Tag Archives: Bosnia-Herzegovina

Reportaža: “Sanjari” zapeli u Bosanskoj krajini

Nakon osam dana protesta, oko 250 ljudi koji sanjaju o boljem životu u Europskoj uniji pristalo je ukloniti improvizovani kamp u neposrednoj blizini graničnoj prelaza Maljevac na sjeverozapadu Bosne i Hercegovine. To je samo jedan od prelaza u blizini kojeg hrvatska policija redovno vrši protjerivanja, uz batine i zlostavljanja, onemogućavajući izbjeglice da traže azil ili pokušaju nastaviti svoj put ka sjeveru. Nakon uklanjanja kampa, njegovi bivši stanovnici, većinom porodice, među kojima i oni sa malom djecom i bebama, u pet autobusa su uz jako prisustvo policije odvezeni u predgrađe Velike Kladuše, gdje su smješteni u prostorima fabrike Miral PVC. Ovo je bilo rješenje do kojeg su učesnici izbjegličkog protesta i predstavnici građana, prije svega privrednika Velike Kladuše koji su se bunili zbog problema s prekograničnim prometom, došli putem pregovora u kojima nije učestvovala ni općina, ni država, ni velike organizacije kojima je posao da se brinu o ljudima koji su tražitelji azila.

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Posted by on December 10, 2018 in Europe



Rise of Europe’s Far Right Emboldens Serb Extremists and Threatens a Fragile Peace in Bosnia

In a century that produced its share of ghastly war criminals, Ratko Mladic stands alongside the worst. As military commander of the Bosnian Serbs during the Bosnian war of the 1990s, Mladic helped orchestrate the largest mass killings in Europe since the Holocaust, including a notorious massacre of 8,000 men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica. In 2017, Mladic was sentenced to life in prison on charges of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia — a rare case of a high-ranking war criminal being made to face justice in a court of law.

Though reviled internationally, for some in his own country Mladic remains a symbol of repressed nationalist dreams. Passing through the dreary suburb of Lukavica, located in the hills directly south of Sarajevo — the capital city that Mladic’s forces terrorized for nearly four years — I recently saw posters and graffiti lionizing the general plastered on the walls of many buildings. At a traffic on-ramp, an image of Mladic was depicted in blood-red spray paint, giving a military salute under the letters “VRS,” the acronym for the Bosnian Serb military forces. Like statues honoring Confederate generals in the United States, many of which were actually built long after America’s Civil War, a monument to Mladic was recently erected in his hometown, an homage to a man that many still consider a hero.

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Posted by on November 22, 2018 in Europe


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Why Ethnic Nationalism Still Rules Bosnia, and Why It Could Get Worse

From Donald Trump to Hungary’s Viktor Orbán to Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, nationalism seems to have become the mainstay of political rhetoric everywhere these days. But nowhere has it become more entrenched and, above all, more harmful than in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which held national elections this past Sunday.

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Posted by on October 23, 2018 in Europe



Terug naar Prijedor Een zwanennest, riet en geen gedenkteken

We passeren een groen landschap en komen door verschillende dorpen. Hier en daar staan nog verwoeste huizen, herinneringen aan de oorlog die tussen 1992 en 1995 woedde. Het is 2012 en ik zit met mijn oom Titi in de auto. Titi is de bijnaam die ik als kind verzon voor mijn tweede vaderfiguur. Ik draai het raam open. Het is snikheet in het land van bloed en honing.

Zo’n twintig kilometer zit er tussen mijn geboortestad Prijedor, waar oom Titi en tante Mirjana wonen, en het dorp van oma. Halverwege dringt een metaalachtige geur de auto binnen. We naderen het mijncomplex bij het plaatsje Omarska. Ik kijk uit het raam en zie een grote, rode fabriekshal aan de rechterzijde van de weg. Het gevaarte haalt nostalgische gevoelens naar boven: een teken dat we bijna bij oma zijn. Van kleins af aan heb ik een fascinatie voor afzichtelijke gebouwen en dit exemplaar was altijd extra rood, lelijk en kaal.

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Posted by on September 13, 2018 in Europe



A Bosnian signs off weapons he says are going to Saudi Arabia – but how did his signature turn up in Aleppo?

In the basement of a bombed-out al-Qaeda arms storage building in eastern Aleppo last year, I found a weapons log book from a mortar factory in Bosnia – with the handwritten name of one of their senior officials, Ifet Krnjic, on each page. It was dispatched from the Balkans with a cargo of 500 120mm mortars in January 2016. But now, in the forested heart of central Bosnia, I have found Mr Krnjic, who says his company sent the arms to Saudi Arabia.

Sitting on the lawn of his home south of the weapons-manufacturing town of Novi Travnik, he brings his finger down onto the first page of the log book which I showed him. “This is my signature! Yes, that’s me!” Krnjic exclaims loudly. “It’s a warranty for the 120mm mortar launcher – this is Nato standard. It [the shipment] went to Saudi Arabia. It was part of a supply of 500 mortars. I remember the Saudi shipment well. They [the Saudis] came to our factory to inspect the weapons at the beginning of 2016.”

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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Europe, Middle East


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I traced missile casings in Syria back to their original sellers, so it’s time for the west to reveal who they sell arms to

Readers, a small detective story. Note down this number: MFG BGM-71E-1B. And this number: STOCK NO 1410-01-300-0254. And this code: DAA A01 C-0292. I found all these numerals printed on the side of a spent missile casing lying in the basement of a bombed-out Islamist base in eastern Aleppo last year. At the top were the words “Hughes Aircraft Co”, founded in California back in the 1930s by the infamous Howard Hughes and sold in 1997 to Raytheon, the massive US defence contractor whose profits last year came to $23.35bn (£18bn). Shareholders include the Bank of America and Deutsche Bank. Raytheon’s Middle East offices can be found in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Kuwait.

There were dozens of other used-up identical missile casings in the same underground room in the ruins of eastern Aleppo, with sequential codings; in other words, these anti-armour missiles – known in the trade as Tows, “Tube-launched, optically tracked and wire-guided missiles” – were not individual items smuggled into Syria through the old and much reported CIA smugglers’ trail from Libya. These were shipments, whole batches of weapons that left their point of origin on military aircraft pallets.

Some time ago, in the United States, I met an old Hughes Aircraft executive who laughed when I told him my story of finding his missiles in eastern Aleppo. When the company was sold, Hughes had been split up into eight components, he said. But assuredly, this batch of rockets had left from a US government base. Amateur sleuths may have already tracked down the first set of numbers above. The “01” in the stock number is a Nato coding for the US, and the BGM-71E is a Raytheon Systems Company product. There are videos of Islamist fighters using the BGM-71E-1B variety in Idlib province two years before I found the casings of other anti-tank missiles in neighbouring Aleppo. As for the code: DAA A01 C-0292, I am still trying to trace this number.

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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Middle East


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The fisherman in Sarajevo told tales of past wars – and warned me of ones to come

We spotted him at the end of a path beside the River Miljacka, bending over the rail with a fishing rod, staring at the fast-moving, shallow waters with a rare intensity, frowning – angry, I thought – the sort of guy you might avoid if you weren’t a journalist on a glowering, rain-spitting day, walking with a translator and ready to approach the down-and-outs of this gloomy city.

I’ve never found Sarajevo a cheerful place, not just because it endured the longest siege in modern history, but because its new tourist shops and tat, and its dodgy reputation as a restored symbol of ethnic unity, are undeserved. Besides, it sent my own father to the trenches of the First World War. It lives off that, too, turning political assassination – in this case, of course, that of the Austro-Hungarian Crown Prince and his wife in June 1914 – into a holiday haunt. Come and see where Gavrilo Princip fired the fatal shot. There’s a museum on the corner and a spanking new four star hotel on the same street and just round the block a Lebanese restaurant – I kid thee not – called “Beirut”.

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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Europe



Playing to the audience: The televised suicide of Slobodan Praljak

The court rooms of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague have seen many a drama in the last twenty-four years, however nothing compared to the televised suicide of a defendant. And yet, this is what happened on 29 November 2017, at the end of the trial of six Bosnian Croats for crimes committed in Bosnia between 1992 and 1994. The judge, Carmel Agius, had just finished reading his verdict to the former general Slobodan Praljak, sentencing him to twenty years in prison, when the tall and imposing Praljak stood up, shouted at the judges and drank something from a small vial. One could see the other two defendants sitting next to him looking up in surprise, and the judge glancing over his reading glasses. At first, everyone took it as a typical case of the defendant causing a brief commotion before sitting back down or being accompanied out of the court room – like what happened recently with the Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladić. But soon a curtain was drawn and the court proceedings were interrupted. Live television transmission was suspended and Praljak was taken to hospital.

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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Europe, European Union


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Flawed Justice for the Butcher of Bosnia

I met Ratko Mladic only once. He was the general commanding the war machine destroying Bosnia and overseeing the medieval siege of Sarajevo, the capital, where I was living and reporting. I spent my days going to the morgue to count the dead and to sit in hospitals with children who had been blinded by shrapnel.

On a freezing cold day in 1993, as Sarajevo was getting pummeled with shells, I had driven to Mount Igman, a strategic mountain to the southeast, through Bosnian Serb front lines. In a pine forest, on a mud road, I found General Mladic sitting placidly in his jeep. Tentatively, I approached his window to ask him a question about the humanitarian operation in Sarajevo. Food had not been delivered in some time, I said, and people were starving to death. Would he let the trucks carrying food pass?

The Butcher of Bosnia, a nickname I thought let him off lightly, stared at me coldly and muttered something to his aide-de-camp. The aide told me, “The general says, ‘Tell the girl journalist if she comes any closer, I’ll run her down.’ ” Then he added, in English, “And he will do it.”

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Posted by on November 28, 2017 in Europe


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Il fantasma di Ratko Mladić nell’Europa di oggi

Aprile 1992. Colline intorno a Sarajevo, Bosnia Erzegovina. Registrazione radio-telefono:

“Qui generale Mladić”.
“Non avere paura. Come ti chiami?”.
“Vukasinović, ascoltami. Bombarda la presidenza e il parlamento. Spara a intervalli lenti fino a che non ti dirò di smettere”.
“Colpisci i quartieri musulmani, lì non vivono molti serbi”.
“Va bene”.
“Non devono dormire. Bombardali fino a farli impazzire”.

Sono i primi giorni della guerra in Bosnia e Ratko Mladić, comandante militare dei serbo-bosniaci, ordina al colonnello Vukasinović di sparare a tappeto su una capitale europea, Sarajevo. È l’inizio dell’assedio più lungo nella storia contemporanea: finirà solo nel febbraio del 1996, dopo 44 mesi. Almeno undicimila persone moriranno, più della metà civili. I feriti saranno più di cinquantamila.

Il 22 novembre 2017 il Tribunale penale internazionale per la ex Jugoslavia ha condannato il generale Ratko Mladić, all’ergastolo. Dopo un processo durato cinque anni, lo ha riconosciuto colpevole di dieci capi di imputazione su undici, tra cui di crimini di guerra, crimini contro l’umanità e genocidio. Per capire l’importanza di questa sentenza bisogna ricostruire il progetto nazionalista ideato dal presidente serbo Slobodan Milošević e trasformato in una guerra di sterminio nel cuore dell’Europa dal serbo-bosniaco Mladić.

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Europe


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