"The mass slaughter of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica is a horrifying and probably the most violent excess to take place in the process of disintegration of Yugoslavia in the first half of the 1990. Great-Serbian ambition played a major role in this process. This places a relatively large share of the responsibility with the Serb political leaders, especially former president Milosevic. The very large degree of responsibility for the violent nature of the process of disintegration borne by the Serb leaders should not encourage turning a blind eye to the responsibility of other leaders for the resort to violence. All of the warring factions were guilty of gross violence. The reports and images of this violence met with repugnance throughout Europe and provoked a strong call for intervention by the international community, in which the Netherlands figured prominently..."
In the NIOD report it is clearly stated that the Dutch government failed miserably when on 11 July 1995 it allowed Bosnian-Serb troops under the leadership of General Mladic to enter the Srebrenica safe-area conclave, resulting in the deportation and massacre of more than eight thousand innocent Muslim citizens, mostly men and boys. The 3500 page report details the reconstruction, background, consequences and analysis of the so-called safe area, and it attempts to discover the reason one of the worst war tragedies in Europe since the end of World War Two could have ever taken place. No one could have ever imagined such an awful event ever happening, but it did. In the press summary, a number of devastating conclusions have been made, namely:
- The Dutchbat force was sent into a dangerous area completely unprepared and untrained.
- The UN failed to offer sufficient air support when the Serbs started entering the compounds (one Dutch soldier was even killed by a grenade).
- The Dutch battalion was undermanned with supplies and were actually ordered to protect there own lives first and those of the citizens second (can you believe that?!).
- There was no predefined exit strategy in place for a proper retreat of the citizens in case of attack (no one really expected the Serbs to breach the international laws of safe-area protection).
- When sensitive details about the atrocities were finally being made public by the press, the Dutch government purposely covered it all up to avoid embarrassment.
"The members of Dutchbat have also been deeply affected by their time in the enclave. Many of them have long-term psychological problems arising from their experiences in Srebrenica, and in some cases they are still serious. Many of them were not impressed by the counselling and aftercare they received. Their reception in the Netherlands, in an atmosphere of public debate in which Dutchbat was often presented in a very negative light, certainly did not help them to cope with their problems in a healthy and balanced way on the home front. That atmosphere left little room for understanding what it had 'really' been like according to the Dutchbat members. They did not recognise themselves in the image that dominated in the media, of deep black (mainly Bosnian) Serbs and lily-white Muslims. Most of the members of Dutchbat had difficulty in accepting that picture. The world that they had known during their stay in the enclave had been different..."
This is all very sad, and deserves a moment of silence please.