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"A few days ago Mr. Boutros Ghali informed me that the projectile which hit the Markale marketplace in Sarajevo was an act of (Bosnian) Muslim provocation". President Mitterrand of France, 1995Open military confrontation in Bosnia-Herzegovina ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement on 14th December 1995. The conflict had resulted in more than 160,000 deaths, and 2.5 million refugees and displaced persons. Not long before, the United Nations (UN) had ordered the first combat units from its rapid reaction force into Sarajevo, after after Serb rebels killed two French peacekeepers. Three Bosnian Serb shells had hit the French and Danish areas of a U.N. compound in Zetra, north of Sarajevo's centre killing a French peacekeeper and wounding another French soldier and a Dane. A half-hour later, another French peacekeeper was killed and two wounded, one seriously, when a U.N. convoy was targeted by Serbs in the suburb of Butmir. The deaths brought the number of French dead to 42 since the Bosnian war began in April 1992 - and not all of them were killed by the Bosnian Serbs, a number of them were also killed in crossfire or deliberately by the forces of the Bosnian government.
"People around General Rose never tried to hide the fact that at his meeting with Bosnian Muslim leaders (President Alia Izetbegovic and General Delic) he said that he had just received some information which shows that the mortar bomb did not come from the area under Serb control but from the Muslim part of the city . . ."However, Owen's account of the the Market square massacre in 1994 has been criticised by Noel Malcom in a review of his book in The Sunday Telegraph on 12th November 1995.
When discussing the market-place massacre in Sarajevo of February 1994, Lord Owen goes on at length about a UN investigation which concluded that the mortar shell had been fired from a Bosnian Government position. Dramatically, he confirms that General Rose put pressure on Bosnian ministers by threatening to reveal this finding, unless they did as they were told. What Lord Owen does not tell us is that a second, more thorough investigation found that the first had made mistakes in its calculations, and concluded that the shell could equally have come from the Serb side. It is surely inconceivable that Owen is unaware of this second report; yet he chooses not to mention it. Readers will have to draw their own conclusions about the overall reliability of this grotesquely vainglorious book.But, Owen also fails to give any clear evidence as to the perpetrators of this attack - if you read his statement carefully, he is only telling us that the second investigation, although on one hand, described as "more thorough", still concluded that the shell could "equally" have come from the Serb side. This indicates to me that their is still no hard evidence that either side were responsible. Bosnian Serb and Russian claims should be treated with scepticism (as they have a vested interest, from a propaganda point-of-view, in making sure these allegations are widely circulated). But the claims of the UN and representatives of various NATO countries serving as peacekeepers should be treated as serious and worthy of investigation.
"Why am l against the expansion of NATO ? This (mortar attack in Sarajevo) is the first sign of what might happen when NATO comes right up to the borders of the Russian Federation. Those who insist on the expansion of NATO are making a major political mistake. The flame of war would burst out across the whole of Europe" (The Guardian, 9th September 1995).The Russians and Bosnian Serbs have claimed that the third attack was prepared in advance over many months by "certain" Western secret services (probably including the CIA), and that Bosnian government troops under the commander of the General R. Delic carried it out. The reason for this, they argue, was to provide NATO with an opportunity not only discredit the Bosnian Serbs, but to provide the pretext to use heavy air strikes on them so as to destroy their military potential. The Russian intelligence service (FSB) were said to had known about the preparation of the plan since February 1995. Then a detailed plan, allegedly called Cyclone 2, was related to a secret memorandum, signed on 10th August 1995 at the Pleso airport in Zagreb, Croatia. The memorandum was signed for the UN by the commander of the UNPROFOR forces based Croatia and Bosnia,General B. Janvier and by Admiral L. Smith for NATO. This secret memorandum was only passed on, as "secret", on 13th September 1995 to the UN Security Council, when the main destruction of Serb targets had already taken place. According to article 7 of the memorandum UNPROFOR agreed to provide all information necessary for the NATO strikes against Serb targets to achieve the maximum success.
"found no evidence that the Bosnian Serbs had fired the lethal round"Nora Beloff, writing in her book Yugoslavia: An Avoidable War (New European Publications, London, England, 1997), also allege that "that Bosnian government arranged to kill their own people" so as to get the Bosnian Serbs blamed. She alleges the news reporter Martin Bell, now an independent MP in Britain, had known about these allegations through his contacts with British UN officers but "he ignored what they might have told him". She repeats claims, as reported in David Owen's account of the bombings, that western experts had discovered that it was the Bosnian government forces and not the Bosnian Serbs who had been behind the attack in February 1994. Allegedly, when UNPROFOR wanted the Bosnian government to participate in truce negotiations, the British commander, General Michael Rose:
"Blackmailed the Bosnian Muslim leaders into submission. He told them that unless they agreed to cooperate, he would tell the international press that he had technical expertise proving that the grenade came from the Muslim, not the Serb, side" (Beloff, p112/113).Other attacks supposedly carried out by the Bosnian government - and blamed on the Bosnian Serbs - include:
"The French forces (the main UN armed force in Sarajevo) were continually harassed, shot at, blocked at, and threatened by Bosnian government forces . . . it was the French who pointed out that the Bosnian government was placing weapons systems next to UN facilities in order to draw fire from Serb artillery onto civilian and UN targets and thus provoke international outrage against the Serbs . .. (p178)I recommend that readers interested in the background to the conflict in Bosnia read Corwen's book: His meticulous account shatters once and for all the "one victim - one enemy" myth promoted mainly by the Western media. For the record, l unequivocally condemn the war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out by the Bosnian Serb regime against the people of Sarajevo - whom they relentlessly bombed and shelled. The Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic have been rightfully indicted by the International war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands - but why has this tribunal failed to indict Alija Izectbegovic, the Bosnian President and other senior officials of his government when there is clearly enough prima-facie evidence of their complicity in war crimes carried out by the Bosnian army ? I believe that the UN probably has ample evidence to show that the Bosnian government carried out these attacks in Sarajevo, but along with NATO, decided not to pursue charges against Bosnian government leaders for political reasons, and decided to sweep the whole story under the carpet and suppress it.
"Up to 300 men, women and children who lived close to the site of the (NATO) bombings in 1995 have died of cancers and leukemia over the last five years". Robert Fisk, 2001Finally the bombings of the market place unleashed a wave of NATO air-strikes against Bosnian Serb military targets in and around Sarajevo. In these attacks, bombs and bullets used by the NATO jets used Depleted Uranium (DU) that is now estimated to have claimed the lives of some Serb 300 civilians who lived in the vicinity of the bases hit by NATO. According to Robert Fisk, writing in The Independent of Sunday on 14th January 2001, NATO subjected the Serb military bases and surrounding civilian areas to an intense bombardment between 30th August to 15th September 1995, using jets and artillery from Mount Igman just outside Sarajevo. Civilians living in the area surrounding the bases starting to begin suffering from a variety of symptoms now linked to the use of DU by NATO in Bosnia. NATO governments have so far shown little interest in helping the civilian victims of DU in either Bosnia, Yugoslavia or during the assault on Iraq in 1990.