This photo is used by Serbian propaganda to portray Serb ‘victims’ of Naser Oric around Srebrenica. In fact the, the photo was taken by Roger Richards at Sarajevo’s Lion Cemetery in April 1993 to show that thousands of Serbian victims were killed by Serb army during the shelling of besieged Sarajevo. Serb army killed thousands of Serbs who were loyal to the Bosnian government (1992-95).
Serbs of Sarajevo Stay Loyal to Bosnia
By Chuck Sudetic
The New York Times
26 August 1994.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Tarsa Petkovic, a 71-year-old Serbian grandmother, lit a pair of cigarettes and stuck them, filters downward, into the soft dirt of her son’s grave in Sarajevo’s Orthodox cemetery. She and her daughter then lit two more for themselves.
“He loved to smoke,” Mrs. Petkovic said of her son Stanislav, as wisps of smoke curled into nothingness above the grave she says will keep her in this city as long as she lives.
The old woman was observing the Serbs’ centuries-old custom of honoring the dead by sharing the food, drink and other pleasures they enjoyed in life, and lighting candles that symbolically guide their souls along the road to heaven.
Mrs. Petkovic has lost two sons and a son-in-law to the Bosnian war, all of them Serbs. All three were killed by members of the Serbian nationalist army that has overrun 70 percent of this country, emptying towns of Bosniaks and even bulldozing away Muslim cemeteries as part of a campaign of “ethnic cleansing.”
More than once, the Serbian nationalists’ self-appointed leader, Radovan Karadzic, has declared that there are no “real Serbs” left in Sarajevo, the besieged seat of Bosnia’s Bosniak-led Government.
Serbs Assail Karadzic
But Mrs. Petkovic is living evidence to the contrary. Serbs loyal to the Bosnian Government are appealing as never before, often over television and radio, for Serbs on the other side of the battlefront to stop cooperating with the Karadzic leadership.
“Where is Serbian harmony when Serbs shell Serbs?” said Mrs. Petkovic, herself wounded by one of the Serbian shells that have rained down on Sarajevo during the last two years. “I have nothing to do with Karadzic.”
For Serbs who have remained in Sarajevo through the 28-month-old siege, it is particularly frustrating to hear Western radio broadcasts quote Mr. Karadzic as “the Bosnian Serb leader.” Bosnian Serbs are not a monolith, they argue, a fact borne out by their own refusal to leave Sarajevo for the supposed security of Serbian-controlled territory.
Several Serbian residents of Sarajevo insist that support for Dr. Karadzic is evaporating across Bosnia, just as it is waning in Serbia proper.
Serbia Cuts Ties With Ally
Once Mr. Karadzic’s arsenal and breadbasket, Serbia recently announced that it had severed ties with Serbian nationalists in Bosnia because of their rejection of an international peace plan. Serbia and Montenegro, its partner in the Yugoslav federation, have been feeling the pinch of tough economic sanctions intended to cut off aid to the Serbs.
Claims that Mr. Karadzic’s following has diminished in Serbian-held parts of Bosnia are difficult to verify. Despite repeated requests, the Serbian nationalist leadership refused to let this reporter cross battle lines to visit such areas.
But Goran Simic, who leads the Serbian cultural society Prosveta here and supports the Bosnian Government, said his group had received messages of support from Serbs in Serbian-controlled territory who oppose Mr. Karadzic and his forces.
“The Serbs of Bosnia have suffered dearly because of several hundred criminals,” he said. “When they shelled Sarajevo, they were not trying to destroy the Muslim nation. They were working to destroy the possibility that a people here of every nation could live together.”
Mr. Simic’s brother, Novica, is a Serbian nationalist general whom the Bosnian Government identifies as a suspect in war crimes.
“They have first names,” Goran Simic said of suspected war criminals. “They have last names. And they must be found and tried.”
Mirko Pejanovic, a Serb who is a member of Bosnia’s collective presidency, said, “It galls me when people use the term ‘Bosnian Serb’ to describe pro-Karadzic Serbs.” He criticized international mediators for treating the nationalists led by Dr. Karadzic as equal negotiating partners with Bosnia’s legal Government.
Bosnian Army officials point out that Serbs still make up 6 percent of the the army’s forces, though draft-age Serbian men generally perform their military service in work details. Stanislav Petkovic was killed by a shell blast while digging trenches on a Sarajevo front line.
“The Bosnian Serbs are all the Serbs of Bosnia, and not all the Serbs in Bosnia stand behind Karadzic,” Mr. Pejanovic said.
Serbian Vote Dismissed
The Serbian nationalists’ self-appointed parliament in nearby Pale voted overwhelmingly to reject the latest peace plan, which would call for the Serbs to give up about half the land they now control.
A referendum on the peace plan is scheduled to be held next week in Serbian-held territory, but the Serbian Government in Belgrade, the Bosnian Government and foreign diplomats have dismissed it.
Mr. Pejanovic said the results of the vote would be irrelevant because the Serbian occupiers do not allow dissent. What is more, he said, not even half the 1.3 million Serbs who lived in Bosnia at the war’s outset in April 1992 will be around to vote.
Estimates by the Bosnian Government say 200,000 Serbs live on the 30 percent of Bosnia territory still under its control. About 400,000 have fled, mostly to Serbia and in many cases to avoid mobilization into the Serbian nationalists’ army.
Mr. Pejanovic estimates that 100,000 Serbs have died in the war.
The Serbian nationalist leadership has never provided comprehensive casualty statistics.
Visited the Other Side
Despite the cold shoulder she has been getting from many of her Bosniak neighbors for over a year now, Mrs. Petkovic says she will remain in her Sarajevo apartment.
“If I had wanted to stay on the other side, I would have,” she said, explaining why she returned home after a three-day visit last month to her daughter and grandchildren, who live on the rebel side. “I felt like a stranger over there.”
“Growing up before the war here, my boys played with all the neighborhood kids,” she said. “We never knew who was Georgy and who was Muhammed. And I baked cakes for them.”
“Now neighbors we’ve known for years don’t greet us anymore,” she said. “But I’ll leave here only if they throw me out. We’ve been here for 48 years, my husband and I.”
It is also important, Mrs. Petkovic said, for her to live near Stanislav’s grave.
“If we leave, no one will be here to visit it, tend the flowers or put up a gravestone,” she said. “No one will be here to light the candles.”