PAX reaction to new report on Srebrenica massacre

Image: De begraafplaats in Potocari. Foto / Almir Dzanovic. PAX houdt zich al sinds 1995 bezig met Srebrenica. We steunen de Campagne voor Waarheid en Gerechtigh

November 22, 2016

A new investigation by the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) justifiably concludes that France, the United Kingdom and the United States did not make secret agreements in 1995 to systematically withhold air support for the Dutch UN soldiers in Srebrenica. However, these countries have yet to release all relevant information. If they do, a new investigation needs to be opened. To that end, PAX requests that the Dutch government actively seeks to get these documents released.

In July, 1995, during the Bosnian war, more than 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb troops in and around the town of Srebrenica. Approximately 450 Dutch soldiers were deployed in the enclave, designated a ‘safe area’, as part of the UN mission. The question of responsibility for the massacre has plagued Dutch public psyche ever since.

This latest NIOD report does reveal new information about the performance of the Dutch government and government bodies. For instance, the report is critical of the way the government presented to parliament vague statements by the then UN secretary general regarding air support as firm promises. This aspect played a crucial role in the political decision-making process. The much more comprehensive NIOD report from 2002 was not nearly as critical.

In addition, the new report paints a disconcerting picture of mistakes made by the Domestic Security Service (BVD) and the Military Intelligence Service (MID) in 1995. Information that was available from other security agencies was not used. PAX regrets that in its reaction to the report, the Dutch government fails to mention either of these points. PAX hopes that members of parliament will pursue a dialogue with the government on these points.

Finally, PAX particularly laments that the government continues to minimize its responsibility for the events in July 1995. The Dutch government maintains that the genocide in Srebrenica was the result of a failure of the international community. This was the standpoint of the government in 2002, and means that the Netherlands was political co-responsible only in its role as a member of the international community.  However, as this latest NIOD report also demonstrates, the Netherlands was itself responsible for political and military failures in 1995. Over the last few years, this has been established by various rulings in Dutch courts, including by the Supreme Court. The new NIOD report confirms the accuracy of this critique of the Netherlands.

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