The Institute for the Research of Genocide, Canada, (IRGC) strongly welcomes the arrest of Ratko Mladic by Serbian authorities. This is an important step forward in the pursuit of international justice and reconciliation in the Balkans. It is an important accomplishment for all those advocating against and raising awareness of genocide around the world. And it is an especially important event for all members of the Bosniak community, victims of the aggression and genocide perpetrated by the forces of Ratko Mladic and his associates in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Gen. Ratko Mladic was responsible for the Srebrenica genocide where over 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were slaughtered within a five day period. Presently, Gen. Ratko Mladic is facing fifteen counts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, taking of hostages and other atrocities as well the shelling and siege of Sarajevo during which over 12,000 civilians perished. He is set to be tried at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.
Acting individually and in concert with other participants in a joint criminal enterprise Gen. Ratko Mladic planned, instigated, ordered, committed and otherwise aided and abetted the planning, preparation and execution of the intentional destruction significant portions of the Bosniak population in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The attempted destruction of the Bosniak population was accomplished through the widespread killing, deportation and forcible transfer of non-Serbs, as part of the 1992 and 1993 “ethnic cleansing” campaigns in the Bosnian Krajina region and in eastern Bosnia. It entailed serious bodily or mental harm to Bosnian Muslims, including torture, physical and psychological abuse, sexual violence and beatings and the subjection of Bosniaks to conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction, namely through cruel and inhumane treatment, including torture, forced detention, labour and starvation.
The initial indictment against Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic was confirmed on the 25th of July 1995 and charged both with several counts of genocide and other crimes against humanity committed against civilians throughout the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A second indictment was confirmed on the 16th of November 1995 and pertained to the events that took place in Srebrenica in July of 1995. The two indictments were joined in July 1996.
War crimes tribunal judge Fouad Riad said during Mladic’s 1995 indictment-in-absentia that the court had seen evidence of “unimaginable savagery: thousands of men executed and buried in mass graves, hundreds of men buried alive, men and women mutilated and slaughtered, children killed before their mothers’ eyes, a grandfather forced to eat the liver of his own grandson.” He added that “these [were] truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.”
As the military commander of the Bosnian Serb forces, Gen. Ratko Mladic played a key role in some of the darkest episodes of Balkan and European history. Almost sixteen years since his indictment for genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity, his arrest finally offers an opportunity for justice to take its course. Mladic’s victims, and those who advocate for the supremacy of international norms and customs of justice for those suspected of the most heinous crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – will hope that, unlike their mentors Milosevic, Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic will live to face the final verdict of the International Tribunal in The Hague. Mladic must now answer for his crimes and answer to his victims in an international court of law.
Today, IGC remembers all of the victims of Bosnian genocide. Justice will be served and truth preserved regarding the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the genocide against the Bosniak people.
Institute for Research of Genocide of Canada