"Srebrenica was a sacrificial lamb"
Ibran Mustafic, representative in Bosnian and Federal Parliaments, founder of SDA in Srebrenica and the captive of the Serb Army after the fall of this town, talks about the events about which he had unsuccessfully tried to speak in the Bosnian Parliament.
S.B.: Who are the people you accuse and the people you don't trust?
Ibran Mustafic: Scenario for the betrayal of Srebrenica was consciously prepared. Unfortunately, the Bosnian presidency and the Army command were involved in this business; if you want the names, figure it out yourself. I understood the situation in Srebrenica and, you can trust me on this, had I not been prevented by a group of criminals, many more inhabitants of Srebrenica would be alive today. Had I received an order to attack the Serb army from the demilitarized zone, I would have rejected to carry out that order without thinking and would have asked the person who had issued that order to bring his family to Srebrenica so that I can give him a gun and let him stage attacks from the demilitarized zone. I knew that such shameful, calculated moves were leading my people to a catastrophe. The orders came from Sarajevo and Kakanj.
S.B.: What were the consequences of the attacks staged from the demilitarized zone for the inhabitants of Srebrenica?
Ibran Mustafic: That was a conscious giving of a pretext to the Serb forces to attack the demilitarized zone.
S.B.: Who in Srebrenica accepted to carry out those orders?
Mr. Mustafic: Those individuals who, in the Summer of 1995, without a scratch left Srebrenica (...). It is well known that that team managed to get out and take with along the elderly, children and horses. I can only thank God, that a number of honest people and patriots managed to get out with them. (...) According to our custom when someone finishes the foundations for a house, an animal must be slaughtered on top of them. It seems that Srebrenica was a sacrificial lamb for the foundation of this [Muslim] state.
S.B.: Do you think that the events would have been different had Srebrenica truly be demilitarized?
Mr. Mustafic: Had some people then, or later, in 1994 and 1995 accepted to evacuate the people and to concede the territory, that would have represented the public division of Bosnia. It seems that they want to divide this state in a secret, perfidious way.
S.B.: Who are you talking about?
Mr. Mustafic: About the official [Muslim] authorities.
S.B.: Why wasn't then, as you suggest, Srebrenica surrendered in 1993? What was the goal of such "games" with Srebrenica?
Mr. Mustafic: The basic goal of that game was the illusionary freedom of Sarajevo and the Bihac region. What hurts the most is the attitude towards the survivors from the Drina valley who were in Srebrenica in July 1995. Present attitude of the authorities towards those people is enough to convince me that the authorities expected that the number of the survivors would be smaller; it seems that the number of survivors is too high for their calculations. They made me say this: "It seems you are afraid of living Srebrenica inhabitants."
S.B.: What makes you say that?
Mr. Mustafic: In the Bosnian Parliament, I initiated the formation of a special committee whose task would be to search for the survivors from the enclave (I claim that there are survivors!). There are certainly quite a few survivors from Srebrenica. I am convinced that at least someone out of those men who were separated in Potocari, among whom I was, must have survived, if I have survived. Otherwise, they wouldn't have released me as a witness. Secondly, when the column which was trying to get out of Srebrenica was cut in half, the privileged team, which I mentioned earlier and which had a permission to get out of the enclave, simply continued and kept throwing fliers behind them; the majority of the people was so confused that they simply surrendered in huge numbers. I personally believe that the majority surrendered alive.
S.B.: Who was throwing fliers, and what was on those fliers?
Mr. Mustafic: They left behind them signs saying that the terrain was mined in order to confuse the people who had been following them as much as possible. The column was cut, people were out of their minds. I talked to a lot of people who came from Srebrenica without injuries and didn't belong to that team; when they told me about what happened on the way, I was outraged. I cannot even think about that, let alone speak; these things are horrible.
S.B.: Do you think there is no will to find those people?
Mr. Mustafic: The fact that in the Bosnian Parliament no one has asked me about that is enough to demonstrate that no one cares about that.
S.B.: You suggested something else in the Parliament.
Mr. Mustafic: I suggested that a special fund be formed in order to assist the people who have survived that catastrophe. Unfortunately, when I spoke about that, prime minister Muratovic had left the hall, as if he had had a premonition that he shouldn't hear that. I think that a lot of money has been collected for Srebrenica and is flowing into the Federal, cantonal and other budgets. I believe that the authorities, from cantonal over Federal to republican, have benefited much more from those funds than the people for whose use the funds had been supposedly earmarked. I've heard that the Srebrenica authorities had received more that DM 2 million a few months ago. How are they using those funds, I don't know.
S.B.: Therefore, this state hasn't fulfilled its obligations towards the refugees from Srebrenica?
Mr. Mustafic: After all, taking into account the local situation, we have to ask ourselves whether this is a state after all. Take Srebrenica for example. No one from Srebrenica has been arrested in this state. And I claim that a good number of people from Srebrenica should have been arrested by now. They are still showing off, though.
S.B.: What kind of crimes are you talking about?
Mr. Mustafic: The authorities in Srebrenica were not set up in accordance with the Constitution; it was private matter of a group of individuals. One could write pages and pages about looting, murders, terror, pressures, maltreatment and other events in [Naser Oric controlled] Srebrenica. (...) In Srebrenica, it was always possible to buy at the market anything one might have wanted. Hardly anything was lacking. Still the only source of goods was humanitarian aid. Since not one commercial convoy had ever reached Srebrenica. Some people established contacts across the frontline, but as soon as the official authorities heard about that, that someone had managed to buy something at a lower price, they would intervene immediately, since they wanted to be the only source for supplies and hold a monopoly in Srebrenica.
S.B.: You were the victim of two assassination attempts.
Mr. Mustafic: Yes, I was. The first attempt on my life was made on may 25, 1993, when someone fired a mortar shell from 20 meters away at a room in which I slept at the time. That shell destroyed the room, but I, thank God, wasn't hurt. The second attempt occured on May 19 1995. I was with the former Srebrenica police commander, Hamed Halilovic. He died in that assassination while I received serious injuries. A whole frame was fired at me. When the assassins realized that I was still alive, they fired a bullet in my head from point blank range. I was severely wounded and consider that to be a double attempt at my life.
S.B.: Who were the attackers?
Mr. Mustafic: The Srebrenica police commander at the time, Hakija Mehuljic, should know. I can say that the people from the top of Srebrenica authorities were involved in that assassination(...). That team which was in Srebrenica gathered around it only uneducated people. They killed "brains" to get rid of potential competition. As an example, I'll mention the case of Nurif Rizvanovic. He came from Tuzla to Konjevic Polje in the summer of 1992 with 450 soldiers; the soldiers were in uniforms, armed and well trained. Rizvanovic, only because he was potential competition to someone, was shamefully executed in the fall of 1992. That is the reflection of everything that happened in Srebrenica and around it.
S.B.: At the beginning of our interview you mentioned that your goal is to reveal the truth about Srebrenica.
Mr. Mustafic: Let me again mention that session of the Bosnian parliament. At that session it was clear who was hiding the truth about Srebrenica. My foremost task is to stay safe and secure in this state. If something happens to me, the authorities will be responsible.(...)
S.B.: How do you see the present situation and the solution for the people from Srebrenica?
Mr. Mustafic: We are in this state 10th class citizens, left to fend for ourselves. I hope that this people will recognize current political situation and I think that their situation can only improve after the elections. The elections should bring some new people who can appreciate people and human values. The complete ruling team has failed at that test.
S.B.: The Drina valley inhabitants are in the news because of another problem - moving into Serb houses in the suburbs of Sarajevo. What does the Dayton Agreement bring to them, in view of those events? Can we hope for a return?
Mr. Mustafic: The official policy is consciously working for the division of Bosnia-Hercegovina. I will repeat my words from the Parliament: I'm convinced that the Serbs would have signed the Dayton Agreement in 1991 or 1992, without a single bullet. I don't think that people should be forced against their will to live together (...). The only possibility for the survival of the Muslim-Bosniak people is to return to the Drina. If we accept this persecution, I am convinced that my sons, who I hope to have one day, will have to go farther. As far as moving into other people's homes is concerned, Srebrenica people hadn't left tents behind them. We need accommodations. Let them return our property and we will return to Srebrenica. And we also want to be told what happened with our missing men.
S.B.: Are there any new developments regarding that?
Mr. Mustafic: Taking into account that a lot of lies are circulating in this state, one can not trust anyone. I found out through some people who are close to the Croatian secret service who in their turn have contacts with Serb secret service, that some 5,600 Srebrenica inhabitants are still alive and held in different locations. Recently, Ms. Merhunisa Komarica has told me that she had received some data from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights which mention 4,500 people. I am ready to go anywhere and negotiate with anyone in order to win the release of a single person from Srebrenica. I prefer two living Srebrenica inhabitants to dead Radovan Karadzic. Finally, I would publicly state that some men are still alive. The fact that the precise number of missing is still not known, demonstrates how much the state cares about those people.
S.B.: Do you wish to add something at the end of our conversation?
Mr. Mustafic: I read the latest issue of [Muslim daily] Ljiljan last night. I buy that magazine in order to check what the current official policy is. Anyway, I read that Mr. Silajdzic [leader of the Party for Bosnia-Hercegovina, former Bosnian prime minister] is gathering around himself corrupt officials. Among others, I found my name. My greatest sin, as far as Ljiljan is concerned, is that I got out of the Serb prisons alive. I should have died. They don't appreciate living people. They only appreciate the dead because they cannot talk. They should consider two assassination attempts I survived in Srebrenica. If they are true believers and if their religion is not a mask (...). I am a Muslim and a believer. With my faith, I joined the people who do not spread fear in this state, do not support looting, who support truth, who do not advocate violence and support the rule of law. I haven't heard of a Muslim country in the world in which Islam stands for something bad. Only their [SDA] version of Islam advocates crime, murders, lies, looting etc. If they want to advocate that sort of Islam, let them go and present it somewhere else, not to this people who don't deserve to soil its faith.
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Last revised: July 10, 2004