Naučna istraživanja

Proposed first working draft for the Bosnian Genocide:

Proposed first working draft for the Bosnian Genocide: 


The Bosnian Genocide was the deliberate and systematic campaign of persecution and mass murder of Bosnian civilians by Serb forces between 1992 and 1995 with intent to destroy the Bosnian people living in Bosnia-Herzegovina. 


Since the UN definition of genocide requires that there is an intent to destroy an ethnic, religious, national, or racial group we have to decide which one of these we will go with. Now it's true that the Bosnian people were partially targeted for three of those (i.e. for their Bosnian ethnicity, Muslim religion, and Bosnian nationality) BUT we have to decide what was the most important and fundamental factor for which we were targeted. 


Were we targeted primarily for our religion? No doubt our Islamic religion was used as a justification for extermination BUT it was not defined as the main reason for us being attacked and it would show us as a religious minority under attack which in turn would weaken any future arguments that we need to define Bosnia-Herzegovina as our one and only homeland. It also raises the question as to why "Muslims" living in Serbia (i.e. Sandzak weren't targeted) 


Were we targeted primarily for our ethnicity? This is a definite possibility and the media has tended to focus on that aspect stating that "Serb, Croat, and Muslims" groups were at a conflict and that "Serbs committed massacres and genocide (only in Srebrenica) of the Muslims (in which the term Muslim may from the context be understood as being the name of an ethnic rather then a religious group). 


To me this is a strong candidate but there are some serious problems with it. First of all there was not a strong self-identification that people had with the term "Muslim" as an ethnic term. People at that time identified themselves as Muslims based not on ethnicity but on nationality (i.e. koja vam je nacionalnost?). When people discussed the peoples of Yugoslavia (i.e. Serbs, Croats, Muslims, Montenegrins, Macedonians, and Slovenes) they were not talking about ethnicity but nationality. People were classified by their nationality and a very strong effort was made to deny the Bosnian people a formal nationality and them having a sense of having a nationality by forcing them to identify themselves as Muslims i.e. a religious term instead of a national term. The Bosnian people were the ONLY people in Yugoslavia that had to use religion as a substitute for nationality. This was done in a very calculated way to prevent them from being seen or self-identifying as a people with a right to their own homeland but rather to portray them and force them to think of themselves as a religious minority group without a homeland and more importantly without any right to ever seek such a homeland for themselves. Ethnicity was never identified as the main form of segregating groups in the Balkans until the media gave that portrayal in the 90s. Before then people always segregated themselves and were in turn differentiated by their self-professed nationality (i.e. Hrvat, Srbin, Crnogorac, Makedonac, Albanac, Musliman, Slovenac). 


We also have to realize that using ethnicity as the primary motive will severely limit our efforts to ensure the protection of Bosnia-Herzegovina as the homeland of the Bosnian people. 


Were we primarily targeted for our nationality? I believe that this was the main motive for the genocide and was the main identification that was used by the perpetrators in their eliminatioist ideology. For the reasons given above it is my belief that Serb intellectuals and political leaders planning the genocide in Belgrade and those doing the same in Bosnia saw the main problem to forming a Greater Serbian state as the existence of a Bosnian national group i.e. a group that had an exclusive right to a homeland according to the principle of self-determination. We must keep in mind that even today the Bosnian nationality is openly denied by all those who want to prevent Bosnia to become a functioning nation-state with a national majority. 


As stated earlier the people of Yugoslavia were primarily labeled by their nationality and the term "Muslim" was widely understood to represent the Bosnian nationality that was not allowed to formally exist. We have to keep in mind that the Bosnian people exited as a national group with a sovereign homeland from at least the 11th century onward. They were not at that time defined by their religion (for they were Christian) or their ethnicity (for that term was very loosely defined in the Balkans at that time) there were primarily, if not exclusively, defined by their NATIONALITY i.e. the fact that they were Bosnians who had a Bosnian homeland. This nationality was severely degraded during the Ottoman occupation as people were increasingly segregated by religion and national movements were not allowed to exist since they presented a clear threat to the empire. The same process for pretty much the same reasons was continued under the Austrian occupation. In these centuries (14th - 20th) of foreign occupation and the increasing emphasis being placed on religious affiliation by outside powers, the Bosnian nationality (in existence since the formation of the Bosnian state) was degraded and emphasis was placed on religious and ethnic distinctions. It is important to note that this did not happen to the neighboring countries. In the 18th century, as nationalist movements swept through Europe the Serbs, Croats, and Montenegrins started to identify themselves by their nationality and started demanding more political rights based on the idea that national groups had right to sovereign or semi-sovereign states. It was only in Bosnia that people did not have a national movement that succeeded and were not defined as a nation with a language, culture, and right to self-determination. This "failure to launch" was one of the main reasons why even in the 90s with the breakout of violence and genocide Bosnians were the only group that were actively portrayed as lacking a nationality or a natural homeland. Serbs and Croats were treated as national groups with firmly-established homelands while Bosnian "Muslims" were treated as a religious or ethnic group without a well-defined nationality and no homeland. 


BUT event though religion or ethnicity were portrayed by the media as the main reasons for violence,  the real threat that the Bosnian people posed to Greater Serb ideology was not their religion, it was not their ethnicity, it was their burgeoning sense of nationality. It was the fact that they were a distinct group of people with a clear history of having had a national homeland and having national characteristics that presented the gravest threat to Serbian plans and was the biggest obstacle to the success of their goals of establishing a Greater Serbian state on Bosnian territory. The Bosnian people - as a NATIONAL group - simply could not be allowed to exist in a Greater Serbian state since they would fatally undermine its legitimacy and it's national character. 


I firmly believe that we have to present the reason for the genocide and the main target of those committing the genocide as being the Bosnian people's nationality. The Bosnian people were targeted as a national group because of their nationality. This would also explain why multi-ethnic cities like Sarajevo, Tuzla, and Banja Luka were targeted oftentimes causing sizable deaths among Serbs and Croats who were seen as closely identifying themselves with the idea of the Bosnian nation and Bosnian nationality. 


This definition also provides us with a firm foundation for highlighting the need to protect Bosnia-Herzegovina as the homeland and NATION of the Bosnian people. It also sets the stage for all other developments (i.e. return of property and refugees etc.) can be seen as a process of protecting that nationality and its RIGHT to have a nation.


We have to keep in mind that the Bosnian people are a national group with a right to a homeland. We must not allow the Serbian and Croatian negation of our nationality and rights, which has been ongoing for centuries, to come in the way of us identifying ourselves as what we are and demanding that our right be respected.  


I propose that we use Bosnian nationality as the main identifiable target in the genocide and that we need to state the the main victims were Bosnians who were targeted because of their Bosnian nationality, i.e. the Bosnian people. 


I apologize for the length of the e-mail but I think that at this time it is vital that we have this discussion and that we start moving towards forming a firm definition of the Bosnian Genocide that our institute will promote in Canada in in the world. 


Please give me your feedback and let other institute members know about this discussion so that we can start an ernest debate within our institute.