I recently wrote twoblogs concerning the depiction of Serbs in the movies. One thing I didn’t spell out about exploding or poison-gas toys being attributed to Serbs in “The Rock” when in reality they were found in a Bosnian-Muslim terror training camp, is that Hollywood’s “Serbs” generally do things that have been done TO Serbs in actuality. Which is how Nebojsa Malic put it to me today in an email. He then pointed to his 2002 article “Images Worth a Thousand Lies,” illustrating another example of this, in which a Serbian orphan rescued from Sarajevo by a journalist became a Muslim orphan in the movie version, titled “Welcome to Sarajevo.”
Also thanks to Nebojsa’s article, I learned that the advocacy journalists who dominated Balkans reporting throughout the 90s were actually being accused by Muslims and their open advocates of indifference and not doing enough to help the Muslims. This is a striking parallel to what we hear from the Arab and Muslim world with regard to the Western “pro-Israeli” media. A few years ago I finally understood what Muslims meant by calling their advocates in the Western media “pro-Israel”: If the journalists aren’t picking up weapons on behalf of the Palestinians (as this oneall but did in Bosnia) nor even openly calling for the destruction of Israel, that can only mean they are “pro-Israel.” And so you see, in Muslim eyes, all those anti-Serb pack journalists were actually pro-Serb. After all, they didn’t kill a single Serb themselves.
(At least we had the female Croatian journalist mentioned here to rectify that!)
As for my other recent Serbs-in-the-movies blog, the one about Angelina Jolie’s upcoming directorial debut, in which a Serb rapes a Bosnian-Muslim woman and then the two fall in love, I had commented that it sounded like a departure from the usual, since there would have to be something redeemable about the Serb for this to happen. The obvious hadn’t occurred to me, but it was pointed out to me by “Serbstvo,” who sent me the item initially: “Quite simple really. The Serbian soldier, ashamed of his army and country, abandons his unit and joins the Muslim cause, falls in love with the girl, converts to Islam, and becomes the most passionate soldier in the Bosnian army.”
So it’s no departure at all, of course. As Serbstvo also wrote:
In fact, I think it’s the most despicable. I believe you might have missed the part I took from the Serbian article… “Da podsetimo, scenario Anđelininog filma je skandalozan - u jednoj sceni prikazuje se grupa od dvadesetak Srba, uzrasta od dečaka do penzionera, koji siluju lepu i mladu muslimanku dok srpske žene navijaju sa strane, a u drugoj sceni poludeli srpski vojnik odseca dojku silovanoj muslimanki i onda je besno grize!”
It roughly translates: “The scenario of Angelina’s film is scandalous where in one scene, twenty Serbs, aging from boys to pensioners, are shown raping a beautiful young Muslim girl while the Serbian women nearby are watching and cheering the men on. In another scene, a lunatic Serbian soldier cuts off the breast of a raped Muslim woman and furiously bites into it.
In my sporadic, haphazard compilationsandcitations of movies and TV shows that utilize the handy Serb as villain — which, incidentally, includes the first season of “24″ — I neglected to include a whopper: “The Rock,” a 1996 movie starring Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage. Here is what Stella Jatras wrote about it in 2002: “Another one of Hollywood’s anti-Serb war movie[s], ‘The Rock,’ portrays American Serbs as terrorists who mail booby-trapped toys to Bosnian Muslim children.”
In that scene, Cage and a partner have to defuse a bomb contained in a box that reads “Aid to Bosnia” in English and “Freedom or Death” in Cyrillic. Cage explains, “There are half a million Serbs in the U.S. Serbs don’t like Bosnians.” Before getting to the bomb, Cage removes a doll sitting on top of it. The doll releases something similar to sarin gas.
Here is a video of the scene, thanks to John Bosnitch’s posting it:
Back to Stella Jatras’s article:
However, The Houston Chronicle of 17, February 1996 titled, “NATO forces uncover [Iranian] terrorist training camp in Bosnia,” wrote: “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what we found here is an abomination – clearly terrorist training activities,” said U.S. Adm. Leighton Smith, commander of NATO forces in Bosnia, as he toured the area. “No one can escape the obvious, that there is a terrorist training activity going on in this building and it has direct association with people in the government.
“A makeup room showed charts instructing how to change eye color using contact lenses, peroxide bottles to alter hair color, and a dozen beards and mustaches to hide the appearance. In classrooms, instructions had laid out mock-ups of installation. Notebooks detailed the daily lives of possible targets, and manuals showed how to build bombs out of children’s toys.”
“There is no military value to these types of devices; rigging toys is an act of terror,” said Col. Brian Hoey, a NATO spokesman. His fellow spokesman, Col. John T. Kirkwood added, “I never saw John Wayne rip the head off a plastic dog and throw it.”
So as we know, not only do filmmakers make up almost as many lies about Serbs as our politicians and news media, but they similarly incorporate the same inversions — that is, accusing Serbs of perpetrating what they were the victims of. Victims of the methodologies of the people we say they targeted with such methods. The raid of the Muslim camp happened in February of 1996, and the movie was released in mid-June of the same year. One wonders whether there was, as commonly happens, some special last-minute re-shooting to incorporate this scene, or whether one of the many Croatians in Hollywood was among the writers on the project and wrote this into the script much earlier, aware long before NATO that these things went on in Bosnia, where Croats were initially allied in the Serb-killing.
Below are just some excerpts from other articles referencing the real-life incident:
“Al-Qaida still poses a threat in Bosnia Expert says U.S. let terrorists gain foothold”
by Elizabeth Sullivan, 6 April 2002, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
U.S. officials looked the other way a decade ago when thousands of Arab and Iranian militants streamed into Bosnia to help the Muslims fight the Serbs.
That indifference was grounded in a belief that the militants were serving U.S. war aims.
But it also let al-Qaida terrorists gain a foothold in Bosnia, experts say.
In February 1996, several months after the war ended, NATO forces raided a terrorist training camp in central Bosnia and arrested 11 people, including three Iranians. Found at the camp was a photograph of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolutionary leader of Iran, along with weapons, terrorism training manuals, booby-trapped toys and bomb parts.
That raid was “the first military action” NATO ground troops took in Bosnia, said Ivo Daalder, then running Balkans policy for the National Security Council at the White House.
Many Bosnians still regard the Iranians warmly as “their true friends,” Daalder adds. “The larger lesson is if you leave people to fend for themselves, and offer them no support, they’re going to look for their allies anywhere they can find them,” he says. […]
(I think he just said that if you don’t help the Muslims with their jihads, they’ll turn to the people it makes more sense for them to turn to…the ones they’ll eventually turn to anyway.)
“Bosnian terror school raided NATO says Iranian experts trained government agents to use banned war tactics” by Laurent Rebours; Associated Press, 17 February 1996 in Rocky Mountain News
A swift, bloodless raid on a quiet ski chalet exposed what NATO forces say was a terrorist school where Iranians trained Bosnian government agents.
The raiders seized high-powered weapons and explosives, booby-trapped toys and detailed kidnap plans.
NATO displayed the find Friday. It appeared to show Bosnian authorities in flagrant violation of the troubled peace treaty that NATO troops are trying to enforce. They detained 11 heavily armed men, including three with Iranian papers.
“No one can escape the obvious, that this is a terrorist training activity going on in this building and it has direct association with people in the government,” said U.S. Adm. Leighton Smith, commander of NATO forces in Bosnia.
Speaking to reporters Friday, the day after the raid, he called the white, three-story chalet “an abomination.”
Smith and other American officers showed reporters documents that they said proved that three of the men detained are Iranians who were training agents for the Bosnian Interior Ministry, which runs the national police force. NATO officials said the other eight are Bosnians…[T]he raid [was] near Fojnica, 20 miles west of Sarajevo….
The Bosnian government protested the operation, saying it was “unnecessary and inappropriate” and claiming that the chalet was used to train “special anti-terror units of the Interior Ministry to arrest war criminals.”
Inside the chalet, Smith showed reporters a rack of 60 automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and a sniper rifle with a long green silencer. The arsenal also included hand grenades, detonators, blasting caps and explosives.
On a table was a small red car and other children’s toys, shampoo bottles and other household goods wired with explosives, as well as a model of a civilian house that a serviceman described as a “mock-up for an assassination.”
“The terrorists obviously didn’t get any classes on the Geneva Convention,” which bans assassinations and attacks on civilians, he said. “But they did, this picture indicates, show a new and useful way to blow a child’s sneakered foot off,” the American said, pointing to a diagram showing a child’s foot hitting a pressure-activated bomb.
“SCHOOL FOR TERRORISTS RAIDED ARMS FOUND IN BOSNIAN CHALET”
By LAURENT REBOURS, The Associated Press, 17 February 1996 in The Bergen County Record
…Smith said he had telephoned President Alija Izetbegovic after the raid, and that the Bosnian leader “related to me his conviction that this was an old training activity, that it was in fact being closed down, and that the people we detained here were here to remove all the equipment.”
The Bosnian government previously said that all foreign forces who had fought alongside the rival factions had left the country — in compliance with the peace accord which set a Jan. 17 deadline for their departure — and said that any who remained would become law-abiding citizens.
Inside the chalet, American servicemen guided journalists through two rooms with tables bearing bombs, detonators, booby-trapped toys and toiletries, and documents.
Meanwhile, I’ve mentioned the American propaganda film “Behind Enemy Lines” (2001) only in passing, but Stella Jatras in the same piece as above (”Behind Enemy Lines: Fact or Fiction?”) describes fully the farce not only that the movie was (a film made after Bill Clinton’s suggestion that such a film be made), but the farce that the incident itself was. What was reported and therefore what Americans swallowed bore no resemblance to what really happened in the “rescue” of Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady. (Pathetically and shamefully, the same July 2007 issue of Amerian Legion magazine that was decent enough to run my article about the real Kosovo, a few pages earlier ran a story — unbeknownst to me — regurgitating the official O’Grady fairy tale in which the captain spends six days in cold Bosnian forests, subsisting on bugs and grass as he successfully “hides” from Serbian forces until found — “gaunt and wild-eyed” — by a 40-aircraft American armada of Marines.
When this sort of thing goes unchecked — as all Balkan lies do — what then happens is that these people think they can run for office (see Wesley Clark and Joe DioGuardi, the KLA proxy who is considering running for the Senate this year.) And so last year Scott O’Grady was contemplating a Senate run in Texas.
In her letter to the editors of The Air Force Times last August, Jatras wrote:
FYI: My husband flew F4s in Vietnam. At the time of Scott O’Grady’s rescue, I was in constant contact with Col. David Hackworth. Hack sent me an email that he had received regarding O’Grady that confirmed O’Grady was living in “comfort” in the hands of the Serbs. David Hackworth’s “Wanted: Guns for Hire,” is an example of the flawed foreign policy regarding the conflict in Yugoslavia which should be of interest to you. See [here]. It will give you a different perspective of what the American people were being told about the war.
An unpublished 2007 letter to American Legion magazine by author and lecturer Bill Dorich — who three days after O’Grady went down wrote the White House that he’d been contacted by the Bosnian Serbs to negotiate the airman’s release — gives more details:
…O’Grady was captured by the Serbs and as one of the most prolific Serbian journalists in the United States I was contacted by the Serbian military to make arrangements for his safe return as the Serbs were fearful that the Muslims would capture and murder O’Grady in order to blame the Serbs.
Congressman Randy Cunningham of San Diego and Duncan Hunter of Los Angeles put together a Congressional delegation with myself included and we were to leave that week for the release of O’Grady into their custody. Two days later, a secret deal was obviously made between the State Department and Milosevic and our trip was suddenly cancelled. I was told by Cunningham [that I was not to talk about it and] that an explanation would follow — none ever did. The news of O’Grady’s [rescue] hit the wire service that Friday evening. During the Saturday morning CNN news conference, O’Grady’s commanding officer gave the location of his [rescue] as, “Just south of Bihac, about 10 miles from the Croatian border.”
No explanation was offered in this Legion article or in the Discovery Channel special on March 30th, 2001 of how O’Grady managed to travel 87 miles in six nights from Morkenic Grad where his parachute came down in hostile Serb-controlled territory to Bihac. This translates into 14.5 miles per night, or 1.8 miles per hour during darkness, indicating that O’Grady would have been jogging at that rate of speed in unfamiliar territory where he miraculously avoided Serbian troops and thousands of land mines.
In his first CNN interview O’Grady told the world how the “Cows [that] came near me each night were so friendly I named them” he boasted. Why in hell didn’t he milk them instead of “eating bugs and leaves” as he embellished his story? Babies survive on cow’s milk for more than a year yet stupid O’Grady could not make it for 6 days?
Are we Americans so desperate for heroes that we need to resort to immoral fiction?…One of the most grotesque State Department lies of the Bosnian Civil War took place in August, 1995. The headline read: “Five UN Monitors Tortured, Mutilated by Serbs.” The article said, “their bodies were mutilated beyond recognition.” A week later the Serbs released these 5 UN monitors to the Spanish Embassy, unharmed! Such headlines…[are] much like the demonization your article did to 10 million Serbs. There are 13 Serbian American recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. This represents one award for every 150,000 Serbs in America, our allies in two World Wars. Would the Legion please name me one single Croatian, Albanian or Muslim recipient of the Congressional Medal?
Your article would have made Goebbels proud.
(To piece together how the “rescue” may have gone down, and close the gap between the seemingly incompatible deal that our politicians had struck and the rescuers’ detailed version of how they “rescued” O’Grady, see here. It turns out that the Serbs found him quickly enough after he went down, then after making a deal with the U.S. plunked him down 60-80 miles away from where they found him, so that the Americans could “rescue” him and Clinton could shine.)
But back to the film. Its release was sped up by two months, so that it could capitalize on and feed the patriotism that swept the country for about a year starting on September 11, 2001. So that, ironically, the movie was timed to an event in which Americans were attacked by the same jihad the Serbs had been dealing with domestically for a decade — and for which the movie was villifying them. So let’s fully absorb the big picture here: Muslims attack the U.S. and we’re still releasing movies pointing the finger at Serbs.
The part of the Jatras article on O’Grady that I mainly wanted to include was this real-life scene for one viewer after the film ended:
The following incident happened to a friend after seeing Behind Enemy Lines. It reveals the extent of hatred that our politicians and a willing media have successfully instilled into the hearts and minds of the American people, including some of our GIs.
THESE ARE HIS WORDS:
“Dear Stella. You might already be aware of this movie but in case you aren’t I will inform you! Tonight I had the unfortunate experience of watching a big box office hit at the movie theaters. The movie – ‘Behind Enemy Lines.’ It was about the war in Bosnia, it made the Serbs look like evil barbaric monsters and the muslims like helpless victims!! It was really horrible the way it made the Serbs look like. I have seen many W.W.2 movies about the German Nazis but this made the Serbs look more evil than the Nazis! It’s one of the most popular movies in America right now and everybody is talking about how great a movie it is.
“It’s truly unbelievable, the demonization of the Serbian people still to this day continues non-stop! Could you imagine Stella if you and I were Serbian? We would have to hide our identity because everyone thinks we’re ruthless baby killers! This is too much and it upsets me very much. After the movie was over there were some military guys walking out of the theater discussing the film, they were saying ‘after we finish off Bin Laden and the Taliban we should go back to the balkans and finally finish off those Serb bastards’! Can you believe that? Unreal. I responded to the dumb idiots by saying ‘it’s ok for the U.S. to kill muslims because we are fighting the terrorists of Sept.11 but it’s not ok for the Serbs to defend themselves from the very same type of Islamic terrorism, and for 10 years and still going to this day, Sept.11 was only one day, the Serbs have been fighting these terrorists for 10 years and going!’ They responded to me by saying ‘F… the Serbs, a good Serb is a dead Serb.’
“Stella, this is the power of the media propaganda. They have made the American people loathe the Serbs!
“I’m very upset at their comments and about this movie, sometimes I feel like giving up and stop talking about the Serbs and Yugoslavia, I get too emotional about it and it’s probably unhealthy for me! I don’t know, I feel like I’m up against the whole world.”
I recently got an email from the Serbian proprietor of a blog called CHETNIXPLOITATION, which he (Vladimir) describes this way:
My friends and I have started a blog that is dedicated to a new movie genre — anti Serbian movies. We have already [written] many reviews of American, Croatian and Muslim anti-Serb films (”The Hunting Party,” “Defendor,” “Grbavica”…).
I am sending to you our introduction (UVODNO SLOVO). It is translated by GOOGLE translate but I hope you can get a picture about our goals with this blog.
1st What is chetnixploitation (pronunciation: četniksploitejšn)?
The term was first used by blogger Bobby Peru in a comentary of the film Grbavica by Aleksandar Janjic. A more precise definition follows:
Chetnixploitation, noun: Chetnixploitation is a collective term for primarily movies in which mostly naive and one-sided, with premeditation or from laziness/stupidity/ignorance, show the wars in former Yugoslavia and their consequences for the common man [with] grotesque [simplification] so that all the evils and horrors mostly blame the Serbs, ie. ‘Chetniks’ while at the same time relativiz[ing], or reduc[ing], or completely den[ying] responsibility [for] participation in the horrors [by] the other party [Croatians and Bosnians].
These are films in which in the quasi-artistic (and actually more or less cleverly disguised pamphlets) way, delays and ‘proves’ black and white images from the Western media during the conflict, and long after its termination, with pre-assigned roles, and beyond doubt that are clearly [delineated] in two camps:
- Serbs (”Chetniks”) = aggressors, war criminals, rapists and maniacs, robbers, abductors of innocent lives, the terrorists and sadist persons with eyes bloody from rage and madness, blood-thirsty; werewolves.
- Serbian victims (or Croats, Bosnians, Albanians) = passive, poor, unarmed, defenseless, naked and barefoot, made up exclusively of women (raped, tortured …) and children (orphans, crying, poor innocent …), sad person, suffering, faces in tears, martyrs; sheep.
These are films that exploit national prejudice and created a media image of Serbs as criminals by duty, and show (or, in clever examples suggest) their primary (or sole) responsibility for all the horrors of war.
These are films that exploit willingness of some European funds and festivals to promote this kind of story, with the kind of unilateralism (and even this was hidden) and to occasionally give even some prestigious awards. Despite these awards, it is usually inartistic, distorted pamphlets whose criminal, anti-artistic and anti-human discourse will be revealed on this blog.
2nd What Chetnixploitation (blog) is?
…Besides entertainment, the blog has an educational purpose, because it wants to draw attention of movie fans to [an] anti-movie, criminal trend of media victimization of one people (here: Serbian) through seemingly innocent, only superficially speaking ‘objective’, ‘warm human stories’ (the usual victims and the usual suspects).
3rd What Chetnixploitation is NOT?
The purpose of this blog is not to deal in a serious way with war [or to] examine the role of anyone in it.
Chetnixploitation does not deal with actual “Chetniks” and also does not deal with crimes that have happened in these parts — just the way they are portrayed in domestic and foreign films. Thus, for example, if we hit [filmmaker] Jasmila Zbanic and her ‘movies’, this does not mean to deny or justify the rape of women. Neither men, for that matter.
We are aware that this is sensitive, and do not expect a uniform understanding of our efforts: however, here we will try to avoid unilateralism and superficiality and insulting…
Vladimir ended with a personal note to me, which I wanted to share since the dilemma that the Serbian people face within their own country is similar to what Israelis and Americans are facing:
Your struggle to tell the truth about wars in Balkans and to speak in American media about an injustice that has been done to us by the Western states, is very appreciated among ordinary Serbs. Unfortunately, we can read your articles in Serbia only online or in a few independent newspapers, as official Serbian media is under absolute control of our antiserbian government.
And because of that, many Serbs do not know anything about the brave and honest members of Jewish people like you, Jared Israel,Peter North,Nathan Pearlstein, and others who are fighting in the Western media for the Serbs, risk their jobs and careers,and receive death threats from islamic fundamentalists,Croatian nazis and Albanian mobsters.
The biggest shame is that you never received a reward or recognition for your work from official Serbian state,as you deserved.
But please do not think we are ungrateful just because official Serbia is making ceremonies honoring NATO generals and Serbian enemies instead of Serbian friends like you are. Ordinary Serbs can never forget our foreign friends who were with us when it was difficult in our history…
Indeed, I recently met some of the types of Serbs who have “friends” in the U.S. State Department and go to dinners and other events sponsored by that traitorous body. Let me be clear. If you’re a Serb who has friends in the State Dept., you are no friend to the Serbs. One wonders if the 19th century Serbian prophet Mitar Tarabich had such Serbs in mind when he predicted:
The Serbs will separate from each other, and they will say: “I am not a Serb, I am not a Serb.” The unholy one will infiltrate this nation and bed with Serbian sisters, mothers and wives. He will sire such children that among the Serbs, since the beginning of the world, these will be the worst of offspring. Only weaklings will be born, and nobody will be strong enough to give a birth to a real hero.
Shocking new details of Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva’s January 6 fight have emerged.
Oksana told authorities that Mel punched her twice in the head then choked her with his forearm against the throat as she fell to the bed with their baby daughter, Lucia, in her arms, Radar reports. He put his free hand over her mouth and continued to choke her. Her 12-year-old son, Sascha, was in the bedroom the whole time.
As Oksana struggled free, she says Mel pulled out a gun and threatened to kill her, Lucia, Sascha and himself. Somehow she managed to escape and ran out of the house barefoot with the kids.
Tuesday Radar also released more of Oksana’s secretly recorded tapes in which she accuses Mel of hitting Lucia.
“You hit me, and you hit her while she was in my hands! Mel, you’re losing your mind. You need medication,” Oksana tells him on tape.
“You need a f*cking kick up the ass for being a bitch, c*nt, gold-digging whore! With a p*ssy son! And I want my child, and no one will believe you! So f*ck you!” Mel screams back.
How many times do we have to say it? It starts with the Jews. Then they come for everyone else.
A typical Russian/Ukrainian/Pole, Oksana thought she could love a Jew-hater, and be loved by him, but she learned that eventually her own neck would be the target of his rage.
Well, Mel’s “Jewish problem” seems to have diversified. Surprise. Surprise.
Of course, in addition to his drunken rant from 2006, his borderline-Nazi dad, and his pre-Vatican II church, there was another indicator. It is said that, like Jews, animals are a canary in the mine shaft: violence toward animals often leads to violence toward people. So let’s recall that this man would go to his family farm on slaughter days to slit the throats of calves, in order to help himself “relax.”
Anyway, I missed Gibson’s most recent movie “Heart of Darkness.” I’m Jewish and I really don’t have time for movies. I’m too busy starting all the wars.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Kosovo’s former prime minister must be retried on murder and torture charges related to the country’s 1998-99 war with Serbia, the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal ruled Wednesday, calling his acquittal two years ago “a miscarriage of justice.”
The original trial for Ramush Haradinaj and two former Kosovo Liberation Army comrades was marred by intimidation that left two prosecution witnesses too scared to testify, tribunal President Patrick Robinson said.
Actually, that trial left at least six witnesses dead. Others refused to testify, with some being held in contempt; others were caught lying to protect their families — and some protected witnesses had their identities revealed (once by an Albanian journalist and another time allegedly by an American deputy UN chief whose duties included getting drunk once a week with Haradinaj).
This is why there’s a Balkans saying, “He lies like an Albanian witness.”
As this American judge in Kosovo learned, witness intimidation is an Albanian “cultural norm.” To give readers a fuller picture of just what went on during the Haradinaj trial, I hope to soon do a follow-up post titled “Scenes from a Hague Trial.”
But for now, back to the news of the day:
“The trial chamber failed to appreciate the gravity of the threat that witness intimidation posted to the trial’s integrity,” Robinson said in ordering the first retrial in the tribunal’s 17-year history.
Pause. What could have suddenly caused the Tribunal to announce its first-ever retrial? Could it be the fact that the following day the other international court’s decision was due? That would be the decision by the UN’s International Court of Justice on the legality of separatists unilaterally seceding from democratic countries. It is to be an advisory opinion on the Kosovo land grab, which the rest of the 192 UN members have been awaiting before deciding whether to recognize an independent Kosovo. (”The rest” meaning all but the 69 who have so far recognized.)
While any semblance of legality points in Serbia’s favor, the U.S. and UK have been doing all in their power to pressure the ICJ and impress upon it what an Albanian-unfavorable decision could unleash throughout Europe and beyond. So given the extraordinary timing of the Haradinaj retrial announcement, perhaps the two UN-affiliated courts “talked” and came up with this exchange: Let’s “give” the Serbs something (Haradinaj) since we’re going to screw them on Thursday.
Or are we supposed to believe that by sheer coincidence on the day before the crucial ICJ ruling, the ICTY got to reflecting on just how improper a 2007 trial was, and had a bout of conscience over it? Enough to decide to have its first-ever retrial?
It’s just a theory, of course — and it relies on a negative outcome for Serbia and the world (which one hopes isn’t the ruling announced a few hours from now) — but if it’s accurate, there are at least two ironies in such an “exchange.” First: If, as we’re conditioned to think, the Serbs lost Kosovo “because of the 90s”/ “because of Milosevic”/ “because of war crimes,” convicting Haradinaj of war crimes would mean the Albanians should lose governing rights to Kosovo too. By tossing the Serbs a bone, the so-called international community is shooting itself in the foot. Well it would be, if double standards weren’t the rule in the Balkans.
The second irony is that Western pressure to rule against Serbia all boils down to giving the Albanians what they want so they don’t hurt us. But the “solution” (retrying Haradinaj) will only achieve the same unwanted result. As evidenced by the threat contained in the same AP report:
In a strongly worded statement, KLA veterans who fought under Haradinaj’s command in western Kosovo urged the tribunal to reverse its decision or risk destabilizing the region.
“If his detention continues, everything is clear: destabilization not only of Kosovo but of the entire Balkans,” veterans said in a statement sent to the AP.
Here is the rest of the AP article:
Haradinaj had been accused along with Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj of abusing Serbs or their supporters in 1998 as Kosovo battled for independence from Serbia, which it eventually declared in 2008.
Judges originally threw out all charges against Haradinaj and Balaj for lack of evidence, but convicted Brahimaj on charges of torture and sentenced him to six years. Appeals judges had later upheld Brahimaj’s sentence.
“Given the potential importance of these witnesses to the prosecution’s case, the error undermined the fairness of the proceedings and resulted in a miscarriage of justice,” Robinson said.
Robinson ordered Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj retried on six counts of the original indictment alleging murder, cruel treatment and torture of prisoners at a KLA headquarters and prison in the town of Jablanica.
A date for the retrial has yet to be set, and it is unclear if the frightened witnesses would testify at the new hearings. Tribunal spokeswoman Nerma Jelacic said the first step will be to appoint a new panel of judges for the case.
Haradinaj’s lawyer Michael O’Reilly said he was “extremely surprised” by the decision.
“It is something we could not have foreseen, particularly in view of his unambiguous acquittal two years ago,” O’Reilly said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
Serbia’s deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric hailed the court decision as a “big victory for Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz and his team in their struggle for the rights of the victims.”
Belgrade often accuses the court of bias because the vast majority of its suspects are Serbs.
Here we’ve arrived at another purpose Haradinaj’s retrial is to serve. First, please note the standard attribution to “Belgrade” (or, alternately, “Serbian claims”) when referring to documented and provable facts. Just count the Serbian defendants in comparison to Croatian, Albanian or Bosnian defendants. Then proceed to count actual convictions. Then compare the lengths of the sentences. Finally, recall that it wasn’t until four years into the ICTY’s existence that it occurred to the court to prosecute any Bosnian Muslims who killed Serbs (and it took 10 years into its existence to actually incarcerate any). Indeed, prosecutors in the past have expressed the common understanding that the court had been set up to try, or at least focus on, Serbian war crimes.
As for the second purpose of the Haradinaj retrial, it will be a great way for the utterly appalling ICTY to claim “objectivity”: re-arrest a blatant killer initially released because he had killed or intimidated the would-be witnesses, in order to justify sentencing Serbian non-criminals.
Back to the AP article:
Haradinaj was working in western Europe as a nightclub bouncer and construction worker when he returned to Kosovo to fight for its independence in the 1998-99 uprising against Serbia, and rose to become one of its most prominent rebel commanders.
He was a Western ally who harbored NATO special forces as they chose targets for airstrikes in 1999 as the alliance bombed Serbia to end its crackdown on Kosovo.
Afterward, he was seen as a political leader prepared to bridge the divide between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians and its Serb minority. He formed the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, a political party known as AAK, and was elected prime minister in December 2004.
Imagine. Our man to bridge the ethnic divide and create a “multi-ethnic Kosovo” is the same man who boarded a bus in 1998 seeking out two Albanians on it, because they were married to Serbian women. The two men were never seen or heard from again.
Back again to the rest of the article:
But he lasted just 100 days in office before quitting in March 2005 after learning of the indictment against him and surrendering to authorities in The Hague.
Haradinaj returned to head the opposition AAK after his acquittal [and indeed, was allowed to participate in politics during his trial], but the party has struggled to regain the support it had enjoyed during his time as Kosovo’s prime minister.
Haradinaj’s deputy, Blerim Shala, told The Associated Press that Wednesday’s ruling was “very bad for the AAK, for the citizens and for Kosovo itself.”
“We are extremely surprised with the decision,” he said, “especially since Haradinaj was previously acquitted of the charges by a unanimous decision.”
Wednesday’s decision came a day before the U.N.’s highest judicial organ, the International Court of Justice, is expected to issue a nonbinding advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence. […]
The Hague, 21 July (AKI) - The United Nations war crimes tribunal appeals panel on Wednesday ordered a partial retrial of former Kosovo prime minister Ramus Haradinaj and two of his aides for crimes against Serb, Roma and non-loyal Albanian civilians during Kosovo war for independence in 1998/99.
Haradinaj, 42, a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) that started a rebellion against Serbian rule in 1998, was acquitted by the court in April 2008 on all 37 counts for lack of evidence.
Another KLA commander, Idriz Balaj, was also acquitted, while Lah Brahimaj was sentenced to six years in jail. The appeals panel, chaired by the war crimes court president Patrick Robinson, however, ordered a retrial of all three indictees on six counts of the indictment, referring to murder, cruel and inhuman treatment and violation of laws of war.
Explaining Wednesday’s verdict, Robinson said the trial chamber hadn’t paid due attention to the intimidation of potential witnesses in Haradinaj’s trial, which had led to “failure of justice”.
At least six potential witnesses against Haradinaj had been killed, or died mysterious deaths before and during the trial.
Haradinaj was briefly prime minister of Kosovo, which was put under UN control in 1999 after NATO bombing pushed Serbian forces out of the province. He resigned in 2005 and surrendered to the court after his indictment was unveiled.
“I killed Serbian policemen, Serb civilians and disobedient Albanians,” Haradinaj admitted in memoir “The Stories About War and Freedom.”
The court ordered detention of all three indictees pending a retrial. Haradinaj had earlier said he would not attend today’s court session, but according to sources, he was arrested in Kosovo on 19 July and brought to the Hague.
Kosovo majority ethnic Albanians declared independence in 2008, but Serbia is fighting a diplomatic battle to retain the control over the province. On Serbia’s request, the International Court of Justice will render its opinion on the legality of Kosovo independence on Thursday.
Priorities, eh? Anyway, they say it was a “barbecue accident.” Right, everybody barbecues with Molotov cocktails. Surely, there’s soon to be an Iron Chef episode where they’re the secret ingredient! “Brothers deny Lars Vilks arson attack,” from The Local, July 7 (thanks to Larry):
The trial of two brothers accused of fire-bombing the home of Swedish Muhammad cartoonist Lars Vilks opened on Tuesday with one of them describing the artist as “Islams’s greatest enemy”.
Artist Lars Vilks “is God’s enemy, he is the Prophet’s enemy, he is the Muslims’ enemy,” the eldest of the two brothers told the court in the southern city of Helsingborg, the TT news agency reported.
“He is Islam’s greatest enemy right now,” he added.
The news agency did not give the brothers’ names, but the Expressen tabloid identified them as Mentor and Mensur Alija, aged 21 and 19.
…The brothers, who are Swedish nationals of Kosovar origin, were arrested in May when several of their personal items were found outside the artist’s house after it was attacked with Molotov cocktails.
Although the fire blackened some of the house’s exterior it went out on its own without causing much damage. The artist was not at home at the time.
Both brothers have denied their involvement, even though Mensur Alija reportedly suffered serious burns on the night of May 15, when the attack occurred.
He has claimed he was involved in a barbecue accident.
So deeply entrenched is the notion of Serbian villainy that it’s apparently shocking when a Serbian film company executive takes exception to a Serb-bashing script, declining to allow his studios to be used for filming. Zeljko Mitrovic turned down Angelina Jolie’s propaganda film and directorial debut, stirring her and her co-filmmakers’ ire, with some Balkans observers stating the usual conclusion: Only Serbian NATIONALISM could account for not participating in Serb-bashing.
Serbstvo, who sent this in, wrote, “Owner of TV Pink, Zeljko Mitrovic, rejected Angelina Jolie’s offer to use his film studio to shoot her first movie. Like Richard Gere before her, she chose to center her first film on Serb-bashing. Mitrovic refused Jolie after her producers showed him the disgusting script.”
In April she and Brad Pitt made the usual propaganda rounds through Bosnia. But with a twist. After all, most of the displaced, the ethnically cleansed, the refugees in the former Yugoslavia are Serbs, and according to some reports, she didn’t exactly keep on program, but visited with Serb refugees in addition to the usual Muslim ones.
So much for that.
Here is a news item from earlier this week, before Mitrovic had turned down Jolie, which has a few details. I must say, this script seems to be a departure from all the previous anti-Serb Balkans tripe in that at least, it appears, the Serb is a redeemable character and clearly a victim of something himself. Or else how could the Muslim woman he raped fall in love with him? So pathetic and ridiculous as this film is, it may actually be an improvement:
Belgrade, July 14 (IANS/AKI) Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie is planning to direct her first film in the Balkans. She will also play a leading role in the movie, a love story set in the Bosnian war.
Jolie will visit Serbia in August to discuss planning of the film and scout locations, Belgrade daily Press reported Wednesday.
In the film, a Muslim woman is raped by a Serb at the beginning of Bosnia’s bloody 1992-1995 war. But they eventually fall in love and go together through horrors of the war in which more than 100,000 people were killed.
Serbian media magnate Zeljko Mitrovic, owner of a private television Pink Media Group and film studios on the outskirts of Serbian capital, will be involved in the project, according to Press.
Jolie is a goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency UNHCR. She and her husband Brad Pitt visited the Balkans in April, taking a short vacation in Montenegro and visiting refugee camps in Bosnia.
To end, here was Mitrovic’s quote to the press on the matter:
Previously I had great sympathies and respect for her name and actions but she’s full of prejudice towards Serbs. Cooperation with her would open a door of great movie business for us, but I don’t want to be a part of something what represents Serbs as bad boys.
The only criticism that Mitrovic received in Serbia for his reaction came from some Serbian actors. And they’re… well…actors. Serbstvo wrote, “Among them is retired Bata Zivojinovic, a longtime actor who made his career playing communist Partisans, blasted Mitrovic for turning down such a great offer that would’ve brought much benefit to Serbia’s film industry.”
Serbstvo added, “Pissed Angelina said she’ll look for partners elsewhere. I’m sure she’ll find plenty of Muslims and Croats willing to help out.”
In a follow-up to this post titled “Greek Cypriots: We Need a Defense Cooperation Agreement with Israel”, here is the following from DEBKAfile:
Israel loses Turkey, gains Greece as strategic partner
DEBKAfile Special Report
04 July: Israel has finally moved on from its fractured relationship with Turkey following the Israeli Minister of Trade and Labor Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer’s last-ditch bid to save the relationship by meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, which was a flop. Meanwhile, Israel has welcomed Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s interest in slotting Athens into Ankara’s place as Israel’s strategic partner in the region.
In a follow-up to this recent post, EU judges helping out with Kosovo “law and order” have again refused an extradition request by the U.S. for Bajram Asllani, involved with the North Carolina Eight, headed by Daniel Boyd and involving a Bosnian and another Albanian.
As I commented at the time, U.S. Tries to Restore Serbian Sovereignty over U.S.-supported “Independent” Kosovo:
Prosecutors were relying on a 2001 agreement between the U.S. and Serbia, but Kosovo has since declared its independence and isn’t bound by that agreement, the judge ruled.
I added: Ooooooooops! Looks like someone forgot to make provisions for how we would extradite all those U.S.-sponsored independent Kosovars who would be striking against the U.S. Or did we not expect them to do that, given that anti-Serb terrorists aren’t real terrorists?
BUT NOW GET THIS! Since turning to the 2001 agreement between the U.S. and Serbia didn’t work, the U.S. is shooting for 1901!!
PRISTINA, Kosovo — A panel of international judges on Friday decided not to extradite a Kosovo terror suspect to the United States on legal grounds and then set him free, a European Union official said.
Nicholas Hawton said the U.S. request to extradite 29-year-old ethnic Albanian Bajram Asllani did not demonstrate “well-grounded suspicions” that he plotted terrorist attacks. The panel also ruled Friday there was no valid extradition treaty between the two countries.
The extradition request was made on the basis of a 1901 treaty between the US and the former Kingdom of Serbia.
The judges ruled that “providing material support to terrorists” is not listed in the treaty as a criminal offense, so there were no grounds for Asllani’s extradition, said Hawton, spokesman for the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo.
Imagine that! The 1901 treaty didn’t say anything about “providing material support to terrorists.” But thanks for reaching. (And we have to reach pretty far and low to get around our own handiwork in Kosovo.)
I swear, it’s almost like the EU mission there — more intimately acquainted with the challenges of babysitting America’s darling demon child — is having a bit of fun at U.S. expense. Just to make a point.
Hey, since 1901 is suddenly relevant again, maybe our “leaders” should take a closer look at that year in the same region. From Andy Wilcoxson’s book manuscript about the Milosevic trial:
On September 9, 1901, a British diplomatic cable sent to the Marquess of Lansdowne said: “Old Serbia [Kosovo] is still a restive region because of the Albanians’ lawlessness, vengeance and racial hatred.”
So maybe by 2101, our ruling elite will finally admit that we backed the wrong horse? Nah!
Meanwhile, one really has to ask: If we supported and support a 2001 agreement with Serbia — under which our understanding seems to be that Kosovo was part of Serbia — then what changed between 2001 and 2008, when we insisted on Kosovo independence and emphasized that it’s “impossible” that Kosovo ever be part of Serbia again? Between 2001 and 2008, what on earth changed or led to a change in Kosovo’s status in our eyes? There is no good answer here. Other than Albanian violence being stepped up.
So it seems that not only does UN Res. 1244 affirm Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo, but the U.S. has done so itself.
Anyway, here is the rest of the no-extradition news item:
…In Raleigh, U.S. attorney George Holding said the decision would now be reviewed by the Supreme Court of Kosovo.
“I’m disappointed,” Holding said. “However, this is just one step in the process.”
Asllani can appeal a possible decision by the Supreme Court to extradite him to the U.S., where he faces a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted.
Kosovo is mostly Muslim, but its estimated 2 million ethnic Albanians are strongly pro-American due to the U.S.’s leading role in NATO’s 1999 bombing of Serb forces that paved the way for Kosovo to secede.
Asllani was initially arrested by Kosovo police in 2007 on suspicion of terror but then released for lack of evidence. He was convicted in absentia by a Serbian court in Sept. 2009 for planning terrorist-related offenses and was sentenced to eight years.
Last month, he was arrested again in Kosovo in connection with the North Carolina case.
International agreements concluded when Kosovo was not an independent country are endorsed by Kosovo’s Constitutional Court. But Kosovo’s constitution forbids the extradition of its citizens to other countries without a prior bilateral agreement.
In an almost poetically parallel news item from December, it seems Albanians want to be Serbian citizens again for a minute:
EU decision to lift visa restrictions on Serbian citizens is prompting Kosovo Albanians to claim they live in South Serbia, so they can access the benefits – but very few succeed.
Leon Osmani, aged 30, was born in South Serbia but has been living with his family in the Kosovo capital of Pristina for the last 25 years.
Ever since he heard the news that Brussels proposed to lift the requirement for Serbian citizens to obtain visas for the Schengen zone, he has been trying to change address.
He filed a request with the police in Serbia to change his official residence to his grandfather’s home in the mainly Albanian town of Bujanovac in Southern Serbia.
“They accepted my documentation as valid but my request was denied, oddly enough,” Osmani complains. The official explanation was that the data submitted in his request was incorrect.
Osmani is not the only Albanian in Kosovo trying to claim residence in Serbia as a result of the EU decision.
The reason is that the EU decision on November 30 to lift the Schengen visa regime on certain countries in the Western Balkans is highly selective.
It applies to Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro but not to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo or Albania. [For good reason, some might say.]
The new visa regime does not even apply to residents of Kosovo who have Serbian biometric passports.
That is why an increasing number of people from Kosovo have been trying to exchange addresses in Kosovo for official residence in Presevo and Bujanovac, two Albanian-majority municipalities in Southern Serbia.
Police in Presevo and Bujanovac say the largest number of applications has come from people born in Southern Serbia who later moved to Kosovo. But the list of applicants also includes people who never lived in Southern Serbia.
Most requests get nowhere. The police, working under the Serbian Interior Ministry, usually turn them down, saying they do not believe these applicants have any intention of permanently residing or working in Serbia.
Eshref Duraku is one of the disappointed applicants. Coming from Gnjilan, in southeast Kosovo, he had no prior connection to Southern Serbia but says a man from Bujanovac agreed to register him at his own address as a subtenant.
“My only goal was to get a Serbian passport to use the right to travel without a visa regime,” he admits. “I wanted to visit relatives in Austria and find a job there.” He did not succeed. Police in the nearest big town in Southern Serbia, Vranje, denied his request for permanent resident status in Bujanovac.
Stojanca Arsic, a leading Serbian deputy in the Bujanovac local assembly, defends Belgrade’s stance, however.
“The competent authorities are only acting in accordance with the law,” he said. “An actual intention to change residence must be proven.”
Asked by Balkan Insight to clarify the basis on which the police refuse to register new residence applications for the municipalities of Southern Serbia, police in Vranje…[wrote,] “Having in mind that a lot of requests for a change of residence have been submitted lately - not with the intention of permanent residence - in order to prevent registering fictitious addresses… the competent authorities are entitled to decide whether a person has filed a request in order to get a job, get married or something similar, and if the conditions have not been met, the request will be denied,” the written response added.
Zorica Kasalica, a senior official in the ministry of interior…maintained that an applicant’s ethnic background was of no relevance to the procedure. Only the documentary evidence that was submitted was taken into consideration.
Bosnian Muslim couple, Minel and Martina, were attacked in their car by a mob of Bosnian Muslims who idetify themselves as the Sharia Police.
Minel and Martina were in their car when a two dozen – or so – Bosnian Muslims, witnesses say, attacked their car and begun beatng on it, while others beat the Muslim man whose head was later stitched in the hospital.
Minel and Martina were in their car in the city of Mostar when shouts “C’mon, C’mon… Hit them, Hit them” were suddenly shouted and 2 dozen Muslim men attacked them.
The woman, in fear, was dragged away while the man was being beaten.
During the beating of the man, a Muslim in the group shot from the gun. Police has found 7.65 mm discard[ed].
Police says that this is the first time that they have seen the action of the so-called Sharia Police in Mostar.
The Sharia Police group appeared in 2006 when the media noted that groups of Muslims were chasing away romantically involved couples. Modelled after the Saudi State agency, this Police is interested in “promotion of Islamic virtue and suppression of vice.”
After all ethnic Serbs have been killed in Mostar, the city is divided between the Croat and Bosnian Muslim half.
Bosnian Croats are subserviant to Bosnain Muslims who rule over Croats.
Some Bosnian Croats want their own entity inside Bosnia.