4. 21 December 1992 – France 3 – Rony Brauman, MSF: Kozarac report – FRENCH



TV presenter: This programme is almost over so we should give you some figures that demonstrate all too tragically the reality, and the tragedy playing out in the country. 50,000 dead, tens of thousands injured, 2 and a half million displaced, towns razed, concentration camps – a catalogue that sums up only too well the savagery of the what’s called “ethnic cleansing" Serb militias have been carrying out since March 1991. On 7 December, Médecins Sans Frontières made public a report on this process of ethnic cleansing. The report is based on a survey of 60 former Bosnian prisoners and their families who are now in France. Rony Brauman, president of MSF, thank you for coming in to talk to us. How did you conduct the survey?

Rony Brauman: We wanted to reach out to these refugees and prisoners who, after surviving a horrific ordeal, are rather lost in France. So we assigned four doctors – one a psychiatrist – to interview and talk to them, like a kind of psychotherapy. What we found out shook us to the core, and that’s when we decided to go public with the report. We discovered that behind the term ethnic cleansing, which has almost become part of everyday language, behind this image of a kind of war where tribes indiscriminately cut each other’s throats, ultra-nationalist Serbs are implementing an actual process. With a total denial of humanity, they’re committing in their territorial conquests horrific crimes – unmitigated assembly-line murder – in places nothing short of concentration camps.

TV presenter: Reading the accounts in MSF’s report provokes rage and indignation; we’ve chosen to tell that of a 40-year old man who speaks without anger. You’re about to hear his story, in which he recounts the hell he endured.
Former prisoner: It wasn’t so much a camp as a slaughterhouse or a bloodbath. The camp guards took pleasure in doing the most terrible things. What I saw was really not a pretty sight.

Journalist: What did they do?

Former prisoner: I saw them hang up a man by his feet from a beam. They took a knife and skinned him alive, like a sheep. When I think of it… It was horrible… The way that man screamed and cried.
In 11 days, I ate four bits of bread and I’m not sure they weighed even 20 grams.

Journalist: And how many of you were there sleeping in the room?

Former prisoner: I don’t know how many exactly, but there were between 270 and 300 of us. The room was 80 metres square.

TV presenter: That was a statement taken from the report MSF made public on 7 December. Rony Brauman, do you not feel that this war is not so much to impose Serb domination, but rather to eliminate a whole people, through genocide or enforced exile?

Rony Brauman: Yes, absolutely. The aim of this war is to create refugees, and to create them they’re using all possible strategies of terror, intimidation and denial of humanity. I must say that the paramount feeling I have is one of shame, shame of the lie that consists in calling the United Nations force a ‘protection force’. We’re not protecting these Bosnians from being massacred, from being terrorised, driven from their land while powerless soldiers are forced to look on, weapons at the ready, and as you just said, impatient to step in, but also mortified. I’m ashamed that an outstanding journalist like Zlatko Dizdarevic, who should be being afforded hero status in Europe, isn’t with us here tonight, because getting him out of the cellar where he’s holed up is seen by the United Nations as a political gesture. It’s a disgrace, an unspeakable disgrace. So leaving him holed up in a cellar isn’t a political gesture? How can that be acceptable? It’s shameful and despicable. I have to confess that what I feel most tonight is shame. And the humanitarian aid we send in, the aid MSF, Equilibre and AICF all contribute to, is useful and indeed vital, but that the governments opposing this process of crimes against humanity are only sending in blankets which, let’s face it, will be used as shrouds within a few days, is nothing short of contemptible.

TV presenter: What can the international community do now?

Rony Brauman: It must outlaw ethnic cleansing and territorial conquest, then make it known and implement the means required to ensure it’s respected.