On August 31, 1995, NATO started bombing Bosnian Serbs. This way, for the first time openly, the West took sides in Yugoslav civil wars.
The bombing campaign was nicknamed "Operation Deliberate Force." More accurate name would have been "Deliberate Mass Murder," as the bombs used contained Depleted Uranium and were dropped on densely populated civilian area. The target were Sarajevo Serbs. Next, through Dayton "agreement" these poor people were expelled from their homes, their property and everything they ever owned. This way, NATO achieved one of its most appalling Serb-cleansings. Sarajevo, established by Serbs more than 1,400 years ago, was finally Serb-free. ("Serben frei" in original German Nazi terminology). The NATO bombed population moved to Bratunac a town next door to Srebrenica.
But expulsion was only beginning of the horror for Sarajevo Serbs.
Someone Dies of Cancer Every Third Day;
|The cemetery in Bratunac already stretches to the Houses|
The village is empty, the cemetery full. Soon there will be no more room for the dead. Among refugee families who moved to Bratunac from Hadzici there is hardly a household not cloaked in mourning.
The meadow set aside for the cemetery, they say, was almost completely empty five years ago when they arrived. Today, one next to the other, separated by a distance of less than one half meter, there is grave upon grave. On them are fresh wreaths, some with flowers that have not yet wilted. On the crosses are the years of death - 1998, 1999, 2000. The grave of a 20 year-old woman can be seen at the end of the rows. She died a few days ago.
A casual visitor will find these horrific pictures in Bratunac because the first stories about this village will take him nowhere else but to the cemetery. The natives of Bratunac live while the natives of Hadzici die. Suddenly, overnight, after a few days' illness, in the greatest pain - from cancer. Every attempt to explain what is happening to them takes them back to 1995.
"A team of experts from the United Nations Environmental Programme (Unep) arrives in Sarajevo on Thursday [Jan. 15, 2001], to begin preliminary tests aimed at determining levels of depleted uranium (DU) left behind from Nato bombing.
There's growing concern about the possible effects of depleted uranium in Bosnia both on peacekeepers and on the local population.
Nato warplanes dropped ten-thousand rounds of depleted uranium ammunition in Bosnia in 1994 and 1995.
Soldiers from several troop contributing countries, including Italy, Portugal and France, have fallen ill with what's being called Balkan Syndrome.
The Nato-led Stabilisation Force, S-For, has said it has no plans to monitor the effects of DU on Bosnia's civilian population...
Nato dropped the greatest concentration of DU ammunition on the town of Hadzici, near Sarajevo...
Most of the Serbs from Hadzici are now living in the town of Bratunac, in eastern Bosnia.
Doctors there have reported a greatly increased incidence of cancer-type illnesses.
Out of a 105 people buried last year in Bratunac cemetery, 51 are reported originally to have come from Hadzici."
The above quote is from:
"Depleted uranium: Bosnia tests start"
by Alix Kroeger,
25 January, 2001
"[A]lmost all the graves I can see from one end of the cemetery to the houses in the other corner belong to cancer victims from Hadjici, it is as if a plague has fallen on these people.
Up to 300 out of 5,000 Serb refugees whose suburb of Sarajevo was heavily bombed by Nato jets in the late summer of 1995 have died of cancer."
The above quote is from:
"I See 300 Graves That Could Bear the Headstone:
'Died of Depleted Uranium'"
by Robert Fisk,
13 January, 2001
Five years ago Hadzici was a part of something called Serb Sarajevo. They survived the double encirclement of the Muslim army and what was most probably the most intense bombing ever seen. In only one day, planes flew 200 sorties to dump more than 500 bombs on this municipality. The residents of Hadzici survived. They survived the war, that is, but not the peace.
First, they say, they were betrayed in Dayton in November 1995. Someone at the top got the idea that the best thing to do would be to move Hadzici to Bratunac. There was no choice and very little time. Almost the same night, before the peace delegation returned to the country still hung over from the signing of the peace contract, the natives of Hadzici packed themselves and their belongings into trucks and tractor trailers and headed toward Bratunac, a small town between Zvornik and Srebrenica.
It was no ordinary move. During the night the natives of Hadzici exhumed their dead and loaded them onto trailers. Not a single Serb grave was left in that part of Serbian Sarajevo. Even though they transferred an astonishing 156 graves, they had no problems accommodating their dead. An entire tract in the cemetery was empty and they buried them next to each other. They raised an identical marker over each grave.
No one could even imagine that in only one or two years the part of the cemetery set aside for civilians would have twice as many grave markers.
"First the older people began to die. Their bodies must have been less resistant to the inexplicable thing that later began claiming the lives of younger people as well. It happens often that one of the natives of Hadzici suddenly dies. Or they go to see the doctor in Belgrade and when they come back their relatives tell us that they are dying of cancer. And it doesn't happen to the natives of Bratunac but only to us," relates Sretko Elez, a sixty year-old man from Hadzici.
It was believed that it was a question of fate. Then chief doctor Slavica Jovanovic asked how it was possible. She conducted an investigation and proved that in 1998 the mortality rate far exceeded the birth rate. She showed that it wasn't just a question of fate but something far more serious. The political leadership was informed but to date no one has said a word about it. Foreign television crews arrive daily in Bratunac, pathologists are asking about the anonymous little town while Banja Luka and Belgrade remain silent.
"Even Zoran Stankovic, the renowned pathologist from the Military Medical Academy (VMA) determined that over 200 of his patients from this area died of cancer, most probably due to the effects of depleted uranium in dropped NATO bombs five years ago. But someone quickly silenced the public and everything was hushed up. No one would know what is happening to us to this very day if they themselves had not met with the same fate, if they had not begun to die. Only now are they all asking themselves what will happen if the thing that befell the Serbs from Hadzici befalls Serbia," Nedeljko Zelenovic, a reporter for Radio Bratunac and a refugee from Hadzici, says bitterly.
Zelenovic lost his father a few months ago to cancer of the lungs. Approximately 20 people died in only six months. If one does the math, they tell us, he will find that a native of Hadzici dies every third or fourth day.
And they start to remember. Ratko Radic, the former mayor of the Hadzici municipality, died a few months ago. The diagnosis - cancer of the lungs. Soon afterward, his wife Ljilja, who was wounded during the bombing. She died of leukemia. Then Drago Vujovic, Dejan Jelicic, Mihajlo Andric...
"You see, our cemetery is full of fresh graves while the people from Vinca [Nuclear Institute] claim that uranium isn't dangerous. What other kind of evidence do you need if people are dying? If they are dying every day? Go to the cemetery and see for yourselves. That's where Vinca's evidence lies," says Elez bitterly. "Today I am healthy; tomorrow, who knows... Perhaps my body is stronger and it won't get me..."
Are they afraid of what the future may hold for them?
"We have nothing to be afraid of any more. We survived the war, hunger, expulsion... We all have to die anyway, sooner or later..."
Fire burned for five days where the bomb fell and the smoke from it smothered us
Hadzici was bombed for several reasons. One of them was that it was allegedly where Radovan Karadzic was hiding. In this suburb there were several factories and barracks with thick concrete floors and basements which could not be penetrated. Sretko Elez claims that is why they used uranium - because it is heavier than lead and better able to penetrate the concrete.
"My house was leveled by a NATO bomb. It took them five days to get it out, that's how heavy it was. Not far away there was a completely unimportant building, a service shop of some kind. When they hit it, the flames could not be extinguished for an entire week and when it was put out the building was still smoking and that smoke smothered us. And after every bomb, even the smallest one, a mushroom-like cloud could be seen. You see, that is what we are dying from today."
8,000 people disappeared and the state is silent
"In April 1996 as many as 16,000 refugees were relocated to 66 municipalities of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. According to the census taken in fall of last year, there are 8,200 of them left. If we know that approximately 400 people left, mostly to go abroad, I ask myself what happened to almost 8,000 people. And why the state is silent on the matter," says Nedeljko Zelenovic and adds: "They are probably going through something similar to what the natives of Hadzici have been through because all of them were moved from places which fell after the NATO bombing in September 1995."
Almost 5,000 refugees from Hadzici initially arrived in Bratunac. There were 1,000 only in the collective [refugee] centers. Now, says Zelenovic, there are about 600 of them left. And they certainly had nowhere else to go.
Translated by S. Lazovic (Jan. 10, 2001)
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Last revised: January 6, 2004