Tense panel discussion on Srebrenica held in Belgrade

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A panel discussion titled "Truth about Srebrenica" held at the law school at the University of Belgrade yesterday almost turned into a physical fight between panel participants and several dozen protesters.

The panel was organized by a nationalist student organization Nomokanon to mark what they consider, according to their promotional posters, "the anniversary of the liberation of Srebrenica." According to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Bosnian Serb forces murdered more than 7,000 Bosniaks in 1995 in Srebrenica, during the war in Bosnia.

General Radislav Krstić was convicted for his involvement and sentenced to serve 46 years in prison. Two other suspects, Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić are still on the run.

Protesters included activists of political parties Civic Alliance of Serbia, G17+ and Social Democrat Union as well as Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) Women in Black, Kapiraj-Kopiraj and Youth Initiative. Their activity delayed the start for half an hour. Organizations which protested this forum claim that Serbia should face its involvement in Bosnia and should not deny allegations of crimes committed by Serbian forces.

Many of the participants were wearing t-shirts with pictures of Radovan Karadžić followed by text "Serbian hero." Some wore t-shirts of the Serbian nationalist organization Obraz.

The panel began at 19:30 local time, but the first ten minutes passed in a verbal fight between protestors and participants. Protesters were booing, and participants responded by calling them Ustashe, faggots, Soros' workers, and traitors. Most protesters then left the room.

According to B92, one young man who protested said that security was "very unpleasant". He was quoted as saying: "[Security] told us things like: 'What's up, Croats' and 'Faggots, we will beat you up now.'"

Four speakers took part in the panel:

  • Milivoje Ivanišević, the president of the Center for Research of Crimes Against Serbs
  • Radovan Radinović, a retired army general
  • Dragoslav Ognjanović, Milošević's attorney
  • And journalist Ljiljana Bulatović.

Participants said that there was no genocide in Srebrenica but that only Muslim soldiers were killed, which was misrepresented to the public to bring international military action against Serbs. One participant said that only 2,500 people were killed, and that only 500 of them could have been shot in a fusillade, since there were only so many blindfolds found next to bodies.

One of the speakers congratulated Nomokanon for talking about "the truth, so nobody can force us to be ashamed of what deserves our respect."

University of Belgrade's Faculty of Law postponed the panel once and did not officially endorse it.