American Serbs Deny Genocide in Bosnia
By Anthony Lewis
The Vindicator, p. A10
2 November 1993.
BOSTON — A pathetic byproduct of the genocide in Bosnia has been the attempt by some Americans of Serbian ancestry to deny the reality of the Serbian aggression there.
“What’s happening in Bosnia,” Bob Djurdjevic of Phoenix wrote to The New York Times the other day, “is not genocide’… it is a tragedy largely inflicted on the Muslims by their own government.”
‘Ethnic cleansing’ Sure — in the sense that the government of Bosnia, an internationally recognized country, refused to cooperate in its dismemberment. It had the temerity to resist Serbian “ethnic cleansing” of its Muslim citizens.
The phrase “ethnic cleansing” was actually invented by the Serbs for their operations in Bosnia. And everyone knows what it has meant: the murder of thousands Muslims and the expulsion of more than one million from their towns and villages.
There is no secret about any of this, except to the willfully blind. The United States, the European Community and numerous human rights groups have documented the horrors. Serbian soldiers themselves have described the systematic rape of Bosniak women.
See no evil: It is not surprising that Americans with attachments to a country of origin should resist seeing that it has been taken over by a tyranny. But sooner or later a decent person’s sight clears.
Happily, there are Serbian Americans who see and speak out. George Mitrovich, writing in The Los Angeles Times, deplored “the abject failure of Serbian-Americans to grasp the brutal savagery of that evil conflict and to protest Serbia’s guilt.”
The poet Charles Simic wrote in The New Republic: “The destruction of Vukovar and Sarajevo will not be forgiven the Serbs. Whatever moral credit they had as a result of their history they squandered by these two acts.”
Shelling continues: And the destruction goes on. On Oct. 9 Radovan Karadzic, leader of the Bosnian Serbs, said, “The siege of Sarajevo is over.” When the Serbs poured shells on the city a week later, that was explained as a reply to an attack by Bosnian government forces. But in fact, Serbian shelling and sniping have gone on before and since – as has the Serbian blockade of Sarajevo.
Fred Cuny, a disaster relief specialist, has been in Sarajevo for the International Rescue Committee for the last 10 months. Back in the United States on a brief leave, he told me that the siege is worse now than at any time since the spring.
“The Serbs are blocking oil, supplies of winter clothing, plastic for weatherproofing houses,” Cuny said — “all kinds of humanitarian supplies.”
Water: “The critical things now are water and natural gas. George Soros [the American philanthropist] funded an emergency water system, taking water from two river sites. But the Serbs are shelling the sites now.
“If the water system is stopped, during the winter people will have to stand in line to get water and carry it home in buckets in the freezing cold through sniper fire. And the sewage system will break down.”
Winter fuel: Natural gas comes through a pipeline from Hungary. At the Bosnian border most of the gas goes to Belgrade; just 10 percent is supposed to go to Sarajevo. The U.N. sanctions committee allowed the gas to go to Belgrade on condition that the Serbs not interrupt the supply to Sarajevo, but they have stopped it. And gas is the only constant source of fuel for the winter.
The gas situation, at least, has a simple solution. The U.N. sanctions committee should immediately cut off the supply to Belgrade, and keep it off, unless and until the Serbs let the gas flow to Sarajevo.
Croatian forces in Bosnia have now added their names to the genocide list, by butchering Muslim men, women and children in the village of Stupni Do (see photos).