The Untold Story

From 1992 to 1995, I made a total of six trips into Croatia and Bosnia to report on the experiences of Canada’s peacekeepers. What became readily apparent was that nightly newscasts back home did not depict the same war-torn Yugoslavia being patrolled by our soldiers.
For instance, on September 9, 1993, the Croatian forces unleashed a massive bombardment on a Serbian-held enclave known as the Medak Pocked. This region, designated United Nations Protected Area, was occupied by a Canadian infantry battalion. Following the artillery fire, the Croats launched a pincer-like attack that effectively eliminated the Serbian defenders from the ridgelines. Along the valley floor, Croat tank columns quickly captured four Serb-held villages. Over the next three days, in an effort to fulfil their “protection” mandate, Canadian soldiers from the Second Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) engaged the Croatian special forces units in a number of firefights. Official reports later stated that some 35 Croats were killed during the skirmishes, while four Canadians were wounded by artillery fire. Through this stoic display of determined resistance, the commander of 2PPCLI, Lieutenant Colonel Jim Calvin, eventually convinced the Croatian commander to withdraw his forces. Before pulling out, the Croats massacred all of the remaining Serb inhabitants. Ordered not to interfere by U.N. Headquarters in Zagreb, the Canadians were forced to stand by as unwilling, impotent witnesses to the carnage. The only recourse possible for 2PPCLI was to catalogue the evidence they had collected, and to seek official U.N. indictments against the Croat commanders as war criminals. Despite the overwhelming evidence, the Croatian government issued a brief, blanket denial, and the whole issue was quickly dropped. The general who had planned and executed the Croatian attack was, in fact, an Albanian Kosovar named Agim Ceku.
The 1993 action at the Medak Pocket garnered only fleeting coverage on CNN and incredibly, given the magnitude of our soldiers’ actions, went completely unpublicized by the Canadian defence department. In fact, the Canadian public did not even learn of the engagement until three years later, when Ottowa Citizen reporter David Pugliese broke the story on October 7, 1996. (It wasn’t until May 1998 that Lieutenant Colonel Jim Calvin finally briefed Parliament – complete with photographic evidence of the massacre.)
For the soldiers who took part in the harrowing Medak operation – Canada’s largest ground battle since the Korean war – the lack of public recognition was disturbing. Warrant Officer Matt Stopford was awarded a Mention in Despatches for his courage under fire and for maintaining his position during the first days of the Croatian bombardment. His forward observation post was just metres from the Croat front lines. Thus, during the last night before the withdrawal, Stopford had been an eyewitness to drunken Croat special forces troops – one of whom was parading around with bloodied panties on his head – raping, looting and killing Serbs with impunity. The restrictive U.N. Rules of Engagement prevented Stopford from doing anything but reporting the atrocities to a higher headquarters.
Upon returning to Canada, Stopford was amazed at the ignorance of the average citizen. “People would hear that you’d just got back from Yugo, and they’d say ‘aren’t those Serbs bastards?’ as if they knew all about the Balkans,” said Stopford. “When you’d start to explain to them how we watched the Serbs get butchered by the Croats, you could see their eyes glaze over. Nobody really wanted to give that much thought to the complexity of the situation in Yugoslavia,” Stopford continued. “For us, it was like coming home from the Second World War and telling people we’d fought for the Germans. Rather than try to explain things, it was easier just to let it go.”
On August 3, 1995, in the same sector that Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Calvin’s 2PPCLI had resisted the Medak Pocket incursion, the Croats launched Operation Storm. This time, the Canadian peacekeepers did not resist. Rather than endanger their own lives, the men of he Royal 22nd Regiment (Vandoos) surrendered their weapons and observation posts to the advancing Croats. Once again, under the direction of General Agim Ceku, the Croatian Army unleashed a devastating artillery bombardment. This time, however, it was German mercenaries in Croatian uniform who spearheaded the attack, and NATO fighter jets that provided them with tactical airstrikes.
The Serb defenders of this region (known as the Krajina) didn’t have a chance – tactically or strategically. The moment the artillery bombardment began, Serb civilians – aware of the massacre conducted by Ceku’s troops in the Medak – began to flee into Bosnia en masse. Their soldiers were right behind them.
Nearly 250,000 Serbs were thus ‘ethnically cleansed’ from the Krajina in advance of the Croat onslaught. Those who chose to remain – or were too tardy in their flight – paid the price. As Ceku’s men swept through the Krajina, all evidence of Serb habitation was systematically destroyed. Civilians were executed; livestock and pets slaughtered; houses burned; and wells poisoned. When thousands of fleeing Serbs sought refuge in the Krajina capital of Knin, General Ceku’s artillery gunners deliberately shelled the city. According to U.N. reports, over 500 civilians were killed or wounded in the bombardment – at a time when Knin was devoid of military targets. In other words, the shelling was an intentional act of terror against unarmed civilians, a war crime.
Two senior Canadian officials serving with the U.N. were present in Knin at the time of the attack, Major Allain Forand and Colonel Andrew Leslie. Both men submitted detailed complaints to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in an effort to indict not only the commanders (including Ceku, who was responsible for the artillery), but also Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. General Forand and Colonel Leslie alleged that only Tudjman himself could have authorized the massive Krajina cleansing and terror bombardments.
Even though Canadian peacekeepers had been captured and detained during the attack, there was almost no domestic media coverage of the forced displacement of 250,000 Serbs, not to mention the accompanying slaughter. For the Canadian military, the shameful surrender by the Vandoos was an embarrassment that senior commanders understandably did not wish to have publicized.
Since he U.S. had covertly aided the Croats in Operation Storm (though the provision of arms, training, advisors, satellite intelligence and airpower), the massive Serbian tragedy went virtually unreported in North America.
Scott Taylor
INAT: Images of Serbia and the Kosovo Conflict (2000)

Leopold von Ranke

Leopold von Ranke (born Dec. 21, 1795 – died May 23, 1886), leading German historian of the 19th century, whose scholarly method and way of teaching (he was the first to establish a historical seminar) had a great influence on Western historiography. He was ennobled (with the addition of von to his name) in 1865.

Sir Arthur Evans

Sir Arthur Evans (born July 8, 1851 – died July 11, 1941), British archaeologist who excavated the ruins of the ancient city of Knossos in Crete and uncovered evidence of a sophisticated Bronze Age civilization, which he named Minoan. His work was one of archaeology’s major achievements and greatly advanced the study of European and eastern Mediterranean prehistory.

Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo (born Feb. 26, 1802 – died May 22, 1885), poet, novelist, and dramatist who was the most important of the French Romantic writers. Though regarded in France as one of that country’s greatest poets, he is better known abroad for such novels as Notre Dame de Paris (1831) and Les Misérables (1862).

Michael Parenti’s “To Kill a Nation”

Michael Parenti’s “To Kill a Nation” is a book about the fall of Yugoslavia, the media’s role in facilitating its fall by demonizing the Serbs, and the West’s efforts to force the former states of Yugoslavia into the free-market. Parenti brings to the surface various unpublished reports and articles, data from independent parties and countries, blatantly hostile foreign policies of Western powers, and a lot of other valuable but essentially unknown information that proves the picture painted of the Serbs during the 90’s isn’t as simple as the media would have us think. He draws his information from official American public policy, neutral countries’ reports on what was happening on the ground (which was contrary to what was being reported by Western journalists), and other such concrete sources, which leaves little room for speculation and further strengthens his argument.

The Islamic Declaration by Izetbegović

“Just like an individual, a people that has accepted Islam is thereafter incapable of living and dying for any other ideal. It is unthinkable that a Muslim should sacrifice himself for any other ruler, no matter who he might be, or for the glory of any nation or party, because the strongest Islamic instinct recognizes in this a kind of paganism or idolatry. A Muslim can only die in the name of Allah and for the glory of Islam, or flee the battlefield.” (Page 6)

This should lay waste to claims that were made by many during the war that Izetbegović was fighting for a multi-ethnical state.

“The alternative is stark: either a move towards Islamic re-newal, or passivity and stagnation. For the Muslim peoples, there is no third possibility.” (Page 7)

This was the view of Izetbegović, but the fact is that this sort of thinking was far from shared by the majority of his people. Most Bosnian Muslims were secular and not particularly faithful. It only after the fall of Yugoslavia and almost four years of massacring of each other that his vision could be made possible.

“The Islamic order can only be established in countries where Muslims represent the majority of the population.If this is not the case, the Islamic order is reduced to mere power (as the other element – the Islamic society – is missing) and may turn to violence.” (Page 49-50)

Though it is true that Bosnia isn’t mentioned in the book, Izetbegovć of course didn’t plan to Islamize some other people than his own. He knew and many times emphasized that Bosnian Muslims were the biggest group in the country, and hence they were 7 per cent away from being in the majority and this close to establishing an Islamic order.

“The choice of this movement is always a tangible one and depends on a series of factors. There is, though, a general rule: the Islamic movement should and can start to take over power as soon as it is morally and numerically strong to be able to overturn the existing non-Islamic government, but also to build up a new Islamic one.” (Page 56-57)

This was why it was inevitable that, if Bosnia was to be independent, it would have to be as a federation. This was something which was agreed by everyone before the outbreak of the war, but Izetbegović revoked his signature from the agreement that was made in Lisbon. This happened under the influence of the United States, who encouraged him to declare the independence of a country where he still only represented a minority.

The Islamic Declaration by Izetbegović.1-38

The Islamic Declaration by Izetbegović.38-77

Speech at Gazimestan in 1989

Ever since Slobodan Milošević held his speech at Gazimestan on 28 June 1989, commemorating the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, it has been elevated by Milosevic’s enemies, the media and the ICTY Prosecution into one of the key moments in his political career. This is because of a glancing reference he made to battles which the Serbs faced: the Prosecution alleged that the speech was a disguised call to arms. These allegations of nationalism persisted even though throughout Milosevic’s decade-long political career, none of his very numerous enemies ever once managed to produce a single quotation from him which could be called “nationalistic.”

This is of course something Milošević himself brought up at his trial on occasions when he was accused of being a vicious nationalist. Testimonies at the trial from influential people such as Lord Owen, stating that Milošević was the only leader in the region who wanted peace, and who referred to him as being not a “nationalist” but “pragmatic”, prove that Milošević was not what he is still portrayed as. (Ironically enough, Lord Owen was called to stand witness by the Prosecution, but like in the case of many of the Prosecution witnesses its expectations backfired).

The speech, well it was in the style of this: “Serbia has never had only Serbs living in it. Today, more than in the past, members of other peoples and nationalities also live in it. This is not a disadvantage for Serbia. I am truly convinced that it is its advantage. National composition of almost all countries in the world today, particularly developed once, has also been changing in this direction. Citizens of different nationalities, religions, and races have been living together more and more frequently and more and more successfully.”

Source: “Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milošević” by John Laughland

The Village of Prebilovci

Ustasha functionaries showed up at the predominantly Serbian village of Prebilovci on the eastern side of the Neretva and other Serb enclaves and announced to the villagers that they were all going to be deported to Belgrade. The Serbs were told they were going to be reunited with the Serbian fatherland, a prospect that took the edge off their anger and anxiety. So the Serbs showed up in their best clothes as they marched off to the train station, to become one more dislocated group in a Europe that seemed full of dislocation and people who went off in trains and never came back. The Serbs of Prebilovci were herded together with other Serbs from the western part of Herzegovina and eventually six carloads of them were sent off on a train that was supposedly to take them back to Belgrade. The train ride was much shorter than expected, at least as expected by the Serb passengers, who were ordered out of the six cars they occupied at a town called Surmanci, on the west bank of the Neretva, and marched off into the hills never to return.

Roughly three months later, Bishop Zanic’s predecessor, Aloysije Misic, ordinary of Mostar, the ornate Ottoman town a few train stations upstream from Surmanci, wrote to Cardinal Stepinac, primate of the once and future Yugoslavia, a man who would end up in prison at the hands of Tito’s revolutionary justice, and told him of disquieting reports of atrocities perpetrated against the Serbs in his diocese. “Men are captured like animals,” Misic wrote, “they are slaughtered, murdered; living men are thrown off cliffs… From Mostar and from Capljina a train took six carloads of mothers, young girls, and children… to Surmanci… They were led up the mountains and… thrown alive off the precipices… In… Mostar itself they have been found by the hundreds, taken in wagons outside the town and then shot down like animals.” Eventually around 600 Serbs, including priests, women, and children, were thrown into the pit above Surmanci and then, after throwing hand grenades in on top of them, the Ustashe thugs buried them, most probably still alive.

Michael Jones
The Medjugorje Deception

A little bombing to see reason

NATO alleged that Yugoslav forces were making massive attacks against ethnic Albanian civilians in Kosovo in pursuit of a programme of racial persecution known as ‘ethnic cleansing’. This claim lay at the very heart of the NATO case for war and of the indictment of Milošević and the other Yugoslav leaders. ‘It is no exaggeration,’ wrote the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, ‘to say what is happening in Kosovo is racial genocide. Milošević is determined to wipe a people from the face of his country.’ Blair went into overdrive: ‘Children seeing their fathers dragged away to be shot. Thousands executed. Tens of thousands beaten. 100,000 men missing. 1.5 million people driven from their homes.’

The world’s media joined in the frenzy. Lurid atrocity ‘reporting’ spread like a collective madness. Saturation coverage was provided of weeping Albanian refugees and the wildest stories about mass killings abounded. At one point, for instance, it was claimed that the Serbs, like the Nazis at Auschwitz, were burning the bodies of 1,500 murdered Albanians in the incinerators at the Trepča Mining Complex. Some of those who set themselves up as leading authorities on the Balkans fell for this blatant piece of war propaganda, even though it turned out to be completely false.

These stories were driven by the war propaganda emanating from the governments of the most powerful Western countries, primarily the United States. The US State Department produced a report in May 1999, during the bombing, entitled ‘Erasing History’, which alleged that ‘The regime of Slobodan Milošević is conducting a campaign of forced migration on a scale not seen in Europe since the Second World War.’ The report contained numerous falsehoods, from the overall allegation of genocide (which was so unsustainable that it was never included in the Kosovo indictment, not even when this was revised in June 2001, two years after the end of hostilities), to specific claims such as one that the Kosovar capital, Priština, had become ‘a ghost town’ when in fact, there were still hundreds of thousands of people living there.

Leading statesman fed the media with huge casualty figures, secure in the knowledge that their claims would be reported as fact before anything could be checked. In April, the US Ambassador for War Crimes, David Scheffer, said he thought 100,000 Albanians had been killed, a figure repeated by US Defense Secretary William Cohen the following month. Cohen’s claims were widely reported the following day as fact. The British government was a little more circumspect, preferring the figure of ‘10,000 killed’, a figure it initially mooted in June 1999 but which it stuck to until well into the following year.

These claims of genocide had a general and a particular function. Their general function was to work as war propaganda. Their particular function was a legal one. Genocide is a specific crime in international humanitarian law, coming under ‘universal jurisdiction’, and the existing treaties on it require all states to prosecute those accused of it. NATO leaders pretended that this meant there exists a right of ‘humanitarian intervention’ where genocide is occurring, while in fact there does not.

The centrepiece of NATO’s claim in this regard was ‘Operation Horseshoe’. This was allegedly a Serbian plan to drive out the Albanian population from Kosovo in order to establish ethnic Serb hegemony in that province. The NATO spokesman, Jamie Shea, referred frequently to Operation Horseshoe in his press conferences while the bombing was in progress, and the media reported it as fact. Eventually, it turned out to be an invention of the secret services of Western states. The game was given away when the document allegedly outlining it had ‘horseshoe’ written in the Croatian not Serbian form of the word (potkova instead of potkovica).

John Laughland
Travesty (2007)