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Sarajevo's endless siege

20 years after the wars in the former Yugoslavia

The Flag of Borovo Selo

On 1 May 1991 in Borovo Selo four Croatian soldiers who had tried to hoist the flag of Croatia instead of the Yugoslavian one were assailed and abducted by the populace. The following day 150 policemen were sent to Borovo upon order of the Croatian authorities of Osijek with the task to free them, but a group of Serb militias confronted the Croatian policemen: twelve of them were killed and twenty injured; some of the Serb militias were killed as well.  The bodies of Croatian policemen were mutilated by militants. According to Croatians and some foreign observers, damaging the bodies was a gesture to fuel the ethnic hatred. This incident initiated the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. 
On the April 5, 1992 the Serb snipers opened fire on the popular demonstration that killed one of the demonstrators in Sarajevo. The day after the European Union enshrined the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serb deputies declared the secession of the Serbian republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina; this declaration triggered the violence in the country. 



 

5 May 2011

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Ethnic cleansing

in the former Yugoslavia

The federal Yugoslavia was formed by six republics (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia) and two autonomous regions united to Serbia (Kosovo and Vojvodina). As Tito died in 1980, there was a breakout of political tensions which resulted in the civil war between the different republics that formed the federal State.
From 1990 to 1999, with a precedent in 1989, when Serbia opposed Kosovo independence, the clashing forces used repeatedly ethnic cleansing in order to prevail. The data on the breadth of the mass murder are still provisional: the continuous discovery of mass graves makes it difficult to estimate it. Certain massacres, like the Srebrenica Massacre in 1995 in which the Serbs killed nearly 8000 Bosniak men and assaulted the remaining women, are historically infamous and provoked an international response.. The genocides were far from one sided, as most sides in the conflict attempted to eradicate the other through ethnic cleansing. These brutal attempts of homogenizing the country were inspired by extreme nationalism. The destabilization in the face of Tito's death provoked each ethnicity to vie for total control of the territory and ethnic purity.  The ensuing Yugoslav Wars where characterized by this type of violent ethnic conflict and consequently this series of conflicts is known as the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War 2. By 1995, nearly 100,000 people had been killed during this genocide.

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Multimedia

Resolution 819

Giacomo Battiato's film about the Sebrenica massacre

Featured story

Natasha Kandic

human rights activist in Serbia