Monday, June 04, 2007

Dutch blocked air support before Srebrenica massacre.

An abbreviated extract from a Reuters report in today’s Irish Times breaking News Section - under the title “Dutch 'blocked' support before Srebrencia massacre”

The Dutch refused crucial air support to their own troops defending Srebrenica under a UN mandate, allowing Bosnian Serb forces to take away and massacre 8,000-10,000 Muslims, it was claimed today. Lawyers representing about 6,000 relatives of the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, are suing the Dutch state and the United Nations for failing to stop the killings.

During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, Srebrenica was declared a safe area and guarded by a Dutch army unit serving as part of a larger UN force in Bosnia. The lightly armed Dutch soldiers, lacking air support and under fire, were forced to abandon the enclave to Bosnian Serb forces, who then massacred Muslim men and boys who had relied on the protection of the Dutch troops.

"Shortly before the fall of the safe area air support was obstructed by the Netherlands itself," lawyers Axel Hagedorn and Marco Gerritsen said in the writ of summons to be filed at the district court of The Hague.

The Dutch state has always said its troops were abandoned by the UN which gave them no air support, but public documents show a network of Dutch military officials within the UN Protection Force blocked air support because they feared their soldiers could be hit by friendly fire, the lawyers said. "It is a wrong idea that the Dutch soldiers were let down by the United Nations," Mr Gerritsen added.
"It was a decision by high ranking Dutch officers together with the Dutch state to see that requests for air support were denied."

After requests for air support were initially granted by UN officials the Dutch state did everything in its power to reverse this approval.

Who is suing the UN on behalf of the estimated 800,000 victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda? Is this the only way that the international community can be shamed into taking effective action against regimes engaged in genocide within their own borders?

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