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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More