End manipulations on the number of victims of the NATO bombing
Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, 29.2.2016.
The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies strongly condemns the constant trend of abuse of the number of civilian and armed forces casualties during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
The latest example is the assessment of Nenad Popović, president of the Serbian People’s Party, presented in the Blic daily under the heading “FOR OR AGAINST – Should Serbia join NATO”, that “thousands of our citizens lost their lives during the bombing”.
Similar arbitrary assessments are almost regularly put forward by all Serbian high officials, especially during commemorative manifestations on occasions marking the start of the bombing. Thus, on the occasion marking the fifteenth anniversary the Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić stated: “It would be easier for us if we had, alongside of the names of thousands of innocent victims we mention and mourn, a name of at least one convicted executioner”. The Serbian Prime Minister at the time, Ivica Dačić, also spoke on the occasion of “more than 2.000 people”.
The website of the Russian Federation in Serbia states, in an article published regarding the commemoration of the fourteenth anniversary of the bombing, that the bombing saw “at least 2.500 people killed”, and similar assessments could be heard from other Russian officials as well.
Unfortunately, such arbitrary assessments can be heard from many other actors of public life too, and the media mainly report them as unquestionable.
CEAS reminds that the Humanitarian Law Center, based on comprehensive research conducted based on more than 31,000 documents, statements of witnesses, family members, photographs and other sources came to the following, unambiguous data, published in 2015, available at the following web address: http://www.hlc-rdc.org/?cat=282
In Serbia (excluding Kosovo) and Montenegro, 275 persons lost their lives in the NATO bombing, namely: 180 civilians, 90 members of the Yugoslav Armed Forces, five members of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia. Aside from three Chinese citizens, all others were FRY citizens.
In Kosovo, 484 persons lost their lives, namely: 267 civilians (209 Albanian and 58 non-Albanian) 171 members of the Yugoslav Armed Forces, 20 members of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia and 26 members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (19 out of these 26 KLA members were killed in the NATO bombing of the Dubrava penitentiary near Istok).
Furthermore, since the start of 1998, until the end of 2000, 13.500 persons lost their lives in clashes in Kosovo, out of which approx. 10.800 Albanians, 2.200 Serbia and around 500 Roma and other non-Albanians. This context is rather more sidelined in Serbia, despite mass graves of Kosovo Albanians discovered on the territory of Serbia proper, for which almost no one has been indicted before domestic courts.
Given these data that is now available to everyone, whose collection methodology has been verified by world-renowned demographers and forensic experts on the one hand; as well as the approximation of early elections expected to see campaigns overlapping with yet another NATO bombing anniversary, and that Serbia-NATO relations are now a more frequent and more heated topic in our public on the other; CEAS appeals for an end to unnecessary increases in the numbers of alleged victims, as actual numbers are shocking enough as they are. Any further disclosure of inaccurate data will be a sign of disrespect for the victims, hidden aspirations, manipulation of the public, media and public irresponsibility, which has nothing to do with paying respect to the dead.
Belgrade, February 29, 2016