“We don’t ask that foreigners get involved. We just want the right to self-defense.”
The Daily Gazette, section D.
24 May 1993.
By Verena Dobnik
NEW YORK (AP) — Muslims marked the first anniversary of Bosnia’s membership in the United Nations by demanding more international help for besieged Muslims in the Balkan nation.
Bosnia-Herzegovina became a member of the United Nations last May 22, but before then it had descended into an ethnic war. Muslims by far have been the biggest losers in the war, which has killed or left 138,000 people missing and forced 2 million to flee their homes. Serbs considered the aggressors by the world community, now control more than 70 percent of Bosnian territory.
Jews, recalling the persecution of their people and the Holocaust, also joined Sunday’s demonstration. The biggest demand was for the United Nations to lift the international arms embargo on Bosnia.
“Mr. Clinton, God is watching you!” said one sign among about 500 protesters in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations.
Alma Musanovic, 23, a refugee from Sarajevo, said the U.S. president had betrayed his campaign promise that the arms embargo against Bosnia would be lifted if he was elected.
“I think Clinton’s behavior is disgusting. He totally backed off — not only is he a coward, he is a hypocrite,” said Musanovic, a college student from Massachusetts whose parents still live in Sarajevo.
We don’t ask that foreigners get involved,” she said. “We just want the right to self-defense.”
Unlike Musanovic, few in the angry crowd had direct links to Bosnia. But many were Muslims, like the majority of Bosnia’s population.
Draped in Bosnian flags were Muslim protesters born in India, Pakistan and the Middle East who attend mosques in the New York area. .Some women wore Islamic veils and head scarves.
Members of an American black Muslim group, the Council of Imams, wore military uniforms as they stood guarding their religious leaders.
“We must stand with our brothers against a crime against human rights,” said Imam Isa Abdul Kareem, referring to the Bosnian Muslims under attack.
Protesters from a group called Young Turks Cultural Aid Society wore red T-shirts with red hearts marked with a Turkish sickle moon.
“There has to be military intervention by the United States, at least air strikes,” said Gregory Adams, a Muslim whose mother is Turkish-born.
One protester, a Bosnian Muslim, knew firsthand the suffering in Bosnia. Elvir Karic, 21, stood in the crowd with his leg in a cast from an injury in a grenade attack in northern Bosnia.
“Nobody gives us anything with which to fight,” the soldier said in Serbo-Croatian. Foreign countries “are giving us food to prolong our torture.”
Karic had traveled to New York to receive medical care.
He stood next to a group of men in skullcaps, Jewish protesters declaring their opposition to the “ethnic cleansing” that has cleared whole Bosnian towns of their Bosniak and Croat populations.
“Stop Genocide in Bosnia NOW” and “Never Again” read placards hoisted by protesters. Some likened the Bosnian decimation to the Holocaust.
Some demonstrators blamed the military inaction of foreign powers on lack of vested interests.
Two signs read: “No Oil. No Self-Interest. No Help” and “If Bosnia had Oil, Serbian Would be as flat as Iraq.”