Blame the media

Here we go again, but at least it’s from the top — Radovan Karadzic now accuses ITN and the Guardian of fabricating the gulag of concentration camps that we revealed in 1992, after meeting the then Bosnian Serb president.

He accuses us of a “media conspiracy” which has somehow led to the discovery of mass graves containing real human remains and thousands of bereaved real-life families.

On August 5 1992 we entered the Omarska camp in northern Bosnia, since found by The Hague war crimes tribunal to have been a hellish place of mass murder, torture, mutilation and the beating of Bosnian Muslims and Croats by Bosnian Serb guards. The camp was run by authorities directly answerable to Karadzic.

We were bundled out after this cursory but terrifying first sight and taken to Trnopolje camp, where we found men, some skeletal, behind a barbed-wire fence, in a compound under guard. They had come that day from another murderous place, Keraterm. War crimes at all three camps have since been the subject of numerous convictions at The Hague.

After the war Thomas Deichmann, a Karadzic supporter, wrote in 1997 that ITN’s pictures of the Trnopolje camp were fake. We were inside a compound looking out at “refugees” waiting to register with the Red Cross.

As with Holocaust revisionists who talk about the thermal capacity of bricks at Auschwitz, the argument revolved around minutiae — it was all about which side of a pole wire was attached to.

Deichmann’s denial was enthusiastically followed by the magazine Living Marxism in London, which ITN sued. The magazine’s argument became voguish, attracting support from Fay Weldon, Harold Evans, Doris Lessing, Harold Pinter and Noam Chomsky. A high court jury found for ITN in 2001 but the denial of the camps — amazingly — refused to go away, even though forensic scientists working for the International Commission on Missing Persons were assembling the remains of those who perished in them and uncovered one mass grave containing 373 bodies from Omarska.

Successive defendants at The Hague have tried Karadzic’s argument. The prosecution destroyed the “fake pictures” claim.

Denial of the camps continues to run like a bacillus through the internet. What most concerns me is the searing pain the denial causes to the survivors and bereaved. —

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Liberians still seek justice for war crimes

Liberians are asking why the government has failed to prosecute those responsible for atrocities committed during Liberia's two civil wars

Radovan Karadzic denies knowledge of Bosnian genocide

The former Bosnian leader's legal advisor says he is not guilty of genocide because there is no "evidence" he knew about the massacre.

Charles Taylor’s sentence upheld at war crimes tribunal

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor's 50-year prison sentence has been upheld, making it likely that he'll spend the rest of his life in jail.

Not judges but witnesses

As the Russell Tribunal on Palestine meets in Cape Town, we consider the notion of 'Apartheid Israel'.

Mladic: ‘I defended my people’

Wartime Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic on Friday denounced genocide and war-crimes charges against him as "obnoxious".

Mladic fails in bid to stop transfer to UN court

Serbian judges on Tuesday rejected an appeal by genocide accused Ratko Mladic against his transfer to a United Nations court.

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday