Serbia’s growing historical realism

by Limbic on May 11, 2010

Tim Judah has a good piece in the BBC on the recent discover of another mass grave in Serbia. He credits Serbia for its openness and willingness to face the past.

He also draws attention to the crimes commited against Serbs, including the alleged trafficking of organs cut from Serb victims of Kosovo Albanian militia.

I am delighted to see Serbia facing up to its past and aggressively dealing with war criminals. Serbian wrongdoing stopped over a decade ago, but its is still politically obstructed by refusal to own up and move on. This has allowed the ongoing crimes and human rights abuses against Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo to be ignored.

By owning up to and apologising for what the Milosevic regime did over a decade ago, Serbs can finally draw proper attention to the crimes being committed against them today. Hundreds of thousands of Serb refugees – victims of ethnic cleansing from Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia – are still homeless. Serbs in Kosovo are still suffering gross human rights violations, including intimidation, violence, harassment and discrimination.

By owning up to and prosecuting those responsible for Serbs crimes, Serbs are not only getting justice for their victims, but they are also clearing the way for justice for Serbs. The sooner Serbs crimes become “old news”, the sooner crimes against Serbs will become headline news in the future.

BBC News – Mass grave find shows Serbia slowly facing up to past

The discovery of a mass grave in Serbia, thought to contain the bodies of about 250 Kosovo Albanians, is a brutal reminder of the wars of the 1990s.

But Serbia’s readiness to publicise the find is a sign that some things have begun to change.

…In Kosovo, too, there has been little open discussion about crimes committed on the Albanian side during the conflict. Allegations that hundreds of Serbs and Albanians were murdered in Albania during and after the war by the Kosovo Liberation Army have met with blanket denials.

Among the most gruesome allegations are that some of those prisoners had their organs removed, in order to sell them, before being killed.

Albania has dismissed the claims as fiction, but the UN and non-governmental organisations are still pressing for a full investigation.

…Another hopeful sign is the vigorous debate which is now taking place between non-governmental organisations across the former Yugoslavia over the creation of what is called the RECOM initiative.

This aims to establish the facts about war crimes in order, in part, to establish a basis for reconciliation but also to prevent facts being distorted for political ends in future.

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