A retrospective: The fall of Yugoslavia and Slobodan Milošević

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Socijalistička Federativna Republika Jugoslavija, Социјалистичка Федеративна Република Југославија, Socialistična federativna republika Jugoslavija) was Socialist state created after the German occupation of World War II, which became a moderately calm Communist regime, that eventually dissolved and split into several states, that are commonly known collectively as former Yugoslavia (bivša Jugoslavija/бивша Југославија).

Serbia

Croatia

Slovenia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Macedonia

Montenegro

The Yugoslav Wars lasted ten years which resulted in the recognition of the newly established states, but at a cost. Many lives were lost, many people were displaced and the economy was practically ruined.

The beginning of the Yugoslav Wars

Josip Broz (Јосип Броз), commonly known as Tito, was a communist revolutionary and ran the Yugoslavian dictatorship as President of Yugoslavia for 27 years until his death in 1980. He was renowned for keeping the tensions between the various states within Yugoslavia under control, but after his death tensions quickly rose.

Josip Broz

In 1991 Croatia and Slovenia declared their intended independence and the Serbian strong army retaliated against both territories. Thousands were killed until the UN intervened in 1992, although this was only a temporary ceasefire. Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to follow suit and this ensued more bloodshed the following year, and Macedonia also declared independence but this remained a relatively calm transition.

The Siege of Sarajevo

The Siege of Sarajevo conducted by the Army of Republika Srpska (Војска Републике Српске/Vojska Republike Srpske) (Bosnian Serbs) surrounded Sarajevo and stationed themselves in the hills and attacked the city by artillery, tanks and gunfire, and was said to be one of the most bloodiest battles since World War II which lasted almost 4 years. After the siege ended four key members of the Serb attack force were charged with war crimes against humanity, and terrorism. Men were separated from their wives, they were systematically beaten, and some were murdered, houses were ransacked and burned down, women were repeatedly raped and thrown into detention camps. The Serb soldiers went from town to village repeating these atrocities.

Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo

Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo is a documentary that symbolises the atrocities that happened in Sarajevo, when a couple Admira Ismić and Boško Brkić were gunned down by a sniper as they attempted to leave the city across the Vrbanja Bridge.

He was a Bosnian Serb Orthodox Christian and she was a Bosniak Muslim, and they wished to escape the city to marry. It was May 19th, 1993 and both forces settled on an agreement that no shots would be fired as they crossed. No one knew who fired the shots except the person who pulled the trigger. Both sides blamed each other and denied involvement. Their legacy will live on with the message that ‘love always conquers’. Watch the documentary below.

On the 9th February 1994 the Secretary-General of the United Nations (Boutros Boutros-Ghali) ordered air strikes against the Serbian artillery and mortars that were being used against public targets, this would be one of many attacks against Serbian forces that the UN were forced to perform.

In 1995 the UN have the Serb forces a deadline to end the siege and to remove any heavy weapons, but this deadline was ignored an the UN continued with air strikes. Finally later in the year the air strikes named Operation Deliberate Force‘ was terminated as the Serbs decided to comply in the removal of heavy weapons. In October there was an agreed ceasefire.

Slobodan Milošević

Slobodan Milošević (Слободан Милошевић) was born in Požarevac (Пожаревац), Eastern Serbia, just after the Nazis invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. His father Svetozar Milošević committed suicide in 1962, and his mother Stanislava (née Koljenšić) committed suicide in 1972. She was a school teacher and an active member of the Communist party, which is perhaps where Slobodan gained his interest as he went to Belgrade to study law and became head of the students section of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. During his studying he became a good friend of Ivan Stambolić, who’s father was Petar Stambolić, who was a Yugoslavian Communist politician who served as Prime Minister for 4 years in the ’60s. Slobodan’s future career was paved by communism.

As he rose to power he had a firm belief in protecting minority Serb rights, and in doing so portrayed much prejudice towards other minorities. He was accused of being a nationalist which was a political crime in Yugoslavia and was a violation against the party’s motto ‘Brotherhood and Unity’.

In 1988 the president Ivan Stambolić was forced to resign and Milošević took his position as Serbian President.

Slobodan Milošević

The anti-bureaucratic revolution was public protests from supporters of the Serbian President. The plan was to overthrow other provinces like Montenegro and replace them with allies of Milošević. The communist governments of Croatia and Slovenia were opposed to this and attempted to revolt, but failed and the League of Communists of Yugoslavia was dissolved and this forced Yugoslavia to break apart.

Like any dictator, Milošević was motivated by a yearning for power and control, and this was apparent with his dislike of non-Serbs. He needed to infiltrate other provinces with his allies to try and gain complete control of the Yugoslav former districts.

In 2000 former President Ivan Stambolić‘s body was found at Fruška Gora after he’d been kidnapped, and the official outcome was assassination with Milošević charged with ordering the killing. He was also charged with the assassination of government officials including Radovan Stojiči, Pavle Bulatović and Živorad “Žika” Petrović.

Ivan Stambolić’

In 1991 Milošević was indicted by the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 which was set up by the UN to prosecute serious crimes against the people of the former Yugoslavia.

In 2000, amongst economic tensions, Milošević was defeated in his presidential campaign by Vojislav Koštunica, and in 2001 he finally surrendered to Serbian authorities after a lengthy standoff. He was arrested and sent to the Netherlands to stand trial at The Hague. The ‘Butcher of the Balkans‘ was charged with genocide, ethnic cleansing, assassinations, and crimes against humanity.

‘The Indictment charged Slobodan Milosevic on the basis of individual criminal responsibility (Article 7(1) of the Statute) and superior criminal responsibility (Article 7(3) thereof) with:

a) nine counts of grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions (Article 2 thereof – willful killing; unlawful confinement; torture; willfully causing great suffering; unlawful deportation or transfer; extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly);

b) 13 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (Article 3 thereof – murder; torture; cruel treatment; wanton destruction of villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity; destruction or willful damage done to institutions dedicated to education or religion; plunder of public or private property; attacks on civilians; destruction or willful damage done to historic monuments and institutions dedicated to education or religion; unlawful attacks on civilian objects); and

c) 10 counts of crimes against humanity (Article 5 thereof – persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds; extermination; murder; imprisonment; torture; inhumane acts; deportation; inhumane acts (forcible transfers)). Trial International

In 2006, on March 11th, Milošević was found dead in his prison cell. Autopsy reports confirmed that he’d suffered a heart attack, and despite the mountain of charges brought against him, he never stood trial and died unpunished.

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