ICTY grapples with genocidal intent for Srebrenica

07 November 2005 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

"By planned and well-thought-out combat operations, create an unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica and Zepa." Such were the instructions of President Radovan Karadzic in March 1995. The "purifying" intention of the directive, later known by the code name of Krivaja 95, is in no doubt. Yet it leaves open the issue of the intention to commit genocide. Legal experts at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have been scrutinizing the gap between genocide and ethnic cleansing in an attempt to legally establish the existence of genocide in Srebrenica.

With hindsight, the Krivaja 95 directive could be read more as a description of what had been happening since 1992 than as a new objective. In 1995, the siege of Srebrenica had already lasted two-and-a-half years. The population was starving and lacked everything for basic survival (see p. 3). As early as 1990, Karadzic, as president of the Serb democratic party SDS, said in an interview with the Belgrade daily Nin: "We are now openly saying what could not even be whispered before: the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina are pinning all their hopes on their mother country, Serbia, and will never allow a state border to separate them from Serbia." Srebrenica was one of the areas in eastern Bosnia with a predominantly Muslim population, and this stood directly in the way of an undivided Serbia for Serbs.

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