The non-Serb inhabitants of Bijeljina and Janja hardly resisted the take-over of their towns by Bosnian Serb forces and handed over the few weapons they owned, hoping that by cooperating with the new authorities they would be allowed to stay and go on living their lives as Bosniaks under the new Bosnian Serb authorities. Many Bosniaks went as far as to change their names, assuming a Serb name in order to avoid being harassed, or even expelled, on account of their name.31
Radovan Karadñi_, the nationalist Bosnian Serb leader, said that "loyal" Bosniaks would have the same rights as Bosnian Serbs in the Republika Srpska.32 The reality, however, was quite different: Bosniaks and other minorities soon found out that they did not enjoy the same rights as Bosnian Serbs in the Republika Srpska. Immediately after the take-over, many Bosniaks were arrested, in particular those with prominent positions, such as businessmen and politicians, and many of them "disappeared" altogether. Bosniaks were at the mercy not only of the Bosnian Serb authorities, but of Bosnian Serbs in general. As one Bosniak from Bijeljina put it: "Every Serb with a gun could come [into your house] and take anything [he] liked."33 Bosniaks were harassed in many ways: most were fired from their jobs, forced into the army, or forced to perform work obligations (radne obaveze). Many families were either forced to accept Serb displaced persons in their houses, or were expelled from their houses altogether. Moreover, ethnically motivated violence was a regular occurrence in Bijeljina.
Ethnically motivated violence
Soon after the war broke out, Bosnian Serbs who were expelled from, or had fled from, areas controlled by Bosniaks or Bosnian Croat authorities, started coming to Bijeljina. In the beginning, it was mainly Bosnian Serbs from the Tuzla region who came to the Bijeljina region. And while most Bosniaks from Bijeljina claim that they didn't experience many difficulties at the hands of the "domestic" Bosnian Serbs, some did suffer from harassment by displaced Bosnian Serbs. L.L., a farmer from Janja, told Human Rights Watch that "when we surrendered our weapons at the beginning of the war, displaced Serbs from Potpe_ and Tinja-which are villages in the [Bosnian-government controlled] Tuzla municipality-started moving into Janjari and Akma...i_i near Janja. They would come to Janja to take our cars, trucks, shops....In the summer, displaced Serbs started moving into Janja."34
Displaced Bosnian Serbs often settled themselves in the houses of Bosniaks in Bijeljina and Janja. In many cases, Bosniaks voluntarily took displaced Bosnian Serbs into their houses, hoping that they could provide some kind of protection against random attacks, and, as L.L. said: "Whoever complained got beaten, and the displaced Serbs moved in with you anyway." However, the arrangement did not always work out the way it was planned, and arguments and incidents between the two families living in the house often occurred.35
Bosnian Serbs were often violent in Bijeljina, mainly displaced persons, but also domestic Serbs. A Bosniak man in his sixties from Janja told of his problems with his neighbors:
Altogether, eight grenades were thrown at our house. The first was thrown in May 1992 by our neighbor. When I went to my neighbor to ask why she was doing this, she told me I was lucky I survived it, and that she would do it again. The same night, two more grenades were thrown. When I called the police to complain about these grenades, they asked me whether the perpetrators were civilians or in uniform. I thought it was a strange question: since when do people in uniform throw bombs at civilians? They then asked me my name, and when they heard I was a Muslim, they just hung up the phone.36
The police not only failed to protect Bosniaks from harassment by displaced Serbs, but they and other authorities themselves harassed Bosniaks. Sead Gruhonji_ explained how he was beaten by a member of the local police:
In May or June 1992, I was driving some goods for my shop from Bijeljina. Near the gas station just outside Janja, [a police officer] stopped me and threw all my stuff out of the car. He checked everything against the bills. I had invoices for everything, except for two kilos of sausage....I told him I had bought the sausage for myself, and then he started to beat and kick me. Then the commander, Mico Ðoki_, came, and [the police officer] asked him what to do. Ðoki_ answered that he should go on doing what he was doing.
A second time, in the summer, I went in shorts for business. [The police officer] stopped me [again], took me to the police station, took everything from my pockets, and put me in jail. When I asked why he was locking me up, he told me to just shut up, and beat me a couple of times. I had to stay there all evening, and could only leave after midnight.37
Many Bosniaks lost their lives in the years following the takeover of Bijeljina. In its 1994 report on Bijeljina, Human Rights Watch stated that at least eleven people had died violent deaths in Janja since the beginning of the war. Several sources, however, claim that the death toll was much higher, with one former resident estimating twenty deaths, and another fifty-seven.38 One of the best known cases is that of Izo and Suada Milki_, a wealthy Romany couple in their late thirties, who were found murdered in their house. Neighbors reported that they saw soldiers enter the Milki_'s house around midnight. In the morning, Izo's brother went to see why the couple had not awakened only to find them both dead. Izo was found sitting on a chair with an accordion in his lap and his throat slit, while his wife, who apparently resisted the assailants, was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. According to witnesses, the Milki_s lived near the military command center and were known for their wealth. Izo was a blacksmith, and his shop was well equipped, resembling "a small factory" according to neighbors. The neighbors interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported that men in uniforms raided the entire neighborhood the night of the Milki_s' murder, looting homes and beating people. The following day, the women in Janja gathered in the streets to protest the murder of the couple. The police dispersed the demonstration by firing into the air. One stray bullet hit Duza Durgutovi_ in the head while she observed the demonstration from her window. She died instantly. According to witnesses, the police proceeded to beat the demonstrators.39
Dismissals from work and conscription into the army
Soon after the war started, many Bosniaks in Bijeljina were dismissed from their jobs, either for allegedly failing to report to the Bosnian Serb army or without any reason at all. In reality, they were dismissed because of their ethnicity. Fahrudin Gruhonji_, a Bosniak from Janja, worked in the Semberka dried fruit factory before the war. When the war started, he immediately volunteered to go into the reserve police, but he was dismissed from the police in July 1992, after which he went back to work at the Semberka factory. However, Fahrudin told Human Rights Watch, "[i]n the beginning of 1993, a new director, Petar ,,a...anovi_, came to the firm. Immediately after his arrival, they started moving people around. On May 3 or 4, 1993, a group of about forty Muslim employees was told in the courtyard of the factory that [they] were fired. We were not given any reason, [and] we never got any official decision or anything. Until today, I am still not able to get my worker's employment booklet, because [it is] still in the firm....How am I supposed to work [without this booklet]?"40
S.P., a Bosniak from Bijeljina, told Human Rights Watch a similar story about how he was fired:
I was fired from my job because of my nationality. The official reason was that I didn't report to the army, but that's a lie. I have the papers to prove that I reported to the army on July 17, 1992. When I went there, I was given a piece of paper, where I had a choice of two options. The first read: "I am willing to actively participate in the Serb Army until the final annihilation of the enemy"; the second said: "I am not in favor of war." Since the Muslims were the enemy, I chose the second option....
When we had our regular meeting of [employees] of our [public institution], in August 1992, our director, said: "Now I will read to you a decision of the municipal organs, and this decision will not be discussed, but will be implemented immediately. From tomorrow on, the following persons will not be allowed to come to work anymore." Then he read out the names of all Muslim [employees].41
In the months following his dismissal from work, the army tried to draft S.P. several times. However. S.P. was able to avoid the army; with the help of friends, S.P. managed to obtain a job in civil defense.
But S.P. was an exception to the rule. The Bosnian Serb army aggressively pursued those who refused to be drafted. In May 1992, Sead Gruhonji_, a Bosniak in his early thirties from Janja, was also asked to fill out the form mentioned above. Sead, like most Bosniaks, chose the second option. About a month later, he was fired from his job. In 1993, the army detained Sead to question him:
The local police took me to the military police [station]. The military police took me to the basement of their building, and there I had to empty my pockets. In one pocket, I left DM 1,200, but when they performed a body search on me, they felt it, and asked me what it was. I told them it was cigarettes, but they found out that it was money. In the other pocket, I had documents for two cars and one truck. One car had been mobilized by the army, the truck was at my friend's place, and the other car was in my yard. They asked me where these cars were, what I wanted to do with the money, if I was trying to flee. Then, these three guys started to beat me. They beat me and kicked me for one and a half hours. Then they left me alone for an hour and a half, after which they came back, put the handcuffs on me, and took me to the first floor. Again, I was interrogated about the cars, but I didn't have a paper to prove that the army took my car. They then took me to the barracks in Bijeljina, where they interrogated me further until dawn. Again, one of these guys slapped me.42
Although the army attempted to draft Bosniaks in 1992 and 1993, it wasn't until 1994 that Bosniaks in large numbers were forced to work for the army. Bosnian Serb forces detained many Bosniaks in Bijeljina and Janja, forforced labor43 at the same time that the Bosnian Serb authorities were expelling large numbers of Bosniaks from Janja.44 Many Bosniaks, mostly men, were forced to work at the front lines, carrying food and other materials for the soldiers in the trenches. In at least one instance (see below) the Bosniaks were used as human shields. The conditions were very bad: they had to work long hours and often did not get enough food. Moreover, they were at the mercy of Bosnian Serb soldiers who often, particularly after military losses, directed their frustration and anger at the Bosniaks, in the form of physical abuse and degrading treatment. A Bosniak man from Janja told Human Rights Watch how he was detained and made to perform forced labor.
On July 14, 1994, at around 11 a.m., two men in military police uniforms driving a black Lada with Nik_i_ license plates picked me up from the field [where I was working], claiming I had to give a short statement. They also detained my cousin then. [In the car,] they called over the radio to say that they had picked up "number five," "ten," etc. They took me to a truck in front of Café Golman. It was a cattle truck with a nylon cover...it was very warm under the cover. There were three or four others in the truck, and others were coming as well, who were put in the truck one by one. Since they couldn't find all the people on the list, they took some others to have twenty-nine. When they finished around 2 p.m. they took us to the school in Hase, [where] we found several other men from Bijeljina, who had been beaten: Uska Velti_, Ahmed Grosi_, Amir Grosi_, Rejfudin Ze...evi_, and Alija Zvizdi_. They put us in a circle, and Arkan's guys were standing between us, so we couldn't talk. [A man called] Risto was observing all of this. They took the people from Bijeljina, and beat them almost to death, just to scare us.
[After that,] we were sent to a small room where Risto and [another man] took all our documents, money, jewelry. From me, they took fifty German marks, my driver's license, my ID and my working permit. We then went out of the room, and they waited at the door, where they beat us with their guns and hands. Then we went to a truck, where they beat us again with guns. It was difficult for old people to get on the truck, so they beat them again. I got beaten on the left leg, and the skin came off, it was all bloody. When we entered the truck...we were also beaten through the cover of the truck.45
The group was then taken to the sports stadium in Lopare, where they joined a group of about fifty people from Bijeljina who had been detained the day before. After they were told that they would be taken to the front line to work, they were taken to a house near an old school building in Jablanica, a village near the front line. The men were told they were not prisoners, but that they had to do various tasks such as cleaning the house and fixing roads.
We did this work for about one week. But meanwhile, the front line at Greda had fallen, and the Serbs started a new offensive. They then took us to the front line near Greda and Jablanica to carry food to the soldiers, and wounded soldiers, and ammunition....We had to work very hard, sometimes from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. without food. We carried ammunition, mines, guns, food, etc. to the soldiers in thetrenches. At the same time, we had to dig trenches. They tried many times to recapture Greda, but they didn't succeed, and many of them died. Whenever a Serb was wounded or killed, we were beaten.
One day at the end of July, they tried to get the bunkers near Greda, and the Mandi_ Guard from Ugljevik came in. Before the attack, we brought them food and drinks, and all of them became half drunk. That day, one of their leaders, a guy from Ravno Polje, died, and we had to take the body away. They screamed: "Where are these Balije, give them to us." Five of us had to take this dead guy to a car some six kilometers away [while three men guarded us]. [A man] from Ugljevik...was the worst of them. I was carrying the stretcher and told two older guys just to hold on, I could carry it. If we would fall, they'd kill us. [The man from Ugljevik] and the others were beating us with big branches of trees. I was the main target, [the man from Ugljevik] beat me with sticks some five to six centimeters thick, but they broke on me. My back was as black as coal.
At some point, we had to get up somewhere, so I carried all the weight. He then beat me in the back, and I started to fall, but thanks to the two older men, I stayed up. [The man from Ugljevik] then said: "Fuck this guy, this Balija won't go down," and he cursed me. I put the bed down, pretending to fix the dead guy's face a bit, to be able to see [Pero's] face. Then [the man from Ugljevik] asked me: "Did you do that to remember me? You won't, because you will not pass the next stream." He asked me if I had kids. I said I had one daughter. Then he asked the others, who all said they had daughters, and one said he didn't have any kids. They then started beating us with sticks again, and said we lied, that we all had sons in the army in Teo...ak who were killing them. Then they started beating us again, mainly Ibro and Alija from Bijeljina, and Alija from Janja.46
Fortunately, a Bosnian Serb doctor then took the witness and his colleagues under his protection and later, when the Mandi_ Guard returned from the front line after the failed attack, regular Bosnian Serb army soldiers let them hide in their bunkers.
Other witnesses told Human Rights Watch they were used as human shields. A Bosniak from Janja told Human Rights Watch how "[they] were used by the Serbs as human shields to retake the trenches [near Greda]. The Bosnian army was forced to shoot, because [the Bosnian Serbs] were shooting from behind us. Fortunately, nobody was wounded or killed."47
The Batkovi_ camp
Those who were forced to perform labor at the front lines in Lopare, Jablanica, Greda, and other places,48 were registered as inmates of the Batkovi_ camp near Bijeljina. One of the Bosniaks who worked at the front line told Human Rights Watch that he had been registered by the International Committee of the Red Cross because the place he worked at was part of the Batkovi_ camp. Moreover, several others who fell ill during the time they were forced to labor at the front line were taken to the Batkovi_ camp for treatment.
The Batkovi_ detention camp was located in Klis, a hamlet near Batkovi_, a village about ten kilometers north of Bijeljina. The camp, which used to be a storage facility for a farm cooperative, was reportedly established in June 1992.49 The prisoners were held in two large barns without windows and slept on bales of hay covered by tent canvas. Human Rights Watch representatives visited the Batkovi_ camp twice in late August 1992, at which time Major Mauser introduced himself as the commander of the camp.50 Human Rights Watch was told that 1,200 men were being detained at the time of the visit. Two thirds of the detainees were said to be former combatants, and the remaining prisoners were described as civilians who were being held in the camp "for their own protection."51 In an interview with the Washington Post,52 a camp official claimed that Batkovi_ was not a detention camp, but a "collection center." "It is necessary for humanitarian purposes to protect these people....Since they did not want to take part in fighting, they were in danger of being killed by their own people." Furthermore, the official claimed that the detainees got three good meals a day, eating the same food as the Serb guards, that they were free to make visits to Bijeljina, and that they worked voluntarily in farming nearby fields because they wanted the exercise. He finished by saying: "Most of them are here as though they are on a picnic."
Others, however, paint a significantly different picture of the conditions in the Batkovi_ detention camp, in numerous reports about inhuman conditions there. Frank R. Wolf, then a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, visited the Batkovi_ camp on September 1, 1992. He described Batkovi_ as follows:
The prison camp housed 1,280 prisoners, mostly Muslim, mostly civilian with some soldiers. The discipline was harsh and conditions were stark and barren....The prisoners sat silently on a thin layer of filthy straw with the silence punctuated from time to time by subdued coughing which may preview sickness and influenza as winter grips this terrible place. Hopelessness clouded the faces of the men in this camp. The longer this siege goes on the more difficult the healing process will be. These prisoners just must be released soon. Conditions are terrible and winter will bring on a spreading sickness that will be intolerable.53
The prisoners were living in overcrowded warehouses, and often there was not enough food. Some prisoners were regularly given severe beatings, sometimes resulting in death. Moreover, the prisoners had to perform forced labor, either at the front lines digging trenches and carrying materials, or in Bijeljina itself, working in the fields or performing other tasks for Serbs.
Omer, a man in his sixties who was detained in the Batkovi_ camp from around July 18, 1992, through August 20, 1992, told Human Rights Watch:
I was held in a warehouse about seventy by thirty meters, with about 1,200 men. The warehouse was filled with seven rows of military mattresses-one for two men-so we had to sleep on our sides. The pallets were about eighty centimeters wide.
We didn't have any problems with the guards, only from soldiers who would come now and then to beat prisoners. There was a period during which the soldiers would come and beat people every night. Usually after it got dark in the evening, these soldiers would separate the genuine POWs - there were about five or six of them. Then they would take them outside the enclosures, and from behind the warehouse we could hear cries and screams. The POWs were beaten every night, and the others were beaten from time to time, depending on the mood of the soldiers.54
Omer reported that no one was killed by gunfire, although some died from beatings. During his detention, Omer declared, thirteen people were beaten to death.
We would see them being separated and then we could hear shouts, shrieks, cries. These men would then come back, every part of them blackened, and they would lie down. After a few hours, they would be dead. Two of the POWs died. Two civilians whom I knew also were killed. Sead Deli_ was called to work in the barracks, where he was beaten. He fell gravely ill and died in the hospital. All the others died in the warehouse.
The United States government reported the story of two Bosniaks, aged twenty-five and thirty-three, who were held in several camps by Serb forces from May 30, 1992, through April 21, 1993. The account said that for most of August 1992 they were held in Batkovi_:
The witnesses said Batkovi_ was the worst of the camps in which they had been held. There had been around 1,600 prisoners in Batkovi_ when they arrived, all of them from northeastern Bosnia. A number of children and elderly men were moved out of the camp in closed trucks after it was announced there would be an ICRC visit to the camp.
Beatings were common at Batkovi_. Zulfo Saracevi_, aged 55, died of beatings. A jeweler from Bijeljina died after three nights of beatings, the purpose of which was to get him to tell where he had hidden gold and jewelry. Several elderly men died from the bad conditions at the camp. One of the witness's cousins died of gangrene in a leg wound for which he had received no medical care.55
Numerous reports confirm the abuses in the Batkovi_ detention camp.56 These abuses apparently decreased, and conditions improved, after local villagers protested the treatment of the detainees, demanding that they be treated as Serb detainees would want to be treated.57 Human Rights Watch interviewed several witnesses who were detained in the Batkovi_ camp from November 1994 through February 1995. Most of the witnesses claimed that they didn't have enough food, sometimes receiving as little as one loaf of bread for sixteen detainees, and therefore lost weight in the camp. However, none of the witnesses detained during this later period indicated that they were beaten or harassed in the camp. While the Bosnian Serbs closed down several detention camps after a public outcry about the conditions in the camps (in particular camps in the Prijedor area), the Batkovi_ camp remained in use throughout the war and was closed only after the war was over.
The final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts identifies several other detention facilities operated by Bosnian Serb forces in the Bijeljina region: the agricultural school in Bijeljina, the old military barracks in Bijeljina, the _panac military barracks, a newly built detention facility near Popovi, and the slaughterhouse near Velika Obarska.58 In addition, Human Rights Watch interviewed witnesses who were held as prisoners at a pheasant farm in Suho Polje, a village to the southeast of Bijeljina. A Bosniak from Janja, who was driven by truck from Lopare in the direction of Bijeljina, was hoping that they would be taken home. "But in Suho Polje, the truck turned off the main road. We went to the pheasant farm, where we saw the same guards as in Hase [where the witness had been held in detention before]. They had put blankets on the windows, and they said that there were mines all around us so we wouldn't try to escape. There were twenty-three [prisoners] there. After three or four days, we got some bread, a can of food, and some water. We stayed in Suho Polje for five or six days."59 The camp in Suho Polje was also used in the process of expelling minorities from the Bijeljina area to the area under Bosnian government control.
The rule on "surplus living space" and subsequent evictions
In some respects the Bijeljina area, and in particular the village of Janja, was different from other regions of Bosnian Serb controlled territory. In most other areas, if minorities were not killed outright or arrested and brought to a detention camp, they were brutally evicted from their houses and expelled to territory under the control of the Bosnian government or Bosnian Croat forces. In the Bijeljina area, however, another tactic was used during the first two years of the war. Rather than evicting Bosniaks from their homes and deporting them, living conditions were made very difficult for Bosniaks and other minorities, thereby forcing them to leave. Bosniaks and other minorities in Bijeljina often were not evicted from their homes, but were forced to accept displaced Bosnian Serb families in their homes.
Soon after the outbreak of hostilities, Bosnian Serbs from areas under the control of the Bosnian government, in particular the Tuzla municipality, started coming to Bijeljina. Initially, these displaced persons accommodated themselves, or were accommodated by the authorities, in the houses of Bosniaks who were working abroad when the war started, or who had fled Bijeljina immediately after the war broke out. However, most Bosniaks decided not toleave and tried to adjust to living under Bosnian Serb rule.60 There was consequently not enough space available to accommodate all the Bosnian Serb displaced persons.61 As soon as all the vacant living space was occupied, displaced Bosnian Serbs started to move in with, or were assigned to houses of, Bosniaks who were still living in Bijeljina.
The practice of accommodating displaced Bosnian Serbs in the houses and apartments of Bosniaks had its legal basis in the Decree on the Allocation for Temporary Use of Housing Objects, Business and other Premises, which entered into force on August 1, 1992. It states that:
Apartments which have not been abandoned may be used, i.e. allocated temporarily for accommodation [of displaced persons, refugees or persons who have remained without accommodation due to war activities] if the owner, i.e. current user has a surplus of living space as outlined in article 6 of this decree.
The accommodation referred to in paragraph 2 of this article can be allocated for temporary use only if there is no vacant accommodation in the territory of the municipality.
The criteria for assigning accommodation based on size are the following:
- one to two members - a studio or one-room apartment;
- three to four members - two-room apartment;
- five or six members - three-room apartment;
- seven or more members - house with two apartments or similar.62
In Bijeljina, a prosperous area, most houses were relatively large and had more space than the minimum set by the decree. In subsequent laws passed by the Bosnian Serb authorities, the stipulation concerning the use of "surplus living space" was further delineated. Article 3 of the Decree on the Accommodation of Refugees63 stipulates that "all the owners and/or users of more than 15 square meters of housing space per household member shall be obliged to make that surplus of living space available for the accommodation of the expelled population." In article 17 of the Law on the Use of Abandoned Property, which came into force in February 1996, the same criteria were used. Moreover, the law specified the way accommodations would be chosen.64 Dr. Gret Haller, the Human Rights Ombudsperson forBosnia and Hercegovina, in a special report on article 17 of the Law on the Use of Abandoned Property, found that both the law itself and its application violated the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols.65 The commission responsible for accommodation of refugees and displaced persons issued formal decisions to displaced Bosnian Serbs giving them permission to reside in Bosniak homes. The commission also issued decisions authorizing displaced persons to live in Bosniak houses which they had already entered, often in a violent manner.
Many Bosniaks claim that the displaced Serbs living with them were friendly toward them and did not harass them in any way. For some it might even have served as a kind of protection measure. However, in general, the Serbs were in control of the house, and the Bosniaks were only tolerated, especially because the Bosniaks were afraid to file a complaint with the local police. There were often arguments and even violent incidents between the original inhabitants and the displaced persons living in their houses; often resulting in the Bosniak family moving out of the house, going either to an area controlled by the Bosnian government, or moving into old houses or outbuildings.
In many cases, those who moved in with Bosniak families were representatives of the local authorities themselves, in particular members of the special police and other law enforcement officials. P.A., a Bosniak from Janja, told Human Rights Watch about her experiences with a displaced Bosnian Serb member of the special police:
On April 7, 1994, Pero Mi...anovi_ from Visoko, and his wife Slobodanka and their child, moved into our house....We agreed with them living here, they said they would be good to us. They got the summer kitchen66 and one room, but the whole house was open [to them]. The first half year, there were no problems. But when he saw that we wouldn't leave, he started making problems. They didn't allow us to use the milk of the cow any more, nor to lend our stuff to the neighbors. Slobodanka said: "It is all ours now, your house is now in Visoko." After two to three months, Pero beat me up. It was Ramadan, and I was fasting. Pero came to take milk, he threw me down and started to beat me on my head several times. [When] the police came...they said: "Don't beat her. If they need to leave, they'll leave, but don't beat her."67
P.A.'s husband continued:
Then nothing happened again until spring, but in March 1995, Pero brought three members of the special police to expel us from [our] house. I could see from the insignia on their clothes that they were special police, just like Pero. They came at 10 a.m., I was just drinking coffee. One of them, Mika from Tuzla, told me we had to leave the day after. I said: "I won't leave, I have kept my promise about the rooms, and I don't have any problem with Pero." Then [Mika] hit me once with his fist on my temple, and I fell unconscious. My wife tried to wake me with water, but then [he] kicked me in my kidneys, threatening: "If you say anything, you'll disappear." After that, they left. We called the local police, who came in the evening, [and] told us it would be better if we would move into the summer kitchen. But we moved into the smaller room in the house, where we slept for one month. But then A...im68 came, and he was angry. He expelled us from our house by threatening us with a gun. Then we decided to leave to the summer kitchen, and we couldn't even use the toilet in the house anymore.69
The problems between Pero and P.A. continued far into peacetime, and P.A.'s family was forced to live in the summer kitchen, while Pero and his family lived in the main house. Ultimately, Pero and his family left around November 10, 1997, fearing a court hearing on the case that was scheduled a few days later.
The case of P.A. and her husband is symptomatic of the situation of many Bosniaks who had to accommodate Bosnian Serbs in their homes. Understandably, the relations between the Bosniaks and their Bosnian Serb "guests" were often less than amicable. The houses were often too small to accommodate two families. Moreover, the displaced persons often had left their homes under the pressure of, or were forced to leave by, Bosniaks, and they resented the presence of Bosniaks in "their" replacement homes. The Bosniaks, on the other hand, could hardly count on any form of protection by the authorities, and were therefore at the mercy of their "guests." It is therefore not surprising that in the vast majority of cases, this arrangement ultimately resulted in the departure of Bosniaks, often after a series of violent incidents. The Bosniaks then either moved into an outbuilding next to their house, or became displaced persons in territory controlled by the Bosnian government or Bosnian Croat forces.
In other cases, the displaced Serbs used more direct methods to drive Bosniaks from their own homes. O.K., a fragile Bosniak in his sixties, told Human Rights Watch how he was forced out of his house:
In July 1994, Mladen Stojanovi_, a member of the special police from Perin Han, moved into the house. He lived with us, and protected us some....Mladen never had any decision [that allowed him to live in] the house. On September 8 or 9, we went to work in the field. [When we came back], he had changed all the locks to the house, and also to the summer kitchen. I went to the local police right away to complain, but they said they couldn't help me, because Mladen was special police....So I moved into the house of my mother-in-law, which was destroyed, and was [abandoned] already five years ago.70
However, even though O.K. and his wife left the house, Mladen Stojanovi_ continued to harass them. In May 1995, Mladen came to the shack, asking O.K.'s wife why she still hadn't moved to Tuzla.71 He then continued to beat both O.K. and his wife, killed O.K.'s dog, and even fired several shots at O.K.'s wife.
Given the influx of Bosnian Serb displaced persons that the de facto Bosnian Serb authorities were faced with, it was understandable and reasonable for them to institute a policy through which citizens could be made to share their accommodation with displaced persons; it is only reasonable to require citizens to assist in case of an emergency. However, this policy in practice turned into a mechanism allowing displaced Bosnian Serbs to harass and abuse their Bosniak hosts, and ultimately drive them from their homes by making their life unbearable, or simply throwing them out. Moreover, the rule on surplus living space was applied in a discriminatory fashion. Both international and Bosnian sources claim that only minorities and those Bosnian Serbs who refused to take part in the war effort were forced to accommodate displaced Bosnian Serbs in their homes (although some Serbs voluntarily housed some of the displaced. This indicates that although the Bosnian Serb authorities indeed had difficulty accommodating Bosnian Serb displaced persons, the rule was also used as an instrument to force Bosniaks and other minorities to leave.
The Commission for Exchange and the expulsion of the civilian population
The ultimate aim of the takeover of Bijeljina was to create an ethnically clean area, i.e., to force all, or at least the vast majority, of non-Serbs living in the Bijeljina area to leave. The municipal authorities in Bijeljina admitted as much when they told representatives of the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center in September 1993 that they were implementing a decision of the Republika Srpska government to reduce the number of Bosniaks in Bijeljina to 5 percent of the original number.72
In 1992, the authorities set up a Commission for Exchange of Civilian Population to facilitate the "voluntary" departure of Bosniaks and other minorities, which was headed by Vojislav "Vojkan" Ðurkovic.73 Ðurkovi_ was a major in Arkan's Serbian Volunteer Guard and at some point leader of the Bijeljina branch of Arkan's political party, the Party of Serbian Unity (Stranka Srpskog Jedinstva). Ðurkovic and his assistant Risto Marian arranged transport for Bosniaks, Croats, and Roma who wanted to leave Bijeljina. Allegedly, the Commission for Exchange even put up a banner in Janja encouraging Bosniaks to sign up for exchange.74
Ðurkovi_ and his associates charged large fees for "safe transport" to Bosnian government controlled areas or third countries. Fees ranged from DM 150 (U.S.$ 75) to DM 250 ($125) for women, children, and elderly men, while men of military age had to pay up to DM 2,500 ($1,250).75 Despite these huge fees, the transport was far from safe. Many men of military age were taken off the buses that were supposed to transport them to areas under Bosnian government control. Alija, a Bosniak from Janja, told Human Rights Watch about his experiences with the "safe transport" arranged by Ðurkovi_:
On September 3, 1994, I paid Risto to take me to Tuzla. I paid DM 2,000 [$1,000] for me, and DM 200 [$100] each for my wife and four children. We all slept in a truck in Priboj, near Livade. At 3 a.m., they separated ninety-seven men from their families. We waited for two hours in a truck, then drove for about twenty kilometers. Then, they put us in one line, counted us, and registered our names. Military trucks came, and they all took as many [men] as they needed. Twenty of us were brought to [the front line near] Jablanica, where we had to carry food and dig trenches.76
Alija was forced to work in Jablanica for almost three months, after which he was transported to the Batkovi_ camp, where he became very ill and was released. He again signed up for exchange, this time paying DM 3,200 ($1,600) to be transported to Hungary.
Those who did not sign up to be exchanged "voluntarily" were often forced to leave anyway. Vojkan and his aides often went themselves to gather Bosniaks for "exchange," but the Commission for Exchange also had its own paramilitary group to intimidate and expel Bosniaks. This paramilitary group was known among the population as "Mauser's Guards" (after their leader Ljubi_a "Mauser" Savi_), "Panthers," or "Vojkan's men."77 The forced expulsions in most cases followed a very similar pattern: paramilitaries entered the houses of Bosniaks, often at night, but also during daytime. The inhabitants were told that they had a certain period (often not more than fifteen minutes) to gather some belongings, after which they would be taken to the center of town, where a truck was waiting to transport them to Bosnian government-controlled territory. However, the truck never drove the Bosniaks straight to the area where they could cross the front line. The truck always first went to an outlying area, where Vojkan Ðurkovi_ and/or his aides were waiting. The Bosniaks were then forced to hand over all their money, other valuables, and documents to Vojkan or his aides. Moreover, those who owned a house were almost without exception forced to sign a document stating that they had voluntarily given up their rights to all their property.78 In many cases, men of military age were separated from the rest of the group, and taken to work at the front lines. After being strip-searched, the rest of the Bosniaks were then again put on a truck and driven to the front line, where they were sent across, often through a mine field, to Bosnian government positions.79
Although expulsions continued throughout the war, there were three major waves of expulsions from Bijeljina. The first wave took place at the beginning of the war, right after the take-over of Bijeljina. A second wave happened in August and September 1993, and the third wave was from July to September 1994. S.A., a Bosniak in his fifties from Bijeljina, was expelled by Vojkan Ðurkovi_ during the second wave in 1993:
On September 9, 1993, we were expelled from Bijeljina. That day, I went to a meeting at work, where I was told I should call my wife, who had called crying. When I called her, I found out that she had locked herself in the house, because three men had come in a combi to gather "Balije." When I arrived at my house, there were three uniformed men waiting for me: Vojkan Ðurkovi_ and [two] of Vojkan's aides. They asked me whether I was the owner of the house. When I said I was, they told me to tell my wife to open the door, because we had to leave our house. I asked where I should go to. They toldme I would be taken to Hungary. They gave me five minutes to gather some belongings. In these five minutes, we managed to put some of our belongings in two or three bags.
After we left our house, we went to the house of another family that was also ordered to leave. Then we were taken to jail, where we stayed for two days without food and they stole all our belongings. After that, we were put in a bus together with other people, and were transported to the front line. In our group, there were thirty-eight persons, all of whom had been collected by Vojkan Ðurkovi_ and his aides. In the bus, they gathered all the money we had left. Then, we were dropped off in _otorovi_a and had to cross the front line by foot, while they were sending grenades after us. We walked six kilometers, after which we reached our [Bosnian army] soldiers.80
In September 1993, the local authorities arrested Vojkan Ðurkovi_, apparently because they did not agree with his practices.81 However, Ðurkovi_ was released soon after and played a major role in the last, and biggest, wave of expulsions, which took place from July through September 1994. This wave of expulsions from Bijeljina, in which more than 6,000 Bosniaks were expelled,82 coincided with similar expulsions in the Banja Luka area.
D.T., a grandmother in her seventies of mixed ethnicity, was in one of the first groups to be expelled in mid-July 1994. After she was taken from her home, she was driven by bus to a forest between Bijeljina and Br...ko. There, Vojkan Ðurkovi_ and one of his aides were waiting:
Vojkan told us to open our bags, and give all our money and jewelry to him. Then, they went from one person to another, taking everything away from them: not only money and jewelry, but also documents, I.D. cards, visas, everything. Then, they started to curse us: "You Balije, we will take you to Alija's country, or maybe we'll make you swim in the Sava or the Drina." Moreover, they threatened to kill everyone who still had money or jewelry hidden somewhere. People were so scared that, when they went around with a nylon bag, they threw everything in it, they gave them everything they had. This scene repeated itself at all of the buses. [Then,] we drove another couple of kilometers, then we had to get off the bus. They made us walk through a mine field, I could see the mines. They told us to walk in the middle, so we would get to our army safely.83
In August 1994, Fahrudin Gruhonji_ was expelled from his house.
On August 27, 1994, at about 2:30 a.m., somebody knocked on my door, and there were four guys in military uniforms with white belts. They were Mauser's Guards, I recognized them; they were the Potpe_anska Garda. They said: "Get yourself ready, you're going to Tuzla, and you won't ever return here." I had to hand over the keys to my house. A little truck was waiting in front of my house, which took us to the center of Janja. There, a bigger truck was waiting for us....They took us to the primaryschool in Suho Polje. There were about thirty people in the truck, and about seventy to eighty people in the school. After about two hours, they took us one by one to a small room, where Vojkan [Ðurkovi_] and another demanded money. They took about DM850 [U.S.$425 ] from me. The day after, at twelve o' clock, Vojkan came again, together with another man with a Colt. They took a piece of paper, and said that those whose names were read out would go to forced work. He then named nine people, but two of them couldn't work [because they were invalids or too ill], so the seven of us went.84
Fahrudin then worked at the front line until October 10, 1994, when he was released. When he came home, however, he found that his house had been occupied by a displaced Bosnian Serb who, according to one of Fahrudin's neighbors, had the key to the house.85
These expulsions were of such significance as to prompt the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution to:
2. Strongly condemn all violations of international humanitarian law, including in particular the unacceptable practice of "ethnic cleansing" perpetrated in Banja Luka, Bijeljina and other areas of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the control of Bosnian Serb forces, and reaffirm that those who have committed or have ordered the commission of such acts will be held individually responsible in respect of such acts;
4. Demand that the Bosnian Serb authorities immediately cease their campaign of "ethnic cleansing."86
The expulsions from Bijeljina were a profitable enterprise for those involved. In particular Vojkan Ðurkovi_ must have collected enormous sums of money during his activities. Expelling several thousand people from Bijeljina for fees ranging between DM 150 [$75] and DM 2500 [$1,250] could easily result in "earnings" of several million German marks. However, several people have claimed that Ðurkovi_ was only executing orders from others. One witness stated that "Ðurkovic was just a marionette, he was in someone else's hands as well."87 This may explain why neither Vojkan Ðurkovi_ nor Ljubi_a Savi_ seem to have extraordinary possessions: the revenues most probably had to be handed over to Bosnian Serb authorities at a higher level.
Interestingly enough, neither Vojislav "Vojkan" Ðurkovi_ nor Ljubi_a Savi_ "Mauser" denies their role in the "ethnic cleansing" of Bijeljina, although they describe the events in a somewhat different manner than their victims. Ðurkovi_ claims he was actually helping Bosniaks. In 1994, the Sunday Telegraph (London)reported:
Ðurkovi_ calmly insists the "transfers" have been voluntary, the logical result of civil war and ethnic partition.... "I am a man of mercy, really," insists Ðurkovi_... "Some want me for the Hague (war crimes tribunal), but what I really deserve is the Nobel Peace Prize.... I am one of the few people around here who is trying to help these people.... I am these people's only hope.... I am everything to them... I am their god and their savior."88
According to Dan Deluce, a Reuters correspondent, Ljubi_a Savi_
describes himself as a pragmatist and reluctant ethnic cleanser who had the best interests of the Moslems at heart....He says expulsions were inevitable once the war started. "If municipal or military authorities took advantage of the situation to rob them as they were being transported, at least they arrived safely," said Savi_... Savi_ insists he is just an ordinary man, an unemployed social worker, who was chosen by his neighbors to defend Serb homes. "Somebody has to do it, somebody had to have the guts."89
Between war and peace
Most Bosniaks were expelled from their houses by the Bosnian Serb authorities and forcibly transported to territory under control of the Bosnian government, while others were forced our of their houses by their Bosnian Serb "guests." However, a few people were evicted from their houses by the authorities or police forces without being transported to Bosnian government held territory.
While these evictions took place throughout the war, there seemed to be an increase in evictions at the end of the war, after the Dayton Peace Agreement had already been initialed, but had yet to be signed.90 Throughout Bosnia and Hercegovina, the warring parties tried to solidify the gains they had made before the peace agreement officially entered into force. Between the initialing and the signing of the Dayton agreement, there was an attempt in Bijeljina to evict the few Bosniaks who still lived in their own houses as well.
According to several witnesses, Jovan A...imovi_, nicknamed A...im, then a member of the special police force, played a major role in these attempts. Amira Janji_, a Bosniak woman from Janja, told how A...imovi_ forced her out of her house:
At the end of November, maybe the beginning December 1995, a guy called A...imovi_, whose nickname is A...im, and three other guys (among whom was A...imovi_'s brother-in-law) came to my house at about 4 p.m.. They didn't kick in the door, they just walked in. A...imovi_ said: "Fuck your mother, did you think that you could take care of the house while your husband is in Germany? Get out of here, you have five minutes to leave. And don't take anything, all of this is now ours."....A...imovi_ told me to get out of the house, then later to go inside again, which I refused, [after which] he slapped me a few times. He also hit my mother, who was then seventy-three years old, [who] now still has a problem with her eye. A...im said to me: "Don't you complain about me. If I ever hear you did, the dark will eat you because I'm God." Nevertheless, I went to the police eight times to complain, but they never even came to check..91
Since that day, Amira Janji_ and her family of six live in a two-room shack in Janja, while an elderly displaced Bosnian Serb couple is living in their house.
Other witnesses told similar stories of Jovan A...imovi_ having evicted them from their houses, often using violent means and abusive language. Nedñad Husrefbegovi_, a Bosniak man in his fifties, had such an experience:
On December 5, 1995, I was sitting here with a friend... At about 7 p.m., six men from the special police, including Jovan A...imovi_ [A...im], came in. A...im said: "You have two hours to leave your house and hand over the keys." I told him I didn't have any place to go, but A...im took a tablecloth and said: "You have to leave, and don't even think about taking anything with you, not even this tablecloth." Then they just left, and we waited for things to come.
At 11 p.m., the same six men and one girl came, and broke into the house. A...im said: "Haven't you heard the news: not one Muslim is allowed to be in Bijeljina or Janja anymore." I said that if that was the case, he should come with a bus the day after to take us away. But he said: "There are two cars outside, why don't you go to my Zenica?" But we refused, and he said we should then go in the streets. I said I'd rather be in the streets than go with him in a car at night.92
After A...imovi_ and his companions had also broken all the windows of his workshop, Nedñad's family fled to a neighboring house. Husrefbegovi_ continued:
One of the soldiers called me back into the house, and I went. They tried to force me to drink rakija, and when I refused A...im slapped me in my face. I wiped my face, but he slapped me again. One of the other men, a blond guy, told him not to do it, but Jovan took a gun, put it against my head, and said: "This way your blood will come out." I slapped the gun away, and ran away.93
These were the last steps in the policy of "ethnic cleansing." It was already known that the Dayton agreement aimed to preserve, or rather rebuild, the multi-ethnic society that Bosnia once was. To that effect, the Dayton agreement contained several provisions to ensure the return to a multi-ethnic Bosnia, in particular Annex VII, which deals with the return of refugees and displaced persons. The actions undertaken by the warring parties between the initialing and the signing of the Dayton agreement seemed to be aimed at making the results of "ethnic cleansing" as irreversible as possible. It may also be the case that the Bosnian Serb authorities were preparing for an influx of Bosnian Serb displaced persons, in particular from Bosnian Serb controlled territory around Sarajevo which, according to the Dayton agreement, was to be handed over to the Federation authorities; an influx indeed occurred in the first months of 1996. In any case, the result was that most Bosniaks left Bijeljina, while those who remained almost without exception were not living in their own homes.31 In an interview with the Washington Post, Filip Terzi_, who was formerly known as Ferhat, explained why he had changed his name: "Anyway we've got to be loyal. And besides, every living being must do what it takes to live. Right? .... With a new name, I can go to Serbia, right next door, and do business. I can buy stuff there and sell it here. With my old name, I'm stuck." John Pomfret, "Muslims Try `Name Cleansing' to Survive in Serb-held Bosnia," Washington Post, December 21, 1993. 32 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, "`Ethnic Cleansing' Continues in Northern Bosnia," A Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 6, No. 16, November 1994, pp. 6, 20. 33 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, December 16, 1998. The witness asked not to be identified.
34 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, September 1994. This statement was previously published in: Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, "`Ethnic Cleansing' Continues in Northern Bosnia," A Human Rights Watch report, vol. 6, no.16, November 1994, p. 6.
35 See also section on The rule on surplus living space and subsequent evictions.
36 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, April 16, 1998.
37 Human Rights Watch interview, Janja, December 19, 1998.
38 Human Rights Watch interviews with M.N., former resident of Janja, in Tuzla, April 23, 1998, and O.D., former resident of Janja, in Tuzla, April 24, 1998.
39 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, "Ethnic Cleansing," p. 11. See also: Amnesty International, Living for the Day, 1994.
40 Human Rights Watch interview, Janja, December 15, 1998. A workers employment booklet (radna knjiñica) shows an employee's employment record and experience. The booklet is needed to obtain any kind of employment.
41 Human Rights Watch interview, Bijeljina, July 11, 1998. Several details that S.P. provided have been omitted to protect the identity of the witness.
42 Human Rights Watch interview, Janja, December 19, 1998.
43 The United States Department of State reported that "non-Serb men and women in the Banja Luka and Bijeljina regions were routinely forced to labor, digging trenches, tilling fields, cleaning streets, etc. They received no compensation for this work." United States Department of State, Bosnia and Herzegovina Human Rights Practices, 1994, (Washington: Department of State, 1994).
44 See section on "The Commission for Exchange and the expulsion of the civilian population."
45 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, December 16, 1998. The witness asked not to be identified in any way. The witness' account was confirmed by several others. Moreover, the witness' account is corroborated by an account of the same incident in Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, "Ethnic Cleansing," p. 24. However, some details, including the date, differ in the accounts.
46 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, December 16, 1998. The witness asked not to be identified. The witness' account was corroborated by several other witnesses who were in the same group. Balija (plural: Balije) is a derogatory term for Bosniaks. Teo...ak was a front line village in the Federation.
47 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, December 16, 1998. Similar stories about forced labor at the front line, including the use of prisoners as human shields, can be found in: Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, "Ethnic Cleansing," pp. 23-25; Brent Israelsen, "Heart of Darkness," Salt Lake Tribune, August 11, 1996; and Amnesty International, Waiting, 1994.
48 Human Rights Watch also spoke to witnesses who were made to perform forced labor in Stolice, Ma...kova_, Piperi, Crno Brdo, Pelagi_evo, and Blañeva_.
49 Helsinki Watch, War Crimes, pp. 210-214; United States Government, Fourth Report on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia, (Washington: United States Government, December 1992); United Nations, Final Report; Peter Maass, "Illusory Serb Prison Camp Materializes," Washington Post, August 27, 1992.
50 At around the same time, the Batkovi_ camp was visited by several journalists. Peter Maass, a journalist for the Washington Post who visited the Batkovi_ camp on August 26, 1992, quotes a top camp official named Major Jovica Savi_ (see: Maass, "Illusory Serb," Washington Post). In an article in the Houston Chronicle ("Serbs practice a shell game with inmates," August 22, 1992), Nina Bernstein identifies a Jovi...ka Savi_ as the person running the Batkovi_ camp. However, Jonathan Landay, a reporter from the Christian Science Monitor who accompanied Bernstein and Maass to the camp, stated in an interview on March 17, 1999, that he was 100 percent positive that it was Ljubi_a Savi_ who was in operational control of the camp, and ultimately led the journalists into the camp. Since Ljubi_a Savi_'s nickname is Major Mauser, it seems probable that Maass and Bernstein misunderstood the first name of the commander. Furthermore, in United Nations, Final report, it is claimed that on July 13, 1992, JNA colonel Petar Dmitrovi_ was the Batkovi_ commander, while in a U.S. State Department document a former prisoner claims that in August or September a Lieutenant Colonel Vasiljevi_ became the commander of the camp.
51 Human Rights Watch, War Crimes, p. 211.
52 Maass, "Illusory Serb," Washington Post, August 27, 1992.
53 Frank. R. Wolf, Statement by U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf Congressional Delegation to the Balkans, August 30 -September 4, 1992, 1992.
54 Interviewed on October 18, 1992, in ðupanja (Croatia). Since the witness chose to withhold his real name, the name used here is a pseudonym. Omer's testimony was previously published in Human Rights Watch, War Crimes, Vol. II, April 1993, pp. 211-214. POW stands for prisoner of war.
55 United States Department of State, Supplemental United States Submission of Information to the United Nations Security Council in Accordance with Paragraph 5 of Resolution 771 (1992) and Paragraph 1 of Resolution 780 (1992), (Washington: Department of State, June 16, 1993).
56 United States Department of State, Fourth Report on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia; United States Department of State, Fifth Report on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia; United Nations, Final Report, chapter 3, para. ii-xix; Frech, Disappearances, pp. 50-51; Brent Israelsen, "Heart of Darkness," Salt Lake Tribune, August 11, 1996; Uinsionn Mac Dubhghaill, "Bricklayer Weeps as He Recalls Detention," Irish Times, April 6, 1993.
57 United Nations, Final Report, S/1994/674/Annex VIII, chapter 3, para. xiii-xvi.
58 Ibid., para. xx - xlvi. Several other detention facilities are mentioned, but their existence has not been corroborated by neutral sources.
59 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, December 16, 1998. The witness asked not to be identified.
60 In Bosnia, building houses is a common way of investing wealth. Especially in rural areas such as Janja, the housing is almost exclusively private property. Most Bosniaks were not willing to give up the property they had worked for most of their lives.
61 Amnesty International claims that by late July 1992, more than 30,000 displaced Serbs had arrived in Bijeljina. See Amnesty International, Waiting, 1994.
62 The decree was published in the Official Gazette of Serbian People in Bosnia-Hercegovina, no. 12/92, July 31, 1992.
63 The decree was published in the Republika Srpska Official Gazette, no. 19/95, and entered into force on October 1, 1995.
64 The Law on the Use of Abandoned Property was published in Republika Srpska Official Gazette, year V, no. 3, February 27, 1996. Article 17 of the law reads as follows:
If the persons referred to in Article 1 of this Law [refugees and displaced persons] can not be accommodated in the apartments and housing facilities from Article 11 of this Law [abandoned property], they will be given temporary accommodation in the apartments or housing facilities in which there is a surplus of housing space over 15 m2 for each member of the family household and according to the following order:
C in apartments and housing facilities of the owners or holders of the right to occupy who have not regulated their work or military obligations;
C in apartments and housing facilities of the owners or holders of the right to occupy whose members of the family household have left the Republic [Republika Srpska], but lived in the joint household;
C in other facilities where there is surplus housing space.
Temporary accommodation in the facilities referred to in the previous paragraph will last as long as the user
65 Human Rights Ombudsperson for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Special Report No. 1543/98 (Human Rights Ombudsperson for Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo, April 9, 1998). The ombudsperson found that "the content and application of Article 17 of the Law on Abandoned Property constitute a violation of Article 8 [right to respect for his home] and Article 1 [the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions] of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention ..." Therefore, she recommended that Article 17 of the Law on Abandoned Property cease to be applied with immediate effect, and before July 1, 1998, be amended in such as way as to be in compliance with the convention. However, only on December 2, 1998 did the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska pass the Law on the Cessation of Application of the Law on the Use of Abandoned Property, which came into effect on December 19 after the law was published in the Republika Srpska Official Gazette on December 11.
The Office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson was created in the Dayton Peace Agreement. The Office of the Ombudsperson can consider alleged or apparent violations of human rights as provided in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Protocols thereto. For the exact mandate of the Ombudsperson, please see: General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Annex VI, Chapter Two, Art. II-VI.
66 Houses in rural areas in Bosnia often have one or more smaller outbuildings, including a so-called summer kitchen.
67 Human Rights Watch interview, Janja, December 19, 1998.
68 J.A. reports that Mika is currently a member of the local police force in Bijeljina. A...im, whose real name is Jovan A...imovi_, was at that time a member of the RS special police, which has its headquarters in Motel Plaña at the Drina River near Janja. Currently, Jovan A...imovi_ is a member of the local police in Ugljevik.
69 Human Rights Watch interview, Janja, December 19, 1998.
70 Human Rights Watch interview, Janja, December 16, 1998. Representatives of Human Rights Watch have seen the mother in-law's "house" the family now lives in: a ramshackle cottage consisting of one six-by-eight-foot room less than six feet high.
71 Tuzla is a city which during the war was in Bosnian government controlled territory, and is now part of the Federation.
72 Humanitarian Law Center, "The Case of Bijeljina," Spotlight Report No. 7, September 15, 1993.
73 See, among others, Human Rights Watch, "Ethnic Cleansing," p. 6; Frech, Disappearances, pp. 42-43; Humanitarian Law Center, "The Case of Bijeljina," Spotlight Report No. 7, Belgrade (Serbia), September 1993, p.1; Humanitarian Law Center, "Expulsions of National Minorities - Banja Luka and Bijeljina," Spotlight Report No. 14, Belgrade (Serbia), August 1994, pp. 6; Jonathan S. Landay, "Bosnian Serbs Expel Non-Serbs from the North," Christian Science Monitor, September 7, 1994. Amnesty International, in its report on Bijeljina (Amnesty International, Living for the Day) identifies Vojislav "Vojkan" Djuri...i_ as the head of the commission. Most probably, this is just a misunderstanding or misspelling of Ðurkovi_'s name.
74 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Ethnic Cleansing, p. 7.
75 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Ethnic Cleansing, p. 32; Amnesty International, Waiting,1994.
76 Human Rights Watch interview, December 16, 1998. The witness asked not to be identified, and the name used here is a pseudonym.
77 See also Amnesty International "Living for the Day." Both Ljubi_a Savi_ and Vojkan Ðurkovi_ were named by many persons that Human Rights Watch interviewed as responsible for "ethnic cleansing" in Bijeljina.
78 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, "Ethnic Cleansing," p. 32; Humanitarian Law Center, "Expulsion of National Minorities," Spotlight No. 14, August 1994; Amnesty International, "Living for the Day," 1994.
79 See also United States Department of State, Bosnia and Herzegovina Human Rights Practices 1994 (Washington: February 1995); Nicole Courtney, "Red Cross condemns Bosnian Serb Ethnic Cleansing," Reuters, September 19, 1994.
80 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, April 16, 1998
81 Jonathan S. Landay, "Bosnian Serbs Expel non-Serbs from the North," Christian Science Monitor, September 7, 1994; State Commission - Tuzla, Criminals and Victims, 1995, p. 106.
82 See: Human Rights Watch, Ethnic Cleansing, p. 7; Amnesty International, Living,1994; United States Department of State, Bosnia and Herzegovina Human Rights Practices 1994, February 1995; Jonathan S. Landay, "Mrs. Hadzic is a Bosnian Muslim; Serbs came and took her away," Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1994; United Nations, Situation of Human Rights in the Former Yugoslavia, November 4, 1994; United Nations, Statement by Mrs. Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the Humanitarian Issues Working Group of the International Conference on Former Yugoslavia, Geneva, November 25, 1994.
83 Human Rights Watch interview, Sarajevo, May 27, 1998. The witness chose to remain anonymous.
84 Human Rights Watch interview, Janja, December 15, 1998.
85 Human Rights Watch interview, Janja, December 15, 1998.
86 United Nations Security Council, "Resolution 941 (1994)," September 23, 1994.
87 Interview with M.N., a former Bosniak inhabitant of Janja, Tuzla, April 23, 1998. This belief was expressed by several other (former) inhabitants of Bijeljina as well.
88 Michael Montgomery, "Town where Ethnic Cleansing Wears a Mask of Mercy," Sunday Telegraph (London), October 10, 1994.
89 Dan de Luce, Reuters, September 9, 1996. See also: Tom Walker, "Danes Play Host to Suspected Bosnian War Criminal," Times (London), December 16, 1997.
90 The Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina, was initialed on November 21, 1995, after three weeks of intensive negotiations at Wright-Patterson Airbase in Dayton, Ohio. The official signing ceremony, however, took place in Paris, France, on December 14, 1995.
91 Human Rights Watch interview, Janja, December 16, 1998. The witness chose not to be identified, and a pseudonym is used to protect her identity. Amira Janji_' husband was in Germany as a refugee at the time of this incident. Being "eaten by the dark" is an expression used in Bosnia meaning that someone "disappears." Jovan A...imovi_ is now a member of the regular police in Ugljevik, a municipality to the southwest of Bijeljina.
92 Human Rights Watch interview, December 17, 1998. The witness chose not to be identified, and a pseudonym is used to protect his identity.
93 Ibid. Rakija is a kind of brandy. In this case, the attackers apparently thought Nedñad refused to drink because he was a Muslim.