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The Serbian dignity
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-03-01 09:50:51
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The international courts have recently come under media scrutiny for similar, yet different reasons. The first decision came from the UN High Court, who cleared Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide during the Bosnian War. The second equally dramatic decision came from the International Criminal Court who named a minister and a militia leader they suspect of war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Between the two cases there are many similarities, since both cases are genocides and there are no excuses for what happened. In both cases the guilty must pay for their crimes if found guilty, which is up to the states involved to prosecute and punish them according to the international laws. Please note this because it is very important. What happened in Sudan was not one day’s work, but the result of a long continuing civil war that still hasn’t finished; the only thing that has changed is the international involvement. Sudan is still on the verge of a total catastrophe - humanitarian, financial and any other perspective you can imagine.

To find the guilty and hand out justice didn't only come with the help of the international community but also with the help of the local community, which soon understood and, more importantly, realized the crime was committed in their own country with their own fellow-countrymen.

With Serbia things were a bit…different. Nearly everybody blamed the Serbians. It was like blaming the Germans for the Holocaust or blaming the Sudanese for what happened in Darfur. Of course, the names of Karadzic and Mladic were often mentioned but what remained was that the Serbians were responsible. A whole nation was blamed for the actions of a few.

I have often written about that and the complications of blaming an entire nation has brought. They made a whole nation feel defensive and, through Karadzic, trying to defend its dignity! It seems that nobody wants to understand that. In conversations I have often heard, the Serbians have been blamed for a manhunt over the Muslims in Bosnia and Croatia forgetting something major: The population of these countries is a mixture of religions where it just happens that the Muslims in Bosnia are more than the Christians, and the Christians in Serbia are more than the Muslims. But all of them where till a couple of decades ago, citizens of the same country with one common enemy, a regime that imprisoned their freedom.

In a very strange way, the international community became prejudiced to a whole nation by ignoring any voices coming from there and creating a new vendetta for which all these countries will pay in the future. Who can guarantee now the peaceful life of a Christian in Bosnia and, simultaneously, guarantee the peace for a Muslim in Serbia? We somehow didn’t finish a civil war by giving a new dimension which involved people’s dignity and we all know that people can go to extremes when defending their dignity - that’s exactly what the Serbians are doing by hiding Karadzic.

In the case of Sudan, with the help of the local authorities, the international court reaches the guilty. In the Serbian case, the international community ignored the locals and divided the Serbians into good Serbians that accept their guilt in genocide and the bad Serbians who don’t. However, they forget that the poor Serbian Christian who used to work with his poor Serbian Muslim friend from the same village is not guilty of genocide - he just found himself in the middle of a civil war.

The decision of the UN High Court is a good first step and lets the Serbian people heal all their wounds first by not seeing the Croatians as enemies and the ones who endanger their dignity, but as fellow victims in a war. Finally, it will be good because the feeling that justice is fare and equal to everybody will let them decide alone whether to hand over the guilty to justice or find their own justice, since they are partly responsible for their loses!

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D. Kontopodis2007-02-28 11:03:06
And what about the people (or the countries or the organizations) that allowed for the rapid collapse of former Yugoslavia, disregarding the obvious and imminent risk of a generalized civil war? Which court will try them? Just wondering...

Thanos2007-02-28 14:53:08
You just reminded me a favorite Yugoslavian film of miine, "underground"!!! :)

Sand2007-02-28 16:48:04
The simple minded foolishness of buttering over human defection from decency and sanity by social brutality is problematic for nations as it is for individuals. Punishment as a dumb remedy for misbehavior is a primitive form of psychological manipulation with dubious success.

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