Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ratko Mladic: the force behind the Srebrenica, Bosnia killings

Ratko Mladic: The Force Behind the Srebrenica Killings

The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.
BIRN team produced by birn originally...
The name of Ratko Mladic, former commander of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, is mentioned in many verdicts passed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He is most often mentioned as “the key initiator of the killings” in Srebrenica in July 1995 and as a participant in the “preparation” for the joint criminal enterprise.
His official biography indicates that he was appointed as commander of the VRS Headquarters on May 12, 1992. As alleged in the verdict against Momcilo Krajisnik, he participated in a joint criminal enterprise with an aim of “permanently eliminating” Bosniaks and Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina, “by using force or other means”.

By a second-instance verdict the Tribunal sentenced Krajisnik, a member of the mentioned joint criminal enterprise, the wartime president of the Republika Srpska Assembly, to 20 years’ imprisonment for his role.

The verdict against Krajisnik noted that in June 1992 the VRS mustered 177,341 soldiers, divided into five different corps and a few units, which were not attached to those corps.

It said that all these units were under “Mladic’s command” and that Mladic regularly attended the Republika Srpska Assembly sessions, at which “the strategic situation and further plans” were discussed, among other issues.

A second-instance verdict, pronounced by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the case of Zdravko Bozic, Mladen Blagojevic, Zeljko Zaric and Zoran Zivanovic, former members of the Military Police Unit with the VRS Light Infantry Brigade in Bratunac, concluded that Mladic directly participated in planning the attack on Srebrenica.

This verdict pronounced Blagojevic guilty and sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment. The three other indictees were acquitted of all charges. 

The verdict stated that, in March 1995 the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, issued a directive to the VRS, urging it to complete the physical separation of Srebrenica from the enclave of Zepa, making life more difficult for the besieged residents of Srebrenica.

Karadzic, the first president of Republika Srpska and supreme commander of its armed forces, is on trial at The Hague, where he is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and practices of warfare. He was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008.

In the course of the same month, March 1995 the VRS Headquarters issued another directive, signed by Mladic, ordering the Drina Corps to undertake “active military operations … around the [Bosniak] enclaves”.

A second-instance verdict, pronounced by the State Court against seven former members of the Second Special Police Squad from Sekovici and VRS, sentencing them to a total of 181 years’ imprisonment, describes further preparations for the attack on Srebrenica.

It alleged that on July 2, 1995, Milenko Zivanovic, then commander of the Drina Corps, ordered an attack on Srebrenica, which had been already designated a UN protected zone. The military operation was named “Krivaja 95”.

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 819, declaring Srebrenica, Gorazde and Zepa protected zones on April 16, 1993. As a result, they were not to be exposed to any military operations.

The military operations against Srebrenica began on July 6, 1995 and began with the shelling of the town.

On July 9, 1995 the Drina Corps received a new order from Karadzic, giving “a green light for the occupation of Srebrenica town”. The order was executed on July 11.

Accompanied by Zivanovic, Radislav Krstic, former chief of headquarters of the Drina Corps, who was sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment for crimes committed in Srebrenica, and other VRS officers, Mladic “took a triumphal walk along the empty Srebrenica streets” on July 11, 1995.

The verdict against Krstic described Mladic as “a powerful figure” and as a “key initiator of the killing” committed in Srebrenica in July 1995.

Drazen Erdemovic, a former member of the Tenth VRS Reconnaissance Squad, who was sentenced by the ICTY to five years’ imprisonment after he admitted taking part in the shooting of Srebrenica residents at Pilica agricultural farm, near Zvornik on July 16, 1995, claimed he saw Mladic in Srebrenica.

A few indictments and verdicts pertaining to the genocide in Srebrenica note that after the seizure of Srebrenica, the VRS and Republika Srpska interior ministry designed and implemented a plan to execute several thousand males, men and boys, killed “deliberately and methodically”, solely on the basis of their ethnicity.

In response to the Bosnian Serb shelling, about 25,000 women, children and elderly people at first sought shelter in the UN Dutch Battalion base, in Potocari.

According to the second-instance verdict against the seven people sentenced for genocide, about 15,000 other Bosniaks, soldiers and civilians, headed towards Tuzla through the woods, seeking to escape.

The verdict further stated that Mladic, Krstic and other representatives of the Serbian military and civil authorities met the UN force in Bosnia, UNPROFOR and representatives of the Bosniaks sheltering in Potocari on July 11 and 12, 1995.

On that occasion, Mladic told them that he would oversee  the evacuation of the refugees from Potocari, while adding that all men, aged between 16 and 60, would be checked in order to determine whether there were any “war criminals” among them.

As mentioned in the verdict against Krstic, at this meeting Mladic insisted the Bosnian Serb actions were not targeted against civilians, calling on UNPROFOR to provide buses for their transportation. 

Mladic, Krstic and other officers were present in front of the UN Military Base in Potocari on July 12, 1995, when between 50 and 60 buses and trucks arrived. Those buses and trucks were used to transport women, children and the elderly.

The ICTY verdict against Vidoje Blagojevic, commander of the VRS Bratunac Brigade, and Dragan Jokic, chief of the Engineering Unit with the VRS Zvornik Brigade VRS, mentions that, on Mladic’s orders, the Republika Srpska interior ministry, MUP, “played the leading role in transporting refugees from Potocari”.

It further alleges that he Mladic was present at that location, alongside other high-ranking officers.

The ICTY sentenced Blagojevic and Jokic to 15 and nine years’ imprisonment respectively for crimes committed in the Srebrenica area during July 1995.

Members of the VRS and MUP then separated men, women and children in Potocari, near the UN Base, on July 12 and 13.

At a meeting held in Bratunac, Mladic tried to reach an agreement concerning the surrender of members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Srebrenica. As the agreement was not reached, VRS and MUP forces were ordered to block the departing convoy of refugees from Potocari.  

Between 5,000 and 6,000 Bosniaks, mostly men, were meanwhile either captured by, or surrendered to, VRS and MUP forces in the area of Kravica, Sandici, Konjevic polje and Milici on July 13, 1995. Some of these were taken to Kravica Agricultural Cooperative and shot on July 13.

The first genocide verdict, pronounced in Sarajevo in summer 2008, says Mladic came to the meadow in Sandici and the Agricultural Cooperative, and addressed the prisoners.

As stated in the verdict against Dragan Obrenovic, former chief of headquarters and deputy commander of the First Zvornik Infantry Brigade with the Drina Corps, Mladic gave an order for some of the men captured fleeing from Srebrenica to be taken to Zvornik and shot. The order was executed on July 13, 1995.

After he admitted taking part in the crime committed in Srebrenica, the ICTY sentenced Obrenovic to 17 years’ imprisonment.

The men who had been separated from the rest of the convoy in Potocari, and others, who had been captured at other locations, were held in detention for some time prior to being executed.

Following the execution of the men at various locations and their immediate burial in mass graves, their bodies were exhumed and reburied at other locations as per Mladic’s orders.

As per its previous practice, the Prosecution might propose acceptance of these previously determined facts.

Timeline: War in Bosnia

Key Dates and Events in the Bosnia war.
For the first time after the Second World War, multy-party elections are held in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Polls are won by the ethnic-based parties. The mainly Bosniak Stranka Demokratske Akcije, SDA, wins 86 seats in the assembly. The Srpska Demokratka Stranka, SDS, wins 72 and the Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica, HDZ, wins 44. Parties agree to share power along ethnic lines, so that the president of the presidency is a Bosniak, the president of parliament a Serb and the prime minister a Croat.

June 1991:
Slovenia and Croatia declare independence. The nexy day, the Yugoslav People's Army, JNA, engages in armed conflict in Slovenia. War spreads to Croatia.

Autumn 1991:
On September 25, UN Security Council passes resolution 713 imposing an arms embargo on all of former Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina organizes referendum on independence. The JNA begins to withdraw from Croatia toward Bosnia. Working with JNA, the SDS in Bosnia starts arming Bosnian Serb population.

October 1991:
Bosnian Serb Assembly, dominated by SDS, is founded and proclaimed supreme legislative organ of the Serbs in Bosnia.

October 13, 1991:
SDS leader Radovan Karadzic says: “In just a couple of days, Sarajevo will be gone and there will be 500,000 dead’ in one month the Muslims will be annihilated in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

November 1991:
Bosnian Serb assembly endorses proclamation of “Serbian autonomous districts” in Bosnia

January 1992:
Bosnian Serb assembly proclaims Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, later called Republika Srpska

February 1992:
Bosnian Serb assembly urges Serbs to boycott independence referendum on February 29 and March 1, 1992. Turnout is 67 per cent of whom 99.43 per cent favour independence.
Independence declared on March 5, 1992. Bosnian Serb political leadership starts roadblocks in protest.
Constitution of Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina declares in Article 2 that its territory consists of “Serbian autonomous regions, municipalities and other Serbian ethnic entities, including the regions in which genocide was committed against the Serb population in World War Two.”

March 1992:
Serbian forces attack parts of northern Bosnia.

April 1992:
Bosnia and Herzegovina internationally recognized as independent state. The 44-month siege of Sarajevo starts. Bridges connecting Bosnia to Croatia at Brcko and Bosanski Samac are destroyed.

May 1992:
Radovan Karadzic outlines “six strategic objectives” of Serbs in Bosnia: establishing state borders separating the Serbian people from the other ethnic communities: establishing corridor between Semberija and Krajina: establishing corridor to the Drina River valley: establishing border on Una and Neretva rivers: dividing Sarajevo into Serbian and Muslim parts: ensuring access to sea for Republika Srpska. Bosnian Serb assembly votes to create Army of Republika Srpska, VRS, and appoints Ratko Mladic commander.

Conflict starts in eastern and northern Bosnia, in Foca, Gorazde, Prijedor, Bijeljina, Visegrad and elsewhere.

JNA stages partial withdrawal from Bosnia.  Massacre occurs in Sarajevo among people waiting for bread line.

Summer 1992:
International media reports on “ethnic cleansing”, death camps, mass rapes. In June, government in Sarajevo declares state of war and begins general mobilization. Sarajevo airlift begins. Bosnian Serbs seize 70 per cent of territory. Hundreds of thousands forced from their homes and large portions of Bosnia “cleansed” of all non-Serbs.

May – August, 1992:
Camps in north-west Prijedor area established by Serb authorities where more then 7,000 non-Serbs are detained, tortured or killed.  The biggest, at Omarska, is later classified by Human Rights Watch as a concentration camp.

January 1993:
Cyrus Vance of US and David Owen of UK put forward peace plan. Under pressure from Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, Karadzic signs plan, but after Bosnian Serb assembly votes against, he withdraws assent.

February 1993: 
UN votes to set up war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia to try “persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991”.

March 1993:
Fighting erupts between Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in western and central Bosnia.
July 1993:
Owen-Stoltenberg peace plan offered. Bosniak leader Alija Iyetbegovic turns it down in August.
September 1993:
Fighting begins in Bihac region, in northwest Bosnia, between Bosnian government forces and break-away Bosniaks loyal to Fikret Abdic, leader of self-proclaimed Autonomous Region of Western Bosnia. He is sentenced in 2005 to 15 years’ imprisonment in Croatia. Conflict lasts until August 1995.
February 1994:
Bosnia Serb shelling of Sarajevo marketplace kills 67. NATO rules that heavy weapons must be removed from 20-mile exclusion zone around Sarajevo or turned over to UN control. NATO downs four Serbian planes in Bosnian no-fly zone.

March 1994:
US-mediated peace treaty between Bosniaks and Croats signed in Washington.

April 1994:
NATO bombs Serb positions as Serb forces advances on UN proclaimed “safe haven” of Gorazde, eastern Bosnia.

May 1995:
Shelling at Tuzla kills 70 and wounds more than 150.

July 1995:
Serbs overrun UN “safe haven” of Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, killing more than 7,500 men and boys in worst single atrocity to take place in Europe since end of Second World War.

August 1995:
Serb shelling of market hall in Sarajevo kills 43 and wounds many.
Croatia overruns Croat Serb republic and takes Knin. Joint Croat-Bosniak offensive pushes Serbs out of much territory in western Bosnia. Corridor opened up to Bihac. Belgrade orders Bosnian Serbs to agree to end the war.

November/December 1995: 
Dayton peace accord marks end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May the victims of Mladic finally rest in peace knowing he is no longer free

There is no doubt to the guilt of Ratko Mladic, there are convictions of subordinates who have testified to his involvement, audio tapes, video tapes, written orders and documents and Mladic's own words that will prove to be a mountain of evidence against him. The best news is this brutal man who murdered innocents without mercy on a scale not seen in Europe since WW2 will never see another free day for the rest of his life...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ratko Mladic caught but what does it change in Sarajevo, Bosnia and the Balkans?

Ratko Mladic is finally caught, 16 years after the end of the Bosnian war but his story is far from over. As we have seen time and time again at the Hague tribunal everything will be done to slow down justice, obscure facts in the case, prove that he is too weak to stand trial and endless delays to review evidence. This is a far cry from the Justice a brutal commander of a genocidal army deserves.
Ratko Mladic was a military opportunist, his chance to rise to fame began during the war in Croatia in 1991 when he attacked the lightly armed village of Kijevo, razing it to the ground even though it was only defended by a lightly armed police force. He was much less successful when facing a lightly armed but very determined HV during operation Coastline 1991, when the JNA tried to sever the Dalmatian coast from Croatian proper.
He then moved on to the bigger prize, the chance to attack his home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina were he showed no mercy and more brutality than the world could have imagined. Ratko Mladic's own daughter Ana took her own life, soon after returning to Belgrade from a trip abroad in 1994. She was unable to bear the truth of the brutal crimes her father committed, when exposed for the first time to independent media outside of Serbia, the truth of what kind of a man her father was.
Ratko Mladic is often called a brilliant commander by the media, he was highly decorated and regarded by the JNA. The truth is he had the backing of the fourth largest army in Europe and faced off against a civilian defense force in BiH at the beginning of the war and yet he was foiled in his attempts at overrunning the Bosnian defense forces. He had a large professional officer corps,a large amount of money, material, logistics and weapons superiority. What the Bosnians had in their defense was the motivation to fight at all costs, driven by the brutality of their enemies. A report produced by the CIA after the war disputed the claim that Mladic was a great military commander, pointing out the fact that he couldn't defeat a lightly armed opponent who enjoyed none of the advantages the Serbian VRS/JNA army did. He employed mostly outdated siege tactics preferred by the Soviet bloc armies as opposed to direct combat operations.
The psychological pressures put upon the Bosnian civilian's during the war were unimaginable for the world to understand. The idea that you would snipe children walking with parents, shell a playground or soccer pitch is unimaginable. Shelling breadlines, markets and water queues were not an unusual sight in Bosnia during the war. Not even mentioning the sniper campaign, ethnic cleansing of towns and villages, mass rapes, genocide and unspeakable acts perpetrated upon the Bosnian citizens. Adding insult to injury, death and massacres was the constant claims that Bosnians were either making it up or were doing it to themselves.
The arrest and future trial of Mladic will serve as a piece of justice for the victims and survivors. It will not however, serve to change the climate in Bosnia and Serbia. Serbia and the RS still harbor the same ambitions more or less than Karadzic, Mladic and Milosevic. Serbia inspires RS to push for defacto Independence and Dodik has positioned himself as the mini-Putin of BiH. A man who will do anything to retain and strengthen his power base, which is based upon ethnic division. The same people that led Bosnia to ruins are still in power, the war profiteers benefit from the Bosnian division and lack of government authority and rule of law. The same policy of division remains alive in the hearts and minds of politicians who rule based upon ethnic divisions and divide and conquer. The arrest of Mladic will not improve the economy, move Bosnia closer to Europe or push the country towards a unified, well run and organized country based upon the rule of law. Until the goals of the war time leaders of BiH are given up in exchange for economic prosperity, were the countries rulers are making decisions based on what will benefit of the citizens instead of it's rulers. Bosnia is a long way away from the hopes and dreams of me and so many other supporters...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25th remembrance day for the 71 children murdered in shelling of Tuzla Bosnia

One of the most horrible memories for me is the shelling of the square in Tuzla in 1995 when innocent lives of children and young adults were shattered forever. Tuzla remained the most plural and multi-ethnic city in Bosnia during the war, thanks in large part to it's citizens and it's mayor at the time who refused to use religious and ethnic rhetoric to divide the citizens of his city. Almost all Serbs and Croats remained in Tuzla during the war and many fought for their city.
The fact that the Cetnik fascists would find it acceptable to attack children and young adults gathered in the city center is appalling, young lovers strolling on a late night together were shattered and shredded to pieces. It was a horrible act of cruelty against love and togetherness.
The fact that all these young people were buried together in a park in the city is a warm reminder that love, even in death conquers hate.

Between May 25 and May 28, 1995 a number of artillery projectiles were fired at Tuzla from Army of Republika Srpska positions near the village of Panjik on Mount Ozren some 25 km west of Tuzla. On May 25, 1995 (Marshall Tito's birthday and Relay of Youth in former Yugoslavia) at 20:55 hours, a shrapnel shell fired by a 130mm towed artillery piece, detonated in the part of the city called Kapija. 71 people were killed and 240 were wounded.All of the victims were civilians and the majority were between the ages of 18-25.

Novak Đukić, a former Army of Republika Srpska officer was arrested in Banja Luka on November 7, 2007. At the time of the Tuzla massacre Đukić was the commander of the Tactical Group Ozren of the VRS. His trial began on March 11, 2008. On June 12, 2009, Đukić was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.

On May 25, 1995, as a journalist covering the war in Bosnia, I walked into the main hospital in the town of Tuzla in northern Bosnia.

I entered the building to the sounds of screaming and crying and total chaos. I recoiled, quickly stepping out of the way of a hospital orderly walking toward me in a shoe-deep river of blood in the lobby.

He was pushing a broomstick with a window-washing squeegee attached, redirecting the flow of blood to the outside of the front entrance, where it smacked the pavement like several litres of water tossed from a bucket.

The blood was flowing on the tile floor from several operating rooms, and from panic-filled hospital corridors.
Doctors and nurses worked feverishly to save the lives of more than 200 civilians, who had just been ripped apart by a Bosnian Serb artillery shell that exploded in front of a crowded outdoor café in the centre of town just before 9pm that evening.
Seventy-one people died that night. Most of them were between the ages of 18 and 25.

Young child
Later, I watched a technician at the morgue weeping as he piled the heads of some of the victims in a corner after identifying the ethnicity of each one - all teenage girls - as Croats, Muslims, and Serbs.
"They were all Bosnians," he said, tears streaming down his face. "Why were they killed?"

The youngest of the dead lying on the floor - the number 24 tagged around his tiny shoe - was a blonde two-year-old boy named Sandro Kalesic, his eyes still open in death, glancing upward.
His mouth was open, as if taking a breath.
He had been sitting on his father's lap at the café when the artillery shell exploded.
There was a tiny hole in his chest where a piece of shrapnel had penetrated his heart, killing him instantly.
All of the dead would be buried side by side in the town's idyllic youth park on a patch of ground that in the 14 years since the massacre has evolved into a well-cared-for war monument for those who died.
There are 71 marble covered graves bearing photos of each victim.
Visitors from around the country and the world pay homage to them each year when they visit Tuzla.
Daughter's confusion
I returned to visit the graves this year, as I do almost annually, with my Tuzla-born wife, and watched a curious six-year-old girl from the US - our daughter Emma - wander among the dead.
She meandered up and down the aisles of tombstones, looking at photographs of the victims. It was her first visit of any kind to such a place.
"What is this, Daddy?" she asked.
"All of these people died together a long time ago," I said.
She walked up to the tombstone of the youngest victim, two-year-old Sandro, and stared confusingly at his photo.
"He's just a little boy, Daddy," she said, looking at me for an explanation.
What could I tell my young daughter about the terrible events of the war in Bosnia?
"He died from a sickness," I said. "All of these people died from a sickness."
Killing fields
The Dayton peace accords, signed in 1995, stopped the flow of blood in Bosnia after the horror of thousands more who were slaughtered by the Bosnian Serb army in Srebrenica and other Bosnian Muslim towns along the river Drina.

Under Dayton, this land, these killing fields, ironically, were awarded to Bosnian Serbs as an independent political entity called Republika Srpska, which to this day remains divided in so many ways from its counterpart in the country, the Bosniak-Croat federation.

In more than a decade since Dayton was signed, few Bosnian Muslims [or Bosniaks] and other non-Serbs have managed to return to their pre-war homes in Srpska – only eight per cent of them.
The UN and human-rights groups have reported many obstacles for them in Republika Srpska.
These include discriminatory practises against minority returnees looking for jobs in public service and private employment, infringements of right to education in certain areas by maintaining segregated schools, and lack of uniform rules on pensions and health insurance.
Haris Silajdzic, the leading Bosniak politician, wants to abolish the two-entity system.
His counterpart in Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, threatens secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina if the Serb entity is not left free to operate as what amounts to its own undeclared independent state.
Many displaced Bosnian Muslims here say the peace agreement has turned out to be no more than the equivalent of packing and wrapping a gaping wound with gauze.
The country remains divided in so many ways. Hatred on both sides remains very close to the surface in everyday life.
Troubled future
"Many people here still have blood in their eyes," Nedim Berberovic, a Bosnian Muslim friend and former soldier here, told me.

He is certain more war is in Bosnia's future.

"It's not a question of if," he said. "It's a only a question of when."
As I stood at the monument for war dead at the youth park in Tuzla, I thought deeply about all the pain I had witnessed in the Bosnian war, and found myself worried about what lies ahead for this country.
I watched my daughter Emma.
She noticed flowers that had been placed on many of the graves of the 71 people who died here so many years ago.
She quietly walked over to a bed of white roses in a garden lining the monument.
She picked a flower and dropped its petals on young Sandro's grave.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I have collected the trio Sarajevo postcards since the war in BiH, including some similar postcards made by some less know art collectives in Sarajevo during the war. I put together them in a 20"x30" collage print, framed them and put them on my wall. They turned out better than I expected.
Sarajevo is known for it's artists and one of the most memorable aspects of the war in Bosnia was it's resistance by it's citizens, whether it was the trio art collective or the posters seen in the book "Evil doesn't live here" it added a unique character to the resistance.
The ironic symbolism seen in many of these postcards have stuck with me since I first saw them and carry a lot of weight and meaning for me.

* Bojan and Dada Hadzihalilovic make up the design group TRIO SARAJEVO. Formed in 1985, originally as a three-person design team comprised of graduates from the Sarajevo faculty of fine arts, TRIO were part of the particular Sarajevo generation which was raised on the punk culture and pop-art movements.
By the late-1980s TRIO had become one of the busiest and easily the most innovative design company in former Yugoslavia. Their first widely-acclaimed work was a redesign of the famous Beatles album cover 'Sargeant Pepper' for the rock group Plavi Orcestar (Blue Orchestra), which sold almost half a million copies. From there TRIO went on to create designs for a number of other bands, theatre companies and art and culture-based magazines.
In 1989 TRIO won a Saatchi & Saatchi award for their work at a TV and marketing festival in Slovenia, and subsequently spent three months working at Saatchi & Saatchi's Belgrade office.
* In April 1992 the Bosnian war began, and Sarajevo was besieged. Despite the obvious hardships of life in a city under siege for two and a half years, and although they had many opportunities to continue work outside Bosnia-Herzegovina, TRIO opted to remain in Sarajevo throughout the war.
Faced with a market suddenly reduced to a 3km wide stretch of a city under siege, TRIO have nonetheless continued to earn a living as commercial designers, receiving payment for their work in food, cigarettes and (occasionally) small amounts of money. During the war TRIO have managed to assemble a computerised design office put together from various components which were borrowed or begged from friends and colleagues in Sarajevo. When electricity is available, they work with Pagemaker 4.0, Coreldraw 5.0 and Photoshop. When it is not, they work by hand with their dwindling supply of tempera and inks.
* TRIO's "commercial" work during the war has included product design (packaging for cigarettes, etc.) and corporate image-making (they created the graphic identity for the national railway company of Bosnia-Herzegovina), but its mainstay has been in publishing. TRIO are responsible for the design and production of a wide range of newspapers and magazines in Sarajevo, including half a dozen regular titles.
* In addition to their regular work, TRIO have also invested a great deal of time putting together a collection of graphic art aimed at raising awareness of the plight of their city throughout Europe. The work which has made them famous in western capitals is based on a series of reworkings of well-known advertising and pop-art images, such as the logos for Speilberg's Jurassic Park, Coca-Cola, Absolut Vodka, Warhol's famous Campbell's Soup, and satirical adaptations of famous posters, such as Monroe's Some Like it Hot, Your Country Needs You, Wake Up America!, Munch's Scream, and many more.
This personal work has been written about in both the news and art press. Among English language publications which have covered the life and work of TRIO are: The Independent, The Guardian, Newsweek, The Scotsman, ArtPress, Creative Review.
*Text above reproduced from:http://www.wmin.ac.uk/media/sarajevo/trio_blurb.html

You can visit their website directly which includes their examples of the postcards...

Monday, May 23, 2011


Even though I didn't know Irma personally, only through friends and my connections to BiH, I find her loss to be sad and in away, a profound loss for the world and those who knew her. My connections to BiH started really through the war but became like glue in my soul through peace. It is really the amazing spirit that my Bosnian friends carry in their soul that built a bond that cannot be broken even when we shake off our mortal coils and pass from this life and onto the next. The pride, human spirit, love, laughter and insight brought through great tragedies has built the Bosnian spirit to were it is today. Irma, from what everyone has told me embodied this spirit of beauty, strength, love, passion and humor.
It seems it truly is the good that we lose too soon, there are so many others I could think of deserves a fate of a ill timed demise, more so than young, spirited Irma. The tragedy of surviving the war in BiH and the associated horrors and to be given a second chance here in the US to only meet such an untimely demise is tragic. The fact that it was a road that has taken a life of a Bosnian outside of BiH is tragic in a Shakespearean way, considering the terrible conditions of the roads in BiH. The sad truth of life is that accidents happen, sometimes for no reason. It doesn't tarnish or diminish the legacy or the love left by one Irma Sabanovic, her memory and spirit lives on in those who loved her and carry on her message and what meant most to this spirited Bosnian woman.
The saddest part for me is for Irma's family and Irma's father who risked everything and took a gamble and came to the US only to lose the love of life, his wife and his beloved daughter in such a short time. It is a tragedy that I would hope that none of you would ever have to experience...

There will be a fundraiser for Irma's family Tuesday night, you can also send donations to help defer some of the families costs associated with their loss.

Tomorrow at 9:30pm - Wednesday at 2:00am

Xippo Lounge
3759 N Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL

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If you knew Ira, then you know how much she loved dancing away nights at the Xippo with her favorite Chicago musicians and dear friends, members of Eyes Manouche and Ode. There's been so much outreach and support from the community and though everyone is mourning, let's not forget to celebrate her life and her love of life.

I think she'd want us to remember the things that made her smile.

Eyes Manouche and Ode will be playing in h...onor of our lost friend this Tuesday starting at 9:30pm. Irma touched so many lives; let's get together to memorialize her sunny spirit.

Eyes Manouche is a gypsy dance band that puts its own spin on Balkan music classics. Ode is an indie rock band who just released a new album entitled Peephole.


$10 cover at door – all proceeds will go to Irma's family. If you can't make the event but would still like to donate, you can do so here: http://www.gofundme.com/Help-Amra-Find-Irma

Please pass this invitation on to anyone we've missed!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bosnian Chicago fundraiser to help find Irma Sabanovic Friday night!

Please continue to keep Irma and her family and friends in your prayers! Your help is still needed! A Friday fundraiser for Irma is scheduled as follows...

Fundraising; Help find Irma Sabanovic!

Tomorrow at 10:00pm - Saturday at 1:00am

3661 North Elston Avenue, Chicago, IL

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T-Rroma & Little Bucharest will be donating the entire proceeds from the door of our gig on Friday May 20th to help raise finds to support the search of Irma Sabanovic. Cover is $5 or more if you choose. Little Bucharest, 3661 North Elston Avenue. 10pm Thanks for your support! Please forward to your contacts; invite as many as possible!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Sad news that a dear loved Bosnian women Irma Sabanovic is missing from Chicago, IL. You can help by donating through the link provided below. Or if you lived in the Midwest you can help volunteer your time as a volunteer on Saturday May 21st!
Please remember to treat Irma like your mother, sister, daughter or best friend is missing because Irma could be all of these things for others. Please provide any help you possibly can to help find this young Bosnian women who needs your support!

Saturday, May 21 · 12:00pm - 6:00pm

PLEASE HELP US FIND OUR IRMA- Molimo vas da nam pomognete da nadjemo nasu Iru- Blackbird
6601 N. Western Ave
Chicago, IL

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As many of you are probably aware our Irma Sabanovic- Blackbird has been missing since May 12th. Nobody has seen or heard anything. We need to do all that is in our power- as a community- to try to help her family find her and bring Ira back. Who will be willing to come out and search for her? We will contact police dept to see where to start. Please let us know. Also, please ask your family members, your fb friends if they would help us search.

We will be meeting at noon on Saturday 5/21/2011 at the Warren Park.
6601 N. Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60645

My friends, thank you!

Irma Sabanovic, 25, Missing After Getting Lost on Near West Side

Updated: Monday, 16 May 2011, 12:13 PM CDT
Published : Monday, 16 May 2011, 12:12 PM CDT
Sun-Times Media Wire
Chicago - Police are looking for a 25-year-old Rogers Park woman last heard from after getting lost last week while heading to a Near West Side nightclub.
Irma Sabanovic left her home in the 1900 block of West Hood Avenue on May 12 with the intention of going to the Exit nightclub near Elston and North, a missing persons alert from Belmont Area Special Victims Unit detectives said.
At 2 a.m., she texted a male friend that she was lost near Milwaukee and Erie. That was the last communication from Sabanovic, the alert said.
She was driving a blue four-door Ford Focus with Illinois plate A465569.
Sabanovic is 5-foot-10 and 120 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. She is white with a medium complexion, and has a tattoo that says "Minge" on her right forearm and a tattoo of a star on her back.
Anyone with information about her or her car should call detectives at (312) 744-8266.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ICTY puts out war demographics from the Bosnian war

The ICTY put together a groundbreaking study breaking down the demographics of dead and missing from the war. It breaks it down by ethnicity, men, women and military vs civilian and is stunning in it's results. It makes it clear that the largest singular victim of the war was Bosniaks and that the numbers outweigh the fact that they are the largest singular ethnicity in BiH.

The Demographic Unit of the Office of the Prosecutor has carried out groundbreaking work in the history of international criminal law. The ICTY is the first court to use demographic estimates, not only of the numbers of killed, but also of the wounded, missing, exhumed and identified persons, internally displaced and refugees. In January 2010, the number of 104,732 persons became the final estimate of the death toll in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

One of the key findings of the Tribunal’s demographers concerns the number of war victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for which the final estimate of 104,732 individuals was produced in January 2010, after 12 years of data collection.

This number is the result of the consolidation of 12 external sources, using a complex statistical method. The data was not linked to a particular indictment, but the reports that refer to it were tendered into evidence in several ICTY trials.

The first report of the Demographic Unit dealt with missing persons after the fall of the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995. It was filed in June 2000 in the case of Radislav Krstić, a former senior officer of the Bosnian Serb Army who was convicted of aiding and abetting genocide in the former UN ‘safe area’. This report estimated that 7,475 Bosnian Muslims were killed after the fall of Srebrenica.

About forty reports dealing with different victimisation episodes of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia have been produced since then by renowned external experts. Collectively, they document an extensive demographic picture of the consequences of war.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The real Sarajevo war tunnel actual entrance across the street from museum

If you go to Sarajevo and visit the Sarajevo war tunnel exhibit at the Kohlar's house, they will tell you that their house was the tunnel entrance. That is not actually true however, this house across the street is the actual tunnel entrance for the Butmir side of the tunnel. You can actually go to the house and see the original entrance, it is still there. The Kohlar's are actually a well connected family and have been given this honor even though it is built on a lie. It doesn't change the enjoyment of going and seeing the tunnel yourself, just make sure to go across the street and see the actual wartime house and tunnel.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sarajevo bookstores many to choose from with excellent book selection!

Sarajevo has a great collection of independent bookstores that have great offerings to choose from. Some are small hidden gems tucked away in a side street downtown others are showcases with a rich tradition and history in the cultural life of Sarajevo and BiH.

When I was in BiH last summer it was the time of year the international bookfare was going on downtown and they had all these stands set up in a square in a plaza off of Ferihadja street. It was great to see so many books and book sellers assembled in one location. I picked up a copy of the Winter Sarajevo Festival 20 year anniversary edition which had a great collection of photographs and stories of the last 20 years in it. I also picked up a couple of copies of Sarajevo wounded city for 20km each! Usually these books run 50-60usd each!
I always love going to every bookstore in Sarajevo when I am there and I always find a little treasure whether it is Famas "Siege of Sarajevo" or a photo book of Alija Izetbegovic or Tarek Samarah's "Srebrenica"...
Here is my list of Sarajevo bookstores...

-Svejtlost (next door to Imperijal on Ferihadja) a great well known publishing house from the Tito era, they also offer books for sale and a great collection of old prints that were remade of Bosnian life and are great for framing.

-Buybook (radiceva 4) probably the most famous bookstore in Sarajevo they have a great collection of international books in English. Last time I was there I picked up a great book that was actually postcards done by students in a contest to best show Sarajevo. It is amazing collection and quite unique!

-International book shop (Mula Mustafe Basekije next to the eternal flame) is the best place to find international magazines and newspapers while staying in Sarajevo. It also has a great resources of books available as well and cater to the international crowds.
-The fourth bookstore I can't remember the name (is located near Markale on the opposite side of the street on Mula Mustafe Basekije) It is a very small bookstore, blink and you will miss it but has a great collection of books for which to choose from.
-The other bookstore is located in Skenderija shopping mall which has fallen a bit on hard times.

I couple of links to bookstores from BiH that are on the web...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ailing Book Trade Faces Bust in Bosnia

Originally posted on Balkan Insight...


Ailing Book Trade Faces Bust in Bosnia

Publishers face terminal crisis in country where incomes are dropping, taxes on book sales remain unacceptably high and government doesn’t seem to care.
Zvjezdan Zivkovic
23rd International Book and Teaching Aids Fair, Sarajevo (Photo: Zvjezdan Zivkovic)
Bosnia’s best-known writer, the Nobel prize winner, Ivo Andric, once said: “Remaining indifferent to books means recklessly impoverishing your life”.

Fifty years after Andric won his prize in 1961, Bosnia is in danger of ignoring his warning, as book sales plummet and the publishing industry hits a crisis that some see as terminal.

This year’s International Book and Teaching Aids Fair, held on April 20-15, had a lower attendance and fewer exhibitors than usual - a decline blamed on both the economic crisis and official indifference to the book trade.

Tajib Sahinpasic, one of the fair’s organizers and director of Sahinpasic publishing, said the government’s failure to sponsor organized visits to the fair by students and young people was indicative of its attitude.

“Publishers don’t expect direct state support - but the government could at least set aside more money for libraries, so that they could purchase more books,” he said.

A major headache for the publishing trade is VAT, which at 17 per cent applies to books as well. VAT on book sales in Serbia is far lower at 8 per cent, while in Croatia it is zero.

“We tax books in Bosnia like they’re coffee, alcohol or petrol,” Nenad Novakovic, president of the Association of Publishers and Booksellers of Republika Srpska, complained.

“The cost of postage is another factor,” he added. “If you want to send a book from one city to another, the stamps are often more expensive than the book itself.

“In the cross-border, international, book trade, books are taxed at the full tariff rate, which only Bosnia does,” he continued.

Damir Uzunovic, head of Buybook publishing, says that of all the economic sectors hit by VAT, publishing has suffered most.
Damir Uzunovic - owner and director of the publishing firm “Buybook” (Photo: Zvjezdan Zivkovic) 
“What VAT ought to mean is taking money from citizens and then returning it in the form of funding, or increased living standards,” he said. “But unfortunately that’s not the practice in Bosnia.”

Igor Gavran, project manager in Bosnia’s Chamber of Foreign Commerce, agrees. It is absurd to tax books along the same lines as groceries, he said.

“Depressingly, several years after VAT came in, the situation in publishing has still not been resolved,” he said. “The main reason is the government’s constant hunger for more budget income,” he told Balkan Insight.

Miso Nejasmic, from the Association of Publishers and Booksellers in neighbouring Croatia, said he sympathized with the plight of his counterparts in Bosnia.
Miso Nejasmic - director of publishing firm “Jesenski i Turk” and program manager of the Croatian Association of Publishers and Booksellers (Photo: Zvjezdan Zivkovic)
“This 17 per-cent-tax in Bosnia show that they don’t understand the essence of the book and its overall role in the education process,” he said.

“All countries should have a zero, or lowest possible, rate of tax on books,” Nejasmic told Balkan Insight.

In neighbouring Serbia, where VAT on books is “only” 8 per cent, the tax is still seen as the cause of much grief.

Serbian publishers want it cut to zero, Nenad Atanackovic, of Alnari publishing, said.

“I hope we succeed, especially having in mind that Serbia’s new culture minister Predrag Markovic is a man from our branch,” he said.
Nenad Atanackovic - PR manager in publishing firm “Alnari”, Serbia (Photo: Zvjezdan Zivkovic)
The industry still faces an existential crisis in Serbia, too, however low the tax rate on books, he added.

“People in Serbia just don’t read much,” he lamented. “Over the last 15 years, many middle-class book lovers have emigrated to other parts of world.

“We and our fellow publishers face a challenge in trying to re-educate people and rebuild public interest in books,” Atanackovic added.

Back in December 2000, aware of the deteriorating situation in publishing, the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina established a Foundation for Publishing, which last year disbursed around 225,000 Bosnian marks (around 115,000 euros).

Although the Foundation funds are significant, obtaining them, some writers and publishers say, is an opaque business.

Writer Veselin Gatalo says corruption plays the same role in the Foundation as it does in most areas of public and cultural life.
Veselin Gatalo - Bosnian writer (Photo: Zvjezdan Zivkovic)
“The cultural scene in Bosnia matches the cultural scenes in Sierra Leone or Burkina Faso - the level of corruption is similar,” Gatalo claimed.

Uzunovic sees the Foundation as ineffective rather than corrupt. It “doesn’t know how to help or whom to help,” he said “and as a result, in about 10 years of existence, many publishers went out of business.”

An additional burden on the publishing trade in Bosnia is the country’s bitter political and ethnic divisions, which mean unified policies are rarely put forward, or agreed on.

In publishing, as with other aspects of life, opinions differ sharply between the country’s two autonomous entities, the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and Bosniak (Muslim) and Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to Uzunovic some publishers from the Republika Srpska are quite happy for publishers from Serbia to dominate the local book trade.

Currently, more than 60 percent of the book traffic in Bosnia, including both entities, comprises publications from Serbia.

“I respect Serbian publishers - they have great industry - but Bosnian publishers need to develop as well,” Uzunovic said.

“We have to find our own place in the market because if we don’t, we can’t protect our own culture and society,” he added.
Ibrahim Spahic - president of the Association of Publishers and Booksellers of Bosnia and Herzegovina  (Photo: Zvjezdan Zivkovic)
Ibrahim Spahic, president of the Association of Publishers and Booksellers of Bosnia and Herzegovina together with Culture Forum of Bosnia and Herzegovina initiated the document “The Strategy for Cultural Policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” that was accepted by the country’s Council of Ministers in 2008. But Bosnia’s state parliament has yet to verify it.

“What we are demanding is … intensive work on changing the perception of culture,” Spahic said, “and of the need to invest… in our future cultural, social, and economic development.”

One question looming over the book trade is whether people are simply too poor to buy books these days.

Bosnia’s economic transition has seen the number of unemployed and poor citizens grow sharply.

The beginning of 2011 saw new taxes and price increases imposed on staple items such as flour, bread, oil, butter and sugar.

The gap between average incomes and outgoings continues to widen.

In February, average monthly net earnings for people in work amounted to 799 marks (about 400 euro), the Agency for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, says.

During the same month, the food basket for an average family of four cost more than twice that figure - about 1,700 marks.

In spite of that, publishers insist that many people in Bosnia still have enough money to purchase a book “at least once a month”, says the former editor of Svjetlost publishing, the author and literary critic Jasmina Musabegovic.

“The price of books is not the reason why people aren’t buying them,” she insisted.

“Money is clearly not the only problem because the bars are full of people,” she added. “If someone can spend two marks (1 euro) on a coffee, can we say a book costing 10 marks is expensive?”

Neglect of books reflects the general culture in Bosnian society, Tajib Sahinpasic said.

Most of the country’s politicians had no real interest in creating a more literate society, he said. “If the state continues this ignorance, I’m sure more than 50 percent Bosnian publishers will soon go bankrupt,” he added.

Economic expert Svetlana Cenic says both publishers and readers in Bosnia need to start asking hard questions about the price and value of books, if the publishing industry is to survive in any form at all.

“People complain when the price of bread and milk goes up,” she noted, “but when it comes to books, few people ask questions about why they are so expensive and inaccessible to most people.”

This article is funded under the BICCED project, supported by the Swiss Cultural Programme.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Best travel agencies for travel to Bosnia, Sarajevo and the Balkans

Air Travel to Bosnia and the Balkans.
Finding reasonable airfare to Bosnia can be an immense challenge. If you go onto major sites you are probably going to pay an extra $500 per ticket because of the remoteness of Sarajevo to the rest of Europe and the lack of flights to the city. You can find good deals, you just have to shop around, maybe check with a travel agent who specializes in airfare to Bosnia and keep your options open. I have also used Byzantium travel in Milwaukee to book my trips to the Balkans...
These are the best websites out there for travel to the Balkans, please feel free to add any I have missed or tips on travelling to BiH.




Monday, May 9, 2011

Support the victims of war crimes and atrocities by signing Declaration of anti-fascist struggle's continuation

Never forget what happened in Bosnia, in the camps of Omarska, Trnapolje, Manjaca and so many others...Today is the day of remembrance for the victims of these atrocities and you can do your part by signing the Declaration of anti-fascist struggles continuation...

To:  Javnosti Srbije, Bosne i Hercegovine i diljem nekadašnje Jugoslavije, organima vlasti Republike Srbije, Bosne i Hercegovine, Republike Srpske i Opštine Prijedor / To the public of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the former Yugoslavia, to the authorities of the Republic of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Srpska and Prijedor Municipality
Povodom 9. Maja - Dana pobede nad fašizmom i Dana logoraša Bosne i Hercegovine, Žene u Crnom, Helsinški odbor za ljudska prava, Centar za ženske studije i umetnički kolektivi Grupa Spomenik i Radna grupa „Četiri lica Omarske” su inicirali/e Deklaraciju o nastavku borbe protiv fašizma (u prilogu), koju su podržali Udruženje logoraša Prijedor 92 i Savez logoraša u Bosni i Hercegovini.

Deklaraciju ćemo javno čitati 9. maja, u 12.30h na mestu koncentracionog logora Omarska iz 1992. godine, prostoru današnjeg rudnika ArcelorMittal i na mestu Banjičkog logora iz Drugog svetskog rata, ispred Muzeja banjičkog logora u ulici Veljka Lukića - Kurjaka 8 u Beogradu.

Akt istovremenog čitanja Deklaracije u Omarskoj i u Beogradu jeste naš način iskazivanja solidarnosti i poštovanja prema žrtvama fašizma. Čitanje Deklaracije u Omarskoj, na mestu stradanja koje još uvek nije obeleženo, jeste čin aktivne podrške i učestvovanja u izgradnji memorijala.

Pozivamo vas da podržite Deklaraciju ličnim potpisom ili da prisustvujete njenom javnom čitanju u Omarskoj ili Beogradu i time potvrdite vašu privrženost antifašizmu.


Povodom 9. maja, Dana pobede nad fašizmom i Dana logoraša Bosne i Hercegovine, javnosti Republike Srbije i Bosne i Hercegovine upućujemo


Deklaracijom ukazujemo na današnju politiku Republike Srbije koja negira ratne zločine i postojanje koncentracionih logora tokom devedesetih godina. Ta politika poništava glavnu tekovinu Drugog svetskog rata—ravnopravnost svih naroda sa prostora nekadašnje Socijalističke Federativne Republike Jugoslavije.

Politiku negiranja, poricanja i nekažnjavanja zločina produkuju i sprovode nacionalne institucije, ekstremne desničarske organizacije i navijačke grupe čime podstiču nasilje i mržnju.

Političkom rehabilitacijom četničkog pokreta i Draže Mihailovića revidira se istorija Drugog svetskog rata koja vodi izjednačavanju fašizma i antifašizma.

Uprkos razumljivim potrebama za zbližavanjem i povezivanjem na kulturnom i ekonomskom planu, osuđujemo povezivanje Republike Srbije i Republike Srpske izvan konteksta Bosne i Hercegovine. Time se direktno narušavaju suverenitet i teritorijalni integritet Bosne i Hercegovine i onemogućava ponovno zbližavanje svih njenih naroda.

Pozdravljamo poruke upućene sa Samita u Karađorđevu održanog 26. aprila 2011. godine, u kojima se ističu neophodnost pomirenja, stabilizacije odnosa i normalizacije života u regionu.

Uvereni da bez istinskog suočavanja sa ratnom prošlošću ne može biti ni pravog pomirenja:

Pozivamo organe vlasti Republike Srbije, Bosne i Hercegovine, Republike Srpske i Opštine Prijedor—te javnost u Srbiji, Bosni i Hercegovini i diljem nekadašnje Jugoslavije—da podrže inicijativu bivših logoraša Omarske za izgradnju memorijalnog centra na prostoru današnjeg rudnika ArcelorMittal. Rudnik se nalazi u Bosni i Hercegovini, na mestu nekadašnjeg koncentracionog logora Omarska, formiranog 1992. godine po odluci civilnih vlasti opštine Prijedor. U logoru je bilo zatvoreno i mučeno preko 3300 stanovnika ove opštine, a po procenama je ubijeno preko 700 ljudi.

Smatramo da stradanje civila u logoru Omarska i svim drugim logorima formiranih tokom ratova devedesetih moraju biti dostojno obeleženi kako bi postali delom javnog sećanja, na putu ka ponovnom uspostavljanju zajedničkog života na prostoru bivše Jugoslavije.

Odlukom od 1. decembra 2005. godine, kompanija ArcelorMittal podržala je projekat izgradnje memorijalnog centra u okviru rudnika. Podržavanjem iste inicijative, Republika Srbija i Republika Srpska jasno bi pokazale spremnost da se aktivno i kritički odrede prema masovnim zločinima, sistematski počinjenim nad civilima nespske nacionalnosti.

Takođe pozivamo ArcelorMittal da ukine aktuelnu diskriminacionu politiku kojom se favorizuje zapošljavanje po etničkoj osnovi. Ta praksa predstavlja posleratni nastavak etničkog čišćenja drugim sredstvima.

Zahtevamo da Republika Srbija zabrani i spreči delovanje ekstremnih desničarskih organizacija i navijačkih grupa, koje podstiču, vrše nasilje i promovišu govor mržnje u javnom i medijskom prostoru.

Ovom Deklaracijom se afirmiše antifašizam svih naroda na teritoriji nekadašnje Jugoslavije kao zajednička vrednost, tekovina savremenog evropskog društva, temelj ravnopravnosti i normalizacije međuljudskih odnosa u regionu.

Deklaraciju inicirali/e:
Žene u Crnom
Radna grupa “Četiri lica Omarske”
Helsinški odbor za ljudska prava u Srbiji
Umetnički kolektiv Grupa Spomenik
Centar za ženske studije

Deklaraciju podržali/e:
Savez logoraša u Bosni i Hercegovini
Udruženje logoraša “Prijedor 92”

Version in English:

On the occasion of May 9th – Victory Day over Fascism and the Day of Concentration Camp Detainees of Bosnia and Herzegovina – the DECLARATION OF ANTI-FASCIST STRUGGLE’S CONTINUATION (below) was initiated by Women in Black, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, Center for Women’s Studies, art collectives Grupa Spomenik (Monument Group) and Working Group “Four Faces of Omarska”. The Declaration is supported by the Association of Concentration-camp Detainees “Prijedor 92” and the Association of Concentration Camp Detainees in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Declaration will be publicly read on May 9th at 12.30 p.m. at the site of the former concentration camp in Omarska (1992), currently the ArcelorMittal mine, and at the site of the World War II camp Banjica, in front of the Musem of the Banjica Camp at Veljka Lukica - Kurjaka 8 in Belgrade.

The act of its simultaneous reading in Omarska and Belgrade is our way of showing both solidarity with and respect to the victims of fascism.

Declaration’s reading in Omarska, still an unmarked atrocity site, is an act of active support and participation in the memorial’s establishment.

We invite you to support the Declaration with your signature or to partake in its reading in Omarska or Belgrade and thus confirm your commitment to anti-fascism.


On the occasion of May 9th – Victory Day over Fascism and the Day of Concentration Camp Detainees of Bosnia and Herzegovina - we address the following to all citizens of the Republic of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina:


By means of this Declaration, we denounce the contemporary politics in the Republic of Serbia which negates the existence of concentration camps and other crimes of war committed during the Nineties. The negation of these crimes annuls the heritage of our people, and the inherent dignity of our World War Two legacy – the equality of all peoples of all nations in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Extreme right-wing organizations and hooligan groups promote denial and impunity for war crimes while national institutions implement this politics of negation, thus legitimizing continued violence and hatred.

The political rehabilitation of the Chetnik movement and Draza Mihailovic revises the World War Two history, disingenuously equating fascism and anti-fascism.

Despite possible practical cultural and economic reasons for linking the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Srpska, we condemn any such affiliation in as much as it negates the broader multi-ethnic Bosnian and Herzegovinian context. This association directly undermines the integrity and territorial sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and hinders the rapprochement of all its nations.

We welcome the public statements addressed during the Karadjordjevo Summit of April 26th, 2011, since they emphasize the necessity of reconciliation, stable relations and normalization in the region.

Our conviction is that no reconciliation is possible unless we deal with our wartime past. Thus,

We invite the authorities of the Republic of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Srpska and Prijedor Municipality – as well as the public of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the former Yugoslavia – to support the initiative of the former Omarska concentration camp detainees to establish a memorial centre on the location of the ArcelorMittal mine. Situated in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the site of the former Omarska concentration camp, established in 1992 by Prijedor’s municipal authorities, more than 3300 citizens of that very municipality were imprisoned and tortured at this camp, and it’s estimated that more than 700 were murdered there.

We deem the civilian suffering at the Omarska concentration camp, and at all other concentration camps established during the Nineties’ wars, worthy of recognition and commemoration. Making these sites and the atrocities suffered there a part of public memory is a necessary step toward renewed shared existence in the region of the former Yugoslavia.

In its December 1st, 2005, decision, ArcelorMittal gave support to the establishment of a memorial centre within the Omarska mine. By supporting this initiative, the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Srpska would clearly demonstrate their readiness to actively and critically acknowledge the mass crimes systematically committed against non-Serbian civilians.

Additionally, we invite ArcelorMittal to reverse its current discriminatory policy of employment based on ethnicity. This practice represents a post-war continuation of ethnic cleansing through other means.

We demand that Republic of Serbia put an immediate stop to the activities of extreme right-wing organizations and hooligan groups which incite and commit violence and promote hate speech in public and media space, and to ban all such future activities from these groups.

This Declaration affirms the common anti-fascist values of all of the former Yugoslavian nations, and avows our place among contemporary European societies through a commitment to the enactment of anti-facism as a basis for equality and normalization of human relations in the region.

This Declaration was initiated by:
Women in Black
Working Group “Four Faces of Omarska”
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
Art Collective Grupa Spomenik (Monument Group)
Center for Women’s Studies

This Declaration is supported by:
Association of Concentration Camp Detainees in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Association of Concentration-camp Detainees “Prijedor 92”
 You can add your signature to the petition by following this link...


NEVER FORGET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Eduardo Flores friend of Bosnia who died fighting for what he believed in

(These are photos that Eduardo sent to me personally)
(Pics of Eduardo Flores and other foreign volunteers who were made famous in the book War Dogs and the BBC documentaries The Dogs of War and I know the best way of killing people...)

It has been a few years since Eduardo Flores has died, allegedly while trying to overthrow the Bolivian government. With it being mayday and the anniversary of the death of Tito I thought it would be fitting to do a story on Eduardo Flores. A leftist idealist who fought in causes he believed in, Croatia, Palestine and Bosnia and eventually went back to his home country were he was killed allegedly fomenting a coup.
A good man who was loved and despised by many for his bravado and self promotion. He was working on a film about Arkan (played by Vinnie Jones) and his experience as a foreign volunteer in Croatia in the 1990's.
Eduardo helped me gather some information I needed for my book and also helped me with some background information that I needed on some subjects. He became a ardent supporter of the Bosniak cause. It is too bad that there are not more people in the world with the courage to fight for what they believe in...Remember Eduardo during the month of May.

An article about Eduardo Flores and his death...

The Hungarian far-right in Bolivia--Eduardo Rózsa-Flores

It didn't quite work out. The Bolivian police, under not entirely clear circumstances, killed three foreign "terrorists" and arrested two. The group is accused of plotting to assassinate Bolivian president Evo Morales. The Bolivian president is convinced that Washington is behind the assassination attempt, but this is highly unlikely given the cast of characters. Unfortunately, most of the news accounts that I read shed little light on the would-be assassins. What, they asked, was the common bond among the five men (names often misspelled) involved in the plot? Perhaps the Balkan wars where at least two of the five fought on Croatia's side against Serbia. My feeling is that Croatia and the Balkan wars have mighty little to do with this case.
The leader of the group, now dead, was Eduardo Rózsa-Flores. He was born in Bolivia but spent his teens and most of his adult life in Hungary. We can find ample information about him and his family on his blog "Sic Semper Tyrannus" (http://eduardorozsaflores.blogspot.com/), roughly translated as "Death to the Tyrant." His father, György Rózsa, was a painter and university professor who left Hungary in 1948 and married Nelly Flores Arias, a Spanish high school teacher. The couple settled in Bolivia, where Eduardo was born in 1960. In 1973 they moved to Chile, but the family left after Pinochet's military coup. For a couple of years they lived in Sweden as political refugees. In 1975 the Rózsa-Flores family moved to Hungary, where Eduardo attended a Budapest high school. He then spent three years at the country's military academy but left without graduating. Two years later he enrolled at ELTE, the Budapest university, from which he subsequently received an M.A. He was the last KISZ (Communist Youth Organization) secretary of ELTE. He later claimed that the only reason he took the job was to show that he could win the post against the wishes of people like Ferenc Gyurcsány. (I suspect that this is revisionist history.) After university he dabbled in journalism, taking advantage of his fluency in Spanish. For example, he wrote articles for La Vanguardia, a Spanish daily. He also supplied news to the BBC's Spanish language radio. He first reported from Croatia as a journalist but later volunteered to serve in the Croatian army. He fought in the battles of Osijek and Vukovár. The Croats appreciated his services and bestowed citizenship on him. President Franjo Tudjman promoted him to the military rank of major. A year later he became a colonel. He was wounded at least three times in different battles. In 1994 he returned to Hungary and published seven volumes of poetry. I didn't manage to find the seven volumes of poetry, but I did find five other books dealing mostly with the Croatian-Serbian war. During his stay in Croatia his name was associated with shady deals involving weapons and drug sales. According to rumors two journalists, one from Switzerland and another from Great Britain, who were investigating these transactions disappeared into thin air. In 2002 Ibolya Fekete made a documentary of his life, "Chico," that won first place in the documentary category at the Thirty-third Hungarian Film Festival. Next Tuesday MTV will air another documentary that is apparently the last testament of Rózsa-Flores. It was made in September before he embarked on his journey to Bolivia. One has to wonder how truthful these recollections are. Here, by the way, is a recent picture of Rózsa-Flores.Rozsa-flores
In 2003 he converted to Islam and called himself the spokesman for the Independent Iraqi Government, but that flirtation was short-lived and soon enough he showed up in Hungarian far-right circles. Yesterday the Jobbik website mourned his loss. "With deep sorrow we report that our friend and fellow editor, Eduardo Rózsa-Flores, passed away. He died for his country."
And this leads us to two other alleged co-conspirators. One is Árpád Magyarosi who is among the dead and the other is Előd Tóásó who is in Bolivian custody. Both are Transylvanian Hungarians who most likely knew each other for a long time because both attended high school in Sovata (Szováta) in Romania. After finishing high school both moved to Hungary. Magyarosi sounds like a real loser: he kept changing high schools and tried several colleges as well. He had musical ambitions with only scant talent. He organized several rock groups that all failed. And as we can see from this photo, Magyarosi's interests weren't confined to music. The other Transylvanian, Előd Tóásó, was another drifter who never managed to finish any of the colleges he attended. He too was interested in the military and attended the Miklós Zrínyi Military Academy for a while. He speaks Romanian, English, and Spanish in addition to Hungarian. Both men joined a group, founded in 2002, that purported to promote rock climbing, the Székely Légió (Legion Siculus).  In 2006Magyarodi the group became front page news in Hungarian papers because Ziua, a Bucharest daily, claimed that the Legion was a paramilitary organization planning attacks on Romania in order to establish an autonomous Hungarian (Szekler) area in the middle of Transylvania. The Romanian paper claimed that there were thousands enrolled in the Legion. The leaders of the Legion protested: it is an innocent organization that gives advice to young men and women interested in rock climbing. However, the Legion's internet website talked about survivor trips where the members carried heavy backpacks (20 kg) in addition to "weapons." They were schooled in marksmanship and the ability to detect mines. These don't sound like innocent rock climbing activities.
The third man who died in the raid is an Irishman called Michael Martin Dwyer who was apparently obsessed by weapons and who is described as a "soldier of fortune," a man obsessed with guns and assassins. According to accounts, he served as a mercenary in the Balkan wars. Rózsa-Flores who is described as the head of the group, might have met Dwyer in Croatia. I found this picture of Dwyer on the internet. Dwyer As you can see, he is obsessed all right.
And now comes the real bombshell. There is a periodical called Kapu (Gate) http://members.chello.hu/kapu/ The last issue can be downloaded in pdf form. Real right-wing stuff. Rózsa-Flores was an important contributor and a good friend of the editor-in-chief, Zoltán Brády. Brády, after hearing of his friend's death, told MTI (Magyar Távirati Iroda) that it was Rózsa-Flores and he who were responsible for leaking Ferenc Gyurcsány's infamous speech at Balatonőszöd! He didn't reveal from whom they received the transcript or to whom they passed it on. Maybe yes, maybe no. In any case it is intriguing.
Meanwhile Rózsa-Flores, Árpád Magyarosi, and Michael Martin Dwyer are dead. These guys all seemed to be well versed in guerilla warfare. The Hungarian crew, at least, was also involved in far-right activities. Why they went to Bolivia I don't know, but perhaps it's a good thing they went there. The plot was foiled. Can you imagine if they decided to kill, for example, the Hungarian prime minister or the president? I think they would have been capable of it. The Hungarian far right is convinced that there is a communist dictatorship in Hungary and, after all, "sic semper tyrannis."