Report: Serbs Raped, Deliberately Killed 700 Bosniaks During Attack on Gorazde
New Straits Times
12 June 1994.
GENEVA, Sat. — A United Nations investigator yesterday accused Serbs of launching a campaign of rape and murder when they attacked the Bosniak-held enclave of Gorazde and surrounding villages earlier this year.
In his latest report on human rights in former Yugoslavia, former Polish Prime Minister [Polish Jew] Tadeusz Mazowiecki also accused Serb forces of deliberately directing artillery fire against hospitals during the fighting in March and April.
He said the attack — in which some estimates say around 700 people died — had let to animosity against Serb civilians in the area and some rights violations by Bosnian forces.
“The assaults on the [Bosnian Muslim] villages involved widespread terrorisation of the residents, eviction from and destruction of their homes, and the killing of livestock,” the report issued by Mazowiecki’s Geneva office declared.
“Eyewitnesses have also attested to the commission of rape by groups of [Serb] soldiers.”
“The attacks on the villages of Stanici and Kordici are indicative of the practices of the advancing troops. In these villages, a number of residents were summarily executed, including elderly women and a handicapped man.”
“Bodies of the dead were subsequently mutilated and decapitated,” the report said.
The attack on Gorazde in eastern Bosnia, which the Serbs argue was a response to an offensive launched from the town by forces of the Bosnian Government, lasted for almost a month and ended with a ceasefire on April 23.
The Serbs effectively suspended the assault after NATO airstrikes against their positions on April 10, called to protect personnel of the UN’s UNPROFOR peacekeeping force after they had come under fire from Serb positions.
Gorazde and four other Bosnian-held towns are UN-designated “safe areas” exempt from armed attack under a Security Council resolution.
Mazowiecki said that during their offensive the Serbs committed “numerous and clear violations of human rights and humanitarian law.”
“Attacks included the deliberate targeting of civilian and highly sensitive vulnerable targets like hospitals, and interference with attempts to bring care to those who were wounded.”
He said the main town hospital “was deliberately targeted on many occasions, causing heavy loss of life and wounding.” Many patients died because the assault prevented doctors from treating them.
The investigator, who has in the past been condemned by the Serbs for his criticism of their behaviour in the two-year Bosnian war, rejected Serb claims that the hospital had been a Bosnian military command centre.
He said the Serbs had also fired on vehicles ferrying wounded to the hospital, on a makeshift hospital in an apartment building causing heavy loss of life and on refugee centres as well as on a UN military observers’ building where many local people had taken shelter.
Mazowiecki said Government forces had also been responsible for some violations of human rights “though to a scale which is not comparable with that of the Serb forces.”
although before the attack there had been no significant harassment of Serb civilians in the enclave by Bosniaks, the report said, the present situation of Serb residents “gives cause for concern.” – Reuters