29 May 1992 – RTL – Rony Brauman, MSF: Call to an armed intervention


Appel à une intervention armée – FRENCH


Philippe Caloni: Rony Brauman, hello.

Rony Brauman: Hello.

Philippe Caloni: So Sarajevo, reading the press headlines, gives more or less this: after two months in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 5,000 dead or missing, while elsewhere it’s practically the same thing: 20,000 injured and, if nothing else, 1,200,000 Bosnians forced into exodus. What should we do in cases such as these? You’re president of Médecins Sans Frontières, even though I know full well you’re not just president of Médecins Sans Frontières, but what should be done in cases such as these?

Rony Brauman: Well, in cases such as these we don’t do anything.

Philippe Caloni: What is it? Sarajevo is what? An hour and a half by air from Paris?

Rony Brauman: A one-and-a-half-hour flight and a few hours by car and something horrific is happening. For months, humanitarian organisations, MSF, the International Red Cross and others have been trying to intervene, send in aid workers, and get shot at. Yesterday or the day before that, there was one killed and two injured in a deliberate attack when a rocket was fired at their vehicle which was, in theory, supposed to be under Red Cross protection.

Philippe Caloni: Because they knew they were there?

Rony Brauman: Of course they knew they were there, of course they knew, because they were completely pointed out, their convoy had been advertised to the various parties present, and despite all that, they were still attacked. Just like the Médecins Sans Frontières convoy a few months ago when they were rescuing the injured from the town of Vukovar, which was also attacked. And with these multiple, repeated attacks, what we’re seeing from the international community is absolutely nothing, zilch, indifference, they’re looking the other way. And what I want to say to the people who are calling Médecins Sans Frontières to find out what they can do, how they can take action, what…

Philippe Caloni: … There’s Médecins Sans Frontières and the others too… I mean, everybody else.

Rony Brauman: … There are the others… And everybody, the public needs to know because it’s been going on for a while, we’ve all been reduced to a state of complete powerlessness. Even when we do have volunteers in the field, when they’re supplying drugs, blankets, clothing, food, they are supplying them to places where they’re not needed and the places where they’re desperately needed they can’t manage to get to, and why can’t they get there? Because we stop them. They’re prepared to take risks but they’re not willing to commit total suicide and we stop them.

Philippe Caloni: So Rony Brauman, what needs to be done? Who’s being accused? Who’s not doing what they should be?

Rony Brauman: The countries of Europe. I believe there’s a resignation, a failing, cowardice on the part of the European Community that is verging on atrocity. A few years ago, we declared that war was practically unlawful in Europe and here we are discussing Maastricht, the European single currency…

Philippe Caloni: … And the common agricultural policy, that’s important…

Rony Brauman: …And the common agricultural policy. Of course, we need that, it’s important. But please can they stop nattering on about cereal, bolts, wine, pigeon shooting, when just next door there are people dying and we’re not even able to carry out the slightest act of solidarity, to show we’re interested in what happens to them. When all this is so dreadfully hypocritical and that’s what I came here to say today.

Philippe Caloni: So Rony Brauman, in concrete terms, what do you have to say as president of Médecins Sans Frontières to those who are listening, because there are people who do listen to RTL in the morning.

Rony Brauman: I want to say that as president of a humanitarian organisation, I want to say that the humanitarian sector has no say in this affair, I want to say that now it’s not just a matter of sending in doctors…

Philippe Caloni: … Ah, you’re going over there…

Rony Brauman: … Of sending drugs. We’re stopping, it’s over, we can’t go on, our people left Sarajevo a few days ago with the European Community, but now we need to go the extra mile if we want to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror tomorrow without burning red from shame, if we want this Europe that claims to uphold human rights, democracy, solidarity, and I entirely agree with this entreaty. If we want this Europe to have the right and dignity to exist, well it needs to stand up, it needs to intervene! Troops need to intervene in Sarajevo so that the hospitals, markets, old people, kids, women, who are systematically targeted now! People need to know that it’s them who are being targeted. Just yesterday, the army fired, deliberately, at a market during a truce, leaving several dozen dead, hundreds injured, more horror. So are we going to put up with this at some point in the future in Paris? Are we going to be able to say for much longer that we’re in the process of building Europe, that we’re building peace, that we’re creating a centre of democracy while letting this carnage take place without even batting an eyelid? It’s no longer an option.

Philippe Caloni: But Rony Brauman, what are you doing? What are you trying to say? What are you trying to say to President Mitterrand, to Jacques Delors? What needs to be done now in practical terms?

Rony Brauman: That the false pretence of humanitarian and legal action has lasted long enough and that it’s military intervention that is needed over there, that we absolutely need to go and protect, by any means we have at our disposal, after all we have arms, we have resources. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, we managed to find the resources necessary…

Philippe Caloni: … But that was the UN with the US. It won’t have escaped you that the United States, the Secretary of State James Baker is extremely concerned by what is happening over there, but apparently not enough to send anyone out there.

Rony Brauman: Listen, I’m telling you that if today we’re not capable of reacting, then we have to say goodbye to all these virtuous declarations on the new international order, the right to interfere, the duty to assist, political morality, the establishment of new relations at the global level. It’s over. We won’t have the right to say anything anymore, because we’re presently in the process of standing back and watching carnage, but carnage that isn’t a confrontation between opposite tribes…

Philippe Caloni: … It’s the Kurdish problem all over again?

Rony Brauman: Yes, it’s the Kurdish problem all over again, because at the end of the day when the Kurds were massacred in 1988 by Saddam Hussein’s chemical attacks, when they were then massacred by Saddam Hussein’s helicopters, nobody did anything, but when the Kurds crossed over their borders, when they arrived in Turkey and Iran, that’s when the international community started to react. Now I want to make an appeal, one that’s slightly inflammatory, I want to say to the Bosniaks and the Croats to leave their borders, to come and invade Italy, Austria, France and Switzerland, to flood our frontiers, and it won’t be until then that we can guarantee a properly coordinated international reaction. But so long as, apparently, so long as they don’t threaten us directly, we’re going to let this massacre continue and I find that totally inexcusable and I think that Europe is in the process of discrediting itself to the rest of the world by letting this carnage persist when it has the material and physical means to stop it.

Philippe Caloni: You sound pretty miserable.

Rony Brauman: Yes, I’m totally outraged, outraged as the head of a humanitarian organisation, outraged as a French citizen and even more outraged as a citizen of Europe.