Srebrenica Massacre Included Systematic Rapes of Muslim Women
“Two took her legs and raised them up in the air, while the third began raping her. People were silent, no one moved. She was screaming and yelling and begging them to stop. They put her a rag into her mouth, and then we were just hearing silent sobs coming from her closed lips. When they finished, the woman was left there.”
Atrocities Reported by Refugees
by SNJEZANA VUKIC
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) – Zarfa Turkovic says she watched through half-closed eyes, pretending to sleep, hoping she would not be next, as four Bosnian Serb men raped a 28-year old Muslim woman.
Turkovic’s testimony, terrifying in its graphic detail, is one more piece of the horrible mosaic forming in the aftermath of the Bosnian Serbs’ capture of the “safe area” of Srebrenica.
Atrocities reported by many of the thousands of traumatized Muslims deported from Srebrenica can’t be independently verified. But some of the horrors are repeated over and over: Serbs taking away young Muslim women – as well as young men who had not fled.
The Bosnian Serbs on Monday issued a strong denial of the atrocities reported by refugees in Tuzla. International media, “aided and abetted by the Muslim authorities, have indulged in an orgy of uncritical reporting,” Bosnian Serb spokesman Jovan Zametica said in a statement.
Throughout the more than 3-year-old war, Muslims and international human rights organizations have repeatedly charged Serbs with systematic rape as part of a tactic of intimidation meant to drive other ethnic groups out of areas Serbs claim. The Serbs have long denied such allegations.
Refugees from Srebrenica thought the worst was over when they reached a U.N. based at Potocari, two miles north of the fallen safe haven.
But it was there, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeepers, that the Turkovic says Bosnian Serbs chose a young victim from among the sleeping refugees. “Two took her legs and raised them up in the air,” Turkovic said, “while the third began raping her.”
“People were silent, no one moved. She was screaming and yelling and begging them to stop. They put her a rag into her mouth, and then we were just hearing silent sobs coming from her closed lips. When they finished, the woman was left there,” she said.
Turkovic said she and dozens of other women – some with children – lay only yards away, silently praying they would not be next.
“I pretended that I was sleeping, but I didn’t dare because I was afraid that if I fell to sleep they would just kill me and my kids,” she said.
Her sister, 19-year-old Fetima, gave the same account of the rape. She said she held one of her sister’s four children in her arms, hoping the Serbs would be less likely to assault a mother.
The peacekeepers, who the refugees hoped would be their protectors, were themselves singled out for humiliation, Turkovic said.
On Wednesday, two Serbs approached the two U.N. guards posted to ensure the safety of a group of refugees and ordered them to put down their weapons and strip to their underwear, she said.
The peacekeepers, part of the United Nations Protection Force, did so without resistance. “We lost all our hope then. Then we understood what UNPROFOR is. Nothing.”