Monday, May 30, 2011

Why all Serbians should welcome arrest of Ratko Mladic

You're probably aware that 26 May 2011 saw the arrest of Ratko Mladic, a former General in the Bosnian Serb Army in Serbia. The arrest of General Ratko Mladic comes 16 years after the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) issued an international warrant for his arrest on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, persecution, exterminations and murder, deportation and inhumane acts, unlawfully inflicting terror upon civilians, murder, cruel treatment, attacks on civilians and taking hostages [Source]. Despite these serious charges, not all Serbians welcome the arrest of Mladic.

Ratko Mladic was indicted in July 1995 for his role in the massacre of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks). The Srebrenica massacre perpetrated by troops under Mladic's control has been termed the "worst atrocity on European soil" since World War II.

According to the ICTY, General Ratko Mladic's men sought to "eliminate a part of Bosnian Muslims" during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.

While families of the victims, rights advocates and groups like Human Rights Watch welcome the arrest of Ratko Mladic, calling it an end to impunity, the runaway General who is now under arrest enjoys the support of many nationalists in Serbia. Yesterday 29 May 2011, about 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Belgrade, capital of Serbia, demanding the release of Ratko Mladic. Many regard Mladic as a "hero" and Serbia's "best General."

Massive support for a commander whose troops planned and executed the massacre of members of a particular ethnic group emboldens perpetrators of heinous crimes and tarnishes Serbia's image.

It is hard to comprehend why Ratko Mladic is hailed in Serbia as a hero. A true hero would have used his position as commander to stop his troops from killing 8,000 unarmed men and boys.

In the interest of justice and closure for families of the victims of the siege on Sarajevo (capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Srebrenica massacre, all Serbians - including Serbs, Bosniaks and ethnic Hungarians - should welcome the arrest of Ratko Mladic and the 69-year-old General should be extradited to the Hague to answer charges for crimes committed under his command.

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