BLOG FROM GARTH STRANGE: What happened to count one?

BLOG FROM GARTH STRANGE: What happened to the first count?

 

It has been a mostly gray day here in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Thanksgiving eve in the U.S. But something very interesting and important took place regarding this beautiful, Balkan country (I haven’t seen the couple I came to BiH with – I think maybe they took a bus someplace. The last trip we made together in a car the “poet” rented and we [substitute “I”] drove the three of us to Split, Croatia, on a Saturday, returned the next evening). But more on that later.

 

A few hours ago, The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia announced the judgment in the criminal case of General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb’s top military leader during the 1992 – 1995 war. He was found guilty of all but one of the eleven counts, and that count, the first one, was an egregious one:  The first count was genocide for the overall conduct of the war, especially in municipalities/provinces such as Foca, Kljuc, Kotor Varos, Prijedor, Sanski Most and Vlasenica (Reinventing Peace, sites.tufts.edu). Look at that, I even cited a source!!!

 

If Gen. Mladic would have been convicted on that first count, it would have announced a major change in the legal path of the ICTY and the International Court of Justice. It would have – in my non-legal language – expanded the parameters of the guilt of “genocide” to include the plans, strategies, decision-making, the lethal and non-lethal policies, even the conspiracy to commit genocide, that led to the devastation of a people. I believe we are not going to see the end of genocides, war crimes or attempted extermination of “the other.” It will not magically disappear. So, I wish the ICTY, which will disband it’s work soon, would have found Gen. Mladic guilty on count one, I believe the evidence was there but the “political” and “legal” will was not present. Mladic obviously was part of the extermination policy-making that led to the genocide of the communities mentioned above. I know that many people in the U.S. and around the world say that ‘those people have been fighting for centuries’ and describe the Bosnian war as ‘tribal violence’ or ‘ancient ethnic hatreds’ as if it was all a part of a natural process. There is a second reason I wish Mr. Mladic would have been found guilty on count one:  People in the municipalities mentioned above suffered unimaginable violence, including genocide. Mladic was a part of the planning and the execution. How do the families of the dead feel, how do the survivors in those communities cope….one count and your out?

Close to 200,000 people died from 1992 – 1995, 10,000 died in the siege of Sarajevo, 1,500 children, 8,000 died at Srebrenica, 12,000 people are still missing. Now, the work of reconciliation…how will that policy be planned and executed? Can we count on it taking place, with tears and a new peace?

About Michael

Born in Quantico, VA. Went to high school in southern California, BA from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, MFA (writing and literature) from the U. of Montana. MDiv from San Francisco Theological Seminary, Graduate Certificate to teach English as a Second Language. Have six books of poems published. Have given workshops/readings/or taught at Wichita St. U, Friends U., Tuzla Medressa (Bosnia), U. of Latvia, Laisma Middle School (Riga, Latvia), plus several states in the U.S. Live now in Wichita, Kansas.
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