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    InternationalDecisionMakingintheAgeofGenocide:Srebrenica1993-1995June28July1,2015

    TheHagueEditedTranscript

    Session4:EndgameLessonsfromSrebrenica

    Potoari,July12,1995,USgovernmentphoto

    TOMBLANTON:Ourintentionthisafternoonistolookveryintensivelyattheaftermathof

    thefallofSrebrenica,includingtheexperiencesofColonelKarremans,RupertSmith,and

    CarlBildtintalkingwithGeneralMladi.IwanttoaskMichaelDobbstoleadoffwitha

    couplequestionsaboutthesituationonSrebrenicaonJuly11,andthechoices,orlackof

    choices,facedbyColonelKarremansandDutchbat.

    SHASHITHAROOR:Beforewestart,mayIjustbrieflyputamarkerforourlaterdiscussion

    onlessons.IobjecttoJohnShattuck'ssuggestionthatthissomehowrevealsabankruptcy

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    ofUNpeacekeeping.Ihavetriedtoexplainwhypeacekeepingwasinappropriatetoapply

    tothissituationandhowwepointedthisoutrepeatedlytotheSecurityCouncil.

    TOMBLANTON:I'mcountingonyoutochallengeit.

    MICHAELDOBBS:Wewantveryquicklytolookatwhathappenedafterthefallof

    Srebrenica.Asyouknow,manyoftheMuslimmenfromSrebrenica,ledbythearmed

    remnantsoftheBosnian28thDivision,triedtoescapetheenclave.Theygatheredinthe

    northernpartoftheenclaveataplacecalledunjariandattemptedtomakeabreakout,

    throughtheencirclementbyBosnianSerbtroops.

    DetailfromCIAmap,showingattemptedbreakoutbyMuslimsfromSrebrenica

    Therewasanothergroupofcivilians,mainlywomenandchildrenbutalsoafew

    hundredmen,whotookrefugeatDutchbatheadquartersinPotoari,whichisjustnorthof

    Srebrenica.Weactuallyhaveanoverheadreconnaissancephotographofthesceneat

    PotoarionJuly12at2:00p.m.Anotherreconnaissancephotograph,thefollowingday,July

    13,showsalineofbusesoutsidetheUNbase,afewhundredmetersdowntheroad.1Aswe

    nowknow,Mladiallowedthewomenandchildrentoenterthebuses,fortransportation

    1TheJuly12-14photographswereprobablytakenbylow-flyingNATOreconnaissanceaircraftsearchingforDutchbatsoldiersseizedbytheRSAashostages.LaterphotographsweretakenbyAmericanU-2spyplanes,covering30squarekilometersofterritory.

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    toBosniangovernmentpositions,buttookthemenawayforscreeningforallegedwar

    criminals.

    Potoari,July13,1995,USgovernmentphoto

    WealsohaveaJuly11document[sentat6:27p.m.localtime]withinstructionsto

    ColonelKarremansfromGeneralHervGobilliard,whowasactingUNPROFORcommander

    inSarajevointheabsenceofGeneralSmith.2Hisinstructionsare:"Concentrateyourforces

    intothePotoariCamp,includingwithdrawalofyourOPs.Takeallreasonablemeasuresto

    protectrefugeesandciviliansinyourcare."Priortothathesaid,"Enterintolocal

    negotiationswithBSAforcesforimmediateceasefire."

    WealsohaveareportdatedJuly12fromColonelKarremansinwhichherepliesto

    thepointsmadebyGeneralGobilliard.3Bythistime,hehasmettwicewithGeneralMladi

    2GobilliardtoSectorNE(Info:CODutchbat),"OrdersfordefenceofDutchbatandprotectionofrefugeesinSrebrenica,July11,1995.3KarremanstoJanvier,MeetingwithGenMladion11and12July1995,DutchbatCompoundPotoari,TK95114,July12,1995.

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    attheHotelFontanadowntheroadinBratunac.Heisreportingonwhathecalls"a

    catastrophicsequenceofeventsthathewitnessedandhisdirecttalkswithMladi.He

    basicallysaysthatheisunabletocarryoutGobilliardsinstructions.Hestates,"Thereare

    morethan15,000peoplewithinonesquarekilometer,includingDutchbat,in"anextreme

    vulnerableposition:thesittingduckposition.Headdsthatheisnotabletodefendthese

    people,"ordefendhisownbattalion.Thereareheavygunsallaroundthecompound,

    withindirectsightofthecompound.4ColonelKarremans,youhadthemisfortuneofbeing

    thrustintotheseveryone-sidedtalkswithMladi.Couldyougiveusyourimpressionsof

    himandthechoicesyoufacedfollowingthefalloftheenclave?

    THOMKARREMANS:Sure.WeallknowwhathappenedbetweenJuly6and11.We

    discussedthatyesterdayandthismorning.AsIsaidbefore,thiswasawar.Allofasudden,

    it'soverandyouareconfrontedwith25,000refugees.Somebodyaskedmesomeyearsago,

    Whydidn'tyoutakealltherefugeesinyourcamp?Thatwasimpossible.Youcan'tput

    25,000refugeesonafewsquaremeters.5Alotofthingshappenedvery,veryfast.Youhad

    tomakemanydecisionswithinashrunkenbattalionstaff.Thereishardlyanytimetothink

    aboutthedecisionsyouhavetotake.Youtakedecisionsinsplitseconds.Sometimes,the

    decisionswerenotgood,ornotwellthoughtout,butwefeltthatmostofthedecisionswe

    tookwerecorrect.

    WhenIwasaskedtostartnegotiations[withtheBosnianSerbs],Iaskedwhether

    somebodyonamuchhigherlevelcanconductthesenegotiations?6Icouldconduct

    negotiationsbutaftersixdayswithnosleep,nodrink,nofood,negotiatingwiththelocal

    authorities,runningmyownbattalion,Iwasnotinthemoodtostartnegotiations,tobe

    honest.Iaskedforsomeonehigheruptonegotiate,butgotnoanswer,soIwentto

    4AccordingtotheKarremansJuly12cable,Mladihaddeployedtwoartillerypieces,twotanks,threemultiplelaunchrocketsystems,andoneanti-aircraftgunwithin"directsight"oftheDutchbatcompound.5AccordingtotheKarremansJuly12cable,therewereabout2,500refugeesinsidetheDutchbatcompoundatPotoari,andafurther15,000refugees"inthedirectvicinity.6OnJuly12,Akashiappointedajointcivilian-militaryteamledbyUNcivilaffairsofficialKenBiserandUNPROFORchiefofstaff,Gen.KeesNicolai,totraveltoSrebrenicatomanagethecrisis.SeeAkashitoAnnan,SituationinSrebrenica,UNPROFORZ-1142,July12,1995,paragraph7.GeneralSmithagreedthatCODutchbatshouldnotnegotiatewithMladibyhimselfashewastalkingfromthejail.SeeRupertSmith,AftermathofFallofSrebrenica,July13,1995,paragraph4.Henoted,however,thattheSerbswererefusingtodealwithHQUNPROFOR,inSarajevo,anditseemsHQUNPFinZagreb.

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    Bratunac,thesmallcityoutsidetheenclave.OnmywaytotheFontanahotelinBratunac,I

    wassittinginmyvehiclethinkingaboutwhatIshouldsay.ThenIsaw,totheleftandright

    oftheroad,thosemortarplatoons.WhenIarrivedatthehotel,IexpectedGeneral

    ivanovi,theCommanderoftheDrinaCorps,orhissuccessor,GeneralKrsti.Ihadnever

    seenMladibeforeinmylifeandtherehewas.Noweverybodyhasseenthepictures.I

    wouldnotliketoexpandonthat,becauseitwasnotapleasantsituationformeeither,I

    mustsay.7

    Imentionthewordrefugeesseveraltimesinthisdocument.ItoldMladiseveral

    timesthatIwastheretomakegoodarrangementsfortherefugees.Imaginethatthereare

    about5,000refugeesinside,andabout20,000outside,thecompound.Wehadalready

    foreseenthehumanitariandisasterthatwasemerging.Wehadnomedicinestodealwith

    that.Ihad110severelywoundedpersonsonthecompound.MythoughtwasthatIcannot

    startnegotiatinginamilitarysense,butIcantrytomakearrangementsforthewounded

    andforthepopulation.Inthebeginning,hedidn'tlisten,butthesecondtimeIwasthere,

    [at11:00p.m.],hestartedlistening.

    Itwasmoreorlessaone-directionconversation.Hewasorderingratherthan

    asking.ThatiswhatIcanrememberfromthosetwotalksintheevening.Thenextmorning

    Iwentforthethirdtimewiththreepeoplerepresentingtherefugees,onewomanandtwo

    men.Theywereabletoexplainwhatwasgoingonfromtheirperspective.

    MICHAELDOBBS:Mladitoldthemthattheyhadachoice,tosurvive,stay,orvanish.8It

    wasagreedthattherewouldbeanevacuation.Thelocalpeoplesaidtheywantedtobe

    evacuated,butanimportantquestionarose:whowouldorganizetheevacuation?Wouldit

    betheUNthatorganizedtheevacuation?OrwouldMladiorganizetheevacuationhimself?

    AtonepointitseemedthatUNPROFORwouldorganizetheevacuationinwhichcasethere

    presumablywouldnothavebeenaseparationofmenandwomen.Butitturnedoutthatit

    7KarremansheldthreemeetingswithMladiattheHotelFontanaatBratunac,atapproximately8:00p.m.and11:00p.m.onJuly11,and10:00a.m.onJuly12.ABosnianSerbcameramantookvideoofthemeetings,whichwasthentranscribedbyICTYresearchers,becomingpartofaSrebrenicatrialvideo.KarremanswasjoinedbyMuslimrepresentativesforthesecondandthirdmeetings.8SecondFontanameeting.AtthefirstFontanameeting,MladitoldKarremansthathedidnotwanttosendUNPROFORpeacekeepersbackhomeincoffins.

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    wasMladiwhobroughtthebusesandMladiwhocontrolledtheevacuation.9Canyoutell

    ushowitendedupthatMladiwasallowedtoorganizetheevacuation?

    KEESNICOLAI:Icansaysomethingaboutthat.Immediatelyafterwestoppedtheair

    attacks,werealizedtheterriblesituationoftherefugees.Weknewwehadtodosomething

    aboutthat.Afteradiscussionthatlastedtenminutesorso,weweresurethatournext

    missionwouldbetoevacuatethecivilianpopulationtoasafeareawheretheycouldbe

    treated.Therewasnowater,nofood,andnomedicinefortheminSrebrenica,asColonel

    Karremanshasdescribed.Moreover,itwasverydangerous.Therefugeeswere

    unprotected,intheopenair.Thesituationcouldchangeatanymoment.

    Itwasclearthattheyhadtoberemovedfromthatplaceassoonaspossible.Soon

    afterwards,IhadatelephonecallwithourMinisterofDefense.Itoldhimthatwehad

    decidedtostartnegotiationstoarrangeanevacuation.Heagreedimmediately,sothere

    wassupportforourdecisionfromTheHague.Aroundthesametime,Ihadashort

    telephonecallwithMr.Muratovi[theBosnianministerresponsibleforrelationswith

    UNPROFOR].Hewasveryupsetthatwehadstoppedtheairstrikes.Hesaidthatwas

    contrarytoourmission,butweexplainedthatwecouldnotdoanythingelseduetothe

    situationinwhichtheciviliansfoundthemselves.

    Shortlyafterwards,IcontactedColonelKarremanstoorderhimtostartnegotiations

    withthelocalSerbauthorities.Atthatmoment,IwasnotawarethatMladiwasthere.The

    firstprioritywastogettherefugeesout.Eventswentinadirectiondifferenttotheonewe

    hadplanned.WeweretakenbysurprisethefollowingdaybyMladiwhenthebuses

    arrivedaroundnoon.Theevacuationstartedearlierthanweplanned.Arrangingtransport

    shouldnothavebeenaproblemforusbutitwasnecessaryforUNPROFORtoask

    permissionfromtheBosnianSerbstoentertheirterritory,whatroutewecoulduse,andso

    on.

    9MladiannouncedthathewouldprovidethebusesfortheevacuationatthethirdHotelFontanameetingat1000onJuly12.Thebusesarrivedi

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