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War

Introduction
Srebrenica, a small town in Bosnia and Hercegovina has
been in July 1995 a victim of genocide,
which was part of the ethnic cleansing campaign of the Bosnian Serb Army. In
addition, around ”20.000 civilians” (Smith, 22-11-2017, p.1) were deported
from the town. Europe and the world have been basically watching how 7000-8000
Muslim – men and boys- were killed by Bosnian Serbian troops and even more than
20 years later, bodies are still being found. The massacre, which was the last episode
of mass murder within the continent since the second World War, helped somehow stimulate
the West to press for a cease-fire that ended three years of conflict on
Bosnia’s territory. However, the conflict in Bosnia left deep emotional scars
on the survivors and facilitated many difficulties for political reconciliation
among Bosnia’s ethnic groups – the Muslims and the Serbs- in this case. And
today, the relations between the ethnic groups is not perfect; the Serbian
Republic has been seeking for greater autonomy, Croat parties are aiming for a
third entity in Bosnia while the Bosniak parties would like to have a more
centrally governed state. The question is whether the relations between the
three groups will ever be on good terms.

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During the Srebrenica massacre,
numerous of human rights have been violated. Even more if the essay would
analyse the entire conflict in Bosnia. However, not only men and boys were
killed, but also women and children were victims of violence as well. Thus,
this essay will give an overview how the human rights of the Bosniak Muslim
community have been violated during that period of time.

History: a brief summary  
It started in 1992, when Bosnia and Hercegovina became independent from the former
Republic of Yugoslavia and just when the US (and the European Commission)
recognized Bosnia as an independent state on the 7th of April, ”Bosnian
Serb paramilitary forces immediately began firing on Sarajevo,
and the artillery
bombardment of the city by Bosnian Serb units of the Yugoslav army began soon
thereafter.” (Lampe, John, R., 11-30-2017, p.6).  The United Nations simply refused to
intervene in the Bosnian war in the first place. However, the (UNPROFOR) – or
simply said- the UN Protection Force troops did manage to facilitate the
delivery of humanitarian aid. Then, the organization, later extended its role
to the protection of a number of UN-declared ”safe areas.” However, the United
Nations failed to protect the safe area of Srebrenica, which has led to the
fact that Bosnian Serb militants invaded a UN-established safe zone (without
any interference from the UN), separated about 8,000 Muslim men and boys from
the women who had sought shelter in the area, led them into fields and
warehouses in surrounding villages, and massacred them over the course of only three
days. In my opinion, the UN should have interfered into the conflict as soon as
the conflict started to escalate and not have refused, since they were asked
for help.

Human Rights Watch
As the Bosnian Serb army ”accomplished” to enter the so-called ”safe zone”,
a report from the Human Rights Watch organization has been published with
recordings of events between the 31st of  July to the 23th of August 1995, saying that ”during
and immediately after the fall of the Srebrenica safe area included gross
violations of humanitarian law  (Human
Rights Watch, 1995, p.1, pa. 2). ”Abuses attending the occupation of the
”safe area” included ” the terrorization of women, children and the elderly
and the premediated mass executions of men and boys.” (Human Rights Watch,
1995, p.1, pa. 2). and the list goes on. According to the same report that the
Human Rights Watch wrote, ”the Bosnian Serb army – with the active assistance
of the Yugoslav Army and paramilitary groups from Serbia proper – began a drive
to “ethnically cleanse” all non-Serbian inhabitants from much of Bosnia. As
part of its “ethnic cleansing” campaign, Bosnian Serb forces used tactics such
as siege warfare, systematic persecution involving widespread torture, murder,
rape, beatings, harassment, de jure discrimination, intimidation, forced
displacement of people, confiscation and destruction of property, and the
destruction of cultural objects such as mosques” (Human Rights Watch, 1995,
p.6, pa. 1).

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the trial
of Mladi?
Based on the above mentioned violations by the Bosnian
Serb army and when the war was still going on , the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was established in 1993 which, as the name
already says, ”dealt with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in
the Balkans in the 1990s.” (ICTY, 2017).  One of the key figures during that conflict
was Ratko Mladi?, who was the former general of the Bosnian Serb Army.
During his final trial in December 2017, the ICTY made a summary of his
judgement. As the summary states, ” the  Chamber 
found  that  before, 
during,  and  after 
Bosnian-Serb  forces  attacked 
non-Serb  villages,  many 
victims  were  killed. 
Circumstances  were  brutal; 
those  who  tried 
to  defend  their 
homes  were  met 
with  ruthless  force. 
Mass  executions  occurred 
and  some  victims 
succumbed  after  being 
beaten.  Many  of 
the  perpetrators  who 
had  captured  Bosnian 
Muslims, showed little or no respect for human life or dignity. (ICTY, 2017,
p.2, pa.7). Several examples are given, such as how Bosnian Muslim detainees
suffocated while being transported from one detention centre to a camp.  Guards of the detention center ”confiscated water
bottles and forced some detainees to consume salt before the nine hour journey.
The trucks were hot, cramped, covered with tarpaulins, and the detainees
received no water. In an attempt to survive, a number of them drank their own
urine and made holes in the tarpaulins to get air. (ICTY, 2017, p.2, pa.9). As
the summary continues, it also states that the Chamber found Ӓnter alia, that
many victims were  subjected  to 
unlawful  detention  and 
cruel  and  inhumane 
treatment  on  the 
basis  of  political, racial or religious grounds. ”
(ICTY, 2017, p.3, pa. 2) and regarding the Srebrenica case it says that ”during
the  attack,  the  Bosnian
Serb Army  continued their so-called
campaign  of  burning 
Bosnian-Muslim  houses  and 
mosques.  Many   Bosnian 
Muslims,  mostly  women, 
children,  and  elderly, 
fled  to  Poto?ari 
to  search for  shelter 
in  the  compound 
which was used  by  the  United
Nations  Protection  Force, 
known  as  UNPROFOR. 
The  vast  majority 
of  the  able-bodied 
Bosnian  Muslim  men 
escaped  the  enclave 
on  foot in order to try to reach
Tuzla.  On the  12th of  July 
1995,  between  25,000 
and  30,000  Bosnian-Muslim  civilians 
had  gathered  in 
Poto?ari,  five  percent 
of  whom  were 
able-bodied  men.  Conditions 
in  and  around 
the  UNPROFOR  compound 
were  poorly:  food 
and  water  were 
rare  and  there 
was  a huge  shortage 
of  medical  supplies. 
People  were  exhausted 
and  frightened. The Bosnian Serb
forces created a  frightening atmosphere
by shooting near the compound and by taking people away, some of whom never
returned.  (ICTY, 2017, p.4, pa. 7-8).
Even though the BSA (Bosnian Serb Army) and the Minister of the Interior agreed
on transportation of 25,000 Bosnian Muslims (women and children) in Srebrenica,
the Bosnian-Muslim ”would follow later”, but that never happened as they ”were
held imprisoned  in  temporary 
detention  facilities and later,
together with others captured from the column fleeing on foot, bussed to
various execution sites in Srebrenica, Bratunac, and Zvornik municipalities.
The Chamber found  that  many 
of  these  men 
and  boys  were 
cursed,  insulted,  threatened, 
forced  to  sing 
Serb  songs,  and 
beaten  while  awaiting 
their  execution.  Bosnian-Serb 
forces,  primarily  members 
of  the  VRS, 
systematically  murdered  several 
thousands  Bosnian-Muslim  men 
and  boys, the vast majority over
just a few days from 12 until 17 July 1995. (ICTY, 2017, p.5, pa.3).

The U.N. General Assembly, the
U.N. Commission on Human Rights, the World Conference on Human Rights, and the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia have all condemned
the atrocities in Bosnia-Hercegovina as genocide,
which means  ”any of the following acts
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical,
racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing
serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting
on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical
destruction in whole or in part and imposing measures intended to prevent
births within the group.” (UN, n.d., p.4). With this being said, it is safely
to say that Bosnian Muslim (mainly men and boys) were brutally killed based on
ethnicity and religion. The fact that Muslims were forcedly deported, was a
part of the Bosnian Serb ”ethnic cleansing campaign” where Serbians were
seeking for a ”Greater Serbia” and in order to accomplish that, other
ethnicities (not only Muslims, but also Croats) 
needed to be killed.

UN: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written by
the United Nations,  has  become 
an instrument  which states and
people use to measure what is  right  and 
wrong.  ”It  provides 
a  foundation  for 
a  just  and 
decent  future  for 
all,  and  has 
given  people  everywhere 
a  powerful  tool 
in  the  fight 
against  oppression,  impunity 
and  affronts to human dignity.”
(UN, 2015, p.3, pa2). Even though the former Social Federal Republic of  Yugoslavia (along with other -former- states)
abstained from the vote on the Declaration, several rights that are described
in the Declaration have been violated during the Srebrenica genocide, such as
Article 15, saying that 1 ”everyone has the right to a nationality” and 2
”no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right
to change his nationality.” (UN, 2015, p.32, pa.1). Furthermore, Article 2 has
been violated, stating that ” everyone is entitled to all the rights and
freedoms set  forth  in  the  Declaration, 
without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language,
religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,  property, 
birth  or  other 
status.  Furthermore, no distinction
shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional  or 
international  status  of 
the  country  or 
territory  to  which 
a  person  belongs,  
whether   it   be  
independent,   trust,  non-self-governing  or 
under  any  other limitation of sovereignty.’ (UN, 2015,
p6, pa.1). The Bosnian Serb Army committed numerous of crimes with the exact
intent to go after all Muslims living in Bosnia. This is a clear violation of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights simply because they were going after
only the human beings practicing the specific religion that they did not like. At
last, Article 18 of the UDHR saying that ” everyone  has 
the  right  to 
freedom  of  thought, conscience  and 
religion;  this  right 
includes  freedom  to 
change  his  religion 
or  belief,  and 
freedom,  either  alone 
or  in  community 
with  others  and 
in   public   or  
private,   to   manifest  
his   religion  or 
belief  in  teaching, practice, worship and observance.
This right has been violated as there was a period during the Bosnian War where
Christians had to convert into the Islam, but -for now- this is a different
case than this essay would like to focus on.

Conclusion
It is commonly known that the Muslim Community in -and
around Srebrenica- have suffered much during the Bosnian War in the 90s by the
Bosnian Serb Army. The fact that their basic human rights have been violated
during that time is not a surprise to anyone anymore; Bosnian Muslims were
killed in various brutal ways based on ethnicity and/or religion, women and
girls were repeatedly abused and raped, people were living under horrendous
conditions, no medical aid, people were suffocating, deported to unknown places
fearing for their life. Even though the UN proclaimed Srebrenica as a ”safe zone”,
the UN should have intervened into the conflict since they could have been a
huge help in preventing the fall of Srebrenica. The fact that the Bosnian Serbs
wanted a ”Greater Serbia” makes the Srebrenica case a clear example of
religious oppression whereby not only the Muslims were victims, but also
Bosnian Croats as well. Comparing the violations to the Declaration makes it
more clear how much the people have suffered in only just a few days.

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