Letter: Slaughter of the Sarajevans

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The Independent Online
Sir: Predictably, Radovan Karadzic appeared on our screens within hours of the Sarajevo massacre to absolve his own men of any responsibility, and blame the Sarajevo authorities. To suggest people under siege would shell their own city is to dehumanise them. Karadzic and the other intellectual monsters who talk so glibly to Western interviewers have dehumanised the people of Sarajevo in the minds of their soldiers by filling them with images of past injustices, present-day conspiracies, and the need to assert historic Serbian rights.

It is clear to me that many in the West see the Bosnians in similar stereotypical terms: they are not individuals but an impersonal mass known as 'the Muslims', even though in Sarajevo, one in three marriages was mixed right up till the war.

The hostility of Douglas Hurd to journalists who try to portray the human dimension of the story is well known. If Malcolm Rifkind, the Defence Secretary, had visited the wounded in hospital on Sunday, a powerful figure would have moved beyond viewing the Sarajevans as a wretched anonymous group. Of course, no such visit was made.

Yours faithfully,


Department of Peace Studies

University of Bradford

Bradford, West Yorkshire