Letter: We must be prepared to defend the Bosnians

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The Independent Online
Sir: The war in Bosnia is now in its most critical, and potentially tragic, phase. In the face of Serbian aggression, UN troops have disarmed the Muslims in Srebrenica. In Vitez, terrible slaughter has occurred, and Muslims, driven from their homes by Croats, are now sheltering near the UN headquarters.

Surely now, even at this dark eleventh hour, it is time for the world, through the UN, to act, if necessary using tough military intervention. No one recommends this lightly, but what is the alternative? Can we stand idly by should the Serbs attack Srebrenica in search of men to murder and women to rape? And is it not all too clear that the Croats now see the West's self-imposed impotence as a green light for territorial conquest and atrocity, including apparently the shooting of babes in mothers' arms?

The UN troops are indeed a very thin blue line - a line representing compassion and true heroism. But it must now become a line drawn by a civilised world, over which the aggressors must not step. The UN now must declare that enough is enough, and that if UN policy is ignored or its troops attacked, the Serbs and Croats will be in effect declaring war, not just on those brave UN standard-bearers but also on the world - on all of us.

Yesterday in Washington the Holocaust Memorial Museum was opened. The timing could not be more momentous. Will its opening challenge us to prevent a Bosnian holocaust, or mock our pretensions that we have learnt this century's most important lesson?


MP for Croydon North West (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

22 April