Alysha Boone & Russell Sherrod
What is a genocide?
A genocide is the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of particular ethnic group or nation.
In April 1922, the government of the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia. Over the next few years, Bosnian Serb forces, with the backing of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army, targeted Bosnian Muslim and Croatian civilians for crimes. This resulted in the deaths of about 100,000 people by 1995. Of those 100,000 people, 80 percent were Bosnian Muslim. The Bosnian Genocide was the worst act of genocide since the Nazi regime's destruction of about 6 million European Jews during WW2.
Struggle for Control in Bosnia
Bosnian Serbs wanted to be a part of a dominant Serbian state in the Balkans--the "Greater Serbia" that Serbian separatists had long envisioned. On May 1992, two days after United States and the European community recognized Bosnia's independence, Bosnian Serb forces with the backing of Milosevic and the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army launched their offensive with a bombardment of Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo. They attacked Bosniak-dominated towns in eastern Bosnia, including Zvornik, Foca, and Visegrad, forcibly expelling Bosniak civilians from the region in a brutal process. This brutal process was later known as "ethnic cleansing". Ethnic cleansing is different from a genocide because the primary goal is the expulsion of a group of people from a geographical area and not the actual physical destruction of that group, even though the same methods of genocide may be used. Bosnian government forces tried to defend the territory, sometimes with the help of the Croation army, Bosnian Serb forces were in control of nearly three-quarters of the country by the end of 1933, and Karadzic's party had set up their own Republika Srpska in the east. The United Nations refused to intervene the conflict in Bosnia which led to many displaced, malnourished and injured victims.
Attack on Srebrenica: July 1995
By the summer of 1995, three towns in eastern Bosnia-Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde--remained under control by the Bosnian government. On July 11, Bosnian Serb forces advanced on Srebrenica which overwhelmed a battalion of Dutch peacekeeping forces that were staying there. Serbian forces separated the Bosniak civilians at Srebrenica, putting the women and girls on buses and sending them to Bosnian-held territory. Some women were sexually assaulted, meanwhile, men and boys who remained were killed immediately or were bussed of to mass killing sites (prison camps). The number of Bosniaks killed ranges from around 7,000-8,000. After Bosnian Serb forces captured Zepa the same month and exploded a bomb in a crowded Sarajevo market, people all around the world began to respond forcefully to the happenings. In August 1995, after the Serbians refused to comply with a U.N. ultimatum, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization joined efforts with Bosnian and Croatian for 3 weeks of bombing Bosnian Serb positions and a ground offensive. Serbia's economy was crippled by U.N. trade sanctions and military forces after three years, Milosevic agreed to enter negotiations. The U.S. sponsored peace talks in Ohio, November 1995, resulted in the creation federalized Bosnia divided between a Croat-Bosniak and a Serb Republic.
Even though the international community did little to prevent this happening, it did seek justice against those who committed them. In May 1993, the U.N. Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague, Netherlands. This was the first international tribunal to prosecute genocide, among other war crimes. Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic were among those indicated by the ICTY for genocide and other acts against humanity.