‘Butcher of Bosnia’ Guilty of Genocide – Justice at last?

22 years after the Bosnian war, we are yet to see justice for countless lives lost, millions of families torn apart and pain still so evident. After Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic was found guilty of 10/11 counts against him, including genocide in Srebrenica and crimes against humanity, his 40 year sentence was all too disappointing for Bosnian Muslims worldwide.

Today, three UN judges at the Hague passed a guilty verdict in the trial of former Bosnian-Serb Military Commander Ratko Mladic. Dubbed “The Butcher of Bosnia,” Mladic’s trial is the last before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), with this highly anticipated verdict coming after a gruelling six year trial. This momentous trial is the last of the trials of war crimes and genocide dating back to the Bosnian war and marks the closing of the ICTY next month.  

Mladic, now 74 years old, was found in hiding in Northern Serbia in 2011, 16 years after the war. The Butcher of Bosnia faced 11 counts, 10 of which he was found guilty including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

One of his two genocide counts, the one that he was found not guilty, includes ordering the siege of Sarajevo, in which his troops surrounded the city for 46 months and carried out a campaign of sniping and shelling at the civilian population “aimed to spread terror amongst them”.

With an average of 330 shells pummelling the city daily, more than 10,000 civilians were killed in what is known as the longest siege of a capital city in recent history.

The second count of genocide, for which he has been found guilty, is for systematically slaughtering over 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica, a UN-declared “safe haven” at the time. With 9000 still missing, Srebrenica is still considered the worst genocide to occur on European soil since the Holocaust.

This trial has seen countless survivors and families of those who have lost their lives, standing in court testifying against this tyrant. Over 600 witnesses testified against him, and 10,000 exhibits were presented.

At the start of his trial six years ago, Mladic made eye contact with Munira Subasic, a woman who lost 22 relatives to Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica and made a throat-slitting gesture as she watched on from the public gallery.

Today, Mladic was removed from the courtroom on account of shouting and denying the charges against him as the judge read from the extensive list of facts in the evidence placed against him.

The judge delivering the verdict stated that “Mladic’s crimes rank amongst the most heinous known to humankind and include genocide and extermination”.

Although this landmark verdict rightfully appoints one of the most inhumane individuals to life in prison, justice still falls short for the millions of Bosnian Muslims still grieving the execution of our boys and men, the rape of our women and girls and the most inhumane acts of terror seen in Europe post World War 2.

The acts, or non-acts, of the international community both during after the Bosnian war will forever leave a prominent stain on the already checkered record of the UN and its peacekeeping efforts.

A woman from Srebrenica, Yugoslavia screams at a United Nations soldier in a refugee camp in Tuzla, Bosnia, July 17, 1995.

Through the recognition that justice can never be served in this life, it is with great contentment for our Bosnian brothers and sisters that this verdict has been delivered.

Lest we disregard the efforts of the mothers of Srebrinica in fighting for the justice of their kin, for without their movement it is not known that this verdict would have been granted.

Lest we downplay the plight of our Bosnian brethren both during and after the war.

Lest we remain silent amidst genocide, extermination and unlawful attacks against civilians that we witness all too often.

Lest we allow for another Srebrenica, Rwanda or Armenia.

The plight of the Rohingya’s mirror that of the Bosnian’s over 20 years prior. It is not simply our duty as Muslims, but our obligation as humans to do all that we can to prevent the outright and uncensored violation of human rights currently experienced by the Rohingya’s.

Over 20 years after the guns fell silent on Bosnia, lest we utter the terms, ‘never again’ if we are unable and unwilling to ensure that the worst possible atrocities against humankind truly never happen again.

On the 'Butcher of Bosnia'

His soldiers slaughtered 8,000 Bosnian Muslims. Now an international tribunal is about to hand down its verdict on Ratko Mladić.

Posted by AJ+ on Tuesday, November 21, 2017


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