Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [30]


We're now officially in "I won't dignify that comment with an answer" territory, or at least damn close. Nowhere up to this point has the difference between Johnstone's revisionism and typical Holocaust denial been so slight. The same tactics are at work here--this is the "Where are the bodies?" act of her noxious drama. She also throws in yet more digs at the SDA-led government in Sarajevo.

She starts off with this comment:

"After Bosnian Serb troops captured the town on 11 July 1995, women and children were evacuated."

And that's all she has to say about that. "Evacuated" sounds much better than "deported after being forcibly separated from their husbands, sons, and fathers" after all. It also has the faint ring of "rescue" to it.

The paragraph continues; here are some quotes:

"...the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that it was trying to obtain information from the Bosnian Serb authorities about 3,000 persons who witnesses said had had been detained, and from Sarajevo authorities about some 5,000 individuals "who fled Srebrenica, some of whom reached central Bosnia." The total of these two figure was the original source of the oft-repeated estimate that 8,000 Muslims had been massacred."

On the face of it, this seems reasonable. She goes on to claim that these 5,000 men made it to safety in central Bosnia. And then she accuses the Bosnian government of playing politics with their identities:

"The problem was the Bosnian government authorities were not cooperative in revealing the names and number of these survivors."

""The London Times reported on 2 August that thousands of "missing" Bosnian Muslim soldiers from Srebrenica at the center of reports of mass executions had been regrouped in Muslim territory."

"THe ICRC continued to post a list of "missing" that its own officials knew was not accurate, because the Bosnian government refused to provide information, holding back the names of the survivors not only from the Red Cross, but even from the men's own families."

My purpose in writing this blog is not to defend every single action taken by the SDA during the course of the war. Johnstone, knowing that the Izetbegovic government was sometimes shady or crude in its operations, uses this knowledge not to illuminate the fate of the Muslims of Srebrenica, but to conceal. There is not a word in this section of the fate of the 3,000 Muslim men that even she is willing to acknowledge were taken into custody. And while Johnstone has previously decried the pracice of relying on unnamed sources passing along unverified information through a third party, she accepts the explanation for the identity of 2,000 Muslim soldiers "in an area north of Tuzla", according to a Red Cross report.

At any rate, playing this numbes game is a pointless exercise; Johnstone has grossly underreported the actual numbers of Muslim men at Srebrenica. She has deliberately ignored eyewitness accounts and testimonials made by relatives of the missing. I'll make this point yet again--this book was written in 2002, yet she relies on tentative figures and reports contemporary with the events she is describing when it suits her purpose to do so. A lot more was known--and known rather definatively--about Srebrenica when she wrote this book than was known in the confusion of August, 1995. Yet she relies on inaccurate figures and sketchy reports from the era, in order to cast a shadow of doubt and ambiguity on events which, in reality, are amply documented.

"Six years after the summer of 1995, ICTY forensic teams had exhumed 2,361 bodies in the region, and identified fewer than 50. In an area where fighting had raged for years, some of the bodies were certainly of Serbs as well as of Muslims. Of those bodies, 199 were found to have been bound or blindfolded, and must reasonably be presumed on the basis of the material evidence to have been executed."

And five years after this book was published, more bodies and more mass graves continue to be discovered. And reports and information has been collected and analyzed, and it is fairly well established that 8,097 Muslim men were killed at Srebrenica.

As for her comment that "fighting had raged for years" in the area--she can only get away with nonsense like this by ignoring the condition and context in which these bodies were found. Keep in mind that one reason so few had been identified was because body parts were mixed together, mass graves having been excavated and sometimes relocated by bulldozers and trucks.

As for the blindfolds; if you have read any of the accounts of the slaughter, you know that blindfolds were, to put it callously, optional for Serb soldiers carrying out their bloody business.

And so this section ends; with a pathetic attempt to use the physical evidence provided by widely scattered corpses as revisionist exhibits in a trial where the survivors are not allowed to speak on their own behalf.


Owen said...

Of course the words "careful" and "serious" to describe Johnstone's work immediately leap to mind. Once again though it's worth being aware that there is some scope for Johnstone to call in evidence on her behalf, however dishonestly.

There were unburied bones in the area from the massacre of the refugees from Cerska and Konjevic Polje by the VRS in 1992. In his evidence to the current Popovic, Beara et al. trial Ahmo Hasic (survivor of the massacre at Branjevo Farm) mentions being forced by thirst to drink water from a stream with bones in it. He is cross-examined in order to determine that these aren't fresh remains.

That is of course incidental to Johnstone's wilful omission and distortion of more direct evidence.

Kirk Johnson said...

It isn't that some of the evidence she uses isn't legitimate; no doubt there were scattered, unidentified remains both Muslim and Serb scattered throughout the countryside around Srebrenica. Johnstone's crime here is not what she reports, but what she leaves out.

Thank you, as always, for your input and clarification.