Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Who caused Muslims to suffer?

Sense News Agency
26. 04. 2010.

Who caused Muslims to suffer?

THE HAGUE – In his cross-examination of Herbert Okun, Karadzic suggested that Alija Izetbegovic wanted his own nation to suffer in order to raise its ‘awareness’, in line with the Islamic Declaration. The witness agreed that Muslims suffered, but their suffering was caused, as he said, because ‘you expelled them from their homes, detained them in prison camps, killed and persecuted them’.

In his cross-examination of Ambassador Herbert Okun, Radovan Karadzic mostly probed the issue of Islamic fundamentalism in BH. Karadzic covered the formation of the Young Muslims in 1939, the establishment of the Handschar Division in the World War II, Alija Izetbegovic’s Islamic Declaration in 1970 and his trial in 1983. Karadzic also talked about the alleged attempt of the SDA’s ‘fundamentalist wing’ to implement the declaration by ‘a fratricidal war, terror and foreign intervention’.

According to Karadzic, Bosnian Serbs and Croats had every reason to be worried before the war because of the purported intentions of Alija Izetbegovic and his associates to establish a ‘state of a single nation’ at the expense of the Christian majority – the Serbs and Croats. ‘You and Boban wanted to divide BH’, Okun responded to Karadzic’s suggestions. Okun reminded Karadzic that he talked with Mate Boban about the partition in May 1992 in Graz. When Karadzic put it to the witness that the Serb side ‘didn’t endorse a partition but a transformation of BH’, the witness said that it was ‘a distinction with no difference’. What the accused called a transformation ‘was indeed tantamount to a partition’, the witness added.

Karadzic corroborated his argument about ‘the Christians under threat’ in BH by quoting a Croat, Mile Akmadzic, the war president of the BH Government. At a meeting with international negotiators, Akmadzic complained that ‘four Muslim radicals (Izetbegovic, Silajdzic, Mahmutcehajic and Halilovic) wanted to expel Serbs and Croats from BH’. Okun rejected those claims saying that ‘what actually went on is that Croats ethnically cleansed Central Bosnia of Muslims’.

According to Ambassador Okun, enough time elapsed between the Islamic Declaration and the war for it to be ‘water under the bridge’. Despite the fact that Izetbegovic belonged to a group of religious-minded people, ‘that manifest never had any practical effects’, then or today. The extremist Muslim wing in the communist Yugoslavia was never a significant threat simply because it wasn’t in power. During the war, this Muslim wing stood ‘zero’ chance against the well-armed Bosnian Serb and Croat armies.

Karadzic also put it to the witness that Izetbegovic’s government ‘in line with the Islamic Declaration’ caused its own nation to suffer, prevented the humanitarian aid deliveries, killed UN staff in order to blame it all on the Serbs and to secure international intervention. Okun replied to Karadzic that the main cause of the Muslims’ suffering was ‘that you expelled them from their homes, detained them in prison camps and used intimidation and terror, including murder and persecution’.

Karadzic was so irritated at one point that he called Okun ‘Izetbegovic’s lawyer’, but the witness once more begged to differ, saying that all three sides were guilty of crimes and he criticized Izetbegovic for that. ‘However, the Bosnian Serb side led in terms of the scope and amount of torture, coercion and expulsions’, Okun added. The witness corroborated this with an example from Sarajevo: the ratio of shells fired from the Serb positions compared to those of the BH Army, which were mostly small-caliber anyway, was 3,000 to 300’. ‘This gives you a clear picture of who did what’, the witness said. Ambassador Okun’s cross-examinations continues tomorrow.

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Joza Vrljicak – Master in Economics (Concordia U, Montreal) joza.vrljicak@gmail.com

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