RETURN TO UNCONQUERED BOSNIA HOMEPAGE
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Source: NY TIMES11/20/95
COMMENTARY: NO PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE By ANTHONY LEWIS c.1995 N.Y. Times News Service:
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Judge Richard Goldstone, the chief war crimes prosecutor, has asked that any peace agreement for Bosnia call for surrender of the indicted Bosnian Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic. I asked Goldstone whether that was a practical idea. Could the Americans guiding the Dayton negotiations make it the price of peace? ``If they don't,'' Goldstone said, ``I don't think there will be peace. Any agreement will break down. ``There are just too many victims who can't be ignored. If you sweep it under the rug, you'll have a cancer in your society.''
It is only by holding individuals responsible, Goldstone said, that a society can recover from atrocities of the kind that have occurred in Bosnia. ``If individuals are not brought to book,'' he said, ``then there is collective guilt. The victims and their survivors cry out for justice against a group. That's why there are these cycles of violence in the former Yugoslavia. ``When I visit there, virtually every meeting I have starts with a history lesson. It may begin with World War II, or it may go back to the 14th century. ``In all those years, nobody has ever been held accountable for the horrors. That is why the history festers.''
The Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders after World war II - which began 50 years ago this week - showed the need for individual accountability, Goldstone said: ``I'm not sure the re-integration of Germany into Europe would have been achieved as it was if those trials had not been held.''
Our conversation took place the day after the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted Karadzic and Mladic for the second time, charging them with genocide and crimes against humanity. These charges stem from the massacre of thousands of Bosnian civilians after the Serbs seized the supposed ``safe area'' of Srebrenica in July. A judge of the tribunal must approve before an indictment is issued. The judge in this case, Fouad Riad, said the evidence gathered by the prosecutors showed ``scenes of unimaginable savagery: thousands of men executed and buried in mass graves, hundreds of men buried alive, men and women mutilated and slaughtered, children killed before their mothers' eyes, a grandfather forced to eat the liver of his own grandson.'' ``These are truly scenes from hell,'' Riad said, ``written on the darkestpages of human history.'' All along, as the tribunal gathered evidence, many outsiders have predicted that it would bow to the diplomats and hold off prosecuting higher-ups so negotiators could make deals with them. But that notion did not reckon with the ferocity of Richard Goldstone's commitment to justice - what might be called his naive disregard for politics. ``We're not in the political business,'' he said. ``We're not consulted by the diplomats, and we shouldn't be. If we have evidence, there will be an indictment.'' South Africa, where he is a judge, experienced his determination as an investigator of official links to violence during the transition from apartheid. He was at Harvard University last week for a reunion of fellows of the Center for International Affairs.
The reporter who found mass graves near Srebrenica and was held by the Bosnian Serbs, David Rohde of The Christian Science Monitor, gave another reason for insisting that the indicted leaders be handed over to the War Crimes Tribunal and tried. Most Serbs, he said, do not know that their side has committed atrocities. They must know the truth and acknowledge it, as the Germans gradually did. Goldstone said: ``I can't believe that many Serbs would condone the kinds of atrocities with which these men have been charged. The evidence, if it is upheld, shows that they are people who should not be leaders of any society.''
Before our conversation, I thought the issue of surrendering Karadzic and Mladic to the tribunal should not stand in the way of an agreement in Dayton. I am convinced now that there can be no meaningful peace without that commitment to justice.
RETURN TO UNCONQUERED BOSNIA HOMEPAGE