Friday, February 08, 2008

Over Five Million Dead in Congo? by keith harmon snow

[If you have been wondering what's really up with Kenya these days--a country that for more than 40 years had been an African model of 'peaceful economic development' suddenly breaking out in bloody ethnic or tribal savagery leaving more than 800 dead over a challenged election?--take a look at this info-packed piece on Congo by our friend and strong Africa-hand Keith Snow.

This article also reflects some light on the criminalizing forces in play in EEurope and Russia since the break-up of the USSR. Russia, very much like Congo, a vast and vastly rich country, was turned into a savage, toxic wasteland of internacine war and drunken economic cannibalism by the neoliberal agents of global capital. In the last 7 years of Vladimir Putin presidency, however, a process of national redemption has begun, and the signs of Russia's return as a world power are many and evident and expressed most eloquently by the overwhelming support of the Russian people for their government. But this is due in large part to the inability of its Western ravagers to 'deracinate' the Soviet Union's essential sense of the overriding importance of the collective weal.

What hope can there be for Africa when generation after generation of its it most enlightened and progressive leaders, from Lumumba to Habyarimana, have been jailed, tortured and murdered? And any vestiges of socialist organization have been incinerated in the furnace of Western imperialist wars. --mc]

Over Five Million Dead in Congo?
Fifteen Hundred People Daily?
Behind the Numbers Redux:
How Truth is Hidden, Even When it Seems to Be Told
keith harmon snow
30 January 2008
The International Rescue Committee in late January 2008 released a new report on the mortality in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. The report caught the eye of some news agencies, who quickly whipped up trite little articles as supposed expressions of horror. Over and over it has been declared “the world’s forgotten crises.” There are reasons why Darfur is in the crises of the day, the poster crises, and why Congo is hardly mentioned.[1]
However, the story of war and plunder in Congo is not unreported. It is a story that has been censored, manipulated, and covered up even while it is ostensibly being told. Plenty of information has been published about the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and plenty of this is flak, designed to whiteout the truth, and help keep the real story buried, and that includes the truly honest representations of war and suffering in Congo that have been published. Just because the mainstream doesn’t cover it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. This is the falsification of consciousness.
While the true death toll in Congo over the past series of wars—for the Congolese it is one long continuous war—will never be known, it is far higher than the IRC figures. In the IRC’s tidy statistical equations there is no recounting the ordeal of the millions of people who have disappeared into the swamps, the tropical forests, the mass graves, torture chambers and death camps, or after crossing borders. The entire exercise in counting the dead is another way to do little to stop it. The IRC is about profits, but that is not all.
The International Rescue Committee has been described in the past as the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, and it is. This is exactly what is going on with the IRC today, and more, when the IRC—heavily subsidized by the very same profiteers—sends its body counters into Congo. But the IRC is not only the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, it is also the ideal instrument of intelligence gathering. The IRC capitalizes on their access to refugee populations, conflict areas and individual refugee encounters and interviews to gather intelligence on armed groups, leadership, resources, weapons and geographical conflicts, information that is selectively used to serve the greater interests of the IRC and its partners. 
America’s Secret Warriors
Amongst the trustees or overseers of the International Rescue Committee is Henry Kissinger, a man whose interests run very deep in Congo. Henry Kissinger is tied to Freeport McMoRan (FXC) and FCX is all over the copper and cobalt show in Katanga. FCX director J. Stapleton Roy was Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research under Madeleine Albright, 1999-2000, during the Clinton administration invasions of Rwanda (1994) and then Congo/Zaire (1996); Roy retired to join Kissinger Associates.[2]
Another Kissinger Associates principal is Lawrence Eagleburger, who has past affiliations with the defense and intelligence insider Scowcroft Group, and has been a director of Halliburton Corporation since 1998. Scowcroft Group founder Brent Scowcroft served as the National Security Advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, and, 1982-1989, he was Vice-Chairman of Kissinger Associates.
Walter Kansteiner, a National Security insider for the Clinton and G.W. Bush administrations and a “principal member” of the Scowcroft Group today, is a director of Moto Gold (operating in blood-drenched Ituri, Congo) and of the military-based “conservation” organization, the Africa Wildlife Foundation (Washington D.C.), that is backing mercenary activities in the Congo’s Virungas Mountains region under the cover of gorilla protection.
Another Kissinger Associates director is Belgium’s Viscount Etienne Davignon, one of the Congo’s most lasting current enemies. Davignon was directly involved, 1964-1965, in the code-named “Dragon” operations that installed the “kleptocrat” Mobutu and seeded the beginning of the end for millions of Congolese people.[3],[4] Davignon is also a close associate of Donald Rumsfeld through the bio-warfare production company Gilead Sciences.
The IRC board includes Samantha Power, the Founder of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard and Pulitzer-prize winning author of A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide, the book that peddles genocide inflation on the one hand (regarding Rwanda, Yugoslavia and Sudan), and genocide denial on the other (regarding Congo, Uganda and Rwanda).[5]
The IRC “Freedom Award” for “extraordinary contributions to the cause of refugees and human freedom” has been given to some of the genocide inflators and deniers. In 1987 it went to John C. Whitehead and in 1992 to Cyrus Vance, two men with historical ties to covert operations in Congo, for example, through their National Security Agency and CIA insider status, and two men tied to the Maurice Templesman empire behind the plunder of Congo/Zaire for decades.
U.S. Congressman Donald Payne is one of those “friends of Africa” who hangs with the Andrew Young and Maurice Templesman crowd. His role as Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations in the Bush administration is one of his more stellar performances, a sad disappointment and complete betrayal to Africans and African-Americans.
In 1993 the “Freedom Award” went to Dwayne O. Andreas, the Archer Daniels Midland executive and top U.S. congressional campaign funder whose company makes sure there are starving refugees. ADM is deeply tied to Robert Dole and Andrew Young, the latter counting ADM as one of his many top clients at PR firm Goodworks International. Young is also deeply connected to the client regimes in Rwanda and Uganda—the chief protagonists in the Congo wars.
In 1995 the IRC’s “Freedom Award” went to Richard Holbrooke; in 1996 to Madeleine Albright; and in 2004 to General Romeo Dallaire. All three people were pivotal to the U.S. covert operations and the subsequent massive refugee displacements and mortality in Central Africa. Holbrooke and Albright are also culpable in crimes against humanity in the former-Yugoslavia, Haiti, Sudan and Iraq.
Finally, the “Freedom” award was shared in 2005 by William J. Clinton and G.H.W. Bush; Clinton launched the wars in Rwanda and Congo with the background support of his predecessor; Bush’s “humanitarianism” includes massive state destabilization, terror networks, torture, coups d’etat and war on sovereign nations.
The International Rescue Committee is not a neutral or purely “humanitarian” organization. The IRC has a deep history of nefarious activities going far beyond relief operations. The IRC is also a huge financial operation providing scads of executives and business people with scads of income in ways that do not help to alleviate the war or suffering, but, rather,exacerbate it. While the IRC claims 90% of its funds “are spent on refugee programs and services,” much of this money never hits the ground in Africa, what does, often barely touches the life of a refugee. Amongst the IRC’s biggest funders are HSBC bank, GE, and Goldman Sachs, all involved in Congo’s blood diamonds plunder, and Pfizer and Gilead Sciences (the Davignon-Rumsfeld company). The IRC’s involvement in Congo—a mortality study—involves deeply political but generally hidden motives. Why doesn’t the IRC focus on feeding the living instead of counting the dead?
The Horror, The Horror
Beyond the simple calculus of the IRC’s highly political bias and interests, and cloaked in a smokescreen of neutrality, the mortality assessment is flawed. The IRC considers only the period of 1998 to 2007, excluding the first phase of the war, the U.S.-backed overthrow of Zaire and coup d’etat against Mobutu Sese Seko, 1996-1998. The IRC excludes this period for multiple reasons. (Requests to the IRC for comment were not answered.)
One of the obvious reasons is that the Pentagon was directly involved, 1996-1998, along with private U.S. military companies, Military Professional Resources Incorporated, and Kellogg, Brown and Root (Halliburton). Just as happened with the massive bloodletting in Rwanda, and premised, of course, from the start on the examples of selective justice at the Nazi Nuremburg trials, the international system manipulates statistics, dates, and time-frames partly to shield those agents who might otherwise be subject to some kind of future reckoning, and partly to serve the falsification of history and fabricate a false consciousness.
The IRC excludes the period 1996-1997 to shield the governments of now military President Paul Kagame, in Rwanda, and Yoweri Museveni, in Uganda, and their inner circles and extended networks of syndicated, organized crime.
In 1995 and 1996, the Rwandan Patriotic Army/Front (RPA/F) and their partners and backers, the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), the Pentagon, MPRI and assorted other mercenaries, laid the groundwork for their imminent war by engaging Zairian territory through significant cross-border covert and terror operations from Uganda and Rwanda. In October 1996 there were at least 1.5 million Rwandan and Burundian refugees in eastern Zaire, according to most refugee agencies. The full-scale invasion began more formally when the RPA/UPDF proxy forces shelled the refugee camps. This was in violation of international humanitarian law, and it was a pivotal event to understand, because it was a replay of the events of October 1990, whereby the RPA invaded the territory of a sovereign government: Rwanda. Only this time it was eastern Zaire, and it involved the shelling of Hutu refugee camps.[6] These are egregious violations of international law.
France reported at the time that there were 1.2 million refugees and the United States insisted there were only 700,000, and the U.S. took the disingenuous line that all the refugees went back to Rwanda. They did not.
Hundreds of thousands of unarmed and innocent men, women and children were driven west, north, and south, running in fear for their lives from the allied invading forces whom they knew from experience over the previous six years to be bloodthirsty killers. Many also were forced back to Rwanda where the RPA was targeting them. The RPA/UPDF forces hunted down and killed hundreds of thousands in a clear case of genocide. The names of the U.S. officials, the RPA and UPDF commanders and Congolese collaborators are all very well known to those who were on the ground or involved at the time.
One of these is long-time UNICEF executive Nigel Fisher, who is today also a member of the Advisory Council of the Diamond Development Initiative, a program run by and for the diamond industry but meant to put a reformative face on corporations and syndicated crime networks that for decades have plundered the Congo. Fisher was the UNICEF Special Representative for Rwanda in 1994, and he led that agency’s post-genocide [sic] recovery operations [sic] in the Great Lakes region of Africa (Rwanda, eastern Zaire, western Tanzania and southern Uganda) in 1994-1995. This places him squarely in the know about the massive genocidal killings and other crimes against humanity that occurred as the Rwandan military (then the Rwandan Patriotic Army) under current President Paul Kagame and the Ugandan military under President-for-life Yoweri Museveni first shelled the refugee camps and then marched across Zaire committing genocide.
So right off the bat we can add between 200,000 and 800,000 deaths to the new IRC mortality figures (and the 200,000 would be a very conservative figure).
Finally, the IRC is known for its long history of involvement in CIA and NSA activities, including shipping or transporting weapons.[7] According to a top United Nations investigator, the IRC moved into bases in eastern Zaire in 1996 and started shelling the refugee camps with heavy weapons. Here is the direct quote: “The IRC took over some bases near the refugee camps and started shelling the camps with heavy weapons.” (Name withheld for confidentiality.)
The IRC has spent millions of dollars analyzing the “impact of conflict” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but they have said nothing of substance about the parallel economy of plunder that is enriching some of the same organizations that support their “humanitarian” programs. Their recent report is a glossy brochure offering a pornography of violence.
How stupid and blind do they think people are? How stupid and blind are we?
At the same time, the IRC has received massive “loans”—in the millions of dollars—over recent years from the U.S. taxpayer-funded Overseas Private Investment Corporation. What happens to all these OPIC funds?
In the new IRC report about mortality in Congo there is not a word about the causes of the ongoing strife or the structural factors which have made this holocaust possible, and perpetuate it.
Things Go Better with Blood
Offering their only real reason for the high mortality rates, the IRC states:
“Recovery from conflict is a slow and protracted process. The persistent elevation of mortality more than four years after the official end of the 1998–2002 war provides further evidence that recovery from conflict can take many years, especially when superimposed on decades of political and socioeconomic decline.”
This is nonsense. When hurricane Katrina hit, it was, after a brief delay, a rapid intervention process that established a chain of U.S. military command posts across the gulf coast. Troops, helicopters, tanks, and private military armies were quickly sent in, not to rescue people, but to secure the facilities of the US military and defense contractors, shipyards, banks and the high-end economic zone. It was all very efficient, hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer’s money was squandered on professional killers who, fresh from Iraq and Afghanistan, did the only thing they seem to know how to do, they killed people. But the point is that the U.S. government moves mountains when it wants to, and quickly.
Recovery from conflict “is a slow and protracted process” because there is an ongoing policy of intentional depopulation in Africa. The United Nations Observers Mission in Congo (MONUC) spends about 40-45% of its billion dollar budget on airplane contracts flying around central Africa, and this goes to big business. There is never any problem shipping in weapons, and—offering a rather stark and poignant and undeniable example of the way things work and don’t—Coca Cola trucks ship coke all over the place, even in rural areas. Full stop.
Think about it.
There are no books and no bookstores in Congo for a reason. Starvation is widespread and there are food and grain shortages because of, and not in spite of, the United Nations and the IRC and the World Food Program and its ties to Robert Dole, Archer Daniels Midland, ConAgra and—a Henry Kissinger link—Continental Grain. There are shortages of health supplies and high rates of disease for a reason, and it is not because this is the “heart of darkness” or any other racist foolishness.
Coca Cola is not a healthy beverage for malnourished or starving children with no access to dental facilities. More importantly, Coke director Donald F. McHenry is President of the IRC Group, a Washington DC consulting firm whose connections to the International Rescue Committee are difficult to ascertain. Former Ambassador Andrew Young, Madeleine Albright, George Soros, Lawrence Eagleburger, Frank Ferrari, Donald Easum, Donald F. McHenry and Frank Carlucci, all frequently surface like tentacles of the Templesman octopus, and most of them are tight with the intelligence apparatus, and all have ties to the flak-producing CIA ciphers, the Africa-America Institute and the Corporate Council on Africa.
IRC President and Director George Rupp is also a director of the secretive and euphemistically-named Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, a right-wing Judeo-Christian front-organization. Other PCHPA directors include Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Robert Dole and David Beckman, from the equally fundamentalist Christian front-group Bread for the World. The Musevenigovernment has forced 1.3 million Acholi people onto death camps in northern Uganda and denied them humanitarian relief.
Starvation happens not because this is Africa, or the Congo, it is because we are witnessing the most devastating example of predatory capitalism and heartless, absolute greed, combined with a spiritual crises—in the “first” world—of unprecedented proportions. The long term control of Congo’s resources is best served by eliminating as many black people as possible. The capacity to control Congo’s resources is enhanced by spreading terror, uprooting people, destroying families, sowing distrust and hatred. It is called divide and conquer and it is the oldest trick in the book of European conquest. The word that best describes the portfolio of psychological, emotional, physical, social, cultural and political effects of such campaigns of destabilization and terror is DERACINATION.
And all the while the humanitarian “misery” industry is raking in billions of dollars on programs to “help” the Congolese people, and universities create new programs and departments to train the privileged “development” work force, all to create and institutionalize dependency. This is structural violence, and it is part of a cycle of perpetuated wealth and privilege. It is managed inequality.
This is U.S. foreign policy in action. The IRC merely institutionalizes the framework of false thinking that supports war and plunder and the entrenchment, rather than alleviation, of structural violence. Behind the psychological warfare, the picture in Congo is very different, and the responsible forces are easily identified.
The Falsification of Consciousness
Here’s how the system projects—and inculcates—the falsified consciousness about Africa that people in the West are blinded by.
One of the long-term dictator Mobutu Sese Seko’s right-hand men was Albert-Henri Buisine, a French mercenary-pirate who worked on the Kamanyola, the luxury yacht where Mobutu arrived by helicopter to receive foreign backers and “VIP” cronies. While Mobutu frequently visited the White House, Brussels, Paris, Tokyo, Geneva, London—and sometimes Tel Aviv—he regularly received his cronies and patrons on his yacht in Zaire.[8]
Protected by Albert-Henri Buisine and Israeli mercenary Meir Meyouhas—and a slew of crack black intelligence operatives—Mobutu received his guests Je me couche tôt.. Hundreds of people came and went from Zaire over the years, and these included Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; Vice-President George H.W. Bush; Ambassadors Andrew Young and Jean Kirkpatrick; and mercenary Frank Carlucci. Diamond tycoon Maurice Templesman dined often with Mobutu on the Kamanyola, sometimes with his lover, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, often with his Zaire-based diamond agents, like Jerry Funk or James Barnes, and with De Beers agents, like Nicky Oppenheimer or Nick Davenport.[9]
The Templesman and De Beers empires exist today in Congo in their modern forms, and many of the same agents of the Mobutu period are connected to policies or actions that perpetuate suffering and violence in Congo and Angola and South Africa today. It is important to note, also, that the Templesman blood minerals machine has heavily subsidized the campaigns of the democrats, including recent fascist manifestations, Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In the final counting, Hillary Clinton has done more damage to Africa than Obama (but there is still time).  
On May 11 and 12, 1990, Mobutu’s shock troops—including the Israeli-trained Special Presidential Division (DSP), SARM and National Gendarmerie—attacked the campus at the University of Lumumbashi, and they killed hundreds of students, at least, while countless more were tortured and brutalized. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency station in Lumumbashi supported the atrocities and cover-up. It sounds like a long time ago, but the players are still around. Some, like James Barnes, Maurice and Leon Templesman, and Nicky Oppenheimer, are still running big operations in Africa.
What was Albert-Henri Buisine’s role in protecting the Mobutu dictatorship and perpetuating such atrocities and where is Mobutu’s old mercenary bodyguard today?
Well, Mobutu’s French mercenary bodyguard Albert-Henri Buisine surfaced in October, 2007, in a Harper’s magazine article by Bryan Mealer, a journalist who formerly freelanced with the Associated Press and The Independent (London). Buisine is no longer a private military agent serving the terror apparatus of a Cold War dictator; he is the loquacious captain of a barge pressing 2600 tons of cargo up the Congo River (for his private shipping company and substantial personal profit). One hundred years after Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness we have a white American AP journalist retelling his unfathomable voyage up the Congo.
And there’s the nostalgic Captain, a reluctant French mercenary-terrorist-turned-pilot-profiteer, who for 16 years, against his will, Mealer tells us, served Mobutu reluctantly. “He was chained to Mobutu's shadow at all times, even living four straight years aboard the lavish presidential yacht, the Kamanyola, as it drifted aimlessly down the Congo River.”
Drifted aimlessly? Chained to Mobutu’s shadow? Hardly. This is fiction. There are deep cultural stereotypes and subliminal fault lines at work here that have been inculcated through decades of propaganda about Congo/Zaire. There is nothing but dross in Mealer’s account, no mention of the brutalities suffered by Congolese people, the strike-breaking and student massacres, or the rented crowds chanting “Mobutu! Mobutu” and the empty slogans of Mobutu’s Movement Populaire de la Revolution party. There is no mention of the hated Special Presidential Division terror apparatus, the illegal arrests and detention without trial, the tortures at underground dungeons like the “OAU-2” or the “corridor of death” in Kinshasa. It is all rendered nostalgic, and the plunderers of the past are painted as unwitting victims who missed their lot in life. The story casts the standard aspersions on the white exploiters, and this works to displace the attention from their past and often current criminality.
“Buisine now led the simple life of a river rat,” Mealer tells us, “making his run six or seven times a year,” pointing out “whirlpools roiling in the deep spots, crocodiles camouflaged in the mud, or, along a wooded island, a tree whose leaves cured hemorrhoids.” [10]
Harper’s never mentions the agents of repression in such places, because the American public is all too happy with the vainglorious version of the beleaguered white hero challenging the savagery in the heart of darkness. How many stories about Congo involve a River and a Great White Hero challenging the savagery and darkness of the forest? Harper’s tells us nothing about Congo: it is the usual racist nonsense meant to displace the truth. The story is “good” reading, but it is fiction, a mirror reflecting our whiteness back to us. The author even claims that the natives communicate by drums so that villages along the river know the boat is coming before Buisine and the heroic white journalist arrive upstream. This is the falsification of American consciousness.
To cap Harper’s silly whitewash, the photographer that traveled up river with Mealer is based in Kigali, Rwanda, and everyone in the region knows that you cannot work in and out of Rwanda today and still be telling the truth. Finally, Harper’s publisher, John R. MacArthur, is described by his magazine company as a “tireless advocate for human rights.”
And that is why we have more than 10 million dead in Congo since 1996, and millions more in Uganda and Rwanda. These nightmare numbers are the products of the Bush-Clinton-Bush administrations, a contiguous unfolding of fascism in America.
I traveled on this river more than once: in 2007 I also swam two-thirds of the way across it (at Lukutu, where I hit an island and turned back); I also swam across the tributary Lomami (2007) and Lopori (2006) rivers. The Harper’s production mirrors the obliviousness of white men in Congo and the even greater obliviousness of white editors, and it is all to satisfy the voracious obliviousness of increasingly stupefied readers.
Been there, done that. Now it is time for us all to grow up.
Plantation Slavery in the Heartland
At the height of the supposed disintegration of Zaire—mid-1980’s through the mid-1990’s—the Blattner family was rapidly expanding their operations and consolidating power. The previous and already vast empire in Zaire was established by James Blattner as the Group Agro Pastoral (GAP), and this was later divided up amongst sons David and Elwyn (Daniel’s role in Congo is uncertain), who scooped up plantation after plantation, concession after concession, becoming involved in transportation, shipping, aviation, telecommunications, agriculture, logging and construction. Elwyn Blattner’s father-in-law, Shimon Razin, also runs a company, Safgaz, in Congo, when he is not in Tel Aviv, and the Blattners send their children to elite colleges in Europe. In 2003, Elwyn Blattner was President of the Communaute Israelite de Kinshasa.[11]
The Blattner empire today is perpetuating massive suffering in the interior, with slavery and all the abominations of paramilitary fiefdoms occurring on the Blattner plantations.[12] None of this has been reported, but for those who wonder how the mortality rate in the interior of the Congo could be so high—a sudden flash of awakening with the release of the January 2008 International Rescue Committee statistics—the answer lies in the capitalist enterprises of the Elwyn Blattners, the Maurice Templesmans, the Etienne Davignons and Nicky Oppenheimers, and the IRC itself. The Blattners frequently travel back and forth from Congo to the United States, Belgium, Tel Aviv and South Africa. On August 2, 2007, for example, David Blattner and family attended a lavish Bar Mitzvah of friends in Israel held at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv. On the same day, the second of August, 2007, at least 1500 people died in the Congo.
What is the IRC’s relationship to the plantation slave-drivers, and how did the IRC statistically figure the higher mortality rates on plantations run by the Blattner or George Forrest Groups in rural Congo?
It Takes a Village
By the late 1990s, the guarding of the diamond concessions in Zaire had ceased to operate under a single chain of command and had become increasingly militarized by thugs of all stripes. Atrocities mounted during the heaviest war years, but violence continues in these areas today.
Katanga has repeatedly been described as the province of “forgotten strife.” In the past decade alone, millions of people have been dispossessed of their livelihoods, their land, their futures and their lives, and the mining in Katanga and Mbuji-Mayi has been going on since the end of the Leopold era.
Entire villages have been sacked and burned by militias and in some almost every woman has been raped during military campaigns of the past few years.[13] More than 5000 children have lived on the streets in the center of Mbuji-Mayi town in the past few years—yet another generation of Congolese leaders lost—and recent systematic massacres of street children have occurred at the hands of militias, political groups and security forces.[14]
How does the IRC mortality study factor in the deaths of street children murdered in Mbuji Mayi?
After a century of exploitation and slavery, we find the DRC’s huge state diamond firm, MIBA, consistently withholding payment of salaries to starving Congolese laborers and middle managers for months at a time. April and May 2007 saw strikes and protests leading to the Kabila government’s arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of trade union organizers like Leon Ngoy Bululu; police have also shot protestors.[15] So-called ‘illegal’ diamond workers—disenfranchised local Congolese people forced into “criminal” activities to survive—were summarily executed on MIBA concessions in Mbuji-Mayi. The BBC, in August 2006 reported that MIBA security guards were sniping unemployed diamond miners.[16] Of course, the BBC never gives us the deeper story, it is only for expedience and some interest somewhere that they are saying anything revealing at all.
Katanga is the Democratic Republic of Congo’s southernmost province, and it is the world’s richest mining metropolis, with the poorest people in the world. Part of the vast copper belt that stretches across northern Zambia and southern Congo, Katanga is home to unprecedented human misery. The Zambian copperbelt concessions over the border involve many of the same companies and interests mentioned above.[17] But hundreds of billions of dollars are involved in these mining projects and they have no problems moving heavy equipment into the most rural areas, building runways, and shipping the product out.
But as long as people in the West gobble up the corporate do-nothing nonsense peddled by the IRC, CARE, Save the Children, Newsweek, the New York Times, the BBC and the International Crises Group, it is, indeed, hopeless.
Workers and communities in and around these mines suffer due to state orchestrated repression, chemical mining processes and toxic runoff, tuberculosis, immune disorders, racial discrimination and slavery. There are all the standard treatable maladies (typhoid, malaria, tetanus, polio, malnutrition) as well. However, such stories are off the agenda for the North American, European, Japanese, Australian and Israeli media corporations providing the mainstay of English language indoctrination meant to instill racial superiority and a vast ignorance and obliviousness that leave westerns populations shaking their heads and wringing their hands and clicking their tongues, while all the while wondering “what is to be done?” It does not cross people’s minds that their own hands are dirty, that their own consciousness has been falsified, that change is possible.

Lies, Lies, Those Slippery (Petroleum) Lies
German diplomat Albrecht Conze is the deputy political director of the United Nations Observers Mission in Congo (MONUC). In an article in the German magazine Der Spiegel, after the first round of elections in August 2006, Conze “predicted” the inevitable return of white patronage in Congo. “It is like being the Congo’s foster parents,” Conze said, suggesting that such patronage is a blessing, rather than the curse that it is to the people of Congo. Conze continued to misrepresent the Western plunder in Congo by saying, for example, that the U.S. government's interest in rebuilding Congo is limited. After all, he said, the deeply Catholic country “contains neither oil nor terrorists.” [18]
The above statement is consistent with the perpetual lies by powerful interests who benefit by always downplaying or hiding Congo’s (Africa) wealth.
The first petroleum refinery in the Congo—owned by Societe Congolaise Italienne de Raffinage (SOCIR), a joint venture between the Congolese government and Ente Nazioale Idrocarburi, Italy’s state-owned petroleum company—commenced production near the mouth of the Congo River in 1967. Under a five year contract signed in 1967, the crude for the refinery was supplied by Shell, Mobil, Petrofina and Texaco.[19] Petroleum exploration occurred heavily off the Atlantic coast after 1968; production began in 1976 involving Chevron, Mobil, Unocal, Royal/Dutch Shell, Agip, TotalFinaElf, Teikoku Oil and the Japan National Oil Company. Recent onshore exploitation near the refinery involves Total, Pan Ocean Energy (UK) and Addax Petroleum (Canada).
The heartland of the Congo also has petroleum, and this is part of the reason for the unfathomable terrorism involving Western enterprises and agents and the concomitant rates of mortality in the interior. Petroleum reserves were discovered (but left dormant) by Chevron in the Equateur rainforest in the late 1970’s.[20] By 1997 this vast concession—known as Cuvette Centrale for the former petit province—was held by Trillion Resources Ltd., established in Vancouver in 1987.[21] The company is involved in exploration throughout Africa in association with Canadian mining companies such as Nickelodeon Minerals Inc., Oliver Gold Corporation and Skeena Resources Ltd. In DRC its activities have also involved mining in Katanga with DRC parastatal Gecamines. There is no doubt that Trillion and Chevron interests supported certain factions in Congo’s wars.
In Eastern DRC, petroleum under Lake Albert is being tapped on the Ugandan side by Canada’s Heritage Oil & Gas, Tullow Oil and Hardman Resources, supported by the organized crime syndicates involved with the Uganda “government,” which is itself another syndicated crime ring run by the Ugandan military, General James Kazini, and Museveni’s half-brother Salim Saleh. Further south near Goma and Bukavu, Lake Kivu is targeted by U.S. companies, working through the current dictatorship in Rwanda, for its massive methane reserves.
“This is an oil country,” the new Congo’s newly created Oil Minister Lambert Mende was quoted by Reuters to say, “not because of our current small production, but because there is major potential… Quite modestly, we expect nothing less than three billion barrels of reserves, and it's certainly more than that.” Reuters in July 2007 confirmed that onshore reserves remain untapped and largely unexplored in Equateur province in the north as well as under Lake Albert and Lake Tanganyika along the eastern border.[22]
As always, the exploiters try to minimize the awareness of the resources they are targeting. Contrary to the statement by MONUC’s German diplomat Albrecht Conze—as the Congolese, Rwandan and Ugandan people know all too well—the “terrorists” are all over Central Africa, even if some of them have never visited the country.
Conze’s behavior epitomizes white supremacy masked by “humanitarianism” and “peacekeeping” in Africa. The “peacekeeping” operations of MONUC, like the “humanitarian” or misery industry, are merely well-cloaked disguises for more predatory capitalism with the added insidiousness of a supposed and self-righteous “higher moral purpose” that allows the exploiters in the West to celebrate our “goodness” and our “humanity” and to claim that our hands are clean and, of course, that we care. But this is big business and nothing else. To question such things in themselves is written off as complete heresy, and that is why MONUC does not take any notice of such writings as this one: good journalists produce tripe for Harper’s, they don’t point the finger at modern-day conquistadors and attach blame to the names of U.N. officials, corporate executives, or high society philanthropists and diamond tycoons.
MONUC officials say nothing of substance about mining in Congo, which proceeds in parallel with the bloodletting, arms trading and extortion. For example, Anvil Mining has been involved in massacres in DRC.[23] Anvil directors include former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Brown, who served at U.S. embassies in Brussels, Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville and South Africa. Brown was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa (1987-1989) under George Schultz and George H.W. Bush and then Director of Central African Affairs (1980-1981). Meanwhile, the former top internal intelligence and security chief of the United Nations Observer’s Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has been working for Anvil mining in Katanga since 2006.[24]
With top MONUC security officials taking high paying jobs with companies involved in the atrocities, one begins to see the nature of an organized, armed, free-for-all for Congo’s resources.
This journalist reported in July 2007 that MONUC officials were accepting kickbacks from warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba, and there is evidence of MONUC collusion with other individuals capitalizing on war and plunder in Congo.[25] In December 2007, it was reported that a special task force for the United Nations “uncovered a pervasive pattern of corruption and mismanagement involving hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for fuel, food, construction and other materials used by U.N. peacekeeping operations.” [26]
But this is the tip of the iceberg and the United Nations actions are weak and, often enough, meaningless. Finally, the MONUC mission in Congo institutionalizes the inequality and suffering endured by Congolese people by maintaining double standards about labor and employment packages provided to MONUC employees who live in the host country: In August 2007 a major “stop work” strike was undertaken by Congolese nationals in the MONUC system due to the entrenched and continued injustices served on Congolese people working for the mission, in comparison with the more comprehensive employment packages provided to expatriate foreigners. The strike was almost entirely unreported by the MONUC public information offices. The international press—in keeping with their role as gatekeepers of suffering in Congo—investigated nothing and, in the end, they only parroted the official line.[27]
Unmanned Aerospace Vehicles
The United Nations and European Union Forces (EUFOR) involved in Congo are there to secure corporate resources and insure profits through military domination. Yet the cover story is hammered into the Western “news” consuming consciousness as a “humanitarian” or a “peacekeeping” mission.
Advanced technologies like Israel Aircraft Industries/Belgian Hunter UAVs (Unmanned Aerospace Vehicles) intelligence platforms are now used by Belgian defense forces in flying operations over Congo.[28] Two UAVs have crashed in Kinshasa, killing one Congolese person and wounding 10 others, and the Israeli-Belgian fleet has deployed three more UAVs. Belgian Defense command indicates that the UAVs are to “collect information on road traffic and crowd activities.” [29] But the statement is a euphemism for maintaining the status quo of suffering, starvation, torture and dispossession in Congo, while further enhancing foreign military domination and expansion.
Three cheers for the rogue Congolese soldier with the battered Kalashnikov AK-47 whose single shot at one of the EUFOR’s robotic UAVs flying overhead (at 1200 feet) penetrated the wing joint, pierced a structural weak point and caused the wing to crumble and the UAV to crash. Of course, the poor man has disappeared into the dungeons of hell in Kinshasa, and he will go down in history as a criminal, rather than a hero whose expression of frustration and misery manifested in shooting down a $10 million dollar Israeli weapon with a pop gun.
The Belgian military described the man as a “lone gunman with a known criminal record.”[30] But the hubris of this statement defies articulation when we remember the known criminal records of the white men involved in devastating Congo, then Zaire, and now Congo, since the arrival of Henry Morton Stanley and his blood-rubber and hand-chopping-off enterprises in the 1870’s.
Where is the international rescue committee?
As of January 2008 there are consistent reports of starvation in Kinshasa, and reports of arbitrary arrest and illegal detention of men, women and children at security facilities, including underground torture centers, and this is certainly true all over the country. As of December 2007, those arrested as a “security threat” and held incommunicado in these Kinshasa dungeons include: Mimi Mboyo (19) and child (jailed >18 months); Angele (17) and child (jailed >24 months); Mianda Kadogo (19) and child (jailed >11 months); Nicolette Mukungu (20) and child (jailed >20 months); Bokungu (21); Olga (20) and child (jailed >13 months); Edjoka (29). The main security facilities in Kinshasa are Camp Tshiatshi, the Central Prison at Makala, Camp Kokolo, and the underground dungeon known as “corridor of death.” [31] 


[1] See: keith harmon snow, “Darfurism, Uganda, and U.S. War in Africa,” November 11, 2010, .

[2] Biography, J. Stapleton Roy, Freeport McMoRan web site.

[3] Major Thomas P. Odom, Dragon Operations: Hostage Rescues in the Congo, 1964-1965, Leavenworth Papers No. 14, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (1988?), .

[4] keith harmon snow, “Congo’s President Joseph Kabila: Dynasty or Travesty?” Toward Freedom, November 13, 2007, .

[5] See: Edward S. Herman, “Genocide Inflation is the Real Threat,” Z-Net, Oct. 26, 2007.

[6] Wayne Madsen, Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa, 1993-1999, Mellen Books, 1999.

[7] See, e.g., Eric Thomas Chester, Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee, and the CIA, M. E. Sharp, 1995.

[8] On Mobutu in Tel Aviv see: “Mobutu and Israel,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1, Autumn, 1985: pp. 171-175.

[9] Jerry Funk, Life is an Excellent Adventure: An Irreverent Personal Odyssey, Trafford, 2003.

[10] Bryan Mealer, “The River Is A Road: Searching for Peace in Congo,” Harper’s, October 2007.

[11] Kadima 010, June-September 2007, .

[12] keith harmon snow, human rights research and investigations in Congo, 2004-2007.

[13] “DRC: Katanga’s Forgotten Strife Displacing Thousands,” IRIN, August 3, 2005.

[14] What Future? Street Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch, April 2006, .

[15] See: “ICEM protests Congo’s Transport, Diamond Injustices,” International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Worker’s Union, May 7, 2007, .

[16] “Diamond miners killed in DR Congo,” BBC News, 7 August 2006, .

[17] Personal investigation, Ndola, Zambia copperbelt mines, 2000.

[18] Hans-Jürgen Schlamp, “Congo’s Future: A Western Protectorate in Africa?” Speigel Online, Aug. 17, 2006.

[19] Minerals Yearbook Area Reports: International 1968 Bureau of Mines, 1970: 215-216.

[20] Private investigations and site viewing, Mbandaka, DRC, 2007.

[21] See: Annual Report of Consolidated Trillion, October 8, 1999. Trillion Resources was renamed Consolidated Trillion Resources in 1999, and it had merged with US.-based Viceroy Explorations Ltd. by 2002.

[22] Joe Bavier, “Congo to audit oil sector, first time in 10 years,” Reuters, July 3, 2007.

[23] Norm Dixon, “Congo Massacre: Australian mining company's managers indicted,” Green Left Review, November 4, 2006 .

[24] His name is known, but he threatened to track down and break the author’s legs if he is revealed.

[25] keith harmon snow, “Behind the Scenes: Warlord’s Deadly Battle in Congo,” August 9, 2007,  .

[26] Colum Lynch, “U.N. Combats Peacekeeping Staff Corruption,” Washington Post, December 18, 2007.

[27] “Local U.N. workers strike in Congo over conditions,” Reuters, August 23, 2007.

[28] Israel Aircraft Industries UAVs operate in 15 countries; .                                        

[29] “Belgium Resumes Congo UAV Operations after Belgian-B is Shot Down,” Flight International, August 15, 2006. Israel’s Rafael Armament Authority is teamed with Lockheed-Martin and Northrop Grumman on advanced missiles and aerospace productions: see Mark A. Loral et al, Going Global? U.S. Government Policy and the Defense Aerospace Industry, RAND, 2002.

[30] “IAI-Eagle-B Hunter UAV”:>.

[31] Private communications from Kinshasa, DRC, December 2007.

Beware the October Surprise--esp. in January [Reposting: SREBRENICA: {1}3 YEARS LATER, and STILL SEARCHING by George Pumphrey]

[Trying to keep up with the course of International Justice, both in Arusha (ICTR--Tribunal for Rwanda) and The Hague (ICTY--Tribunal for Yugoslavia--and the rest of those international shyster showcases, like the ICJ and ICC, also in The Hague), is getting to be a bit like trying to play Pebble Beach or Spyglass Hill, in the middle of a summer squall, while totally faced on some of Neil's (the world-famous dinner-shift bartender at The 19th Hole Lodge at Poppy Hills) Bug Juice (151 rum) and Moke Sperm (pineapple juice) Kailua Killers (7 to 1, with a Robitussin back, on request). Like they keep digging new traps, building more fairways over the bay, and moving the pins around--while you're lining up your putt.

The more hard evidence comes in to trash the maudlin mainstream versions of the popular genocide narratives--just as with the toxic science of HIV/AIDS, the toxic humanism of Western military degeneracy, or the toxic mendacity of the Aman/Mossad Arab Terrorism/911 model--the more the waste culture resorts to pimped-out theatricals like 'Never Again' Memorials with the re-burial of victims that were never found, campaigns to Save Pagan Babies (whether or not they want or need it), or these war crimes tribunals gracelessly trampling history and due process in pursuit of 'victims justice'. And all this is in an attempt to hide the Great Powers' own primal crimes, their unprovoked, shocking and awful military aggressions, and the subsequent acquisitive occupations and terror-based exploitations of strategic resources and trade routes.

As Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster and Dick Widmark made clear in Stanley Kramer's 'Judgment at Nuremberg' (the Rock Musical): 'It's the Aggression, stoopid'--and the Aggression is about power--and not just political power, but gaz and electricity, petroleum and nuclear energy power. Current geopolitical analyses are becoming more and more shrill and sentimental about the Victims of power, and less and less willing and able to come to grip with its origins. In the early stages of the Bolshevik Revolution, Communism equalled the electification of the Soviet Union; Hitler took Selesia for the coal and then tried to capture Baku for the oil; nuclear energy is a cheap alternative to carbon feuls and a source of independence for small nations from the great powers, and the principal weapon of (political) mass destruction in the Western arsenal; but these days, while the Fascists have little left to bargain with besides their military menace, Russia still has title to its energy resources, the real source of its power--and these riches are being consolidated in the interests of the Russian people.

So if Democracy is about power from and to the people, and that power is expressed in and through elections: then whose is the more genuine Democracy? A nation that, through an incomprehensible and chaotic system of alienating the electorate from the election--because this system is unbound by any informed sense of history or decent respect for politics, or even for Reality, itself--, chooses its leaders from a pathetically limited catalogue of barely literate hucksters, moral deviates, charlatans, gutless weenies and admitted war criminals--twice or thrice-recycled sales reps for the giant producers of poison, pornography and pointless, petty greed? Or one that elevates[*] the chairman of the national gaz company to lead its government? [*--I'm not sure whether Mr Medvedev's going from chairman of Gazprom to president of the Russian Federation is really a step up--seems more like a lateral move.]

But to reestablish the people's relation to state power is why we have all these elections: it's extraordinary how different elections are in places like Serbia and Russia from elections here in France or in the US, where the promotion of a Disneyland Democracy is most cynically used to justify military aggression.

Right after the Serbian Radical Party's Tomislav Nikolic finished (39%) ahead of incumbent Boris Tadic (35%) in the first round of presidential elections, Serbia signed a $2.2B gaz deal with Russia (i.e., Gazprom). What's up with this deal? The two candidates share the Kosovo-is-Serbia position in opposing any Western intervention to foist an impossible independence on that destitute, crime-ridden US military outpost on the frontiers of Europe and the Middle East. They diverge primarily in their degrees of deference to Russian spheres of commercial and financial influence: Tadic is all about standing with the US/EU, that erased a goodly part of Serbia's democratic principles in order to bring him to power; Nikolic is much more openly insistent on maintaining Serbia's longstanding favored trade relations with Russia--esp. where energy is concerned.

Is this $2.2B deal, which involves Gazproms's acquisition of the Serbian oil company, NIS, as well as rights for the Russian gaz monopoly (and state-owned investment company) to run a pipeline through Bugaria and into Italy,--is this a reassertion of Serbia's ancient ties to Russia? A coup for the Nikolic camp? Or is it a sort of 'October Surprise' (albeit in January), which will one-up Nikolic's russophiliac proclamations and accrue international credibility to the Tadic government, thereby keeping the Serbian presidency firmly in the hands of these new Slavic compradors and those Western Business lackies running their hustles behind the protection of the current US/NATO military occupation of the Balkans?

You remember the 'October Surprise', right? Wm Casey? Wild Willy was a spooky Wall St. shyster and crony of the Dulles brothers, Allen and John Foster, themselves spooky bankers associated with the Bush crime family and whose financial dealings became the very nervous system of post-war global Fascism. Casey coined this term, 'October Surprise', for a shocking, untimely political event (like the outbreak of peace in Vietnam or the premature freeing of the Iranian hostages) that would throw an election into the hands of one's opponent. He was a walk-on to the 1968 Richard Nixon team and got it together for the Tricky One to put the monk of LBJ's peace talks with the North Vietnamese in Paris. Not only did sweet Wm deprive the Humphrey campaign of a 'surprise peace deal', but he actually managed to prolong the agony of that 20-year war another seven bloody years and another million or so dead on all sides. For his timely services, Nixon put Casey in charge of the SEC.

The mighty Casey then repeated this neat trick as Reagan's campaign manager when he sent an envoy to Tehran to talk the Ayotollah's people into hanging on to 'Jimmy's kids', the 52 US hostages Carter had labored so fecklessly to spring, until after the already-demented old Gipper was comfortably bedded down in the White House. The pay-off to Iran on this deal, besides thawing out $8B in their own frozen assets and lifting trade sanctions, was a lot Israeli-delivered arms to fight the US-armed forces of Saddam Hussien's Iraq in a war between Western proxies where more than a million lives were wasted on both sides over 8 years. When one talks about The Genocidaires Hall of Shame, there are few, even in the fascist drawing rooms of Davos or the Green Room over at CNN, that can carry Bill Casey's jock.

But October Surprises are only possible where the electorate is sufficiently mystified as to their true interests and who best represents them. In the US, elections are always toss-ups because of the pure confusion generated during the campaigns--this confusion stemming not from the complexity of the issues being discussed, but from the absence of any substance at all to these issues. E.g., which US candidate, from which party, would end The War on Terrorism? Who would revive the moribund economy by nationalizing the defense industries (in the way Putin has renationalized much of Russia's natural wealth), or in the name of the American people put a lien on the assets of Big Pharma, or the large insurance companies and the banks? Who would vote to regulate unto abolish financial speculation? Who would reestablish workers' rights by curtailing the savagery of Waste Capital? Yeah, it's a tough call with Western Democracy. Last year 53% of France voted against their own best interests because the media told them that the owning class could take better care of them, and the Left did nothing to prove them wrong--but, then, collaboration with vertically challenged Fascists is about as French as long noses. And, sad to say, Serbia might have gone too far down the Western road to shame and perdition to avoid falling for this kind of political chicanery.

In Russia, the numbers are too clear and the lights are burning much brighter than they have in a couple generations. There will be no Surprises, October or January, February or March Surprises. Because Russia owns the power, its the wholesaler, it's holding the package, and the rest of Europe is just trying to cut the kind of deal that will allow them to step all over the Russian product and triple or quadruple their money (why gaz and electricity rates have doubled and tripled in Europe). And that, as they say, is just in the nature of business.

But to hide all this avaricious aggression and UnReason, the West has gone to extreme lengths to bury History, and then retell it in the most lurid and brazenly self-serving spun-out sort of way. The fattest and nastiest front in use today is the Genocide Show. The staging and replaying of this tawdry vaudeville has become the chief occupation of the intellectually halt and morally bereft professional whiners for victims rights and international justice. But, by now, you know all about this shuck.

We're reposting Prof Pumphrey's debunking of the Srebrenica hoax--not because we think there might be one or two of you out there who'd copped a nod when Ed Herman did such a fine job on it a couple years back--we're bringing Prof Pumphrey's piece out of its banishment to the dankness of EmpsClots back-up web site, Globalresistance, where it was cast by that fat, flatulent, master-of-agent-baiting, bottle-breathing, boorish Boston Zionist flak, for sympathizing with an alleged anti-Semitic friend of Russia, Israel Shamir--a crime with which we, too, have been bogusly charged--we're reclaiming this early (1998), lucid example of fact-based analysis because George Pumphrey has served to brighten our days in the past.
[see: Three Types of Terrorism and 911, by George Pumphrey,]

The evidence--just the evidence furnished by President Milosevic in his trial at The Hague and my friend Chris Black in the Military II trial of General Ndindiliyimana et alia in Arusha-- of this mawkish, maudlin but monstrous hypocrisy is by now overwhelming. But as long as the US, the EU, Israel and the UN continue to collaborate in hiding the real history of their hideous aggressions in pursuit of profit and the power to destroy EVERYTHING, including themselves--for what else but a kind of 'You just try and fucking stop me, copper!' attitude could explain the wanton destruction visited on places like Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, the Caucasus and Congo?--as long as the run-away train of Western waste production continues to plunge the world into perpetual pain: Russia may be the force of last resort for resurrecting the Truth of History and Justice. --mc]


Srebrenica: 3 Years Later, And Still Searching

By George Pumphrey

The third anniversary of the takeover of Srebrenica by Bosnian-Serb troops on July 11, 1995 has come and gone. The significance of this takeover determined not only the outcome of the Bosnian civil war, but reached far beyond the Balkans.

It was the events around Srebrenica, and the subsequent indictments against the Bosnian Serb political leader, Radovan Karadzic and the Bosnian Serb military Commander, Radko Mladic on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, that changed the political constellation at the negotiation table at Dayton. With its leadership under indictment, the Bosnian Serb side had to content itself with being represented by Slobodan Milosevic, president of a, by then, foreign state.

The fact alone of an international tribunal being given jurisdiction over people and events taking place thousands of miles from the contexts of those sitting in judgement, without an existing set of legal norms creates already a new basis for the concept of "justice." Srebrenica has been the main source of this tribunal's credibility and its raison d'être.

As in the past two years, this year also the war crimes tribunal has sent out teams to search for mass graves containing the remains of the 8,000 Muslim soldiers that are widely believed to have been massacred in the aftermath of the takeover. But a closer look at the background of the Tribunal’s search sheds a bit of light on the shadowy side of the Tribunal's work.

The New York Times published an article written by one of its correspondents, Mike O’Connor, (republished in the International Herald Tribune May 14, 1998) entitled "Mass Graves in Bosnia Bolster War-Crimes Cases." This article is very helpful in examining the work of the Tribunal in The Hague, which is why it will be extensively quoted.

>>Deep in a remote rural stretch of Bosnia, war-crimes investigators have found a tangle of buried bodies that they say is the remains of some of the 7,500 Muslim men that were hidden to try to thwart the prosecution of Bosnian Serb leaders for genocide. (...)

Exhumations in 1996 recovered 460 bodies, but 7,500 others were still missing from the town of Srebrenica. Finding the others has been the goal of war-crimes investigators for more than two years.

(...) The discovery Tuesday - and the thousands of bodies that investigators expect to find nearby - will bolster the cases against 2 Bosnian Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, the investigators say. Both have been indicted for genocide by the tribunal in The Hague.

Investigators for the tribunal spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Satellites that can locate bodies decomposing underground, according to foreign military officers working with the tribunal, aided the search. Witnesses to the reburial also offered testimony, tribunal officials said.

The first remains were uncovered Tuesday morning. Investigators unfurled a thin silvery sheet to protect their find from the sun. Next to it, small orange flags had been stuck in the ground to mark pieces of evidence such as bits of clothing or shell casings.

Tuesday evening, according to a tribunal official, a layer of tangled bodies across an areas of 200 ft² (18 m²) had been exposed. The bones were so intertwined, the official said, that it was not possible to exhume any of them Tuesday.

Proving that the soil around the bodies came from the original mass graves, or that shell casings found here match those found at execution sites, will establish the connection they are looking for, investigators said.

When the original sites were inspected in 1996, investigators suspected most of the bodies had been moved. Doubts were cast on American military's satellite surveillance, with some investigators charging at the time that slipshod monitoring had allowed Bosnian Serb authorities to move the bodies undetected.

Now, however, tribunal officials say the bodies were moved in October 1995, before the pinpoint satellite surveillance was requested by the tribunal. Once the original sites were discovered to have been tampered with, American satellite photographs of the region were reviewed and were found to show trucks and earth-moving equipment at the original burial sites, according to tribunal officials.<<

Anonymous investigators say that the find "will bolster the cases against [the] two Bosnian Serb leaders." The question should be raised: on what basis did the tribunal make its charges of no less than "genocide," if they now have to frantically run around to scrape up enough bodies to make their indictment plausible? If they now have to try to "prove that the soil around the bodies came from the original mass graves," does it mean that what they had considered to be "the original mass graves" were either empty or with too few bodies to justify the indictments? Were Karadzic and Mladic charged according to the principle: "Indict now. Look for evidence of a crime later"? "Charge the Serbs! If you don't know what for, they do" seems to be the modus operandi in The Hague.

But it was this widely publicized "genocide" indictment that has caused irreparable damage to the political and social constellation in this region of Europe, creating also a new set of political factors in the world. Some of them are:

>>the discrediting of the United Nations for having supposedly allowed a "genocide" to take place on territory under its authority;

>>promoting NATO as the new "peace keeping" force;

>>making great strides to create public acceptance for inquisitorial, McCarthyist standards both in "justice" and "journalism" on both national and international levels;

>>the definition of a new "moral" standard based on "human" rights, determined by membership in particular "ethnic" groups with rights to be respected and all others without rights worthy of respect;

>>growing international acceptance of the concept of a people being classified per se as "evil."

This has all been made possible through a massive propaganda campaign colporteuring a yet-to-be-proven "genocide," as if it were a certitude. Politicians have justified and based momentous decisions upon the supposition that the massacre is fact, decisions determining the welfare of the peoples of this region and beyond.

The media bases each succeeding generation of falsification on preceding generations of unproven factors. Both are so often repeated as a certainty, that the public does not even demand substantiating evidence.

O'Conner writes that "7,500 Muslim men were hidden to try to thwart the prosecution of Bosnian Serb leaders for genocide. ‘Their’ bodies were moved in October 1995, before the pinpoint satellite surveillance was requested by the tribunal." These and other allegations are in gross contradiction to other information published in the press.

1) The Numbers game:

First of all, the number 8,000 most often and most consistently given in the press is itself the first falsification. The prosecution has never proven that 8,000 Muslims were killed. It is indicative to note how the number 8,000 came into circulation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross published a press statement Sept. 13, 1995 in which it was stated:

>>"The ICRC's head of operations for Western Europe, Angelo Gnaedinger, visited Pale and Belgrade from 2 to 7 September to obtain information from the Bosnian Serb authorities about the 3,000 persons from Srebrenica whom witnesses say were arrested by Bosnian Serb forces. The ICRC has asked for access as soon as possible to all those arrested (so far it has been able to visit only about 200 detainees), and for details of any deaths. The ICRC has also approached the Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities seeking information on some 5,000 individuals who fled Srebrenica, some of whom reached central Bosnia."<<

Sept. 15, 1995, in the New York Times, these numbers were juggled to make:

>>About 8,000 Muslims are missing from Srebrenica, the first of two United Nations-designated 'safe areas' overrun by Bosnian Serb troops in July, the Red Cross said today. (...) Among the missing were 3,000, mostly men, who were seen being arrested by Serbs. After the collapse of Srebrenica, the Red Cross collected 10,000 names of missing people, said Jessica Barry, a spokeswoman. In addition to those arrested, about 5,000 'have simply disappeared,' she said.<<

Aside from simply adding the 3,000 Muslim men found still in Srebrenica (that the Serbs then took as prisoners of war) and the 5,000 Muslim men, (reported by the International Red Cross to have left Srebrenica before the arrival of Bosnian Serb forces) to inflate the figures - and, therefore, the gravity of the accusation - they make no mention of the fact that by mid-September 1995 a sizable portion of the group of 5,000 had already reached Muslim territory and safety. The fact that the Red Cross was asking the Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities for information about the number of the 5,000 (the original figure) - "some of whom [had already] reached central Bosnia" - has completely disappeared from the news. The entire 5,000 are still today - 3 years later - being counted as "missing."

The Red Cross report was lacking the objectivity that one would hope for from a non-partisan organization. Its very off-hand "some of whom reached central Bosnia" gives the impression that only a handful could be accounted for by mid-September. But again the press gave another picture:

>>"Some 3,000 to 4,000 Bosnian Muslims, who were considered by UN officials to be missing after the fall of Srebrenica, have made their way through enemy lines to Bosnian government territory. The group, which included wounded refugees, sneaked past Serb lines under fire and crossed some 30 miles through forests to safety."<<

O'Connor's NY Times colleague Chris Hedges published this information in the journal within a week of the takeover of Srebrenica (July 18, 1995). Similar news appeared in other journals at the time. August 2, 1995 the Times of London published the following:

>>Thousands of the "missing" Bosnian Muslim soldiers from Srebrenica who have been at the center of reports of possible mass executions by the Serbs, are believed to be safe to the northeast of Tuzla.

Monitoring the safe escape of Muslim soldiers and civilians from the captured enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa has proved a nightmare for the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. For the first time yesterday, however, the Red Cross in Geneva said it had heard from sources in Bosnia that up to 2,000 Bosnian Government troops were in an area north of Tuzla.

They had made their way there from Srebrenica "without their families being informed," a spokesman said, adding that it had not been possible to verify the reports because the Bosnian Government refused to allow the Red Cross into the area.<<

According to the Washington Post, "The men set off at dawn on Tuesday, July 11, in two columns that stretched back seven or eight miles." Even if the Red Cross did not know that they left Srebrenica in 2 columns, they at least knew that 2,000 were safe. And UN officials knew of the 3 - 4,000 that had arrived earlier. Yet the communiqué given in September failed to report that the 5,000 that "simply disappeared," simply disappeared back into the ranks of the Bosnian military.

The Red Cross must have been aware that a "Big Lie" campaign was launched around the issue of Srebrenica. By withholding and understating important information, the Red Cross was, in effect, a party to the conflict. It is unlikely that correspondents, such as Mike O'Connor, and their editors are unaware of the fallacious content of the reports they publish. The pattern of conformity in this disinformation campaign is, to say the least, astonishing.

A little more than a week after Srebrenica, Zepa, a second Moslem enclave (and UN Safe Area), was taken by Bosnian Serb forces. Hundreds of the "missing" soldiers from Srebrenica were among the defenders of Zepa in the last days of fighting. As the New York Times recounts:

>>"The wounded troops were left behind, and when the Bosnian Serbs overran the town on Tuesday, the wounded were taken to Sarajevo for treatment at Kosevo Hospital. Many of them had begun their journey in Srebrenica, and fled into the hills when that 'safe area' fell to the Bosnian Serbs on July 11. These men did not make it to Tuzla, where most of the refugees ended up, but became the defenders of Zepa instead. 'Some 350 of us managed to fight our way out of Srebrenica and make it into Zepa,' said Sadik Ahmetovic, one of 151 people evacuated to Sarajevo for treatment today. (...) They said they had not been mistreated by their Serb captors."<<

(The Muslim defenders of Zepa left their wounded behind as they ran into the hills. It is also well known that the 5,000 Muslim soldiers, who left Srebrenica before Serbian troops took over, left their women and children behind. Obviously the Muslim soldiers must not have been too worried about their women, children and wounded comrades falling into the hands of their Serbian countrymen. The Serbian forces, generally portrayed as comparable to Nazis, had the wounded members of the Muslim forces evacuated to their Muslim hospital.)

The London Times article, quoted above mentions that 2,000 Srebrenica soldiers made their way to the north of Tuzla "without their families being informed". The question is, when, if ever, were the families informed. Other than the few articles that took notice of their resurrection from the dead, the public at large was never informed that they, in fact, were never massacred. On the contrary.

To maintain the myth of a gigantic massacre, is not only necessary to create the illusion of having proof that it did happen – thus the frantic searches for mass graves - but also to suppress the proof that it did not take place - which means prohibit that too many of the prisoners of war return "from the dead."

The figure of 3,000, given by the Red Cross, listed as having been arrested by Bosnian Serb forces, which is counted into the media's 8,000 "massacred," should also be taken with a grain of salt. One learns - again through isolated articles - that they, too, not only were not massacred, but that the Red Cross, the United Nations, and a host of "western" governments around the world all were well aware of this fact.

January 17, 1996, the Manchester "Guardian" published an article concerning one group of the former Muslim prisoners of war from Srebrenica and Zepa, who, liberated from the prison camp at Sljivovica - in Serbia, were flown directly abroad to Dublin:

>>"Hundreds of Bosnian Muslim prisoners are still being held at two secret camps within neighboring Serbia, according to a group of men evacuated by the Red Cross to a Dublin hospital from one camp - at Sljivovica. (...) A group of 24 men was flown to Ireland just before Christmas (...). But some 800 others remain incarcerated in Sljivovica and at another camp near Mitrovo Polje, just three days before the agreed date for the release of all detainees under the Dayton peace agreement on Bosnia (...). The Red Cross in Belgrade has been negotiating for several weeks to have the men released and given sanctuary in third countries. A spokeswoman said most were bound for the United States or Australia, with others due to be sent to Italy, Belgium, Sweden, France and Ireland. (...) Since late August, the Red Cross has made fortnightly visits from its Belgrade field office. (...) Teams from the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague have been in Dublin to question and take evidence from the men."<<

Why would war prisoners, whose normal first wish would be to reunite with their families and restart their interrupted lives in peace, be rushed off to Dublin, with "papers to remain in Ireland?" And this at a time where most industrialized countries are closing their borders to refugees! Were their families informed? Could it be that they too - in a large enough group - could become living proof of the fallacy of a huge Srebrenica "massacre" before the 1996 fall elections?

The US decided to accept two hundred and fourteen Bosniaks who, after the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa, had been detained in Serbian camps and give them refugee status. "It is horrible that those people besides being captured during the bloodshed in Srebrenica had to spend at least another two months in Serbian detention camps under dreadful conditions," said State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns [My main man, Nicky Burns, again, rears his hornèd pate!--mc]. Burns emphasized that at least 800 men out of 80,000 people who have been expelled from their homes after the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa had been taken to Serbia.

This is how the US government justified their aid in secretly spiriting the men out of the country. What is known is that neither the Red Cross (which has been visiting the prisoners since August), nor the Tribunal (in its frantic search for evidence of the "genocide" in Srebrenica and for the arrest of the Bosnian Serb leaders), nor the American government have made mention since August '95 of these men being in custody, as war prisoners. Why? Are they trying to conceal evidence exonerating the Bosnian Serbian forces of the charge of "genocide" in connection with alleged mass executions?

2) The vanishing corpses:

Like the juggling of the numbers of "missing" and their whereabouts, excuses had to be found for the lack of corpses.

In August 1995, during a Security Council meeting, the US delegation to the United Nations accused the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs of having committed wide-scale atrocities against Muslim civilians. With what amounts to a satellite photo "peep show," Madeleine Albright had an excuse already prepared for the lack of evidence to support her charges. The NY Times, in referring back to that session of the UN Security Council, wrote:

>>"On Aug. 10, [1995] the chief United States delegate to the United Nations, Madeleine K. Albright, showed selected photos of the two sites to a closed session of the United Nations Security Council. She then said, 'We will keep watching to see if the Bosnian Serbs try to erase the evidence of what they have done.'"<<

One of the earlier versions was the vanishing corpses through a corrosive agent. In the same article, the NY Times adds:

>>"American officials said today that they suspect Bosnian Serb soldiers may have tried to destroy evidence that they killed thousands of Muslim men seized in and around the town of Srebrenica in July. The Serbs are suspected of pouring corrosive chemicals on the bodies and scattering corpses that had been buried in mass graves, the officials said. The suspicions first arose in early August, after Central Intelligence Agency experts analyzed pictures of the area taken in July by reconnaissance satellites and U-2 planes."<<

With the absence of traces of a corrosive substance, when it comes time to dig up the "evidence," the entire legend falls flat. Another explanation had to be found: the bodies were simply dug up and moved someplace else. This excuse has its advantages: With the needle in the haystack search for "mass graves," the tribunal could keep the public at bay for quite a while. But there were also disadvantages: How do you remove thousands of buried, decomposing bodies without being seen by the "watchful eye" of Madeleine Albright's satellites? Undismayed by this factual detail, the Tribunal and media continue their course.

In Nov. 1995 the Dutch Minister of Defense, Joris Voorhove, accused the Serbs of "trying hastily to destroy the evidence of the massacre they committed against thousands of Bosniaks around Srebrenica." Citing "intelligence services" as his source, he claimed in a TV interview, that "these days Serbs have been exhuming the corpses from the mass graves in order to remove the evidence of their crimes."

Approaching the day of reckoning and desperate for more concrete evidence of the massacre, Richard Goldstone, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, wrote a letter to the US Embassy in The Hague in Nov. 95, to pressure the US government to come forward with the evidence it evidently had promised. The letter was quoted in the Washington Post:

>>"Judge [Goldstone] called the 'quality and timeliness' of intelligence provided by the United States 'disappointing.' He complained about the failure to hand over spy photos that he said could help the United Nations-sponsored tribunal identify mass graves that appeared after the fall of Srebrenica in July. The judge also complained that much of the information provided by the United States so far was based on 'open-source material' not relevant to the original requests. He submitted an additional 25 questions to Washington, including a request for information about a transcript of a conversation between General Mladic and Yugoslav Army commanders who report directly to President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia."<<

[The reference to "open-source material," that the US government furnished the tribunal as "evidence," simply means that the CIA uses media reports, some of which are obviously its own propaganda plants.]

The Clinton Administration made public 3 of the 8 photos shown the Security Council. One of these 3 showed "disturbed soil." "According to one American official who has seen the photographs, one shows hundreds and perhaps thousands of Muslim men and boys in a field near a soccer stadium about 5 miles north of Srebrenica. Another photo taken several days later shows a large area of freshly dug earth, consistent with the appearance of known mass graves, near the stadium, which is empty."

One of the three photos reproduced in several newspapers showed two buildings, a main and subordinate road. Two light colored patches (indicated with arrows) in the middle of what could be a field with a parallel double-lined path (tire tracks?) leading from the main road to each of the light areas. The photo is entitled: "Possible Mass Graves; Kasaba/Konjevic Polje Area, Bosnia; unclassified Jul. 95." In the lower left corner the explanation of the arrows: "Recently disturbed earth."

As a NY Times journalist complained, the US government refused "to let reporters see the satellite photographs (...) which were said to include pictures of people crowded into a soccer field. American officials said the satellite photographs were classified, although Ms. Albright showed them to the other 14 members of the Security Council." This striptease sort of procedure, in itself, should provoke questions concerning the credibility of these photos portraying what we are told that they are supposed to show.

>>Where are other more conclusive photos showing people in the process of being shot, dead bodies being removed, open pits being - or already - filled with bodies or being covered,...?

>>How closely were diplomats of the Security Council able to examine (for authenticity, manipulation, falsification) the photos? Were they forced to appraise the photos quickly, or were they allowed to keep copies of the photos?

>>Why are photos purported to be the most important - those showing "Muslim men and boys," - hidden from the public? Do they actually show what the US administration claim that they show?

>>How does the US secret service discern the difference between "hundreds and perhaps thousands of Muslim men and boys" from the same number of Serb or Croatian males - and that from outer space? The Security Council members apparently saw something different on these photos: A NY Times journalist following the presentation to the Security Council reports: "The photographs showed a stretch of fields at Novo Kasaba, near Srebrenica, where Bosnian Muslim families were apparently herded together." A mere detail? Which is the true story? The version "Muslim men and boys" given by the CIA official the day before? Or the one of "Bosnian Muslim families" the day after members of the Security Council viewed the pictures? Had they realized that they were viewing mainly women and children, (perhaps being "herded together" to prepare them to be taken by bus to Tuzla)? Is this not a first indication that perhaps the satellite photos will not stand up under independent appraisal? Could this embarrassing discrepancy be the main reason why the satellite photos were made inaccessible to the public?

>>Where is the original photo taken by the reconnaissance aircraft? Why was the original photo not shown to the Security Council? The labeling that accompanied the published photo: "Possible Mass Graves" was added after the photo was taken, meaning that the built-in time and geographical settings from reconnaissance cameras, were edited out of the picture and arrows and other written interpretations of what one is supposed to see edited onto the photo. Left to make one's own interpretations, the same photo could have been interpreted as showing something having nothing to do with warfare in the Balkans. How does one know that the photo was taken near Srebrenica, or at the time that it is claimed to have been taken - and not at some other time in some other part of the world?

>>Could it be that the US government knows that the origin of this "disturbed soil" has nothing to do with "Mass Graves"? Could this be the reason why the photo is entitled: "Possible Mass Graves"? Would this not also explain why the State Department and CIA found it necessary to launch rumors that Serbs had allegedly removed the thousands of bodies that were supposed to have been buried under this "disturbed soil" - albeit without any satellite photos to back up this new rumor?

>>The assumption that several days after having seen a full soccer field, an empty one would signify that those formerly seen there had been executed, is so farfetched, that it could be dismissed as crazy. How many soccer stadiums remain filled overnight, or days at a time? If those seen had in fact been Muslims captured, why would the first assumption not have been that they had been taken to a prisoner of war camp? This type of explanation says more about the ethnic prejudices of the author than it does about those of Bosnian Serb armed forces.

In the Bible, faith is defined as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." This seems a very appropriate description of the Tribunal's handling of the US satellite and U-2 "evidence." It was on the basis of these photos that the Security Council and tribunal accused the Serbian leadership of having committed a massacre. The Tribunal's indictments against Karadzic and Mladic were primarily based on faith in the journalists' faith in the Security Council's faith in the CIA and its spy photos. Neither the press nor the tribunal were given access to all of the photos, yet both take it for granted that the Bosnian leaders are "guilty as charged."

But once the indictment was handed down, the Bosnian Serb leaders shut out of negotiations and the Serbian President Milosevic under effective threat (that he too could suffer the fate of his Bosnian Serb Brethren), the Clinton Administration showed little interest in helping "further the cause of justice."

The White House spokesman, Michael D. McCurry, and other US officials responded to Goldstone's complaints by saying:

>>"There are certain types of intelligence information that our Government cannot share with the international community." The NY Times article continues: "Mr. McCurry cited 'national security reasons' as the reason the United States would withhold some evidence, and criticized the complaints by the prosecutor, Judge Richard Goldstone, as 'unfortunate.' (...) In defending their level of cooperation with the tribunal, Administration officials insisted that Judge Goldstone is getting most of his data from the United States and there would be no war crimes tribunal if not for the United States."<<

With this statement these "administration officials" confirmed what Serbs and independent observers have suspected from the beginning: that the tribunal is simply being manipulated by the US to serve its own foreign policy interests, and that its procedures have really as little to do with "rule of law" standards as its goals, with doing "justice."

It has been reported that, in the New York central headquarters of the UN, all files relevant to Srebrenica have been classified "secret" for the next 30 - 50 years and are not even available to the tribunal. This decision was taken at the demand of the permanent members of the Security Council, the USA, France and Great Britain, in reference to their protection of the secrecy of government documents.

With what right does the US classify evidence that it claims to have, concerning what is often referred to as "the worst atrocities committed in Europe since WW-II?" One could understand the US government withholding evidence of war crimes committed by US troops. But what justification does the US have for classifying, as a "national security secret," crimes committed by those designated as "enemy forces?" Is the US administration hiding the proof of a crime or proof that it has no proof of a crime? Most disturbing of all is that hardly anyone raises this question.

As in November, the snow and icy winter began to set in, chances of exhuming graves were slim. Come January, and the approaching thaw, the Tribunal and their chief prosecutor, at the time, Richard Goldstone, began to get nervous. The US government was still not forthcoming with more conclusive evidence of a massacre. At one point, Goldstone threatened "the exhumation of the graves may become necessary in order to determine the identity of the corpses and the time and cause of death and to obtain the necessary evidence." What Goldstone formulated here as a threat should have been - if the tribunal were a normal court of law - the most logical first step for determining that a crime had been committed, a prerequisite for an indictment.

Confronted with the inevitability of the exhumation, American journalists began to prepare public opinion for the disappointment that would soon come when the graves turn up empty. Washington Post journalist, John Pomfret, visited a site that "according to a Western investigator, could be 2 of several mass graves in the region believed to hold corpses of some of the estimated 12,000 Muslim fighters." Pomfret observes that: "while dirt obviously had been moved recently around the sites in Glogova, if Serbian gunmen had attempted to tamper with it or destroy evidence, they did not do a thorough job. Bones were readily visible on the clay dirt, as were bandages, shoes and other things that obviously once belonged to the men buried below." Mr. Pomfret, does not take the tampering too seriously, since he leaves the efforts of the would-be tamperers at the level of "attempting to" and admits that they did it unseriously. Could it have been that it was supposed to appear as though someone had "attempted" to tamper. Since the region was being watched by American IFOR forces, maybe Mr. Pomfret has also information about whether the would-be tamperers were Americans. Besides his inflationary reporting - pulling the sum of "12,000 Muslim fighters" out of thin air - it would seem that along with his "Western investigator," Mr. Pomfret must also have a very "special" source of information concerning the would-have-been tamperers: How else would he know, that they were carrying guns - "gunmen" - instead of shovels? Little wonder they did not do a good job. Ever try digging a hole with a rifle?

Also to be noted, and not just for both Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Pomfret, many journalists have a privileged source: their anonymous "investigators," another name for intelligence agent.

It would be interesting to learn with what means the Serbian forces supposedly disposed of 7,500 decomposing bodies. Such an enterprise would not only take a lot of time and effort, but would also require quite a large space. How is this supposed to have been accomplished without having been seen by the hi-tech satellite and U-2 surveillance?

Mr. O'Connor also affirms that the US is using "satellites that can locate bodies decomposing underground." The question should arise: Why has it taken them 3 years to locate the corpses that they claim have been in the area since July '95? And they still do not have them.

(It should not be forgotten that simply the fact of finding a "mass grave" is not necessarily proof of a mass execution. In wartime the battlefield victims of the opposing side may be disposed of in this way, until a transfer of the remains could be negotiated with the other side, to avoid the health problems that their decomposition on the surface could cause, particularly in summer.)

The work of The Hague Tribunal has been highly praised as an "example" of what is needed on a more general basis as an answer to "war crimes" and "genocide." Neither the tribunal nor the press has produced substantial evidence (1) that a genocide was ever planned or attempted by the Bosnian Serb leadership and (2) that a large scale massacre - thousands of Muslims - ever took place in the aftermath of the Bosnian Serb takeover of Srebrenica. And this after nearly 3 years of promises to bring proof to support indictments. It is as adventurous to speak of a "genocide" without corpses as it is of a "murder" without a victim.

To be sure, if this becomes the international legal norm of jurisprudence, no national legal system - no matter how good it is, will withstand the pressure of such a totalitarian judicial system. This sort of procedure if allowed to set in on the international level will determine also national judicial standards. Humanity will find itself being juridicially set back to the standards of the era of the inquisition.


Sidebar:The Eyewitness, Erdemovic

Not anxious to exhume the suspected graves, and lacking other material proof of mass executions, the tribunal turned once again to its mainstay: "Eyewitness'" testimony as "evidence." This is the most unreliable form of evidence, because it is the easiest to be manipulated and tailored to fit the desired circumstances. One need only affirm having been a witness to something. As long as the accused cannot prove the contrary - and the tribunal will not search for corroborating evidence to support the allegations, the defendant will be convicted. This turns the basic rule of "the burden of proof of a crime being on the prosecution" on its head.

When the "eyewitness" Drazen Erdemovic, came forward in March 96, asking to go The Hague, this caused a great sensation of enthusiasm in The Hague. Erdemovic described himself, in a confession to the French daily, "Le Figaro", as a "soldier in the Bosnian Serb Army." He said that he had participated in mass executions of Muslim civilians from Srebrenica, describing in details the massacres of 1,200 people on one field of a farm in Pilice, near Janja, on the road Bjeljina- Zvornik. According to him the executioners "used 7,62mm bullets."[1]

With such detailed information, one would think that the Tribunal would finally have what it would need to be able to locate and secure the necessary evidence to bring concrete charges against those who participated. They would have to simply exhume the bodies and in a forensic examination verify if they had been killed with 7,62mm bullets. That is of course, if the tribunal wanted to learn if Erdemovic was a reliable witness or giving false information out of some personal or political motivation.

In 1992, in his native Tuzla, Erdemovic "first joined HVO (The paramilitary Croatian Council of Defence), then he went over to the Serbian side. In Serbia he came in contact with ABC TV- station[2], and (...) offered his story, and his testimony to Tribunal in The Hague.[3]" The International Herald Tribune adds: "Mr. Erdemovic, who (...) had been an ordinary soldier, said that after a falling out with his commander in Bosnia he decided to move to Serbia and tell his story, apparently in revenge."[4]

Is this a reliable witness? Is it plausible that an ex-HVO paramilitary Croatian nationalist would have joined - would have even been accepted in - the Bosnian Serb army? It has also been reported - and denied - that chief prosecutor Richard Goldstone had offered Erdemovic the benefit of a "state's witness" regulation, freedom from prosecution for himself and was guaranteed a new life abroad for his valuable testimony.[5]

Erdemovic came to The Hague as a witness and became himself, the defendant charged with crimes against humanity, for his role in the executions that he described.

In an article in "The Nation," Diana Johnstone described the conviction as being:

>>"heralded as a great "first" in establishment of global justice. [The Erdemovic] case is considered of great importance to the Tribunal since his confession of taking part in executing over a thousand Muslims after the Serb capture of Srebrenica is considered prime evidence in the Tribunal's "main event," the future trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic. [6]<<

She also points out the catch: However, inasmuch as he confessed to his crimes, there was no formal trial and no presentation of material evidence to corroborate his story. In any case, since he had turned "state's evidence," there would have been no rigorous cross-examination from either a contented prosecution or a complaisant defense regarding the discrepancy between the number of Muslims he testified having helped execute at a farm near Pilica -- 1,200 – and the number of bodies actually found there by the Tribunal's forensic team: about 150 to 200.[7]

He was originally given an ten-year sentence. Upon appeal, he changed his plea from "guilty" to a crime against Humanity, to "guilty" to a war crime. Citing among other things, "honest disposition; this is supported by his confession and consistent admission of guilt"[8], his change of plea was accepted and his sentence was reduced from 10 to 5 years. (Does the "honest disposition" cited by the tribunal mean that those who defend their innocence would be particularly punished, particularly when the tribunal makes no effort of verifying the evidence?)



1) Vanessa Vasic-Janekovic, A Man Who Knows Too Much (Covjek koji zna previse), quoted in the ARZIN index-60, 15.3.96

2) Why didn't ABC-TV take this "scoop" of a lifetime? The credit for breaking this story is "Le Figaro". This sounds like a common CIA "black propaganda" method: plant a false story in a reputable foreign paper to have the American press pick it up as a reprint. This hides the American hand at the origin of the story. The French press, at the time, was not as monolithically anti-Serb, as the German or American media.

3) ibid

4) Jane Perlez, Milosevic is expected to Aid in a War crimes Case; 2 Bosnian Serbs may face court, IHT, 14.3.96

5) cd sg Bosnien/UN/Jugoslawien; Tribunal verlangt in Belgrad Auslieferung von Srebrenica-Zeugen, dpa 12.03.1996 - 12:57

6) Johnstone, Diana; Selective Justice in The Hague: The War Crimes Tribunal on Former Yugoslavia is a Mockery of Evidentiary Rule; The Nation, 22.9.97

7) Ibid

8) Drazan Erdemovic sentenced to 5 Years imprisonment; Press Communiqué of the ICTY;