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CHILD DEATHS IN BOSNIA’S BESIEGED GORAZDE STILL UNPUNISHED
Autor: BIRN
Objavljeno: 26. Apr 2019. 11:04:16


Twenty-five years after Bosnian Serb forces shelled the Bosnian town of Goradze – nominally a UN-protected ‘safe zone’ – no one has been prosecuted for the attacks that killed scores of children.
“There was a fierce attack on Gorazde from the left bank of the River Drina. There was shelling and smoke all over the place,” Mirsada Causevic told BIRN, recalling a Bosnian Serb artillery assault on Gorazde in eastern Bosnia that led to the death of her eight-year-old son Haris on April 14, 1994.

“People were fleeing to the right bank of the river. We were hiding, but then, all of a sudden, it all went quiet, the shells stopped falling,” Causevic said.

As the attack seemed to have stopped, Haris went outside the house to play with nine-year-old Eldin Basic and eight-year-old Ervin Usanovic.

“A shell exploded at five past 12. It killed all the three boys. A piece of shrapnel hit my son’s coronary artery. The two other boys were mutilated by shrapnel pieces,” Causevic said.

“A neighbour told me she saw Haris calling for his mum to help him. I suppose his heart was still beating a little.”

Gorazde was besieged by the Bosnian Serb Army for 1,336 days, during which time around 2,000 civilians were killed, including 148 children, according to war victims’ associations.

The shelling was particularly fierce in April 1994, during the Bosnian Serb Army’s ‘Zvijezda 94’ operation. Twenty children were killed in less than a month, among them Haris Causevic and his two friends.

No one has yet been prosecuted, either in Bosnian courts or at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, for the shelling of Gorazde during the siege. The only case in which it was mentioned was the Hague prosecution of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 before the end of his trial.

There are two ongoing cases against Bosniaks for wartime crimes in Goradze. Former policemen Ibro Merkez, Predrag Bogunic and Esef Huris are on trial for the illegal detention, murders and inhumane treatment of Serbs in Goradze in 1992 and 1993, while Bosnian Army brigade commander Ahemt Sejdic is accused of crimes against Serb civilians and prisoners of war, including illegal detention and torture, in the municipalities of Rudo, Visegrad and Gorazde during the same years.

The Bosnian prosecutor’s office last month also indicted Serb former Territorial Defence fighter Lazar Mutlak for the rape and sexual harrasment of Bosniaks in Gorazde in 1992.

Ferida Smajovic, president of the Association of Civilian Victims in Gorazde, said the Bosnian Serb Army’s attacks on the town began in May 1992.

“The first shells exploded in Gorazde on May 4, when we were left without electricity, water, food,” Smajovic said.

“In April 1994 there was a massive offensive, in which many civilians and a large number of children got killed. Unfortunately, for 25 years no one has been prosecuted for all those crimes, the children who were murdered and the siege that lasted 1,336 days,” he added.

Muamer Dzananovic, a senior associate with the Institute for Research of Crimes against Humanity and International Law with the Sarajevo University, published a book titled ‘Crimes against Children in Gorazde during the Siege, 1992-1995’ about the killings of children during the war.

The book, which contains the author’s research work, points out that children were killed in Gorazde even after it was declared a UN-protected ‘safe zone’ on May 6, 1993.

Dzananovic when Gorazde was declared a safe zone under UN Security Council Resolution 824, at least 56 children had already been killed and 225 wounded.

From the date of the Security Council resolution until the end of the war, at least 64 children were killed and 203 injured.

Dzananovic’s book says that children of all ages were killed – 40 per cent of them were pre-schoolers. Over 98 per cent of the children who died were Bosniaks.



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