This article was published over at Srebrenica Genocide Blog and was previously unavailable online. It appeared in the Eugene Register-Guard 15 years ago today and provides horrific details of the Srebrenica genocide.
As always, the Srebrenica Genocide Blog is a fantastic source of information about the Srebrenica genocide and is always up to date on trials, news, findings and so on. I would really recommend that you pay them a visit.
"Serb Leader Ordered 'Feast' of Blood"
8 August 1995
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Witnesses to the "ethnic cleansing" of Muslims from the former U.N. safe area of Srebrenica say Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic announced a "feast" of blood and attended much of the butchery that followed.
Refugees interviewed by Newsday said Mladic repeatedly declared his intention to kill as many Muslims as possible, in particular able-bodied men, and at one point encouraged his troops to rape the young women of Srebrenica.
"There was a major atrocity," said John Shattuck, the assistant secretary of state for human rights.
His own interviews with more than a dozen survivors from Srebrenica and its sister enclave of Zepa turned up "substantial new evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity", Shattuck told Newsday.
"Mladic's involvement is unquestionable. He was omnipresent."
The reported murders and disappearances after Mladic's conquest of Srebrenica would rank among the largest-scale atrocities of a war that almost from the beginning in April 1992 has shocked the world's conscience.
Mladic has denied that he has done anything wrong. After being indicted Aug. 1 by an international war crimes tribunal for genocide and crimes against humanity, he told reporters, "I got used to that. I am just a man who defends his people."
He said charges of rape are unfounded because, "We Serbs are too picky and would not be attracted to Muslim women taken by force."
He has said that men and boys seized by Serb forces are "war criminals" and has not otherwise accounted for the large numbers of missing people.
Refugees told Newsday, human rights investigators and Shattuck, that Mladic appeared daily before thousands of refugees who fled July 11 to the supposed protection of Dutch peacekeepers in Potocari, six miles from Srebrenica. He arrived in a luxury sedan or on horseback, and sometimes distributed chocolate to the children.
On or about July 12, he announced the "feast" of blood, according to Nedzida Sadikovic, who said she was present at the event.
According to her account, Mladic exclaimed, "There are so many," as he spotted the large number of men and boys in the crowd of several thousand refugees. "It is going to be a 'meze' (a long, delectable feast). There will be blood up to your knees," Sadikovic, 42, remembered him saying.
"Beautiful. Keep the good ones over there. Enjoy them," he told his troops, according to Sadikovic.
Sadikovic, who fled to Srebrenica from her village of Bilaca in 1991, said that each night, young women were removed from the building they stayed in on Potocari factory grounds and were not seen again.
Men and boys from 16 to 60 were led away, never to return. Dutch soldiers said they heard shots fired in the forest above Srebrenica day and night in what they took to be executions.
A day or so later, at a different location, Mladic directly threatened to execute more than 4,000 Muslim men and boys captured by his troops while trying to flee.
Appearing at the outdoor soccer stadium in the Serb-occupied town of Nova Kasaba, Mladic first assured his captives that he would protect them. Then he switched his tone, denouncing the Bosnian army troops for killing 70 Serb soldiers in a battle over Mladic's home village.
"For every one of mine, 1,000 of yours are going to die," he said, according to Smail Hodzic, 63, a refugee from Cerska, who was in the crowd. A tape recounting his ordeal was obtained by Newsday. Hodzic also was interviewd by Shattuck and gave a statement to Globus, the independent Zagreb weekly.
At least 2,000 Muslim men and boys were subsequently shot that evening, according to Hodzic's account. He survived by falling at the first volley of machine-gun shots beneath a man who was killed. Hodzic said he waited for some hours and then crawled over 200 bodies toward the nearby woods. He and two others who had escaped made their way on foot to government territory, an 11-day trek.