Wikileaks - V

Friday, 02 September, Year 3 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu
    "629","1/13/1994 18:47","94ZAGREB176","Embassy Zagreb","UNCLASSIFIED","","This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
    CINCUSNAVEUR LONDON UK//N2/N22//
    AMEMBASSY ATHENS
    AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA
    HQ JTF PP NAPLES IT//CA/POLAD//
    COM SIXTHFLT//N2//
    USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
    USEC BRUSSELS
    AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
    JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5-PMA/J21//
    AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
    AMEMBASSY WARSAW
    ","UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ZAGREB 000176

    SIPDIS

    VIENNA FOR BOSNIA

    E.O. 12356: N/A
    TAGS: PHUM, HR, HR, HR, HR, BK, War Crimes
    SUBJECT: A/S SHATTUCK AND CROATIAN HUMAN RIGHTS
    ACTIVISTS ASSESS \"THE HUMAN RIGHTS CATASTROPHE\" IN THE
    FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

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SUMMARY
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1. IN AN EXTRAORDINARILY INFORMATIVE AND SOMETIMES EMOTIONAL JANUARY 7 MEETING HOSTED BY AMBASSADOR GALBRAITH, HA A/S SHATTUCK AND LEADING HUMAN RIGHTS SPOKESMEN IN CROATIA DISCUSSED WHAT A/S SHATTUCK CALLED \"THE HUMAN RIGHTS CATASTROPHE\" IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. IN A BROAD-RANGING CONVERSATION LASTINC MORE THAN AN HOUR, THE MEETING PARTICIPANTS ADDRESSED THE ISSUES OF MISSING PERSONS, WAR CRIMES AND THE HORRIFIC USE OF GENOCIDE AND ETHNIC CLEANSING AS EFFECTIVE TOOLS OF CONQUEST AT THE END OF THE 20TH CENTURY. A/S SHATTUCK UNDERSCORED THE U.S. COMMITMENT TO A WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL TO BRING RESPONSIBLE INDIVIDUALS TO JUSTICE AND TO PRESSURE ALL SIDES IN THE CONFLICT TO RESPECT BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. END SUMMARY.

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PARTICIPANTS
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2. CROATIAN PARTICIPANTS INCLUDED MS. LJUBICA BUTULA, PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIETY OF FAMILIES OF MISSING AND IMPRISONED DEFENDERS OF CROATIA; DR. ZVONIMIR SEPAROVIC, PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR VICTIMOLOGY AND GENOCIDE; PROFESSOR DRAGO ROKSANDIC, A UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR AND SPOKESMAN FOR SERB MINORITY RIGHTS IN CROATIA; DR. SLAVKO GOLDSTEIN, PUBLISHER AND VETERAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST; AND DR. SLOBODAN LANG, SPECIAL ADVISOR ON HUMANITARIAN ISSUES TO THE PRESIDENT OF CROATIA. A/S SHATTUCK AND AMBASSADOR GALBRAITH WERE THE AMERICAN INTERLOCUTORS, AND THE EMBASSY CONSUL WAS NOTETAKER. THE MEETING\'S DISCUSSION IS REPORTED HERE BY TOPICS FOR CLARITY\'S SAKE.

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OPENING REMARKS
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3. A/S SHATTUCK SAID HE HAD COME TO CROATIA WITH UN AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT TO FOCUS ATTENTION ON THE \"HUMAN RIGHTS CATASTROPHE\" UNFOLDING IN THE REGION, AND TO UNDERSCORE AMERICAN COMMITMENT TO ESTABLISHMENT OF A VIGOROUS INTERNATIONAL WAR CRIME TRIBUNAL. A/S SHATTUCK INDICATED THE USG IS OFFERING USD 28 MILLION TO FUND THE TRIBUNAL BECAUSE THE U.S. BELIEVES THAT ALL ATROCITIES COME DOWN ULTIMATELY TO INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY, AND INDIVIDUALS MUST BE HELD TO ACCOUNT. THE DISCUSSION WAS THEN TURNED OVER TO THE CROATIAN GUESTS FOR THEIR COMMENTS ON A RANGE OF ISSUES, INCLUDING MISSING PERSONS, WAR CRIMES, THE MEDIA AS A WEAPON AND THE USES OF GENOCIDE AND ETHNIC CLEANSING AS TOOLS OF CONQUEST.

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THE MISSING
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4. LJUBICA BUTUTLA SAID HER ORGANIZATION REPRESENTS FAMILIES FROM ALL OVER CROATIA, AND HAS DETAILS ON 8,000 CASES OF PERSONS MISSING IN THE WAR, ALTHOUGH THEY ESTIMATE UP TO 11,000 MAY BE MISSING. (N.B. DR. SEPAROVIC NOTED THAT THE CROATIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALLY LISTS 7,000 MISSING, BUT HIS INSTITUTE BELIEVES THE NUMBER MAY BE AS HIGH AS 15,000.) SHE SPOKE OF VUKOVAR -- THE LOVELY DANUBE CITY THAT WAS LEVELLED BY SERBIAN AND YUGOSLAV ARMY FORCES EARLY IN THE 1991 WAR. TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY SICK AND INJURED PEOPLE WERE REMOVED BY SERBS FROM THE CITY HOSPITAL IN THE PRESENCE OF RED CROSS OBSERVERS, DRIVEN AWAY ON BUSES, AND NEVER SEEN AGAIN, BUTULA SAID.

5. BUTULA\'S OWN SON -- A FORMER EXCHANGE STUDENT IN OHIO -- WENT MISSING DURING THE WAR. SHE WAS ONLY ABLE TO LOCATE AND REGAIN HIS REMAINS AFTER MANY MONTHS OF FRUSTRATING AND EXHAUSTIVE EFFORTS VIA THE RED CROSS AND OTHER ENTITIES. BUTULA RECALLED THE AGONY OF UNCERTAINTY, AND INSISTED THAT SERB REFUSAL TO ACCOUNT FOR THE DEAD AMONG THE MISSING CONSTITUTED \"A KIND OF PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR AGAINST CROATIAN WOMEN.\" BUTULA SAID HER ORGANIZATION DID NOT BELIEVE THAT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY -- NOTABLY THE RED CROSS -- WAS DOING ENOUGH TO INSIST ON FULL ACCOUNTING OF MISSING PERSONS.

6. AMBASSADOR GALBRAITH OBSERVED THAT A KEY STEP IN ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM IS TO CONTINUE TO PUBLICIZE IT WIDELY, AND TO THAT END, THE VISIT ON JANUARY 6 BY AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT AND A/S SHATTUCK TO VUKOVAR AND AN IDENTIFIED MASS GRAVE SITE NEARBY HAD REFOCUSED INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION ON WHAT HAPPENED THERE.

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ATROCITIES AND ETHNIC CLEANSING
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7. DR. SEPAROVIC LED THE GROUP INTO A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF WAR CRIMES AND ATROCITIES BY STATING THAT MOST SUCH ACTS IN THIS CONFLICT HAVE FLOWED FROM THE DELIBERATE STRATEGY OF ETHNIC CLEANSING, A MODERN ELABORATION ON THE ANCIENT TACTIC OF LAND CONQUEST THROUGH TERROR. DR. LANG AGREED THAT THIS HAD BEEN THE SIMPLE AND RUTHLESSLY EFFECTIVE PLAN OF THE SERBS FROM THE OUTSET, THOUGH LATER IMITATED BY OTHER SIDES. \"AT THE END OF THIS CENTURY IT HAS BEEN SHOWN THAT GENOCIDE IS REALLY THE MOST PROFITABLE FORM OF AGGRESSION,\" LANG ADDED.

8. MR. GOLDSTEIN FOCUSED ON MASS RAPE AS A PARTICULARLY NEW AND HORRIFIC ELEMENT OF THESE TACTICS AND OPINED THAT \"RAPE AS A MASS EVENT\" IS A DIRECTED AND SYSTEMATIC EFFORT, THOUGH THAT IS DIFFICULT TO PROVE. TO MAKE THE POINT, HE OBSERVED THAT EVEN IN THE BARBAROUS STRUGGLE BETWEEN USTASHA, CHETNIK AND PARTISAN FORCES IN WORLD WAR II, MASS RAPE HAD NOT FIGURED PROMINENTLY AMONG THE MANY ATROCITIES COMMITTED. (AMBASSADOR GALBRAITH NOTED THAT GOLDSTEIN SPOKE WITH SOME AUTHORITY, AS HE HAD BEEN A YOUNG PARTISAN FIGHTER DURING THE WAR.)

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THE MEDIA AS WEAPON
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9. PROFESSOR ROKSANDIC SPOKE AT LENGTH ON THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA AS A WEAPON OF WAR AND THE SIGNAL INSTIGATION TO THIS ETHNIC CONFLICT. THE USE OF MASS MEDIA AT THE OUTSET AND THROUGHOUT THE WARS IN CROATIA AND BOSNIA- HERZEGOVINA TO FAN ETHNIC SUSPICIONS AND ANXIETIES INTO ACTS OF VIOLENCE IS, IN ITSELF, A WAR CRIME, ROKANDIC ARGUED. A/S SHATTUCK TOOK THE POINT FURTHER, ASKING IF ROKANDIC WAS SUGGESTING A DELIBERATE EXPLOITATION OF MEDIA BY SERB LEADER MILOSEVIC IN PARTICULAR, AND THAT SUCH TACTICS SHOULD COME WITHIN THE AUTHORITY OF THE WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL. ROKSANDIC SAID THAT IT SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED.

10. LANG AGREED AND EXPANDED ON THIS THEME. ASSESSMENTS THAT THE CONFLICT IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA WAS AN INEVITABILITY OWING TO CERTAIN TRAITS AMONG \"THE BALKAN PRIMITIVES\" ARE \"RACIST AND DECEPTIVE, \" LANG SAID. THIS IDEA -- CIRCULATED WIDELY IN WESTERN MEDIA AND AMONG POLICY ANALYSTS -- CONTRIBUTED TO INTERNATIONAL INACTION IN THE CRISIS AND HENCE WAS POSSIBLY FUELED BY SERB PROPAGANDA EFFORTS.

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WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
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11. THE GROUP AGREED THAT ONGOING EFFORTS TO INTERRUPT HUMANITARIAN AID CONVOYS IN THE REGION CONSTITUTED A WAR CRIME AGAINST CIVILIAN POPULATIONS AND THAT THIS WAS ONE AREA IN WHICH ACTION COULD STILL BE TAKEN TO SAVE LIVES, NOT JUST EXACT RETRIBUTION AFTER THE FACT.

12. THEY ALSO AGREED THAT OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS CONTINUE UNABATED AND MUST BE STOPPED, BUT LANG OBSERVED THAT HUMAN RIGHTS DISCUSSIONS IN THE BALKANS NOW OFTEN BECOME BOGGED DOWN IN ARGUMENTS ABOUT \"WHO IS MORE VICTIMIZED,\" WHICH OBSCURE PRIORITIES AND STUNT EFFECTIVE ACTION.

13. A/S SHATTUCK AND AMBASSADOR GALBRAITH ASKED THE GROUP TO COMMENT ON U.S. INSISTENCE THAT MINORITY RIGHTS ARE KEY TO ANY PEACE PROCESS, AND MUST BE OBSERVED BOTH IN LAW AND IN FACT. ROKSANDIC AGREED BUT SAID \"THAT DISCUSSION HAS NOT YET TAKEN PLACE\" IN CROATIA BETWEEN CROATS AND THE ELEMENTS OF THE SERB MINORITY WHICH DESIRE PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE. \"REAL DEMOCRATIZATION\" IS THE PRECURSOR TO SUCH A DIALOGUE, AND ONLY TRULY DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS -- NOTABLY A FAIR JUDICIARY -- CAN PROVIDE THE ASSURANCES MINORITIES WILL NEED TO FEEL SAFE AGAIN IN THE BALKANS, ROKSANDIC OPINED.

14. \"A FRANKENSTEIN WAS CREATED HERE,\" LANG OBSERVED IN CONCLUSION. ALL MEMBERS OF THE GROUP AGREED THAT FAILURE TO DEAL FIRMLY WITH THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR MASSIVE ETHNIC WARFARE AND ITS ATTENDENT ATROCITIES WILL SEND THE WRONG SIGNALS ABOUT INTERNATIONAL RESOLVE FOR OTHER CONFLICTS THAT ARE EVEN NOW BOILING OVER.

15. A/S SHATTUCK RE-EMPHASIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF BRINGING TO JUSTICE THOSE WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WAR CRIMES, BUT HE ALSO STRESSED THE IMPORTANCE OF DUE PROCESS AND LEGAL RIGOR IN MAKING THE CASES. IF INDIVIDUALS RESPONSIBLE FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY CAN BE BROUGHT TO LEGAL ACCOUNT IN A CIVILIZED PROCESS, \"THEN THEY HAVE NOT WON,\" SHATTUCK SAID.
GALBRAITH

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