News / Europe

    Mladic Legacy Remains '95 Srebenica Massacre

    A woman walks past graffiti of then-fugitive Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic in Belgrade June 11, 2009.
    A woman walks past graffiti of then-fugitive Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic in Belgrade June 11, 2009.

    Former Bosnian Serb military leader General Ratko Mladic is in custody after years of evading arrest on war crimes charges.

    As commander of Bosnian-Serb forces during the three-year Bosnian civil war, Mladic was responsible for what is considered to be the worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War, the massacre of thousands of Muslim civilians in the U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica.

    He was also responsible for the 43-month shelling, between the years of 1992 through 1996, of Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo - the longest siege in the history of modern warfare.

    Day in and day out, Sarajevo's citizens were the targets of Bosnian-Serb forces under the command of General Mladic.  News reports broadcast around the world showed the devastation perpetrated on the local population.

    His origins

    Ratko Mladic was born in Bosnia on March 12, 1942 in the village of Kalinovik.

    He was brought up in Tito's Yugoslavia and trained at the military academy of the Yugoslav People's Army in Belgrade.  He rose to the rank of colonel.

    Daniel Serwer, with the U.S. Institute of Peace, says Mladic perverted the military title.

    "It is with difficulty that I pronounce any soldierly title in front of his name, since his behavior was not only unprofessional, but absolutely murderous," Serwer says.

    As Yugoslavia began to disintegrate in 1991, Mladic was posted to the town of Knin, the site of a Croatian-Serb rebellion against Croatia's declaration of independence from Yugoslavia.

    A year later, Mladic was promoted to the rank of General Colonel and took overall command of Bosnian-Serb military forces, who began fighting for a separate Serb state after Bosnia-Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia.

    Srebrenica Massacre


    Analysts say General Mladic will be most remembered for the 1995 Bosnian Serb attack on the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica.

    Balkan expert Edward Joseph says Bosnian Serb forces first laid siege to Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia, where tens-of-thousands of civilians had taken refuge from Bosnian Serb offensives elsewhere.

    "In Srebrenica, in July 1995, they were finally overtaken by the Serb forces, in spite of the fact that they were a U.N. safe area, there were Dutch troops there, and there was the possibility to call on NATO air strikes," says Joseph. "But instead, there were only token air strikes, and the Dutch troops there did not effectively protect the safe area or the citizens.  The women were mostly bussed out - the women and children mostly bussed out - and the men, including some boys, were rounded up and slaughtered over a period of days there. And the numbers are at least, at least 7,000, according to ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] missing numbers - and that is at the low end of the estimated slaughter in Srebrenica," Joseph says.

    Journalist Dusko Doder was outside Srebrenica at that time, and remembers first hearing about the massacre from an elderly woman who came from the town.

    "I was driving her, and she was describing to us that they were killing people in the thousands and that they were [herding them] at the stadium," says Doder. "I couldn't believe it. I thought the old lady must have exaggerated a bit. The first stories I wrote I said in the hundreds, because I just could not believe that something like that could happen."

    In 1995, The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia - located in The Hague - indicted General Mladic and Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic on counts of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.  During the three-year (1992-95) Bosnian civil war, an estimated 100,000 people were killed and more than one million left homeless.

    Into hiding


    After the war ended, General Mladic returned to Belgrade where some experts believe he was supported and protected by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.  But after Milosevic was arrested and transferred to the tribunal in The Hague, Mladic went into hiding.  

    Balkan expert Edward Joseph says General Mladic must have had support among the Serb military and secret services to avoid arrest for so many years.

    "Clearly, you do not get to stay at large, if you are that prominent and visible without some help," he says. "And secondly, we should point out, that as a military commander in particular, General Mladic has a range of allies and a very, very strong and deep, wide support in the population, much wider and deeper than Radovan Karadzic."

    Experts such as Charles Kupchan, with the Council on Foreign Relations, say the capture of indicted war criminals is the first step in the process of reconciliation and healing among the various ethnic groups in the region.

    "If you take a somewhat longer time horizon, and you say what kind of events are important to communal healing, to collective healing, these apprehensions, these trials, these prosecutions do play an important role even on a personal basis," says Kupchan. "Because there is a sense that justice is being served, there is a sense that those responsible for crimes against humanity are being held accountable,"

    Kupchan and others say with General Mladic in custody, following the arrest of Karadzic, a major hurdle has been removed in Serbia's quest to become a full member of the European Union.


    Andre de Nesnera

    Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

    You May Like

    Video Somali, AU Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    Somalia’s Western backers frustrated over country’s slow progress in establishing its armed forces to bring security after 25 years of chaos

    Israel Makes Push for Gaza Strip Recovery

    After years of economic blockade and attempts to disable Hamas, Israeli leaders eventually realized that Hamas’ downfall could lead to chaos or the rise of a more radical Jihadist group

    Slump in Chinese Tourists Hitting Hong Kong Retail

    Mainland Chinese account for up to three-quarters of visitors to Hong Kong, but that number is falling, and shopping centers are struggling to 'shift gears' and maintain sales

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora