Translated and re-printed without permission, for fair use, from
Vjesnik: February 12, 1997

On March 21, 1995 at the Multimedia Women's Center NONA, a
conversation was held with Jadranka Cigelj, winner of the
prestigious human rights award PRIX LUDOVIC TRARIEUX. (France,
June 16, 1994)

 

Jadranka Cigelj: Kofi Annan promised me that in March a
hunt will begin for war criminals in Bosnia and
Hercegovina.

by Marinko Bobanovic

(translation by Susan Soric)

 

Will the international community finally begin a massive effort to
capture war criminals in Bosnia and Hercegovina? It will happen in
March, if the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan keeps a promise he
made during a meeting with Nusreta Sivac and Jadranka Cigelj,
surviving internees of the Omarska concentration camp and
protagonists of the documentary film "Calling the Ghosts," in
which they give witness to the suffering of women during Greater
Serbian aggression against Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The film, a shattering witness to the 300,000 Croat and Muslim
victims of Serbian war crimes, has been promoted over the past two
months last year in approximately 20 cities in Canada and the
United States, receiving widespread attention in the media and
from public there, about which Vjesnik has written on several
occasions. The meeting with the Secretary General of the United
Nations was held during their second visit to the United States
(from Feburary 2-9) organized by the publishing house "Home Box
Office," or more specifically, their "Cinemax" department. The
film was produced by the American television studio "Bowery
Productions," initiated by Karmen Jelincic, a young American
director of Croatian origin. She is co-producer of the film along
with Mandy Jacobson, a British citizen of Jewish ancestry. The
filming took three years in various locations in Bosnia and
Hercegovina, under the direction of Mandy Jacobson and Nusreta
Sivac and Jadranka Cigelj, and behind the camera was the young
Zagrebian Mario Delic. So far nearly 10 million people have seen
the film.

UN on the Side of the Victims

In answer to the question what, concretely, means the start of a
"massive effort," Jadranka Cigelj, with whom we spoke upon her
return from the United States, says: "That means that everything
will start moving, from the top to the bottom, from the UN through
the courts in the Haag to concrete action in the field. But that
means that all who are accused of war crimes will be caught, no
matter what their nationality." Evidence that this time there is
some serious intention is found in the envisioned sanctions
against countries that do not cooperate, says Jadranka Cigelj. It
follows that Kofi Annan promised that "this time the UN will be on
the side of the victim."

The film was supposed to have been nominated for an Oscar, but
because Danish television has already shown it, it was
disqualified from consideration. But, even without an Oscar this
film has already called great attention to the issue, especially
in the United States, so that the protagnists of the film: Nusreta
Sivac, a judge in the municipal court in Prijedor, and Jadranka
Cigelj, an attorney-both victims of the Omarska concentration camp
in the Prijedor area-have been named among the women of the year
by one of the most popular women's magazines, Ms., because of
their efforts to bring Serbian rapists to judgment.

Before they visited the United Nations, HBO arranged to show the
film at the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-governmental
organization that has an advisory role with the Department of
Foreign Relations in the United States and to well-known American
politicians. The moderator of the program was Kati Marton, wife of
the former delegate of President Clinton to Bosnia-Hercegovina,
and the primary architect of the Dayton Agreement, Richard
Hollbrook, who was also present. Also present for the showing were
the Croatian ambassador in the United States, Mario Nobilo, and
the Croatian cultural advisor from the Croatian embassy, Jakov
Sedlar.

Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck gave the opening
statement, first mentioning, according to the words of Jadranka
Cigelj, some things that weren't related to the film.

"He listed all the things that the United States has done to solve
the crisis in Bosnia-Hercegovina, but he did not explain why the
US didn't do more, because it is the most powerful NATO country.
Shattuck then stated that sanctions will be imposed upon all who
do not cooperate with the capture of war criminals will be subject
to sanctions."

After the showing, a small debate was held between Jadranka Cigelj
and Nusreta Sivac on one side and Richard Holbrook on the other
side, during which the participants touched on the question of
whether the victims need to capture the war criminals themselves,
which captured the attention of all present. Holbrook finished
with an invitation to an evening cocktail and private
conversation. "The next day, Cinemas received an invitation from
the Senate, the Congress, and the White House to be their guest
for a showing of the film," said Jadranka Cigelj.

Forthcoming Premier in Croatia

The unexpected success of the film is clear with the words: "We
have brought to light the thinking of the victims from Croatia and
Bosnia-Hercegovina, which has been warmly received by the public.
The result of the showing at the Council was that a set schedule
for the film has already been set for March, again at the United
Nations in March and April, in the US Congress and Senate, and at
theWhite House. CNN will present a special showing of the film
when synchronization is finished, and next OZUJKA, UOCI television
premiere, The New York Times will announce the grand showing of
the film," she added.

As Jadranka Cigelj said, the Croatian Ambassador Mario Nobil (who
was himself surprised with the success of the film) and the
Croatian and Bosnian mission will sponsor the showing of the film
at the UN in March, to which the entire diplomatic corps together
with top-level UN officials, including the General Secretary.

Our interviewee concludes: "When the film begins to capture the
interest of the Congress, the White House and the Senate and the
UN at the same time, then this will be meaningful. The addition of
this kind of attention, which gives the film an introductory and
preparatory role in shaping public opinion toward a massive action
that will apprehend the war criminals in March. The film will, in
no small measure, be show as evidence at the international courts
in the Haag where Jadranka Cigelj will witness against the
accused-commander of the Omarska concentration camp, Zeljko
Mejakic, a Serb from Prijedor, who is accused of genocide against
Croatians and Muslims. "It would be so good to have the film show
in Croatia at the sme time as the campaign by the international
community is underway, because with it we can demonstration that
we're all on the same side," said Jadranka Cigelj.

"Calling the Ghosts" finally made its way to Croatian
Radio/Television, and the film will be broadcast will likely
follow the grand premiere in Vatroslav Lisinski Hall.

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