Bosnia-Herzegovina: Rape, Forced Removal, Genocide

Printer-friendly versionSend to friend
IMPORTANT: This archived action campaign has been completed or discontinued, and the information contained in it may not be current. Please see Take Action for current and ongoing campaigns.
1 Aug 1995

On July 11, 1995, the town of Srebrenica was overrun and captured by Bosnian Serb forces. Srebrenica had been declared a "safe area" by the United Nations in the summer of 1993 and United Nations peacekeepers were stationed in Srebrenica when it fell to the Bosnian Serbs. Numerous atrocities were reported by fleeing refugees, mostly women, children and the elderly, who initially went to Potocari, where United Nations peacekeepers guided them to factory buildings for the night and assured them that they would be safe. Among the atrocities reported were incidents of rape by Bosnian Serb forces. A refugee interviewed by the New York Times, 32 year-old Sevda Porobic, recounted sitting in the Cinkara factory in Potocari, near two girls she knew well, 12 year-old Mina Smailovic, and her 14 year-old cousin, Fata Smailovic. Three Bosnian Serb soldiers entered the factory at midnight on Tuesday July 11, and abducted the two girls and another woman, 23 year-old Nizama Oric. The three returned several hours later, bruised, bleeding and crying. Mina said, "We are not girls anymore. Our lives are over." At dawn, Bosnian Serb soldiers stormed through the factory, looking for boys and men. During the chaos, Fata slipped away and, using the scarf she had around her neck, she hanged herself.

Equality Now first called attention to the systematic use of rape by Bosnian Serbs as part of their genocidal "ethnic cleansing" policy against Bosnian Muslim civilians in August 1992. In February and June 1993, and again in April 1994, Equality Now issued urgent appeals calling on the United Nations to take immediate and effective action to stop the rape, killing and other atrocities. In May 1993, when the Security Council of the United Nations established an International Criminal Tribunal for the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Equality Now called for the swift prosecution of Radovan Karadzic and other war criminals responsible for rape, murder and "ethnic cleansing" of innocent civilians in the former Yugoslavia. Equality Now, through the poster on the reverse side of this page, has tried to highlight that these atrocities have been carried out under orders, and that there are individuals such as Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, directly responsible for them.

On July 25, 1995 the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal indicted Radovan Karadzic, as well as Ratko Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army, charging them with genocide and crimes against humanity. The indictment includes in the list of acts and omissions attributed to Karadzic and Mladic, "murders, rapes and sexual assaults, tortures, beatings, robberies, as well as other forms of mental and physical abuse" of detained Bosnian Muslim and Croats. The indictment further specifies that "In many instances, women and girls who were detained were raped at the camps or were taken from the detention centres and raped or otherwise sexually abused at other locations." The indictment of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic is a signal of hope that the rule of law can prevail over politics and that those who violate human rights can be held accountable. However, to ensure that the indictment of the Bosnian Serb leaders does not become a hollow gesture, Karadzic and Mladic must be promptly arrested and tried for the crimes with which they are charged.

What You Can Do: 

Continue to use the poster below to highlight the ongoing atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina—get it published in local newspapers, put it on billboards, hand it out at public events. Send copies of ads or photos of the poster, or the poster itself, to your President, Prime Minister, elected representatives, and government officials responsible for foreign affairs, and to Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary General of the United Nations, New York, New York 10017. Call for immediate and effective action to stop the genocidal rape and killing in Bosnia-Herzegovina and call for international action to ensure the prompt arrest and trial of Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, and others indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal.

Radovan Karadzic