12 July 1995 – France 2 – Stephan Oberreit, MSF: Srebrenica – FRENCH



TV presenter: First, and most important, the worrying deterioration in the situation in Bosnia. The NATO Council, which met in Brussels today, limited itself to a vigorous condemnation of the Bosnian-Serb militias’ taking of the Muslim enclave in Srebrenica. Their leader, Radovan Karadzic, has ruled out any retreat of his forces. Quite the contrary in fact, as the Serbs appear to be preparing for yet another ethnic cleansing among the thousands and thousands of refugees now under their control.

Commentary: The honour of the UNPROFOR was General Morillon’s grand gesture. In March 1993, at the depth of the despair as the Serb army was threatening to take Srebrenica at any moment, he climbed onto a tank and shouted, "we will not abandon you.” His words saved Srebrenica and the concept of UN protected area was born – a status accorded to Zepa, Gorazde, Bihac, Tuzla and Sarajevo. But Morillon’s gesture was appreciated neither by military officials nor the politicians who said the enclaves were too remote and too difficult to supply and the peacekeepers defending them were potential hostages. In a nutshell, the fall of Srebrenica is not only a horrific symbol but the international community could have predicted it. A tragedy, the consequences of which now have to be dealt with – starting with the 20,000 refugees amassed around the Dutch peacekeepers’ base in the small village of Potocari. The Serbs took control of their evacuation this afternoon, separating the men from the women and children and loading them onto buses in full view of the Médecins Sans Frontières teams who were with them.

Stephan Oberreit: Apparently it was a horrific scene. People were crying, screaming, panicking, as they were loaded onto buses leaving for an unknown, unconfirmed destination. Tuzla was mentioned but nobody substantiated it.

Commentary: According to the Serbs, the women and children are being evacuated whereas the men are going to be interrogated. We don’t know what’s going to happen to the 7,000 people still in Srebrenica and who are out of the sight of any witnesses.

TV presenter: Let’s go back to Gilles Rabine in Sarajevo. Hello, Gilles. Do have you any more details about the fate of the thousands of refugees living in the Muslim enclave?

Gilles Rabine: Listen, the first information I can give you is that this evening the Serbs authorised an UNHCR convoy to go to Potocari, where there are apparently 30,000 refugees, not 20,000. The convoy is transporting 23 tons of food, drugs, tents, blankets and mattresses. As for the refugees who have been taken by the Serbs, we know that the men have been separated from the women and children and taken to Bratunac, the Serb command post nearest the Srebrenica enclave. The women and children have been taken to a destination still unknown this evening. I want to add a little detail to what Stéphane Manier said. The Dutch from the UN have asked that one peacekeeper be allowed on each bus and truck. General Mladic, who’s been managing the operation, has refused.

TV presenter: Gilles, a really simple question that many of our viewers must be asking. Why didn’t the Bosnians defend the town?
Gilles Rabine: Listen, it’s hardly surprising. They didn’t defend it because they weren’t able to. After what happened with General Morillon in March 1993, when the Bosnians in Srebrenica accepted to be demilitarised and give up their weapons, they played the game. That’s why placing themselves under UN protection with practically no weapons, they feel very strongly this evening they’ve been betrayed by the UN in Srebrenica.