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Victorious Croats 'Burned Villages'
by Julian Borger
Reprinted from (London) Guardian, 19 August 1995
Comment by Jared Israel

[4 April 2006]

Comment:

The Guardian newspaper has been one of the worst offenders in publishing misinformation about the breakup of Yugoslavia, helping to indoctrinate the British Left to view the Serbs as the 'new Nazis' and helping to create the Left perception of Islam as the new proletariat.

But apparently the invasion of Serbian Krajina was too much even for the Guardian, which published the following account.  It hints at the enormity of this attack, which drove at least a quarter of a million people from their homes, killing unknown numbers.

-- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes

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THE United Nations said yesterday that it had found evidence of mass graves and of execution-style killings in the Krajina region of Croatia carried out days after government forces crushed the Serb separatist insurgency there.

Human rights agencies say that they too have found bodies of civilians in ransacked villages, and that Serbian settlements which survived the government offensive are now being systematically burned, apparently by Croatian troops.

The discoveries contradict Croatia's description of Operation Storm, on July 4-7, as a "clean" and relatively bloodless military offensive. Rebel fighters and civilians were initially reported to have fled their villages before the first government troops arrived.

Chris Gunness, a UN spokesman in Zagreb, said that UN monitors had found evidence of a possible mass grave in Knin, the abandoned "capital" of the former breakaway republic.

"(They) discovered 96 crosses that have been placed in opposite sides of four raised flat-top mounds. The crosses are very close to one another and there are no individual mounds. Fewer than 20 crosses bear names. Despite the authorities' evident effort in preparing the site, the area gives the impression of a mass grave."

He said that when UN civilian police tried to investigate another suspected site, in the nearby village of Zvjerinac, they found 22 new graves, some marked with crosses, only five with names. The police were forced by sniper fire to abandon the investigation.

UN investigators have also found bodies in Krajina which showed signs of having been executed. Mr Gunness said that on Wednesday, UN personnel found four corpses in the village of Zagrovic, near Knin.

"Two of the bodies, both men, were in a gully by the side of the main highway. Marks on the road indicated that they had been dragged to the spots from the other side. Both men had bullet holes in their heads," Mr Gunness said.

"They were dressed in underwear and T-shirts. One was wearing slippers. Several fingers had been cut off."

Two bodies were found nearby, one shot in the head, the other too badly decomposed to determine cause of death. UN civilian police found three more corpses in civilian clothes in Zvjerinac.

Bogdan Denic, director of the human rights group Transition to Democracy, said that Croatian soldiers returning from Krajina reported seeing bodies of civilians, apparently shot by other soldiers.

"There are signs of summary executions, mostly around Knin. One of the soldiers saw bodies of mostly elderly people lying in the street," Mr Denic said.

He said that many formerly Serb villages which survived the initial Croatian assault were being set on fire by troops.

"There's massive burning, and the police are standing by and not doing anything," he said, adding that the burning was systematic, contradicting Croatian government claims that it wanted Serb refugees to return to Krajina.

"They're doing everything they can to prevent that sort of thing happening. This is a question of individual revenge, but it's also a way of ensuring there's no chance at all of people returning."

Monitors from the Helsinki Federation for Human Rights have seen large-scale burning of abandoned Serb houses in Krajina. The UN has also repeated reported looting by Croatian troops.

President Tudjman yesterday denied the allegations.

"The Croatian army has not looted or burned anywhere," he told journalists yesterday. He insisted that the Krajina Serbs had left "of their own free will, despite our invitation to remain".

He hinted that Serb property would be handed over to Croatians driven out of their homes during the 1991 conflict with Serbia, saying Serb "homes and estates would have to be reintegrated into our economic system. We still lack proper accomodation for 200,000 Croatian displaced people."

The UN and human rights workers say they are being given only limited access to captured villages and towns.

Mr Gunness said: "Until we have full access to Sector South (the area around Knin near the Adriatic coast), the dirtiness and the ugliness of this war will be difficult to assess."

--VICTORIOUS CROATS 'BURNED VILLAGES' Julian Borger hears accounts of troops razing houses to prevent refugees going back home, The Guardian (London), August 19, 1995, THE GUARDIAN FOREIGN PAGE; Pg. 10, 1267 words, Julian Borge

Copyright 1995 Guardian Newspapers Limited  
Posted here for Fair Use Only

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