(1) What exactly is Srebrenica Historical Project?
The long term goal of our project is to create a historical archive which would include testimony, documents, and the results of all sorts of relevant research which might shed some useful light on Srebrenica, viewed not as an event but as a phenomenon. When the issue of Srebrenica is placed in such a framework, its contextualization becomes indispensable. From a phenomenological standpoint, the issue of Srebrenica is exceptionally complex. There is marked disagreement not only in relation to what happened there in July of 1995, and why, but also in relation to the broader [and not merely historical] context of those events, going back not just three years, to the point when the most recent conflict in Bosnia/Hercegovina broke out, but considerably before that. We do not have any final word to offer, but we do suggest the following view which we believe is irreproachably correct: reducing Srebrenica to a couple of days in July of 1995 does not just trivialize the tragic events of that brief period; it is a crude caricature of broader historical reality. Outside of context—historical, political, cultural, and so forth—any discussion of Srebrenica is meaningless.
(2) What is the legal basis for the suit to be filed against the UN and Holland? In other words, why are we suing Holland at all?
From a legal perspective, Holland and the UN are part of the same package. Basic liability is, of course, attributable to the UN. Holland and its military contingent were there during a certain period of the existence of the so-called „demilitarized“ protected zone as a field agent for the UN, charged with implementing UN’s obligations. Of course, the picture is a bit more complicated than that, but that is the essence of it.
(3) What do we hope to achieve by suing?
It is best to begin our answer by saying very precisely, urbi et orbi, what it is that we are not trying to achieve. That is the following. It does not occur to us to deny the fact that after the Serbs took over Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, a large number of Moslem prisoners were shot in a way that, without a shred of doubt, constitutes a grave crime and a serious violation of the rules and customs of war. It is possible, and in our opinion it is highly desirable, given the passage of time to modify certain details of the Srebrenica narrative in a way that takes into account new insights and the chance that we now have, after more than a dozen years, to evaluate them soberly and without excess emotion. We are no longer hostages to war propaganda and the special needs, in disregard of the truth, which typically arise under conditions of ruthless ethnic conflict. Some of those modifications, which we believe to be necessary, relate to the number of victims on both sides, as well as to the legal category that the execution of Moslem prisoners should be placed in. That problematic legal categorization plays a key role in the propaganda war because it is the source of quite a few political claims and demands which, obviously, are unacceptable to the Serbian side. Thus, what we are urging is not a reexamination of the essential position—that a war crime had been committed. We are, seeking, rather that it be viewed in a correct and contextual way. The analytical work of the Srebrenica Historical Project forensic team has precisely that mission. And that is something with which every civilized person could easily agree.
But if we do have the courage to reject the tyranny of political correctness, then we must also draw the following conclusion. The human remains which are the subject of post-mortem reports that the Srebrenica Historical Project forensic team reviewed are, in fact, the only existing corpus delicti of the crime that was committed in Srebrenica. After a minutely conducted analysis of about 3400 post-mortem reports, the picture which prevailed until yesterday about that event has been buried forever. The assumption that 8000 people had been lined up and then summarily shot is now shown to be a propaganda impression, not a factually supported conclusion. Those who promoted that impression by using their media superiority now owe an explanation—perhaps an apology—to the international community. Those who used that misrepresentation to pronounce high-sounding sentences and who thundered with malicious threats are now in every way shown deserving of professional anathema.
Out of the 8000 victims who were allegedly shot by the army of the Republic of Srpska, there is no relevant expert evidence for even 10% to prove that. The material cited by the Moslem side as evidence would not pass muster with any professionally responsible crime lab, let alone a serious forensic examination in a court of law in the civilized world. We, on the other hand, speak only of Serbian civilian victims whose cases have been processed according to the highest internationally recognized standards of forensic medicine, so that no one can dispute them. Until now, the world has known only about victims from Srebrenica, but not from around Srebrenica. After our findings, that picture has been altered and it shall remain so until the Moslem side furnishes suitable evidence. Media haggling with numbers is nothing more than base political propaganda. The „truth“ of a proposition cannot be measured by the number of times a falsehood is repeated.
What we wish to achieve—and now we pass on to the positive aspect of our answer—is to ensure that victims from around Srebrenica during the three year period, 1992—1995, receive the same notice and the same recognition as Moslem victims from Srebrenica during the three day period in July of 1995. Period. That is all. Has anyone anything to say against this?
(4) What arguments support your suit?
Our arguments are not a secret and the text of our suit will soon become a public document, accessible to everyone. We are still in the final stages of preparation.
(5) Do you have any official support from the Republic of Srpska or Serbia?
It depends on how we define „support.“ We know for sure that the highest authorities of the Republic of Srpska take a very benevolent view of our efforts. We have excellent logistical cooperation from the Republic of Srpska Secretariat for war crimes investigation in Banja Luka. The Republic of Srpska Interior Ministry has assisted us immensely in locating necessary documents and meeting with victims. Here we must mention that the victims we are dealing with are not only of Serb, but also of other ethnicities, who were harmed between 1992 and 1995 as a result of illegal activities which originated from the Srebrenica enclave. As far as we are concerned, all victims are equal. We would prefer to work together with the Moslem Mothers of Srebrenica from Tuzla, instead of doing essentially the same work on different tracks. Many Serbian mothers of Srebrenica, and mothers of other ethnicities, would gladly respond to an appeal by the Mothers from Tuzla to join forces in the quest for truth and justice. We are, of course, available to assist in such a noble enterprise. (6) What could be the political and other implications in case we win in court?
Our suit, just like the suit submitted by the Mothers of Srebrenica, is inspired by moral, and therefore completely non-materialistic, considerations. We know that the Mothers of Srebrenica had demanded 25,000 euros per victim in damages, which should be multiplied by several thousand, the number of executed Moslems in July of 1995 that they estimate. But that is a mere formality, because when you are suing for damages you must demand a certain amount. Just as the Mothers of Srebrenica want their losses to be recognized, we also wish for the Dutch court—after carefully considering the evidence—to declare recognition and respect for Serbian victims. That is all. Symbolic damages in the amount of one gulden will satisfy us and we will then present that sum to a numismatic museum.