farm, they were told that there was a group of 500 Bosnian prisoners from Srebrenica trying to break out of a nearby Dom Kultura club. Erdemović and the other members of his unit refused to carry out any more killings. They were then told to attend a meeting with a Lieutenant Colonel at a café in Pilica. Erdemović and his fellow-soldiers travelled to the café as requested and, as they waited, they could hear shots and grenades being detonated. The sounds lasted for approximately 15–20 minutes after which a soldier from Bratunac entered the café to inform those present that "everything was over". [128]

There were no survivors to explain exactly what had happened in the Dom Kultura. [128] The executions at the Dom Kultura were remarkable in that this was no remote spot but a location in the centre of town on the main road from Zvornik to Bijeljina. [129] Over a year later, it was still possible to find physical evidence of this crime. As in Kravica, many traces of blood, hair and body tissue were found in the building, with cartridges and shells littered throughout the two storeys. [130] It could also be established that explosives and machine guns had been used. Human remains and personal possessions were found under the stage, where blood had dripped down through the floorboards.

Two of the three survivors of the executions at the Branjevo Military Farm were arrested by local Bosnian Serb police on 25 July and sent to the prisoner of war compound at Batkovici. One had been a member of the group separated from the women in Potočari on 13 July. The prisoners who were taken to Batkovici survived the ordeal. [131] and were later able to testify before the Tribunal. [132]

Čančari Road 12 was the site of the re-interment of at least 174 bodies, moved here from the mass grave at the Branjevo Military Farm. [133] Only 43 were complete sets of remains, most of which established that death had taken place as the result of rifle fire. Of the 313 various body parts found, 145 displayed gunshot wounds of a severity likely to prove fatal. [134]

14–17 July: Kozluk

The exact date of the executions at Kozluk is not known, although it can be narrowed down to the period of 14 to 17 July 1995. The most probable dates are 15 and 16 July, not least due to the geographic location of Kozluk, between Petkovići Dam and the Branjevo Military Farm. It therefore falls within the pattern of ever more northerly execution sites: Orahovac on 14 July, Petkovići Dam on 15 July, the Branjevo Military Farm and the Pilica Dom Kultura on 16 July. [135] Another indication is that a Zvornik Brigade excavator spent eight hours in Kozluk on 16 July and a truck belonging to the same brigade made two journeys between Orahovac and Kozluk that day. A bulldozer is known to have been active in Kozluk on 18 and 19 July. [136]

Among Bosnian refugees in Germany, there were rumors of executions in Kozluk, during which the five hundred or so prisoners were forced to sing Serbian songs as they were being transported to the execution site. Although no survivors have since come forward, investigations in 1999 led to the discovery of a mass grave near Kozluk. [137] This proved to be the actual location of an execution as well, and lay alongside the Drina accessible only by driving through the barracks occupied by the Drina Wolves, a regular police unit of Republika Srpska. The grave was not dug specifically for the purpose: it had previously been a quarry and a landfill site. Investigators found many shards of green glass which the nearby 'Vitinka' bottling plant had dumped there. This facilitated the process of establishing links with the secondary graves along Čančari Road. [138] The grave at Kozluk had been partly cleared some time prior to 27 September 1995 but no fewer than 340 bodies were found there nonetheless. [139] In 237 cases, it was clear that they had died as the result of rifle fire: 83 by a single shot to the head, 76 by one shot through the torso region, 72 by multiple bullet wounds, five by wounds to the legs and one person by bullet wounds to the arm. The ages of the victims were between 8 and 85 years old. Some had been physically disabled, occasionally as the result of amputation. Many had clearly been tied and bound using strips of clothing or nylon thread. [138]

Along the Čančari Road are twelve known mass graves, of which only two—Čančari Road 3 and 12—have been investigated in detail (as of 2000 [update] ). [140] Čančari Road 3 is known to have been a secondary grave linked to Kozluk, as shown by the glass fragments and labels from the Vitinka factory. [141] The remains of 158 victims were found here, of which 35 bodies were still more or less intact and indicated that most had been killed by gunfire. [142]

13–18 July: Bratunac-Konjević Polje road

On 13 July, near Konjević Polje, Serb soldiers summarily executed hundreds of Bosniaks, including women and children. [143]

The men who were found attempting to escape by the Bratunac-Konjević Polje road were told that the Geneva Convention would be observed if they gave themselves up. [144] In Bratunac, men were told that there were Serbian personnel standing by to escort them to Zagreb for an exchange of prisoners. The visible presence of UN uniforms and UN vehicles, stolen from Dutchbat, were intended to contribute to the feeling of reassurance. On 17 to 18 July, Serb soldiers captured about 150–200 Bosnians in the vicinity of Konjevic Polje and summarily executed about one half of them. [143]

18–19 July: Nezuk–Baljkovica frontline

After the closure of the corridor at Baljkovica, several groups of stragglers nevertheless attempted to escape into Bosnian territory. Most were captured by VRS troops in the Nezuk–Baljkovica area and killed on the spot. In the vicinity of Nezuk, about 20 small groups surrendered to Bosnian Serb military forces. After the men surrendered, Bosnian Serb soldiers ordered them to line up and summarily executed them. [103] [143]

On 19 July, for example, a group of approximately 11 men was killed at Nezuk itself by units of the 16th Krajina Brigade, then operating under the direct command of the Zvornik Brigade. Reports reveal that a further 13 men, all ARBiH soldiers, were killed at Nezuk on 19 July. [145] The report of the march to Tuzla includes the account of an ARBiH soldier who witnessed several executions carried out by police that day. He survived because 30 ARBiH soldiers were needed for an exchange of prisoners following the ARBiH's capture of a VRS officer at Baljkovica. The soldier was himself exchanged late 1995 at that time, there were still 229 men from Srebrenica in the Batkovici prisoner of war camp, including two men who had been taken prisoner in 1994. [ citation needed ]

At the same time, RS Ministry of the Interior forces conducting a search of the terrain from Kamenica as far as Snagovo killed eight Bosniaks. [146] Around 200 Muslims armed with automatic and hunting rifles were reported to be hiding near the old road near Snagovo. [146] During the morning, about 50 Bosniaks attacked the Zvornik Brigade line in the area of Pandurica, attempting to break through to Bosnian government territory. [146] The Zvornik Public Security Centre planned to surround and destroy these two groups the following day using all available forces. [147]

20–22 July: Meces area

According to ICTY indictments of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, on 20 to 21 July 1995 near the village of Meces, VRS personnel, using megaphones, urged Bosniak men who had fled Srebrenica to surrender and assured them that they would be safe. Approximately 350 men responded to these entreaties and surrendered. The soldiers then took approximately 150 of them, instructed them to dig their own graves and summarily executed them. [148]

After the massacre

During the days following the massacre, American spy planes overflew the area of Srebrenica, and took photos showing the ground in vast areas around the town had been removed, a sign of mass burials.

On 22 July, the commanding officer of the Zvornik Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Vinko Pandurević, requested the Drina Corps to set up a committee to oversee the exchange of prisoners. He also asked for instructions where the prisoners of war his unit had already captured should be taken and to whom they should be handed over. Approximately 50 wounded captives were taken to the Bratunac hospital. Another group of prisoners was taken to the Batkovići camp (near Bijeljina), and these were mostly exchanged later. [149] On 25 July, the Zvornik Brigade captured 25 more ARBiH soldiers who were taken directly to the camp at Batkovići, as were 34 ARBiH men captured the following day.

Zvornik Brigade reports up until 31 July continue to describe the search for refugees and the capture of small groups of Bosniaks. [150]

A number of Bosniaks managed to cross over the River Drina into Serbia at Ljubovija and Bajina Bašta. 38 of them were returned to RS. Some were taken to the Batkovići camp, where they were exchanged. The fate of the majority has not been established. [149] Some of those attempting to cross the Drina drowned. [149]

By 17 July 1995, 201 Bosniak soldiers had arrived in Žepa, exhausted and many with light wounds. [149] By 28 July another 500 had arrived in Žepa from Srebrenica. [149] [151]

After 19 July 1995, small Bosniak groups were hiding in the woods for days and months, trying to reach Tuzla. [149] Numerous refugees found themselves cut off for some time in the area around Mount Udrc. [152] [153] They did not know what to do next or where to go they managed to stay alive by eating vegetables and snails. [152] [153] The MT Udrc had become to a place for ambushing marchers, and the Bosnian Serbs swept through this area too, and according to one survivor they killed many people there. [152] [153]

Meanwhile, the VRS had commenced the process of clearing the bodies from around Srebrenica, Žepa, Kamenica and Snagovo. Work parties and municipal services were deployed to help. [153] [154] In Srebrenica, the refuse that had littered the streets since the departure of the people was collected and burnt, the town disinfected and deloused. [153] [154]


Many people in the part of the column which had not succeeded in passing Kamenica did not wish to give themselves up and decided to turn back towards Žepa. [155] Others remained where they were, splitting up into smaller groups of no more than ten. [156] Some wandered around for months, either alone or groups of two, four or six men. [156] Once Žepa had succumbed to the Serb pressure, they had to move on once more, either trying to reach Tuzla or crossing the River Drina into Serbia. [157]

The most famous group of seven men wandered about in occupied territory for the entire winter. On 10 May 1996, after nine months on the run and over six months after the end of the war, they were discovered in a quarry by American IFOR soldiers. They immediately turned over to the patrol they were searched and their weapons (two pistols and three hand grenades) were confiscated. The men said that they had been in hiding in the immediate vicinity of Srebrenica since the fall of the enclave. They did not look like soldiers and the Americans decided that this was a matter for the police. [158] The operations officer of this American unit ordered that a Serb patrol should be escorted into the quarry whereupon the men would be handed over to the Serbs.

The prisoners said they were initially tortured after the transfer, but later were treated relatively well. In April 1997 the local court in Republika Srpska convicted the group, known as the Zvornik 7, for illegal possession of firearms and three of them for the murder of four Serbian woodsmen. When announcing the verdict the presenter of the TV of Republika Srpska described them as the group of Muslim terrorists from Srebrenica who last year massacred Serb civilians. [159] The trial was widely condemned by the international community as "a flagrant miscarriage of justice", [160] [161] and the conviction was later quashed for 'procedural reasons' following pressure from the international community. In 1999, the three remaining defendants in the Zvornik 7 case were swapped for three Serbs serving 15 years each in a Bosnian prison.

Reburials in the secondary mass graves

From approximately 1 August 1995 to 1 November 1995, there was an organised effort to remove the bodies from primary mass gravesites and transport them to secondary and tertiary gravesites. [162] In the ICTY court case "Prosecutor v. Blagojević and Jokić", the trial chamber found that this reburial effort was an attempt to conceal evidence of the mass murders. [163] The trial chamber found that the cover up operation was ordered by the VRS Main Staff and subsequently carried out by members of the Bratunac and Zvornik Brigades. [163]

The cover-up operation has had a direct impact on the recovery and identification of the remains. The removal and reburial of the bodies have caused them to become dismembered and co-mingled, making it difficult for forensic investigators to positively identify the remains. [164] For example, in one specific case, the remains of one person were found in two different locations, 30 km apart. [165] In addition to the ligatures and blindfolds found at the mass graves, the effort to hide the bodies has been seen as evidence of the organised nature of the massacres and the non-combatant status of the victims, since had the victims died in normal combat operations, there would be no need to hide their remains. [164] [166]

Greek Volunteers controversy

According to Agence France Presse (AFP), a dozen Greek volunteers fought alongside the Serbs at Srebrenica. [167] They were members of the Greek Volunteer Guard (ΕΕΦ), or GVG, a contingent of Greek paramilitaries formed at the request of Ratko Mladić as an integral part of the Drina Corps. The Greek volunteers were motivated by the desire to support their "Orthodox brothers" in battle. [168] They raised the Greek flag at Srebrenica after the fall of the town at Mladić's request, to honour "the brave Greeks fighting on our side." [169] Radovan Karadžić subsequently decorated four of them. [170] [171] [172] [173]

In 2005, Greek deputy Andreas Andrianopoulos [el] called for an investigation into the role of Greek volunteers in Srebrenica. [174] The Greek Minister of Justice Anastasios Papaligouras commissioned an inquiry, which had still not reported as of July 2010 [update] . [175]

In 2009, Stavros Vitalis [el] announced that the volunteers were suing the writer Takis Michas for libel over allegations in his book Unholy Alliance, in which Michas described aspects of the Greek state's tacit support for the Serbs during the Bosnian War. Insisting that the volunteers had simply taken part in what he described as the "re-occupation" of the town, Vitalis acknowledged that he himself was present with senior Serb officers in "all operations" for Srebrenica's re-occupation by the Serbs. [176] [177] Michas said that the volunteers were treated like heroes and at no point did Greek justice contact them to investigate their knowledge of potential crimes to assist the work of the ICTY at The Hague. [178]

1995: Indictment of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić

On 16 November 1995 Radovan Karadžić, "President of the Republika Srpska" and Ratko Mladić, Commander of the VRS, were indicted by the ICTY for their alleged direct responsibility for the war crimes committed in July 1995 against the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica. [57]

1999: UN Secretary-General's report

In 1999, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan submitted his report on the Fall of Srebrenica. In it, he acknowledged that the international community as a whole had to accept its share of responsibility for its response to the ethnic cleansing campaign that culminated in the murder of some 7,000 unarmed civilians from the town designated by the Security Council as a "safe area." [57] [179] [180]

2002: Dutch government report

The failure of Dutchbat to protect the Srebrenica enclave became a national trauma in the Netherlands and led to long-running discussions in the Netherlands. [181] In 1996, the Dutch government asked the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation to conduct research into the events before, during and after the fall of Srebrenica. The resulting report was published in 2002—Srebrenica: a 'safe' area. [182] It concluded that the Dutchbat mission was not well considered and well-nigh impossible. The NIOD report is cited often, however, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting labelled the report "controversial", as "the sheer abundance of information makes it possible for anyone to pluck from it whatever they need to make their point". One of the authors of the report claimed some of the sources were "unreliable", and were only used to support another author's argument. [183]

As a result of the report, the Dutch government accepted partial political responsibility for the circumstances in which the massacre happened [184] and the second cabinet of Wim Kok resigned in 2002. [185] [186]

2002: First Republika Srpska report

In September 2002, the Republika Srpska Office of Relations with the ICTY issued the "Report about Case Srebrenica". The document, authored by Darko Trifunović, was endorsed by many leading Bosnian Serb politicians. It concluded that 1,800 Bosnian Muslim soldiers died during fighting and a further 100 more died as a result of exhaustion. "The number of Muslim soldiers killed by Bosnian Serbs out of personal revenge or lack of knowledge of international law is probably about 100. It is important to uncover the names of the perpetrators in order to accurately and unequivocally establish whether or not these were isolated instances." The report also examined the mass graves, claiming that they were made for hygiene reasons, question the legitimacy of the missing person lists and undermine a key witness' mental health and military history. [187] The International Crisis Group and the United Nations condemned the manipulation of their statements in this report. [188]

2003: Srebrenica Genocide Memorial

On 30 September 2003, former US President Bill Clinton officially opened the Srebrenica Genocide memorial to honour the victims of the genocide. The total cost of the project was around $5.8 million. "We must pay tribute to the innocent lives, many of them children who were snuffed out in what must be called genocidal madness", Clinton said. [189] [190]

2004: Second Republika Srpska report and official apology

On 7 March 2003, the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a decision which ordered the Republika Srpska, among other things, to conduct a full investigation into the Srebrenica events, and disclose the results at the latest on 7 September 2003. [191] The Chamber had no coercive power to implement the decision, especially because it ceased to exist in late 2003. [192] The RS then published two reports, on 3 June 2003 and 5 September 2003, which the Human Rights Chamber concluded did not fulfill the obligations of the RS. [192] On 15 October 2003, The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown, lamented that "getting the truth from the [Bosnian Serb] government is like extracting rotten teeth". Ashdown did, however, welcome a recommendation in the September report to form an independent commission to investigate the Srebrenica events and issue a report within six months. [193]

The Srebrenica commission, officially titled the Commission for Investigation of the Events in and around Srebrenica between 10 and 19 July 1995, was established in December 2003, and submitted its final report [194] on 4 June 2004, and then an addendum [195] on 15 October 2004 after delayed information was supplied. [192] [196] The report acknowledged that at least 7,000 men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces, citing a provisional figure of 7,800. [197]

In the report, because of "limited time" and to "maximize resources", the commission "accepted the historical background and the facts stated in the second-instance judgment 'Prosecutor vs. Radislav Krstić', when the ICTY convicted the accused for 'assisting and supporting genocide' committed in Srebrenica". [194]

The findings of the commission remain generally disputed by Serb nationalists, who claim it was heavily pressured by the High Representative, given that an earlier RS government report which exonerated the Serbs was dismissed. Nevertheless, Dragan Čavić, the president of Republika Srpska, acknowledged in a televised address that Serb forces killed several thousand civilians in violation of the international law, and asserted that Srebrenica was a dark chapter in Serb history. [198]

On 10 November 2004, the government of Republika Srpska issued an official apology. The statement came after a government review of the Srebrenica commission's report. "The report makes it clear that enormous crimes were committed in the area of Srebrenica in July 1995. The Bosnian Serb Government shares the pain of the families of the Srebrenica victims, is truly sorry and apologises for the tragedy", the Bosnian Serb government said. [199]

2005: Republika Srpska Srebrenica Working Group

After a request by Ashdown, the RS established a working group to implement the recommendations of the report by the Srebrenica commission. The group was to analyze the documentation in the report's confidential annexes and identify all the possible perpetrators who were officials in the institutions of the RS. [200] A report on 1 April 2005 identified 892 such persons still employed by the RS, and the information was provided to the State Prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the understanding that the names would not be made public until official proceedings had been opened. [200]

On 4 October 2005, the working group said they had identified 25,083 people who were involved in the massacre, including 19,473 members of various Bosnian Serb armed forces that actively gave orders or directly took part in the massacre. [201]

2005: Release of Scorpions massacre video

On 1 June 2005, video evidence was introduced at the Slobodan Milošević trial to testify to the involvement of members of police units from Serbia in the Srebrenica massacre. [202] The video, the only undestroyed copy of twenty and previously available for rental in the Serbian town of Šid, was obtained and submitted to the ICTY by Nataša Kandić, director of the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center. [203]

The video footage (starting about 2hr 35 min. into the proceedings) shows an Orthodox priest blessing several members of a Serbian unit known as the "Scorpions." Later these soldiers are shown visibly abusing civilians physically. They were later identified as four minors as young as 16 and two men in their early twenties. The footage then shows the execution of four of the civilians and shows them lying dead in the field. At this point the cameraman expresses disappointment that the camera's battery is almost out. The soldiers then ordered the two remaining captives to take the four dead bodies into a nearby barn, where they were also killed upon completing this task. [202] [203]

The video caused public outrage in Serbia. In the days following its showing, the Serbian government arrested some of the former soldiers identified on the video. The event was extensively covered by the newspaper Danas and radio and television station B92. Nura Alispahić, mother of the 16-year-old Azmir Alispahić, saw the execution of her son on television. [204] She said that she was already aware of her son's death and said she had been told that his body was burned following the execution his remains were among those buried in Potočari in 2003. [205] [206]

The executions took place on 16/17 July, in Trnovo, about 30 minutes from the Scorpions' base near Sarajevo. [203]

On 10 April 2007, a special war crimes court in Belgrade convicted four former members of the Scorpions of war crimes, treating the killings as an isolated war crime unrelated to the Srebrenica genocide and ignoring the allegations that the Scorpions were acting under the authority of the Serbian Interior Ministry, MUP. [207]

2005: U.S. Congress and other resolutions

On 27 June 2005, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution (H. Res. 199 sponsored by Congressman Christopher Smith and Congressman Benjamin Cardin) commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. The resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority of 370 to 1, the only one to vote no being Ron Paul, with 62 absent. [208] The resolution states that:

. the policies of aggression and ethnic cleansing as implemented by Serb forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995 with the direct support of Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević and its followers ultimately led to the displacement of more than 2,000,000 people, an estimated 200,000 killed, tens of thousands raped or otherwise tortured and abused, and the innocent civilians of Sarajevo and other urban centres repeatedly subjected to shelling and sniper attacks meet the terms defining the crime of genocide in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, created in Paris on 9 December 1948, and entered into force on 12 January 1951. [209]

State of Missouri Resolution: On 6 July 2005, State of Missouri passed the resolution recognising the Srebrenica Genocide. [210]

City of St. Louis Proclamation: On 11 July 2005, City of St. Louis issued a Proclamation declaring 11 July Srebrenica Remembrance Day in St. Louis. [211]

2005: Potočari Memorial bomb plot

On 6 July 2005, Bosnian Serb police found two powerful bombs at the memorial site just days ahead of a ceremony to mark the massacre's 10th anniversary, when 580 identified victims were to be buried during the ceremony and more than 50,000 people, including international politicians and diplomats, were expected to attend. The bombs would have caused widespread loss of life and injury had they exploded. [212] [213]

2005: UN Secretary-General's message to the 10th anniversary commemoration

In his address to the 10th anniversary commemoration at Potočari, the UN Secretary-General paid tribute to the victims of "a terrible crime – the worst on European soil since the Second World War", on a date "marked as a grim reminder of man's inhumanity to man". He said that the first duty of the international community was to uncover and confront the full truth about what happened, a hard truth for those who serve the United Nations, because great nations failed to respond adequately. There should have been stronger military forces in place, and a stronger will to use them.

Blame lay first and foremost with those who planned and carried out the massacre, assisted them, or harboured and continue to harbour them. However the UN also bore its share of responsibility, having made serious errors of judgement, rooted in a philosophy of impartiality and non-violence which, however admirable, was unsuited to the conflict in Bosnia because of that the tragedy of Srebrenica would haunt the UN's history forever.

Rebuilding trust among the peoples of the region could only be done by persisting in the struggle for justice, without which there could be no reconciliation, and no peace for the families of the victims, nor for society as a whole.

The quest for justice remained incomplete while those charged with being the main architects of this massacre—Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić—were still at large and had not been made to answer the charges against them before the International Criminal Tribunal. He called on all Bosnians to search for truth and reconciliation.

Even while addressing the crimes of the past, the most important obligation was to prevent such systematic slaughter ever recurring anywhere again. The world had to equip itself to act collectively against genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The "responsibility to protect" had to be given tangible meaning, not just rhetorical support.

He committed the UN helping the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to rebuild a viable economy and secure a peaceful, prosperous future among the family of nations. [179]

2006: Discoveries of further mass graves

By 2006, 42 mass graves have been uncovered around Srebrenica and the specialists believe there are 22 more mass graves. The victims identified number 2,070 while body parts in more than 7,000 bags still await identification. [214] On 11 August 2006 over 1,000 body parts were exhumed from one of Srebrenica mass graves located in Kamenica. [215]

2006: List of alleged participants published

On 24 August 2006, the Sarajevo daily newspaper Oslobođenje started publishing a list of 892 Bosnian Serbs who had allegedly participated in the Srebrenica massacre and who were believed to be still employed by government and municipal institutions. The names of these individuals were listed among 28,000 Bosnian Serbs reported to have taken part in the massacre by the official Republika Srpska report on Srebrenica. The list had been withheld from publication with the report by the chief prosecutor of the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber, Marinko Jurčević who claimed that "publishing this information might jeopardise the ongoing investigations". [216] [217]

2006: Dutch Srebrenica insignia controversy

In December 2006, the Dutch government awarded the Dutch UN peacekeepers who served in Srebrenica an insignia because they believed they "deserved recognition for their behaviour in difficult circumstances", also noting the limited mandate and the ill-equipped nature of the mission. However, survivors and relatives of the victims condemned the move, calling it a "humiliating decision" and responded with protest rallies in The Hague, Assen (where the ceremony took place) and Bosnia's capital Sarajevo. [218]

2007: Arrest of Zdravko Tolimir

On 31 May 2007, former Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir was apprehended by police from Serbia and the Bosnian Serb republic, turned over to NATO forces at the Banja Luka airport where he was read the ICTY indictment and formally arrested. On 1 June 2007 NATO forces conveyed him to Rotterdam where he was turned over to the ICTY in The Hague. As of July 2010 [update] , Tolimir was being tried by the ICTY on charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, persecution and forcible transfer. The indictment accuses Tolimir of participating in the "joint criminal enterprise to remove the Muslim population" from Srebrenica as well as the enclave of Zepa. [219] [220]

On 12 December 2012, Tolimir was convicted of genocide and sentenced to life imprisonment. [221]

2008: Arrest of Radovan Karadžić

Radovan Karadžić, with similar charges as Zdravko Tolimir, was arrested in Belgrade on 21 July 2008 (after 13 years on the run) and brought before Belgrade's War Crimes Court. [222] He was transferred to the ICTY on 30 July 2008. [223] As of July 2010 [update] Karadžić was being tried at the ICTY on 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. [224] [225]

2009: EU Parliament resolution

On 15 January 2009, the Parliament of the European Union voted with overwhelming majority of 556 votes in favour, 9 against and 22 abstentions on a resolution calling for the recognition of 11 July as a day for EU commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. [226] Bosnian Serb politicians rejected the resolution, stating that such a commemoration is unacceptable to the Republika Srpska. [227]

2010 and 2013: Serbia's official apologies

In late March 2010, Serbian Parliament passed a resolution condemning the Srebrenica massacre and apologizing for Serbia not doing more to prevent the tragedy. The motion was passed by a narrow margin with 127 out of 250 MPs voting in favor, with 173 legislators present during the vote. The Socialist Party of Serbia, formerly under Slobodan Milošević and now under new leadership, voted in favor of adopting the resolution. Opposition parties, in turn, expressed their discontent with the resolution claiming its text was "shameful" for Serbia, either claiming the wording was too strong or too weak. [228] Some relatives of Bosniak victims were also unhappy with the apology, as it did not use the word 'genocide', but rather pointed at the Bosnian Genocide case ruling of the International Court of Justice. [229] Serbian president, Boris Tadić, said that the declaration is the highest expression of patriotism and that it represents distancing from crimes. [230] Sulejman Tihić, former Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the current President of the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina stated that now Bosnia and Herzegovina must adopt a similar resolution condemning crimes against Serbs and Croats. [231]

On 25 April 2013, President Tomislav Nikolić apologised for the massacre: "I kneel and ask for forgiveness for Serbia for the crime committed in Srebrenica. I apologise for the crimes committed by any individual in the name of our state and our people." [232]

2010: Second Republika Srpska report revision

On 21 April 2010, the government of Milorad Dodik, the prime minister of Republika Srpska, initiated a revision of the 2004 report saying that the numbers of killed were exaggerated and the report was manipulated by a former peace envoy. [233] The Office of the High Representative responded by saying: "The Republika Srpska government should reconsider its conclusions and align itself with the facts and legal requirements and act accordingly, rather than inflicting emotional distress on the survivors, torture history and denigrate the public image of the country". [234]

On 12 July 2010, at the 15th anniversary of the massacre, Milorad Dodik said that he acknowledged the killings that happened on the site, but did not regard what happened at Srebrenica as genocide. [235]

2013: Supreme Court of the Netherlands judgement

In a judgement dated 6 September 2013, Supreme Court of the Netherlands, the Netherlands as a state was found responsible for the death of the three of the murdered men. The court also found that it was the government of the Netherlands which had "effective control" over its troops. [181] The rationale for finding that the Netherlands exercised "effective control" over Dutchbat was given as Art. 8 of the Articles on State Responsibility, which it defines as "factual control over specific conduct." [236] The ruling also meant that relatives of these victims of the genocide are able to pursue the government of the Netherlands for compensation. [237]

2015: Russia vetoes UN resolution

On 8 July 2015, Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have condemned the Srebrenica massacre as a genocide. The resolution was intended to mark the 20th anniversary of the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. China, Nigeria, Angola and Venezuela abstained and the remaining 10 members of the council voted in favour. [238] The veto was praised by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić who said that Russia had "prevented an attempt of smearing the entire Serbian nation as genocidal" and proven itself as a true and honest friend. [239] [240]

As of July 2020 [update] the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has identified 6,993 persons missing from the July 1995 fall of Srebrenica, mostly through analysing DNA profiles extracted from exhumed human remains and matching them to the DNA profiles obtained from blood samples donated by relatives of the missing. The organization estimates that the total number of deaths was just over 8,000. [241]

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Under Resolution 827 (1993) the UN Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to try those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law, including genocide, on the territory of the former Yugoslavia [242]

Two officers of the Army of the Republika Srpska have been convicted by the Tribunal for their involvement in the Srebrenica genocide, Radislav Krstić and Vidoje Blagojević. General Krstić, who led the assault on Srebrenica alongside Ratko Mladić, was convicted by the tribunal of aiding and abetting genocide and received a sentence of 35 years imprisonment. Colonel Blagojević received a sentence of 18 years imprisonment for crimes against humanity. Krstić was the first European to be convicted on a charge of genocide by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg trials, [243] and only the third person ever to have been convicted by an international tribunal under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The ICTY's final ruling in the case against Krstić judicially recognized the Srebrenica massacre as an act of genocide:

By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They targeted for extinction the 40,000 Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general. They stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification, and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity. [22]

Slobodan Milošević was accused of genocide or complicity in genocide in territories within Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Srebrenica, [244] but he died on 11 March 2006 during his ICTY trial and so no verdict was returned.

-- Olga Kavran, Deputy Coordinator, ICTY Outreach Programme [245]

On 10 June 2010, seven senior Serb military and police officers, Vujadin Popović, Ljubiša Beara, Drago Nikolić, Ljubomir Borovčanin, Vinko Pandurević, Radivoje Miletić and Milan Gvero, were found guilty of various crimes ranging from genocide to murder and deportation. Popović and Beara were found guilty of genocide, extermination, murder, and persecution over the genocide, and were sentenced to life in prison. Nikolić was found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide, extermination, murder, and persecution and received 35 years in prison. Borovčanin was convicted of aiding and abetting extermination, murder, persecution, forcible transfer, murder as a crime against humanity and as a violation of the laws of customs of war, and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Miletić was found guilty of murder by majority, persecution, and inhumane acts, specifically forcible transfer, and received 19 years in prison. Gvero was found guilty of persecution and inhumane acts and sentenced to five years in prison, but was acquitted of one count of murder and one count of deportation. Pandurević was found guilty of aiding and abetting murder, persecution and inhumane acts, but was acquitted of charges of genocide, extermination and deportation, and sentenced to 13 years in prison. [246] [247] On 10 September 2010, after the prosecution filed an appeal, Vujadin Popović, Ljubiša Beara, Drago Nikolić, Vinko Pandurević, Radivoje Miletić and Milan Gvero could face more charges or longer sentences. [248]

In 2011, the former Chief of the General staff of the Yugoslav Army, Momčilo Perišić, was sentenced to 27 years in prison for aiding and abetting murder because he provided salaries, ammunition, staff and fuel to the VRS officers. [249] The judges, however, ruled that Perišić did not have effective control over Mladić and other VRS officers involved in the crimes. According to the Trial Chamber, the evidence proved Perišić's inability to impose binding orders on Mladić. [250]

On 31 May 2007, Zdravko Tolimir, a long time fugitive and a former general in the Army of the Republika Srpska indicted by the Prosecutor of the ICTY on genocide charges in the 1992–95 Bosnia war was arrested by Serbian and Bosnian police. [251] Tolimir—"Chemical Zdravko"—is infamous for requesting the use of chemical weapons and proposing military strikes against refugees at Zepa. [252] Ratko Mladić's deputy in charge of intelligence and security and a key commander at the time of Srebrenica, Tolimir is also believed to be one of the organisers of the support network protecting Mladić and helping him elude justice. [253] Tolimir's trial began on 26 February 2010 he chose to represent himself. [254]

Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić were indicted by the ICTY for genocide and complicity in genocide in several municipalities within Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Srebrenica. Karadžić was captured in Serbia on 21 July 2008 and Mladić, on 26 May 2011. [255] Karadžić declined to enter a plea at his second appearance before the war crimes tribunal on 29 August 2008, [256] a formal plea of "not guilty" was then made on his behalf by the judges. [257] Karadžić insisted on defending himself while at the same time set up a team of legal advisers. [258] Karadžić and Mladić, were both tried on two counts of genocide and other war crimes committed in Srebrenica and also in other districts of Bosnia including Prijedor, Kljuc, Foča, and Zvornik. Karadžić and Mladić were charged, separately, with: [259] [260]

To date this count has been dropped from the Prosecutor v. Karadzic trial. To quote the ICTY chamber upon this decision: "The evidence, even if taken at its highest, does not reach a level which a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that genocide occurred in the municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina".

International Court of Justice

In addition, the Srebrenica massacre was the core issue of the landmark court case Bosnian Genocide case at the International Court of Justice through which Bosnia and Herzegovina accused Serbia and Montenegro of genocide. The ICJ presented its judgement on 26 February 2007, which concurred with ICTY's recognition of the Srebrenica massacre as genocide. [23] It cleared Serbia of direct involvement in genocide during the Bosnian war, [261] but ruled that Belgrade did breach international law by failing to prevent the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and for failing to try or transfer the persons accused of genocide to the ICTY, in order to comply with its obligations under Articles I and VI of the Genocide Convention, in particular in respect of General Ratko Mladić. [262] [263] [264] Citing national security, Serbia obtained permission from the ICTY to keep parts of its military archives out of the public eye during its trial of Slobodan Milošević, which may have decisively affected the ICJ's judgement in the lawsuit brought against Serbia by Bosnia-Herzegovina, as the archives were hence not on the ICTY's public record – although the ICJ could have, but did not, subpoena the documents themselves. [265] Chief prosecutor's office, OTP, rejects allegations that there was a deal with Belgrade to conceal documents from the ICJ Bosnia genocide case. [266]

National courts


On 10 April 2007, a Serbian war crimes court sentenced four members of a paramilitary group known as the Scorpions to a total of 58 years in prison for the execution of six Bosniaks during the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995. [267]

Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 11 June 2007, the ICTY transferred Milorad Trbic (former Chief of Security of the Zvornik Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska) to Sarajevo to stand trial for genocide for his actions in and around Srebrenica before the War Crimes Chamber (Section I for War Crimes of the Criminal Division of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina henceforth: the Court). [268] Milorad Trbic – "[Is] charged with Genocide pursuant to Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CC BiH). … The trial commenced on 8 November 2007, and the Prosecutor is currently presenting his evidence." [269]

The "Mitrović and others case ("Kravice")" was an important trial before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The accused "according to the indictment, in the period from 10 to 19 July 1995, as knowing participants in a joint criminal enterprise, the accused committed the criminal offence of genocide. This crime was allegedly committed as part of widespread and systematic attack against the Bosniak population inside the UN protected area of Srebrenica carried out by the Republika Srpska Army (RSA) and the RS Ministry of Interior, with a common plan to annihilate in part a group of Bosniak people." [270] On 29 July 2008, after a two-year trial, the Court found seven men guilty of genocide for their role in the Srebrenica massacre including the deaths of 1000 Bosniak men in a single day. [271] [272] The court found that Bosniak men trying to escape from Srebrenica had been told they would be kept safe if they surrendered. Instead, they were transported to an agricultural co-operative in the village of Kravica, and later executed en masse. [271] [272]

On 20 April 2010, Croatia arrested Franc Kos, a member of the 10th commando detachment of the Army of the Republika Srpska, over genocide charges for the Srebrenica massacre. Bosnia and Herzegovina has an international warrant out for his arrest. [273] He is currently awaiting trial. [274]

On 29 April 2010, the United States extradited Marko Boškić on suspicions of having committed genocide. [275] He later pleaded guilty. [274]

On 18 January 2011, Israel arrested Aleksandar Cvetković, a veteran of the Bosnian Serb Army, after the Bosnian government filed an extradition request. Cvetković had moved to Israel in 2006 and secured citizenship through marriage to an Israeli. He was accused of having personally taken part in the executions of more than 800 men and boys, and initiated use of machine guns to speed up the killings. [276] [277] [278] On 1 August 2011, a Jerusalem court approved Cvetković's extradition, [279] and an appeal was denied in November 2012. [280]

Božidar Kuvelja, a former Bosnian Serb policeman, was arrested in Čajniče, Bosnia and Herzegovina. [281] [282]

  • Milenko Trifunović (commander of the 3rd "Skelani" Platoon, part of the 2nd Special Police Šekovići Squad) [270] – found guilty, sentenced to 42 years. [271][272]
  • Brano Džinić (special police force officer of the 2nd Special Police Šekovići Squad) [270] – found guilty, sentenced to 42 years. [271][272]
  • Slobodan Jakovljević (special police force member of the 3rd "Skelani" Platoon) [270] – found guilty, sentenced to 40 years. [271][272]
  • Branislav Medan (special police force member of the 3rd "Skelani" Platoon) [270] – found guilty, sentenced to 40 years. [271][272]
  • Petar Mitrović (special police force member of the 3rd "Skelani" Platoon) [270] – found guilty, sentenced to 38 years. [271][272]
  • Aleksandar Radovanović (special police force members of the 3rd "Skelani" Platoon) [270] – found guilty, sentenced to 42 years. [271][272]
  • Milorad Trbić (assistant commander for Security with the Zvornik Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army) found guilty on one count of genocide and sentenced to 30 years in jail. [283]
  • Radomir Vuković (special police force officer of the 2nd Special Police Šekovići Squad) – found guilty, sentenced to 31 years. [284]
  • Zoran Tomić (special police force officer of the 2nd Special Police Šekovići Squad) – found guilty, sentenced to 31 years. [284]
  • Marko Boškić (member of 10th Commando Squad of the Republika Srpska Army) [275] – pleaded guilty, sentenced to 10 years. [285]
  • Radovan Karadžić – found guilty on 24 March 2016 he was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment. [286]
  • Duško Jević (deputy commander of the interior ministry special police brigade and the commander of the Jahorina special police training center) – found guilty, sentenced to 35 years. [287]
  • Mendeljev Đurić (commander of Jahorina special police training center's first company) – found guilty, sentenced to 30 years. [287]
  • Stanko Kojić (member of the 10th Sabotage Unit of the Republika Srpska Army) – found guilty, sentenced to 43 years. [288]
  • Franc Kos (commander of the First Platoon of the 10th Sabotage Unit of the Republika Srpska Army) – found guilty, sentenced to 40 years. [288]
  • Zoran Goronja (member of the 10th Sabotage Unit of the Republika Srpska Army) – found guilty, sentenced to 40 years. [288]
  • Vlastimir Golijan (member of the 10th Sabotage Unit of the Republika Srpska Army) – plead guilty, [274] sentenced to 19 years. [288]
  • Dragan Crnogorac (police officer) – found guilty, sentenced to 13 years. [289]
  • Velibor Maksimović (special police force members of the 3rd "Skelani" Platoon) [270] – acquitted. [271][272]
  • Milovan Matić (member of the Republika Srpska Army) [270] – acquitted. [271][272]
  • Teodor Pavelvić (member of the Republika Srpska Army) – acquitted. [271][272]
  • Miladin Stevanović (special police force members of the 3rd "Skelani" Platoon) [270] – acquitted. [271][272]
  • Dragiša Živanović (special police force members of the 3rd "Skelani" Platoon) [270] – acquitted. [271][272]
  • Miloš Stupar (commander of the 2nd Special Police Šekovići Squad) [270] – found guilty, sentenced to 40 years., [271][272] later acquitted. [290]
  • Neđo Ikonić [291]
  • Goran Marković [291]
  • Božidar Kuvelja [281]
  • Dejan Radojković [292]
  • Nedeljko Milidragović [293]
  • Aleksa Golijanin [293]
  • Aleksandar Cvetković [276]


Survivors and victims' relatives have sought to establish the responsibility of the State of the Netherlands and the United Nations for what happened at Srebrenica in civil law actions brought before The Hague District Court in the Netherlands. In one case, 11 plaintiffs including the organisation "Mothers of the Enclaves of Srebrenica and Žepa", [16] [294] asked the court, to rule that the UN and the State of the Netherlands breached their obligation to prevent genocide, as laid down in the Genocide Convention and hold them jointly liable to pay compensation to the plaintiffs. [295] On 10 July 2008, the court ruled that it had no jurisdiction against the UN, plaintiffs have appealed the judgement in relation to UN immunity. [296]

Another action was brought by a former UN interpreter Hasan Nuhanović and the family of Rizo Mustafić [bs] , an electrician employed by the UN at Srebrenica. They claimed that Dutch troops in the peacekeeping contingent responsible for security in the UN-protected zone allowed VRS troops to kill their relatives, Nuhanović's brother, father and mother [297] and Mustafić. [298] They argued that the Dutch Government had de facto operational command of the Dutch battalion in accordance with the Dutch Constitution (Article 97(2)), which grants the government superior command (oppergezag) over military forces. [298]

On 10 September 2008, the district court dismissed these claims and held that the State could not be held responsible because the Dutchbat peacekeepers were operating in Bosnia under a United Nations mandate and operational command and control over the troops had been transferred to the UN command. [299] On 5 July 2011, the court of appeal reversed this decision and held that the State was responsible for, and indeed actively coordinated, the evacuation once Srebrenica fell, and therefore was responsible for the decision to dismiss Nuhanović's brother and Mustafić from the Dutchbat compound. The court further held that this decision was wrong, because the Dutch soldiers should have known that they were in great danger of being tortured or killed. Both claimants are therefore eligible for compensation. [300]

On 6 September 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed a Government appeal, [301] a judgment that the Government accepted. [302] On 16 July 2014, a Dutch court held the Netherlands liable for the killings of more than 300 Bosniaks at Srebrenica the same court ruled that the Netherlands was not liable for the other deaths in Srebrenica. [28] The decision was upheld by The Hague Appeals Court on 27 June 2017. [303] [304] On 19 July 2019 the Dutch Supreme court ruled the Dutch state was liable for 10% for the 300 Bosnian men expelled from the compound. [305] [306]

Role of Bosnian forces on the ground

In response to the suggestion that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica made no adequate attempt to defend the town, the Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 53/35—The Fall of Srebrenica, [57] delivered to the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 15 November 1999 states:

476. Concerning the accusation that the Bosniaks did not do enough to defend Srebrenica, military experts consulted in connection with this report were largely in agreement that the Bosniaks could not have defended Srebrenica for long in the face of a concerted attack supported by armour and artillery. (. )

478. Many have accused the Bosniak forces of withdrawing from the enclave as the Serb forces advanced on the day of its fall. However, it must be remembered that on the eve of the final Serb assault the Dutchbat Commander urged the Bosniaks to withdraw from defensive positions south of Srebrenica town—the direction from which the Serbs were advancing. He did so because he believed that NATO aircraft would soon be launching widespread air strikes against the advancing Serbs.

479. A third accusation levelled at the Bosniak defenders of Srebrenica is that they provoked the Serb offensive by attacking out of that safe area. Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. Dutchbat personnel on the ground at the time assessed that the few "raids" the Bosniaks mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organised in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them. The biggest attack the Bosniaks launched out of Srebrenica during the more than two years during which it was designated a safe area appears to have been the raid on the village of Višnjica, on 26 June 1995, in which several houses were burned, up to four Serbs were killed and approximately 100 sheep were stolen. In contrast, the Serbs overran the enclave two weeks later, driving tens of thousands from their homes, and summarily executing thousands of men and boys. The Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create a geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina, while freeing their troops to fight in other parts of the country. The extent to which this pretext was accepted at face value by international actors and observers reflected the prism of "moral equivalency" through which the conflict in Bosnia was viewed by too many for too long. [307]

Disputed Serb casualties around Srebrenica

It is agreed by all sides that Serbs suffered a number of casualties during military forays led by Naser Orić. The controversy over the nature and number of the casualties came to a head in 2005, the 10th anniversary of the massacre. [308] According to Human Rights Watch, the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party "launched an aggressive campaign to prove that Muslims had committed crimes against thousands of Serbs in the area" which "was intended to diminish the significance of the July 1995 crime." [308] A press briefing by the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) dated 6 July 2005 noted that the number of Serb deaths in the region alleged by the Serbian authorities had increased from 1,400 to 3,500, a figure the OTP stated "[does] not reflect the reality." [309] The briefing cited previous accounts:

  • The Republika Srpska's Commission for War Crimes gave the number of Serb victims in the municipalities of Bratunac, Srebrenica and Skelani as 995 520 in Bratunac and 475 in Srebrenica.
  • The Chronicle of Our Graves by Milivoje Ivanišević, president of the Belgrade Centre for Investigating Crimes Committed against the Serbs, estimates the number of people killed at around 1,200.
  • For the Honourable Cross and Golden Freedom, a book published by the RS Ministry of Interior, referred to 641 Serb victims in the Bratunac-Srebrenica-Skelani region.

The accuracy of these numbers is challenged: the OTP noted that although Ivanišević's book estimated that around 1,200 Serbs were killed, personal details were only available for 624 victims. [309] The validity of labeling some of the casualties as "victims" is also challenged: [309] studies have found a significant majority of military casualties compared to civilian casualties. [310] This is in line with the nature of the conflict—Serb casualties died in raids by Bosniak forces on outlying villages used as military outposts for attacks on Srebrenica [311] (many of which had been ethnically cleansed of their Bosniak majority population in 1992). [312] For example, the village of Kravica was attacked by Bosniak forces on Orthodox Christmas Day, 7 January 1993. Some Serb sources such as Ivanišević allege that the village's 353 inhabitants were "virtually completely destroyed". [309] In fact, the VRS' own internal records state that 46 Serbs died in the Kravica attack: 35 soldiers and 11 civilians, [313] while the ICTY Prosecutor's Office's investigation of casualties on 7 and 8 January in Kravica and the surrounding villages found that 43 people were killed, of whom 13 were obviously civilians. [314] Nevertheless, the event continues to be cited by Serb sources as the key example of crimes committed by Bosniak forces around Srebrenica. [308] As for the destruction and casualties in the villages of Kravica, Šiljković, Bjelovac, Fakovići and Sikirić, the judgement states that the prosecution failed to present convincing evidence that the Bosnian forces were responsible for them, because the Serb forces used artillery in the fighting in those villages. In the case of the village of Bjelovac, Serbs even used warplanes. [315]

The most up-to-date analysis of Serb casualties in the region comes from the Sarajevo-based Research and Documentation Centre, a non-partisan institution with a multiethnic staff, whose data have been collected, processed, checked, compared and evaluated by international team of experts. [310] [316] [317] The RDC's extensive review of casualty data found that Serb casualties in the Bratunac municipality amounted to 119 civilians and 424 soldiers. It also established that although the 383 Serb victims buried in the Bratunac military cemetery are presented as casualties of ARBiH units from Srebrenica, 139 (more than one third of the total) had fought and died elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina. [310]

Serb sources maintain that casualties and losses during the period prior to the creation of the safe area gave rise to Serb demands for revenge against the Bosniaks based in Srebrenica. The ARBiH raids are presented as a key motivating factor for the July 1995 genocide. [318] This view is echoed by international sources including the 2002 report commissioned by the Dutch government on events leading to the fall of Srebrenica (the NIOD report). [319] In Balkan Genocides: Holocaust and Ethnic Cleansing in the Twentieth Century, scholar Paul Mojzes notes that a great deal of animosity towards the men of Srebrenica stems from the period of May 1992 to January 1993 where forces under Orić's leadership attacked and destroyed scores of Serbian villages. Evidence indicated that Serbs had been tortured and mutilated and others were burned alive when their houses were torched. [320]

The efforts to explain the Srebrenica massacre as motivated by revenge have been dismissed as bad faith attempts to justify the genocide. [321] The ICTY Outreach Programme notes that the claim that Bosnian Serb forces killed the prisoners from Srebrenica in revenge for crimes committed by Bosnian Muslim forces against Serbs in the villages around Srebrenica provides no defence under international law and soldiers, certainly experienced officers, would be aware of the fact. To offer revenge as a justification for crimes is to attack the rule of law, and civilization itself, and nor does revenge provide moral justification for killing people simply because they share the same ethnicity as others who perpetrated crimes. The methodical planning and mobilization of the substantial resources involved required orders to be given at a high command level. The VRS had a plan to kill the Bosnian Muslim prisoners, as Bosnian Serb war criminal Dragan Obrenović confirmed. [322]

The UN Secretary-General's report on the fall of Srebrenica said: "Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. The Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create a geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina." [307]

Claim that the planning of mass executions in Srebrenica defies military logic

During Radislav Krstić's trial before the ICTY, the prosecution's military advisor, Richard Butler, pointed out that by carrying out a mass execution, the Serb Army deprived themselves of an extremely valuable bargaining counter. Butler suggested that they would have had far more to gain had they taken the men in Potočari as prisoners of war, under the supervision of the International Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN troops still in the area. It might then have been possible to enter into some sort of exchange deal or they might have been able to force political concessions. Based on this reasoning, the ensuing mass murder defied military explanation. [323]


On 13 July, "Dutchbat" expelled [ why? ] five Bosniak refugees from the United Nations compound. Later proceedings in Dutch courts have established legal liability of The Dutch State for the deaths of those expelled.

In 2013 the Dutch Supreme Court held the Netherlands responsible for the death of 3 Bosnian men who were expelled from a compound held by Dutchbat, on 13 July 1995. [70]

On 19 July 2019. The Dutch Supreme court ruled that Dutchbat was not liable for the fall of Srebrenica and not liable for the massacre. The Dutch state was liable for 10% for the 300 Bosnian man expelled from the compound. [305]

Claims of problems in the UNPROFOR chain of command above "Dutchbat"

Brigadier General, Hagrup Haukland was UNPROFOR's Commander of [324] the sector in which the killings of the Srebrenica Massacre started on 11 July 1995. At this time he was on vacation. [325] His subordinate, Colonel Charles Brantz phoned Haukland twice on 9 July 1995 to inform him about the crisis in Srebrenica. [326] Confusion within his staff has been attributed in part to his being slow [325] to return to his place of work, not arriving at Tuzla headquarters until 14 July. [326]

Other problems within Haukland's staff included [326] lack of cooperation between "the Dutch and the Pakistanis", according to Harald Valved (UNPROFOR military advisor). The 2002 report Srebrenica: a 'safe' area said that "The cadres consisted of clans of Norwegian, Pakistani and Dutch military that were incapable of adequate mutual cooperation." [327]

In 2005 an unnamed officer on Haukland's multinational staff at Tuzla in 1995, disputed the claim by Haukland and the Norwegian Chief of Defence, Arne Solli, that the attack on Srebrenica was a surprise. [326] The officer said "We knew early on that the Serbs were amassing their forces around Srebrenica. At the end of June, Haukland informed the headquarters at Sarajevo again and again in regards to this". [326]

In 2006 it was reported that Haukland regularly informed Sollie about the conditions within Haukland's sector, and when Haukland departed Bosnia on his vacation to Norway, they travelled on the same airplane. [328]

The 2002 report Srebrenica: a 'safe' area, did not assign any blame to Haukland for the massacre.

Claims and retraction by retired NATO SACLANT

In March 2010, John Sheehan, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic from 1994 to 1997, told a US Senate hearing that the Dutch had "declared a peace dividend and made a conscious effort to socialise their military – that includes the unionisation of their militaries, it includes open homosexuality", claiming that gay soldiers could result in events like Srebrenica. [329] He claimed that his opinion was shared by the leadership of the Dutch armed forces, mentioning the name "Hankman Berman", who Sheehan added, had told him that the presence of gay soldiers at Srebrenica had sapped morale and contributed to the disaster. [330] General van den Breemen denied having said such a thing and called Sheehan's comments "total nonsense", Sheehan's remarks were also dismissed by the Dutch authorities as, "disgraceful" and "unworthy of a soldier". [331] [332] [333] [334] [335] Sheehan apologised to Dutch military officials on 29 March 2010, withdrawing his comments and blaming instead "the rules of engagement. developed by a political system with conflicting priorities and an ambivalent understanding of how to use the military." [336]

Criticism of the 1995 UN Special Representative for the former Yugoslavia

In 2005, Professor Arne Johan Vetlesen said "Thorvald Stoltenberg's co-responsibility in Srebrenica boils down to that he through three years as a top broker contributed to create a climate—diplomatic, politic and indirectly militarily—such that Mladic calculated correctly when he figured that he could do exactly what he wanted with Srebrenica's Muslim population". [337]

The Dutch government report from 2002, Srebrenica: a 'safe' area, criticised the choice of Stoltenberg as a mediator. [338] [337]

Sonja Biserko, president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, and Edina Bečirević, the Faculty of Criminalistics, Criminology and Security Studies of the University of Sarajevo have pointed to a culture of denial of the Srebrenica genocide in Serbian society, taking many forms and present in particular in political discourse, the media, the law and the educational system. [339]

The scepticism ranges from challenging the judicial recognition of the killings as an act of genocide to the denial of a massacre having taken place. The finding of genocide by the ICJ and the ICTY, has been disputed on evidential and theoretical grounds. The number of the dead has been questioned as has the nature of their deaths. It has been alleged that considerably fewer than 8,000 were killed and/or that most of those killed died in battle rather than by execution. It has been claimed that the interpretation of "genocide" is refuted by the survival of the women and children. [340]

During the Bosnian war, Slobodan Milošević had effective control of most Serbian media. [341] [342] Following the end of the war, scepticism about Srebrenica continued to be widespread among Serbians. [343] Questions were raised regarding Srebrenica in the symposium Srebrenica 1995–2015: činjenice nedoumice, propaganda held by the Museum of Genocide Victims (Muzej žrtava genocida) and Strategic Culture Foundation (Fond strateške kulture) in Belgrade in 2017. [344]

The Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 4, 1989

China, one of the world’s oldest civilisations, has a vast history, filled with stories of inventions, modernization, uprisings and protests. Contributing to every fibre of China’s story is the youth of the country. Since time immemorial, the students of China have been active participant in not just society and social activities but specifically in matters related to politics. 1989’s Pro-Democracy Movement is one such example. It was a student-led demonstration calling for democracy, free speech and a free press. It took place on the monumental grounds of Tiananmen square in China. The protests were halted by a bloody crackdown, known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, by the Chinese government on June 4 and 5, 1989.

Why did the protests take place?

Here’s a timeline of events leading up to the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square on the 5th of June:

15th April 1989 – Hu Yaobang was a former Communist Party leader and a high-ranking official of the People’s Republic of China. He was known for his liberalism and frank opinions. He believed that Communism could not solve “all of mankind’s problems”.

Due to such strong revolutionary opinions, he was the favourite of the youth. He suffered a heart attack at the age of 73 and died 15 days later. A day after his death, a small-scale demonstration commemorated him and demanded that the government reassess his policies. A week later, the day before Hu’s funeral, some 100,000 students marched on Tiananmen Square, leading to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Mid May of 1989 – Thousands of people joined the students in Tiananmen Square, with the protest’s numbers increasing 10 folds.

13th May 1989 – Few of the student protesters at Tiananmen Square initiated a hunger strike, which inspired others and China saw nationwide strikes and protests.

15th May 1989 – The Chinese government became uncomfortable with the protests. The protests disrupted a visit by Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union on May 15.

20th May 1989 – Chinese government felt that the demonstrations needed to be controlled as it was getting a lot of international attention. Hence it declared martial law on May 20 and 250,000 troops entered Beijing.

End of May 1989 – It is said that more than one million protesters had gathered in Tiananmen Square. Images of the events were being transmitted by international media to audiences in the west.

4th June 1989 – The Chinese authorities decided to increase aggression on the protestors. At 1 a.m. on June 4, Chinese soldiers and police stormed Tiananmen Square. They fired live rounds into the crowd. Some protestors tried to escape while others fought back by pelting stones at the troops and setting military vehicles on fire. There are estimates that thousands of protestors were killed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and as many as 10,000 were arrested.

“We will also not forget about the young people who sacrificed themselves on Tiananmen Square on this day 32 years ago, and year after year, friends in Hong Kong who always mourn June 4 with candlelight.”WANG DAN, ONE OF THE STUDENT LEADERS AT THE 1989 TIANANMEN SQUARE PROTESTS,

Timeline: What Led to the Tiananmen Square Massacre

Row of pro-democracy protestors with flag bearing Chinese characters (seen from back) sitting opposite row of soldiers guarding Zhongnanhai, Beijing seat of power. (Photo by Forrest Anderson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

The spring of 1989 saw the largest pro-democracy demonstration in the history of China’s communist regime. The following timeline tracks how the protests began in April among university students in Beijing, spread across the nation, and ended on June 4 with a final deadly assault by an estimated force of 300,000 soldiers from People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Throughout these weeks, China’s top leaders were deeply divided over how to handle the unrest, with one faction advocating peaceful negotiation and another demanding a crackdown.

April 17, 1989 Tens of thousands of university students begin gathering spontaneously in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, the nation’s symbolic central space. They come to mourn the death of Hu Yoabang, former General Secretary of the Communist Party. Hu had been a symbol to them of anti-corruption and political reform. In his name, the students call for press freedom and other reforms.

April 18–21 Demonstrations escalate in Beijing and spread to other cities and universities. Workers and officials join in with complaints about inflation, salaries and housing. Party leaders fear the demonstrations might lead to chaos and rebellion. One group, lead by Premier Li Peng, second-ranking in the Party hierarchy, suspects “black hands” of “bourgeois liberal elements” are working behind the scenes to undermine the government. A minority faction, led by Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, believes that “the student mainstream is good” and that their patriotism should be affirmed, “although any inappropriate methods of action should be pointed out to them.”

Li argues that the protests should be “nipped in the bud” however, Zhao convinces them to wait, stating, “Our main task right now is to be sure the memorial service for Comrade Yaobang goes off smoothly.”

April 22 More than 100,000 university students assemble outside the Great Hall of the People, where Hu’s memorial service is being held. Three students carry a petition of demands up the steps of the Great Hall and insist on meeting Li Peng he does not respond. Over the next days, the students boycott classes and organize into unofficial student unions — an illegal act in China.

April 25 With Zhao Ziyang on a state visit to North Korea, Li Peng calls a meeting of the Politburo, a meeting dominated by Party members antagonistic to the students. They convince Party elder Deng Xiaoping, the de facto head of state, that the students aim to overthrow him and the Communist Party. Deng decides the Party has thus far been “tolerant and restrained,” but the time has come for action. “We must explain to the whole Party and nation that we are facing a most serious political struggle. … We’ve got to be explicit and clear in opposing this turmoil.”

April 26 “The Necessity for a Clear Stand Against Turmoil,” (read the full translation) appears in the state-run newspaper, the People’s Daily. This editorial closely follows the opinions expressed by Deng at the meeting the day before. “This is a well-planned plot … to confuse the people and throw the country into turmoil,” it reads. “… Its real aim is to reject the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system at the most fundamental level.”

April 27 The editorial sets off more demonstrations in other cities. In Tiananmen Square the ranks of protestors now include a cross-section of society. “In Beijing one in 10 of the population was joining in … all of the old people, all the little children, so it was massive,” explains Jan Wong, a foreign journalist in Beijing at the time. “You had doctors and nurses and scientists and army people demonstrating. The Chinese navy was demonstrating, and I thought, ‘This is extraordinary because who’s left? It’s just the top leaders who aren’t out there.'”

April 29–May 3 Party leaders are aware of the growing foreign press coverage of the demonstrations, but remain split over how to stop the protests and get the students to return to classes. Zhao Ziyang’s camp advocates negotiation and stresses the government should address legitimate complaints, such as the need for political reform. Li Peng and his allies argue that social stability must be restored before any reforms can be considered.

May 4 Tens of thousands of students march into Tiananmen Square to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1919 “May Fourth Movement,” which also took place in the square. They pledge to return to classes the next day but intend to keep pressing for reforms.

Zhao Ziyang, in a speech to foreign bankers, expresses support for the students’ “patriotism” and essentially contradicts the government’s April 26 editorial. This angers senior Party members.

May 5–12 Many students return to classes, and the movement is in flux and lacks clear leadership. Certain factions plan more demonstrations and a hunger strike. Meanwhile, tensions escalate within the Party as they prepare for Soviet Party Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev’s historic visit to Beijing.

Deng Xiaoping wants to settle things peacefully, but insists the students must be out of the square before Gorbachev arrives. Zhao, unable to convince the students to call off the demonstrations, begins to lose favor with the senior Party members.

May 13 Anticipating Soviet Party Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit, about 160 students begin a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square, citing the government’s failure to respond to their requests for dialogue. One of the printed manifestos reads: “The nation is in crisis — beset by rampant inflation, illegal dealing by profiteering officials, abuses of power, corrupt bureaucrats, the flight of good people to other countries and deterioration of law and order. Compatriots, fellow countrymen who cherish morality, please hear our voices!”

Their hunger strike draws broad public support many important intellectuals pledge their help. “There’s such a feeling in China about food because of the thousands of years of famines that they’ve had,” explains Jan Wong. “… So when the students went on their hunger strike, it really moved people to tears.”

May 15 Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in Beijing for the first Sino-Soviet summit since 1959, but the hunger strike forces the government to cancel plans to welcome him in Tiananmen Square. His escort is blocked by protestors on nearly every street in Beijing. “[F]or the Chinese government, [this was] a big loss of face, very scary,” says Jan Wong. “… They were aware of what was happening in the Soviet Union — and so were the Chinese people — that the Communist Party in the Soviet Union was more or less imploding. [The Party leaders] were very frightened in China.”

May 16 More than 3,000 people are now participating in the hunger strike. The embarrassing protests during Gorbachev’s visit further polarizes the Politburo. During an emergency meeting, Zhao maintains that the way to end the strike is for the government to retract its April 26 editorial, accept the students’ demand for dialogue and begin reforms.

“[T]he vast majority of student demonstrators are patriotic and sincerely concerned for our country. We may not approve of all of their methods, but their demand to promote democracy, to deepen the reforms and to root out corruption are quite reasonable,” says Zhao.

Li Peng insists the government cannot capitulate: “It’s more and more clear that a tiny minority is trying to use the turmoil to reach its political goal, which is repudiation of Communist Party leadership and the socialist system.” Li says. “Their goals are to topple the Chinese Communist Party … to completely repudiate the people’s democratic dictatorship.”

May 17 When the case is put to Deng Xiaoping, he decides against Zhao’s recommendations and proposes instituting martial law to end the hunger strike. “The aim … will be to suppress the turmoil once and for all and to return things quickly to normal,” he is reported to have said. “This is the unshirkable duty of the Party and the government.” Zhao expresses his problems with this position but concedes: “I will submit to Party discipline the minority does yield to the majority.”

May 18 Zhao Ziyang visits hospitalized hunger strikers and tries to convince them to call off their fast. Afterward, he is reported to have drafted a letter of resignation to the Politburo, but it is never sent. Li Peng holds a televised meeting with student leaders in the Great Hall of the People. It ends without any progress.

That evening a meeting of Party elders and Politburo members, including Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng, approves the declaration of martial law. Zhao Ziyang does not attend.

May 19 Student leaders learn of the plan to declare martial law and call off their hunger strike. Instead, they stage a mass sit-in in Tiananmen Square that draws about 1.2 million supporters, including members of the police and military and industrial workers. Zhao Ziyang appears in Tiananmen Square in a final, unsuccessful effort to appeal for compromise. It is his last public appearance. He is soon removed from office and replaced by Jiang Zemin.

That evening, Li Peng appears on state television to declare martial law. “We must adopt firm and resolute measures to end the turmoil swiftly, to maintain the leadership of the party as well as the socialist system.” (Read a translation of his speech.)

May 20 For the first time in 40 years of Communist rule, the PLA troops attempt to occupy Beijing. A huge number of civilian protestors block their convoys on the streets. Beijingers begin a dialogue with the soldiers, trying to explain to them why they shouldn’t be there. “You had these … touching moments of the people appealing to the army to join them, and feeding them, and giving them water, and saying, you know, ‘Could be your son. Could be your daughter,'” says Orville Schell, who was in Beijing at the time. “And [you have] these sort of doe-eyed, puzzled soldiers, who were mostly country people, weren’t experienced with big city life, just wondering what was going on here. And not wanting to hurt anybody.”

The soldiers have been ordered not to fire on civilians, even if provoked. They are stuck — unable to reach the protestors in Tiananmen Square and unable to withdraw from the city — for almost three days.

May 24 The troops finally are able to leave, but the government views the whole episode as another humiliation and challenge to its power. “The party leaders feared that the whole edifice of communism was going to collapse,” says journalist John Pomfret. “They needed to make a stand, and a bloody stand, to show their population, and in effect, to cow their population, back into submission.”

May 25–June 1 Over the next week, the demonstrations continue, and Beijing operates with no real police presence and with a virtually free press. In Tiananmen Square, the atmosphere is jubilant, but at government headquarters, Deng Xiaoping is devising a new offensive to end the protest. Armed troops will be sent in from every military district in the country.

“I think the leaders felt that they had been thwarted in the most obvious and humiliating manner,”says Orville Schell. “[A]nd the second time around they brought in troops from far away who didn’t have connections to Beijing, whose kids weren’t in the square. And they decided they would brook no obstacle.”

June 2 The Party elders approve the decision to put down the “counterrevolutionary riot” and clear the square with military force. Most hope it can be done without casualties. Unaware of what was about to happen, Hou Dejian, a Chinese rock star, and three prominent intellectuals start a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square. Demonstrators continue their sit-in and their calls for democratic reforms.

June 3 As word spreads that hundreds of thousands of troops are approaching from all four corners of the city, Beijingers flood the streets to block them, as they had done two weeks earlier. People set up barricades at every major interstion. At about 10:30 p.m., near the Muxidi apartment buildings — home to high-level Party officials and their families — the citizens become aggressive as the army tries to break through their barricades. They yell at the soldiers and some throw rocks someone sets a bus on fire. The soldiers start firing on the unarmed civilians with AK-47s loaded with battlefield ammunition.

“The first rounds of fire catch everybody by surprise,” recalls human rights observer Timothy Brook. “The people in the streets don’t expect this to happen.” The wounded are taken to nearby hospitals on bicycles and pull-carts, but the hospital staff are unequipped to deal with the severe wounds. Muxidi sees the highest casualties of the night an untold number of people are killed.

June 4 At about 1:00 a.m., the People’s Liberation Army finally reaches Tiananmen Square and waits for orders from the government. The soldiers have been told not to open fire, but they have also been told that they must clear the square by 6:00 a.m. — with no exceptions or delays. They make a final offer of amnesty if the few thousand remaining students will leave. About 4:00 a.m., student leaders put the matter to a vote: Leave the square, or stay and face the consequences. “It was clear to me that they stay votes were much, much, much stronger,” recalls eyewitness John Pomfret, who was near the students. “But Feng Congde, who was a student leader at the time, said, ‘The go’s have it.'” The students vacate the square under the gaze of thousands of soldiers.

Later that morning, some people — believed to be the parents of the student protestors — try to re-enter Tiananmen Square via Chang’an Boulevard. The soldiers order them to leave, and when they don’t, open fire, taking down dozens of people at a time. According to eyewitness accounts, the citizens seem not to believe the army is firing on them with real ammunition.

“[A]fter a little while, like 40 minutes, people would gather up their nerve again and would crawl back to the corner and start screaming at the soldiers, and then the commander would eventually give another signal … and they’d shoot more in the backs,” remembers journalist Jan Wong, who watched it all from her hotel room above the boulevard. “And this went on more than half a dozen times in the day.” When rescue workers try to approach the street to remove the wounded, they, too, are shot.

No one knows for certain how many people died over the two days. The Chinese Red Cross initially reported 2,600, then quickly retracted that figure under intense pressure from the government. The official Chinese government figure is 241 dead, including soldiers, and 7,000 wounded.

June 5 By the morning of June 5, the army is in complete control of Beijing. But when all protest in the city seems silenced, the world witnessed one final act of defiance.

About midday, as a column of tanks slowly moves along Chang’an Boulevard toward Tiananmen Square, an unarmed young man carrying shopping bags suddenly steps out in front of the tanks. Instead of running over him, the first tank tries to go around, but the young man steps in front of it again. They repeat this maneuver several more times before the tank stops and turns off its motor. The young man climbs on top of the tank and speaks to the driver before jumping back down again. Soon, the young man is whisked to the side of the road by an unidentified group of people and disappears into the crowd.

30 Years After Tiananmen Protests, 'The Fight Is Still Going On For China'

Protesters wave flags on Beijing's Tiananmen Square in the weeks leading up to the violent crackdowns on June 4. These photos were donated to Humanitarian China by the photographer, Jian Liu, then one of the student protesters. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

Protesters wave flags on Beijing's Tiananmen Square in the weeks leading up to the violent crackdowns on June 4. These photos were donated to Humanitarian China by the photographer, Jian Liu, then one of the student protesters.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

Zhou Fengsuo was a top university student when the first protests broke out in the heart of the ancient imperial city of Beijing, set off by the death of reformist leader Hu Yaobang in April 1989.

But he threw caution to the wind as students marched to Tiananmen Square before Hu's funeral. Tens of thousands of students like him from across the country, professors, blue-collar workers and passersby joined in the following months. Often dubbed the "student democracy protests," those who assembled in Beijing and elsewhere across China didn't just want democratic reform. Among other things, they demanded labor bargaining for workers, a free press and an end to party corruption.

Students stand face to face with police. Tens of thousands of students from across the country, as well as professors, blue-collar workers and passersby, joined the protests. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

Students stand face to face with police. Tens of thousands of students from across the country, as well as professors, blue-collar workers and passersby, joined the protests.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

But by May, officials who were sympathetic to the student protesters lost out to factions led by Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who ordered that the demonstrations be put down. On the night of June 4, tanks rolled in to the square and began shooting. Violent crackdowns in other Chinese cities followed in the next few days. No authoritative death toll exists, but historians estimate it to be in the hundreds to as high as 10,000.

Over the past three decades, the ruling Communist Party has systematically attempted to erase the memory of Tiananmen through a combination of high- and low-tech methods: extensive online censorship, and brute intimidation of dissidents and victims' families.

Top: Events planned by the student union of Peking University to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement of 1919. Bottom: A portrait of former Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. The first protests broke out in the heart of the ancient imperial city of Beijing, set off by Hu's death in April 1989. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

Top: Events planned by the student union of Peking University to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement of 1919. Bottom: A portrait of former Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. The first protests broke out in the heart of the ancient imperial city of Beijing, set off by Hu's death in April 1989.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

Survivors of Tiananmen are doing their best to fight this political amnesia.

This month, the images on this page are finally being shared with the public for the first time, according to Zhou. They were donated to Zhou's advocacy organization, Humanitarian China, by Jian Liu, 50, who took the photos and was one of the student protesters in Tiananmen. He now lives in California.

The photos evoke a path not taken — an alternate reality in which the spontaneous gatherings and freewheeling, open-air political debates captured in them that spring were still possible today.


'Bearing Witness Is Really All We Have': Memories Of Covering The Tiananmen Aftermath

Instead, several waves of political tightening have only further restricted China's civil society. Zhou, 51, interviewed here recently before the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, is a rare activist who has been both lucky and stubborn enough to continue his work since then. After serving jail time and hard labor in China, he moved to the United States in 1995.

How did you get involved in the 1989 protests?

I was very interested in pushing for democratic change in China, and I was able to organize a free election in 1988 of the student union. Even though it was only for the [physics] department, it demonstrated our desire and ability to self-govern.

Police in motion near Tiananmen Square. There had been a massive police and military presence in the previous weeks, but no armed crackdown on the demonstrators until June 4. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

Police in motion near Tiananmen Square. There had been a massive police and military presence in the previous weeks, but no armed crackdown on the demonstrators until June 4.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

Who took these pictures?

They were taken by Liu Jian, another [former student protester] who now lives in San Francisco. [The photographer has asked NPR to follow the name ordering Jian Liu.] He knew it was a historic picture, so he took pictures from the very beginning, starting with Hu Yaobang's death. There's actually a picture of me offering a wreath to Hu Yaobang on April 16.

Tell me a bit about your upbringing. What made you step up as a student leader in 1989?

The contradiction in me was that I was a really good student. I was No. 1 in all subjects. On the other hand, I grew up in a village in the suburbs of Xi'an [the capital city of the northeastern Shaanxi province]. That means I was part of the nongcun [countryside], the peasants. So we were second-class citizens. The desire to make my life better as well as transform society into a better one, a more just society, was an important one. That was there in me from very early on.

Top: Students climbed up to get a better view of Tiananmen Square. Bottom: Professors support hunger strikers. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

Top: Students climbed up to get a better view of Tiananmen Square. Bottom: Professors support hunger strikers.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

Was there a moment that changed your life?

April 21. There had been police brutality the day before, the 20th, and the next day, April 22, was the day of Hu Yaobang's memorial. A lot of students gathered at Tsinghua University on April 21. We were echoing the call to rally at Tiananmen Square for Hu Yaobang's memorial the next day. There were thousands of us gathered near the crossroads at No. 10 dining hall [on Tsinghua University's campus]. But there was no one to stand up.

I realized most people were just like me: We want to do something but on the other hand, we are also kind of afraid. We want other people to take the lead. So eventually out of my own duty, I took the lead.

One exhausted hunger striker is helped by others. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

One exhausted hunger striker is helped by others.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

What was the atmosphere at Tiananmen Square like during the protests?

It was very tense in the night because we were expecting police action. It was always rumored they might clear the square. And it was cold. We were hungry. We couldn't find a bathroom because there were just so many people. So we tried to encourage each other. We tried to stay awake by singing the national anthem because we believed we were patriotic. The top two popular songs that we were singing were The Internationale and the national anthem. That kept us going until the morning.

We tried to stay awake by singing the national anthem because we believed we were patriotic.

In the meantime, it was just so hectic. On the spot, people who never knew each other were able to form some consensus. For example, we proposed a petition with seven demands. The most important were press freedom and the disclosure of the assets of government officials.

When I came back from the square, I realized I had trouble hearing people simply because we were chanting so loudly during the protests.

Some protesting students vowed never to withdraw from Tiananmen Square even after martial law was declared in May 1989. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

Some protesting students vowed never to withdraw from Tiananmen Square even after martial law was declared in May 1989.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

Where were you the night of June 4, when they cleared the square?

I was in Tiananmen Square at the Monument to the People's Heroes. . It was like a war zone. The whole night. We were like at the eye of the storm. We heard gunshots from all directions . and I saw armored vehicles rushing on the square, troops pouring in. We were surrounded.

I actually tried to give a speech to the troops, but they threatened to kill me.

I actually tried to give a speech to the troops, but they threatened to kill me. I was trying to appeal to their human side. I was asking this question, "Why do you work for Beijing in such a fashion, killing people? Do you have family?" I just couldn't understand why they would do that. It was a peaceful protest in Beijing. We had overwhelming support.

After I left Tiananmen Square, I went to Fuxin Hospital, where I saw about 40 bodies on the ground in a bicycle shed. Apparently, the hospital was overflowing with the dead [and] the injured so that they are just putting people's bodies on the ground outside.

A group of motorcyclists known as the Flying Tigers rides in support of the students on May 30, 1989. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

A group of motorcyclists known as the Flying Tigers rides in support of the students on May 30, 1989.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

Where did you go after June 4?

I went back home in Xi'an. I tried to organize some protest on the local university campus. We used the students' amateur radio station to broadcast, and we also had a meeting with local school authorities to ask for protection. Eventually it became obvious that whoever was associated with us would all be in danger. About 10 days later I saw my name on the most-wanted list broadcasted on national television.

The police eventually found me and came with my sister and brother in law. They claimed that my sister and brother had reported me, but it was actually by accident. They had been trying to help me, but because they lived in a military complex, my situation inadvertently became known [to the authorities].

A professor speaking on a megaphone to students on hunger strike. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

A professor speaking on a megaphone to students on hunger strike.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

What do you think the legacy of Tiananmen is today?

China today, politically, is a result of the Tiananmen massacre. Once they use their own troops to kill Chinese people, there's no stopping. There's no limit to their human rights abuses in particular today, because their totalitarianism is aided by technology and globalization.

China today, politically, is a result of the Tiananmen massacre.

Over the past 30 years there has been so much done to erase the memory. On the other hand, every year people risk a lot to commemorate Tiananmen. For example, Pastor Wang Yi at the Early Rain church in Chengdu [in southwestern China's Sichuan province] insisted on openly commemorating Tiananmen every year. He was arrested with his wife last December. Nobody has seen him since.

But most importantly, the legacy of Tiananmen shows how Chinese people love freedom and they want democracy. They were willing to sacrifice for it, even during and after the massacre.

So I think the fight is still going on for China even though it's very difficult for people like us who are still trying to keep the memory alive because the younger generation, the college students today, they have pretty much grown up completely under the shadow of the great firewall.

A crowd gathers to view the unveiling of the Goddess of Democracy statue, built by the protesters, on Tiananmen Square at the end of May 1989. The statue was destroyed less than a week later as the violent crackdowns began. Jian Liu/Humanitarian China hide caption

A crowd gathers to view the unveiling of the Goddess of Democracy statue, built by the protesters, on Tiananmen Square at the end of May 1989. The statue was destroyed less than a week later as the violent crackdowns began.

Jian Liu/Humanitarian China

But you also see the legacy of Tiananmen being expressed in other examples of activism and democratic advocacy after 1989, don't you?

Right. For example, the [2014 Hong Kong] Umbrella Revolution. I was there for a week on the street camping with the students. I was so touched. It was like the reincarnation of the Tiananmen protests.

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And for China, the generation of the protesters and the people who were influenced by Tiananmen have been the backbone of the civil society movement ever since. The Democratic Party [of China] in 1998 and later the Rights Defender movement. A lot of them were inspired by the Tiananmen movement — including the 709 lawyers, Xu Zhiyong, Liu Xiaobo and the Christian house church movement.

What motivates you after 30 years of activism?

First of all, I am a survivor. So many people died for such a great hope, for a better China. I have to carry on. It's mostly lonely work. Most of the people [like me] are living in isolation. But on the other hand, over these years, I was able to know of so many amazing stories of these people. It's like you're walking through the dark. You don't know where the light is. But all of a sudden you see someone else who was struggling and was carrying on the same ideals as you.

Massacre at Huế

) is the name given to the summary executions and mass killings perpetrated by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army during their capture, occupation and later withdrawal from the city of Huế during the Tet Offensive, considered one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. During the months and years that followed the Battle of Huế, which began on January 31, 1968, and lasted a total of 28 days, dozens of mass graves were discovered in and around Huế. Victims included women, men, children, and infants. Ώ] The estimated death toll was between 2,800 to 6,000 civilians and prisoners of war. ΐ] Victims were found bound, tortured, and sometimes apparently buried alive. Α] Β] Γ]

A number of U.S. and South Vietnamese authorities as well a number of journalists who investigated the events took the discoveries, along with other evidence, as proof that a large-scale atrocity]] had been carried out in and around Huế during its four-week occupation. The killings were perceived as part of a large-scale purge of a whole social stratum, including anyone friendly to American forces in the region. [[File:Hue Massacre Interment.jpg|thumb|Burial of 300 unidentified victims

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