Le Nouvel Observateur
3-9 October 1996
Should Janvier be Held Accountable for the Events at Srebrenica ?
The report that aired on "Envoye Special" (Special Correspondent, a news
program on France 2) last week clearly established that he was responsible
for allowing the massacre of thousands of thousands of inhabitants of
Srebrenica to take place.
In March 1993, despite the passivity of the great powers,the inhabitants of
Srebrenica and the Bosnians who had found refuge there were snatched from
claws of the Serbs who besieged the city by the heroic action of a French
military man,General Morrilon. The press dubbed him 'General Courage'.
In July 1995 ,the population of Srebrencia was delivered to it
executioners,with the tacit approval of the great powers, by another French
military man-the commander of UNPROFOR General Bernard Janvier .After
watching 'Envoye Special' last Thursday one can clearly discern the role
that General Janvier played in this tragedy. Since this show has aired, the
press has remained silent about the General's scandalous role in the fall of
The consequences of Janvier's betrayal of the population Srebrenica are
commen knowledge. Between three and ten thousand Muslims were slaughtered by
General Mladic,and an SS mob led by Arkan,a Member of the Serbian Parliament
in Belgrade. During an interview that he gave during "Envoye Special' Mr
Mediluce, a Spanish member of the European Parliament who previously served
as a UN civil servant ,clearly stated that General Janvier was as
responsible for the slaughter at Srebrenica as the Serbs were.
It seems to me that the revelations about Janvier's role in the fall of
Srebrenica deserve as much coverage in the anti-racist press as the the fact
that Maurice Papon has finally been brought to trial for the crimes against
humanity he committed during the Second World War (it is about time he faced
justice) or the latest racist tirades of Jean-Marie Le Pen.
'Envoye Special' outlines two important facts that underline General
Janvier''s partial responsibility ( and perhaps that of the French
Government and President Mitterand ) for the massacres at Srebrenica.
Firstly, in secret negotiations with General Mladic and General Perisic,
Commander in Chief of the Serbian Army, to obtain the freedom of France's
blue helmets(held hostage at the time by the Serbs) General Janvier promised
not to order air strikes if Srebrenica were attacked. In exchange, the Serbs
agreed to free the members of UNPRFOR that they held hostage. In other
words, our general gave the Serbs 'carte blanche' to attack Srebrenica. Mr
Akashi ,the UN special envoy admitted to' Envoye Special' that he knew of
the meeting between Janvier and the two Serb generals but stated that he was
not aware of any deal that was made there!
The second event that proves Janvier's complicity with genocide occurred
when Srebrenica was attacked on July 11 . General Janvier refused three
requests by the Dutchbat in Srebrenica to bomb the positions of the
advancing Serbs.Air strikes at this point would have stopped the Serbs in
their tracks.NATO bombers were already in the air and NATO was ready to
strike when Janvier took his decision. While ignoring the UN's promise to
protect the population of Srebrenica,Janvier kept his promises to the Serbs.
During this period Mr Akashi constantly underestimated the danger of
massacres in Srebrenica. This error did not cost him his job. He didn't
resign. He wasn't forced to resign. He was promoted.
It is possible to maintain that in giving absolute priority to gaining the
freedom of the French blue helmets and even to saving their lives , General
Janvier was only responding to pressure from the French government. This may
very well be so; but we must then ask ourselves what the blue helmets ,whose
very presence made action against the aggressor impossible ,were doing in
Bosnia in the first place.
The UN lied to the population of Srebernica . Following a request by Alain
Juppe (now the Prime Minister of France) then foreign minister in the
Balladur Government, it promised the civilians of Srebrenica and the other
"safe areas" that it would protect them. After disarming them,it handed them
over to their executioners.
The UN has not found it useful to set up a commission of inquiry to examine
its complicity in the crimes against humanity that were committed at
Srebrenica .The French parliament doesn't find it useful to investigate
General Janvier's role in breaking General Morrilon's promise to the people
of Srebrenica.There was a time when the French Army cared about its honor.
That is no longer the case today.
Where does this passivity in the face of genocide leave the rest of us? I
call upon those French politicians who stood up for our principles during
the Bosnian crisis, Valery Giscard D'Estang, Michel Rocard,Laurent Fabius,
Bernard Stasi to speak up.A commission of inquiry into our responsibility
for the tragedy at Srebernica is necessary.I hope that our country's
reputation will remain intact after the commission finishes its work. The
time has come for those of our countrymen who fight day after day to combat
racism to take a stand. We must not to forget the hate crimes that our
indifference made possible.
Translation: Stephen Albert
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