Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Serbia cleared of Genocide

Serbia is off the hook. The Hague has ruled that the Serbian nation is not directly responsible for the genocide in Bosnia. Genocide didn't happen in Serbia, the genocide existed only in Srebrenica, in those three days of execution and burial of eight thousand people.

I am split over this bad and good verdict. For twenty-four hours I've been talking on my B92 interactive blog with people from all over the world who fear/ hope/ know what this Hague tribunal sentence means... for us and everyone else.

It's a precedent for the rest of the dirty-wars in the world, which now exist in such plenty. It is the first time in history that an international court of war crimes has declared a country both NOT GUILTY of genocide and yet also guilty of NOT preventing a genocide.

The former regime of the late Slobodan Milosevic is not found guilty of genocide. His loud followers will do nothing to arrest those outside the regime, those who were clearly guilty: Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic and many other anonymous police and military. If it had not been for this rainy windy weather in Belgrade, we would have eager demonstrations of support for the Bosnian war criminals, who have successfully hidden themselves from the world for eleven long years and are treated as national heroes.

The special military group Scorpions from Serbia, who took part in the Bosnian Srebrenica genocide, whose trial I have been following for a year, have also not been found not guilty -- at lest, not of genocide. These days we are waiting in Belgrade for their sentence in a lesser matter, the proven killings of seven minors: Muslim civilians.

The Mothers of the Srebrenica dead are protesting in Hague against the verdict, accusing Serbs, Bosnians, USA... any and all those who used legalities or scientific technicalities against the obvious ... the heartbreaking silence of their dead.

I wonder if tables have turned somehow. Serbia doesn't even have to pay war reparations to Bosnia. The state is required to do only official thing: to declaration for, the historical record, that Serbia regrets that genocide somehow occurred.

The President of Serbia Boris Tadic says that he respects the seriousness of this demand, and wants to pass a resolution in the newly elected Parliament... but this country is yet without government, even more new elections are being mentioned... This country is still dead set against Kosovo independence; tomorrow in front of the US embassy a big rally is planned... This confused and spiteful country has no sense in putting aside the past as the only way of dealing with its future. If, only a couple of years ago, the Serbian Parliament had passed such a sensible declaration, none of this would have happened.

In 1961, Hannah Arendt followed the trial of Nazi officer Eichmann in Jerusalem, and wrote a book called the Banality of Evil. At the end of the road her worst literary enemies were the Zionists who opposed her bitterly for ever considering a war criminal as a human being, a topic of political and moral interest, a defendant with human rights.

But Hannah was right, these things and these people must be faced, and not allowed to haunt us in their self-created banality and obscurity. I am between relief and guilt: relief for being off the hook as a Serb living in Serbia, and guilt for knowing that, at the time, considerations of genocide were of no consequence to us. Mladic may have not been a direct agent of the Serbian government, but he was given a pension by our government.

Kostunica stoutly protected the military, the secret police, the right-wing armed action groups that disintegrated into a dense haze of assassins, mafiosi, gangsters and common crooks.

If Mladic and Karadzic had been disowned and arrested in time, Serbia would not have richly earned its historical role of the Judas goat of modern genocide. We didn't have to be this badly off.

And yet, it seems we're not that badly off, after all. We're not guilty.

It's good and bad news.

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Jasmina Tešanović is an author, filmmaker, and wandering thinker.


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