Dutch deny they betrayed Srebrenica

Bosnia outrage: Report absolves troops of blame for incident that led to massacre of 8,000

The Dutch government said yesterday its United Nations peace-keeping troops bore no responsibility for the fall last July of the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, an episode in which Bosnian Serb forces are suspected of having slaughtered up to 8,000 unarmed Muslims. Presenting an official report into the disaster, the Dutch Defence Minister, Joris Voorhoeve, said Srebrenica's collapse had been primarily a consequence of Bosnian Serb aggression and badly implemented UN policies.

"The fall of Srebrenica was caused by Bosnian Serb aggression, not by the way in which Dutchbat [the Dutch UN battalion in the enclave] operated. The opposing forces were far superior in number and firepower. The small Dutch UN unit faced them alone," Mr Voorhoeve said.

He blamed UN member-states for doing too little to protect Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde, the three UN-declared Muslim "safe areas" of eastern Bosnia, although it was clear they were vulnerable to Bosnian Serb military pressure. "The way in which the UN and its member-states implemented the concept of the so-called safe areas failed dismally," he said.

The Independent reported yesterday that six weeks before Srebrenica's fall, the UN commander for former Yugoslavia, Lieutenant-General Bernard Janvier, had recommended a UN withdrawal from the enclave on the grounds that it was militarily indefensible.

Mr Voorhoeve confirmed that after the Bosnian Serbs attacked Srebrenica in July, UN commanders refused repeated requests from Dutch forces in the enclave for air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs.

The Serbs are alleged to have carried out the massacres after capturing Srebrenica and separating thousands of Muslim men and boys of fighting age from women and children.

They are said to have taken the males to locations where they were killed and buried in mass graves.

Describing the lightly armed and poorly supplied Dutch unit in Srebrenica as a "largely symbolic" UN presence, Mr Voorhoeve said it had been powerless to resist the tanks and heavy guns of the Bosnian Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic. "Had attempts been made to repel the Bosnian Serbs by force, this would have resulted in a bloodbath among the tens of thousands of [Muslim] refugees and among the Dutch blue-helmets," he said.

The report was commissioned partly to defend Dutch UN forces against claims that they did too little to protect Srebrenica's people against an orgy of Bosnian Serb violence.

Based on interviews with 460 Dutch military personnel who served in the enclave and with UN staff elsewhere in former Yugoslavia, the report argues that the Dutch soldiers did their best to perform their military and humanitarian duties.

n Washington - The United States will present a "detailed and very specific" peace document at the Bosnian peace talks which open this week, according to the chief US negotiator Richard Holbrooke, Rupert Cornwell writes.

But he warned there was no guarantee of success in the "immensely difficult" negotiations that lay ahead. Speaking just before his departure to Dayton, Ohio, where the "proximity talks" begin under a virtual news black-out at the Wright- Patterson US Air Force base tomorrow, Mr Holbrooke gave a pessimistic assessment of the prospects of a deal between the presidents of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia to end to the war in former Yugoslavia.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash