Letter: Bosnia: our shame will haunt us

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The Independent Online
Sir: All of us in the Western world, in Europe or North America, are living under governments that, by their betrayal of the Bosnian Muslims, are committing a crime that will, like Hiroshima, Dresden and the Final Solution itself, haunt us for a century to come. For months we have watched a whole people degraded, starved, killed, systematically raped: their places of worship wantonly destroyed, their homes taken from them or demolished.

The crime for which we are leaving them to be so bitterly punished is the wish to live in peace in a single country with the Christian neighbours alongside whom they had always lived. They have been driven into tiny enclaves, often deprived of water or sanitation, dependent on food supplies sometimes allowed through and sometimes blocked; denied hope, denied a future, allowed only a present of utter misery.

And what is the United Nations' contribution? Why, to 'designate' those enclaves 'safe havens'. Such contempt do the Serbs show for such a designation that they even respond to the inmates' attempt to play a game of football by massacring them on the field; and our indifference is such that we do not even react to that.

It is hard to say whether more shame accrues to the American President who gave them momentary hope that he would come to their aid and then backed away as if he had said nothing, or to the ministers of all the West European countries who in concert told him they would take no part in any action to halt the cruel suppression of a people.

What is happening is beyond all measure terrible. It is of infinitely greater moment than all that the ministers of the Government continue to bray about, believing, I hope wrongly, that the people of this country care very little about the callousness and cowardice which have motivated our government's inaction. Within 10 years it will be agreed by all to have been among the wickedest failures of which our country has ever been guilty; but by then it will be far, far too late to put it right.

Yours sincerely,



7 June

The writer is Emeritus Professor of Logic, Oxford University.