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 Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora