The Netherlands were involved. So therefore they commissioned a report on what happened – which turned out to be a very serious study. It was on the one hand a reactionary and pro-Imperialist pro-Capitalist report. But here is the rub. Even though it was that … it adhered to at least some basic scientific and scholarly principles. For example it sources where it gets its information from. And this is why the “Dutch Report” was hated by all the liars of the Media who had demonised the Serbs. Mind you there is enough of that too in the Dutch Report. But the fact that it was based on other principles means that it is possible to see the truth through their bias, whereas the Media were just out and out liars. With educational issues in mind we will reprint some parts and also comment on them. I will also signpost later how you can read the whole thing. This work has almost disappeared from the net.
The British ITN team along with Vulliamy searched and searched but could not find the “concentration camp” demanded by their editors – who in turn were under orders from US and British/EU Imperiamism. Then they created the “Picture that fooled the world” based on a Bosnian Serb man Fikret Aliu who suffered not from hunger but from a congenital disease. The men above are not imprisoned anywhere nor would two wobbly strands of barbed wire on top of loose chicken wire (below) hold in a baby.
Part I The Yugoslavian problem and the role of the West 1991-1994
Chapter 6 Emotionalization of the debate following reports about the camps (‘Omarska’): June 1992 – August 1992
- Trnopolje: the famous pictures
‘Ironically, the first television images that shocked the world came from Trnopolje, the ‘best’ camp. No one ever saw the worst camps when they were at their worst.’
When the British journalists were held up by red tape in Belgrade for several days, they took the opportunity to visit two of the camps in Serbia which were on the list of 94 plus 11 and to film there: the recreation centre at Loznica, where according to the list 1380 prisoners were detained and Subotica, where there were said to be 5000. However, both of these turned out to be purely refugee camps, in which Serbs were also accommodated. On 3 August the British journalists were able to fly from Belgrade to Pale. There they managed to obtain permission from Karadzic, who in the meantime had returned from London, to visit Omarska and Trnopolje. A visit to a prison in the vicinity of Pale, at the invitation of Karadzic, failed to supply proof of the existence of death camps.
On 5 August the ITN team and Vulliamy reached Banja Luka, from where they were taken to Omarska and Trnopolje under Bosnian Serb military escort. Omarska made an unpleasant impression on the British reporters, but they found no incontrovertible evidence that it was an extermination camp. However, there were several buildings to which the British journalists were not given access. What Marshall and her fellow travellers did not know was that almost immediately after the appearance of Gutman’s article about Omarska on 2 August, the Bosnian Serb authorities had decided to shut down the camp as soon as possible. When the ICRC was permitted to visit the camp on 12 August, one week after the British journalists, there were ‘only’ 173 prisoners left. By the time Vulliamy and the ITN team arrived, most of the prisoners, like those of Keraterm, had been taken to the Manjaca and Trnopolje camps, which was to give the British journalists’ trip a twist which had not been intended by the Bosnian Serb authorities. After the visit to Omarska on 5 August they had only one more opportunity to find the proof they were looking for: Trnopolje.
The camp at Trnopolje covered a large area on which several buildings stood, including a school. It was originally not a prison camp but a transit camp for women, children and older men, mainly from the district of Prijedor and in particular from the town of Kozarac, which had 15,000, mainly Muslim, inhabitants. After the Bosnian Serb army had shelled Kozarac in the spring, soldiers had told the Muslim inhabitants that they would be safe if they went to Trnopolje, where the primary school had been set up as a camp. Groups of men who had been imprisoned in Omarska and had been classified by the Bosnian Serb camp leaders there as ‘not dangerous’ were also taken to this camp. Shortly before the arrival of the ITN team, prisoners from Omarska and Keraterm who had to be removed from the eye of world opinion after Gutman’s articles had also been brought here to Trnopolje. So at the beginning of August there were several thousand people at Trnopolje.
The camp was guarded mainly by Serbs from the direct vicinity. Some of those at Trnopolje, including some men of fighting age, had themselves chosen to stay in the camp because the situation outside the camp was even more dangerous. Vulliamy recorded the story of a man who had tried to reach Trnopolje, but had been picked up by soldiers on the way and taken to Omarska. Several people who had left the camp to revisit their houses or farms did not return, so that those in the camp thought it was safer to stay there. Marshall was later to say in her report that the people who had been brought to the camp did not really know themselves whether they were prisoners or refugees. The American journalist Peter Maass, who visited Trnopolje a few days after the ITN team, observed that apart from former prisoners of Omarska and Keraterm the inmates of the camp were mainly women and children from the direct vicinity, and that they were there voluntarily:
‘Yes, voluntarily. It was one of the strangest of situations in Bosnia – people seeking safety at a prison camp. Trnopolje was no picnic, but the known brutalities dished out there were preferable to the fates awaiting Bosnians who tried to stay in their homes.’
Although the situation in the camp was much better than in the other camps in north-west Bosnia, this does not mean that the Trnopolje camp offered complete protection to its inmates. There were incidental cases of rape and on one evening a gang referred to as El Manijakos is said to have carried out mass rape. According to a report by Amnesty International issued in October 1992 on serious violations of human rights in Bosnia between April and August 1992, reports of rape reaching this organization came mainly from the camp at Trnopolje. The Yugoslavia tribunal was later to establish that ‘[b]ecause this camp housed the largest numbers of women and girls, there were more rapes at this camp than at any other’. Men were also tortured and murders took place in the camp, mainly among the local Muslim elite. People from the camp were sometimes allowed out of the camp for half an hour or an hour to look for food. If they were given permission to do this, they always had to leave something of value behind in the camp. If they came back too late, they were beaten up or killed. If they did not come back at all, they were shot dead as soon as they were found. Diphtheria was also rife in the camp.
The British journalists visit the camp
‘In war reporting access is everything, or nearly everything.’
In Trnopolje, unlike Omarska, the ITN team was allowed to film everywhere. In the school building the team filmed blankets on the floor and belongings marking off sleeping places. According to pictures which were never broadcast, the ITN team talked to a nineteen-year-old Serb guard called Igor, the son of the camp commander cum Red Cross Official (!) Pero Curguz. Igor, who had been stationed in Knin since 1991, had been appointed as bodyguard of camp commander Slobodan Kuruzovic a few days previously. He told the team that the Bosnian Serb army brought food and water for the people in the camp and asked the film crew to talk to a group of people standing in the shade of a tree behind a low fence. Igor explained that the group included some friends of his who were staying at the camp and a former teacher of his.
‘Do you want to live together again?’, asked the ITN team. ‘ I want’, answered Igor, ‘now a very big problem.’ Then the interviewer asked one of the men behind the low fence, without barbed wire, Azmir Causevic, who had been introduced as a friend of Igor’s: ‘Is he a guard?’ Answer: ‘Yes.’ ‘Is he your friend?’ Answer: ‘Yes.’ He said that they used to play in the street together. ‘Are you prisoners?’ ‘We are not in jail.’ Then another friend of Igor’s arrived on the other side of the fence and shook Igor’s hand. The film crew asked him: ‘What are you doing here? What is this place?’ But the man they addressed did not seem to understand. Then the ITN team turned to Igor again: ‘Are you here to keep people in?’ ‘No, I have a commander. He says I am here to protect, first me and these people.’ Then the cameraman filmed some of the little tents the people in the camp had set up to protect themselves from the blazing sun.
The Serb camp commander cum Red Cross official Pero Curguz told the Britons that new inmates had arrived at the camp that day. They were a group from the Keraterm camp. At the medical centre the British journalists asked the interned doctor Idriz Merdzanic: ‘Have there been beatings?’, at which he nodded his head. He did not want to answer the next question, ‘Many?’ Later at an unguarded moment he gave the British journalists an undeveloped film with pictures of men’s tortured upper bodies.
Then the camera crew made its way to the southern side of the camp. There was a small field there with a transformer house, a barn and farm equipment. Between this field and the northern side of the camp there was a fence made of chicken wire and – from chest height up – barbed wire. Along the other sides of the field where the men who had been transferred from Keraterm and Omarska had been taken there was a wall, a low fence, or no boundary at all between the site and the road going past it, but there were armed Serbs on guard (see map of the camp in this section). The Britons stepped through a gap in the fence. In the camp itself, on the other side of the barbed wire, a crowd of curious people assembled, including those who had recently arrived from the Omarska and Keraterm camps. Penny Marshall first had a conversation with a Muslim on the other side of the fence called Mehmet, who spoke a little English. Later, in the bulletin which went on air, he would hardly appear at all, but in the film he was clearly visible next to the person who was to become the main figure of the ITN broadcast. Mehmet told Marshall that everything was ‘very fine, nothing wrong, but it’s very hot’.
Then one of the Britons pointed to a person who was coming forward from the background, a man with his T-shirt in his hand, whose ribs were clearly visible in his bare upper body. The cameraman zoomed in on him. This was to become the familiar picture of the emaciated Muslim Fikret Alic. The pictures also show clearly that there were three strands of barbed wire only at the top of the fence from behind which the cameraman was filming; below them was chicken wire. Then Marshall began a conversation with Alic.
On 6 August the British Channel 4 News broadcast the pictures at 7 pm, followed three hours later by ITN’s News at Ten. In the pictures broadcast on television the emaciated Alic was the central figure. Both broadcasts bore the character of eyewitness accounts, by Penny Marshall and Ian Williams respectively. In their commentaries, Marshall and Williams said that these people were refugees who had lost their homes and belongings, but that there was no first-hand evidence of atrocities in the camp. Later a sharp controversy would arise as to whether or not the pictures had been doctored; this will be discussed at greater length in section 11.
However, the text was not entirely free of suggestion. Marshall began her report by saying ‘The Bosnian Serbs don’t call Omarska a concentration camp’, thereby implying that others might well have a different opinion. Williams said that he had visited ‘seven alleged camps which were on the original Bosnian list of alleged concentration camps.’ Of five it could be said that ‘they are not concentration camps, at most they are refugee collection centres’, but there was ‘grave concern’ about ‘severe mistreatment’ in two of the others. Again, it seemed to be implied that Omarska and Trnopolje were in fact concentration camps.
Williams’s report was followed on ITN by a background story entitled ‘Crimes of war?’, in which black and white pictures of prisoners of war were shown and it was explained that war crimes had been prohibited after the horrors of the Nazi era. Then American politicians were asked for their reactions to the ITN films of Omarska and Trnopolje. They included the presidential candidate Bill Clinton, who reacted by saying: ‘you can’t allow the mass extermination of people and just sit by and watch it happen’. In a lengthy interview Democrat and concentration camp survivor Tom Lantos said that ‘those horrendous pictures’ reminded him of ‘the concentration camps that the Nazis had during World War Two, minus the gas chambers (…)The civilised world stood by during the early 1940’s because they didn’t know what was going on. Well, we now know what is going on.’ In ITN’s News at Ten the influential American senator Alfonso d’Amato made similar statements. Lantos also appeared on the programme and said that by 1992 the world should be able to distinguish the Churchills from the Chamberlains.
Comparisons with Jews and Nazis
‘We are not paid to moralize.’
The impact these pictures made as they went around the world was enormous. After seeing just 45 seconds of uncut ITN footage by satellite, Tom Bettag, producer of the American television network ABC’s programme Nightline decided to scrap the programme planned for that evening in favour of one featuring the ITN pictures. ‘We knew those pictures would have enormous impact. It has clearly changed the political climate’, he was to say scarcely 24 hours later. ‘They are the sort of scenes that flicker in black and white images from 50-year-old films of Nazi concentration camps’, wrote the Daily Mail the morning after the broadcast. This was ‘footage reminiscent of scenes from Nazi concentration camps’, wrote Gutman’s paper Newsday. Above the photo of Alic on its front page, the Daily Mirror placed the heading ‘Belsen 92’, and the Star ‘Belsen 1992’. With the pictures of Serb ‘concentration camps’, everything suddenly became ‘”crystal clear” in the West. Metaphorically speaking, the Serbs became the Nazis, and the Muslims became the Jews of World War II’.
This was a reversal of the alliances that had existed until then. The regime in Belgrade had constantly emphasized that in the past there had always been close ties between Serbs and Jews and that in their historic role as ‘victims’ the lot of the Serbs was very similar to that of the Jews. After the Jews, the Serbs were believed to be the people who had suffered most during the Second World War. It was not without reason that the nationalist Dobrica Cosic had been one of the founders of the Association of Serb-Jewish Friendship. In the United States, Serbs had run an aggressive campaign in an attempt to win the support of the Jewish community for their side, realizing that it was the best organized ethnic lobby in the country.
Traditionally, Belgrade considered Israel, Russia and Greece as its best friends. The state of Israel had in fact always taken a strongly pro-Serb position. In the autumn of 1991 Serbia had successfully placed a large secret arms order in Israel. It was not until 5 August 1992 that Israel had decided to offer humanitarian aid to Bosnia. On the same day Deputy Minister Yossi Beilin had broken the silence observed by the Israeli government since the outbreak of the hostilities. He then sharply condemned the reports about the camps, but added at once that Israel would never forget the special ties which had existed in the past between Serbs and Jews.
The day after the pictures of Trnopolje were broadcast, the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said that the Jews, who remembered the Holocaust, were particularly afflicted by the reports, though he immediately added that in comparison with the extermination of the Jews during the Second World War, the murders in the Balkans were ‘on a very small scale’. Nevertheless, it was a remarkable reaction from a government and a nation which during practically the entire conflict from 1991 to 1995 had painstakingly avoided offending the Serbian regime and its henchmen, on the basis of the incorrect and unjustified view that during the Second World War the Serbs, unlike the Croats and the Muslims, had been on the side of the Jews. This statement of Rabin’s also reflected the divided reactions of the Jewish community, in which on the one hand Jewish organizations said that they observed the same indifference on the part of the world community as at the time of the extermination of the Jews during the Second World War, while on the other hand someone like Simon Wiesenthal thought that any comparison with the Nazi extermination camps was completely misplaced.
In the United States the Jewish mood turned against Serbia as a result of the reports and pictures of the camps. James Harff, director of the PR firm Ruder Finn regarded this about-face as the greatest success in enhancing the image of his customers in Zagreb and Sarajevo. In the past, Tudjman had made anti-Semitic remarks and Izetbegovic was initially not an obvious protégé of the Jewish community. All this had now changed. After Gutman’s articles, on 5 August two hundred demonstrators led by the Anti-Defamation League and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors held a protest march in front of the United Nations building in New York, with the support of twenty American Jewish organizations. The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, himself a survivor of the Holocaust, pointed out to the demonstrators that what was going on in Bosnia was not the same as what had happened during the Holocaust. But in his opinion there were so many similarities that an international military force should be sent if necessary. Maynard Wishner, chairman of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council called on Boutros-Ghali to begin at once with mobilizing ‘whatever U.N. peacekeeping forces are appropriate’. Nobel prize winner Elie Wiesel wrote a letter informing the demonstrators that Jews in particular, who had such vivid memories of persecution, should take action in the free world against the systematic torture and murders. On 5 August Harff also managed to persuade the B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress to put an advertisement in The New York Times under the heading ‘Stop the Death Camps’.
On 7 August the ITN Lunchtime News again devoted attention to Trnopolje. This time the British television company showed pictures of Dutch, Turkish and American broadcasts in which the camps were compared with photos of Nazi concentration camps. ITN quoted from the commentary of the ABC broadcast: ‘Faces and bodies that hint at atrocities of the past. But this is not history, this is Bosnia. Pictures from the camps: A glimpse into genocide.’ and: ‘The Dutch talked of concentration camps. In Muslim Turkey they said ITN’s pictures resembled Hitler’s camps and brought the greatest disgrace to mankind. And the Germans said the pictures were reminiscent of World War Two.’ Against a background of British morning newspapers and the familiar picture of Alic behind barbed wire, ITN reported that ‘today’s British press was unequivocal in its interpretation of the pictures, adding more pressure on the government to take action to intervene in the Yugoslav crisis.’
 Maass, Neighbor, pp. 41-42.
 Gutman, Witness, pp. xiii and xxxii; Ian Traynor, ‘We moesten over lijken en hersenen stappen’ (‘We had to step over corpses and brains’), de Volkskrant 07/10/92; Van Cleef, Wereld, pp. 137-138. In that same month the Bosnian government had quoted a figure of 11,000, eyewitnesses a figure of 8000, Amnesty International, ‘Bosnia-Hercegovina. Gross abuses of basic human rights’ (AI Index: EUR 63/01/92), p. 23; R. Gutman, ‘Deadly Transfer. Many reported killed, missing in move from Serb camp’, Newsday, 26/08/92.
 Cf. Van Cleef, Wereld, pp. 95-96.
 Rathfelder, Sarajevo, p. 66.
 See for example Rathfelder, Sarajevo, p. 67; Vulliamy, Seasons, p. 103.
 According to the ITN bulletin there were 2000 prisoners there when Penny Marshall visited the camp. During a visit six days later, the ICRC counted approximately 4000 internees, Amnesty International, ‘Bosnia-Hercegovina. Gross abuses of basic human rights’ (AI Index: EUR 63/01/92), p. 23.
 See for example Vulliamy, Seasons, p. 105.
 Vulliamy, Seasons, p. 102.
 Nightline, ABC News, 06/08/92.
 Maass, Neighbor, pp. 41-42.
 United Nations, S/1994/674, Appendix, clause 171. For the nature of the camp see also ‘Trnopolje detention camp. Helsinki Watch Report, October 1992 –February 1993.
 R. Gutman, ‘Bosnia Rape Horror’, Newsday, 09/08/92; Gutman, Witness, p. 64; Rathfelder, Sarajevo, p. 66.
 Amnesty International, ‘Bosnia-Hercegovina. Gross abuses of basic human rights’ (AI Index: EUR 63/01/92).
 Quoted in Ed Vulliamy, ‘We are all guilty’, The Observer, 11/05/97. See also the tribunal’s charge against Simo Drljaca and Milan Kovacevic, case no. IT-97-24-I.
 Trnopolje detention camp. Helsinki Watch Report, October 1992 –February 1993. According to the Yugoslavia tribunal’s charge against Slobodan Kuruzovic, commander of the camp at Trnopolje, hundreds of men were tortured and murdered there, Hartmann, Milosevic, p. 288. Cf. Van Cleef, Wereld, pp. 96-97, 251, 254. According to the main text of the Bassiouni report: ‘Rapes, beatings and other kinds of torture, and even killings, were not rare.’, United Nations, S/1994/674, Appendix, clause 171. According to an appendix of the same report a large number of men were murdered. This allegation does not include any indication of time, United Nations, S/1994/674/Add.2(Vol. I), 28/12/94, Appendix III.A, IV.A.32. Sells, Bridge, p. 19 classifies Trnopolje along with Manjaca and Batkovic as concentration camps as opposed to the ‘killing camps’ Omarska, Brcko-Luka, Susica and Keraterm: ‘killings and torture were common, but the majority of detainees did survive’. Report of murders also in Gutman, Witness, p. 85; Rathfelder, Sarajevo, p. 67. Report of the torture of a man in the Trnopolje camp in United States Senate, Cleansing, p. 23.
 Supplemental United States Submission of information to the United Nations Security Council in Accordance with Paragraph 5 of Resolution 771 (1992) and Paragraph 1 of Resolution 780 (1992), released on October 1992.
 ‘Trnopolje detention camp. Helsinki Watch Report, October 1992 –February 1993’.
 Bell, Way, p. 162.
 For father Curguz’s curious double function see also Van Cleef, Wereld, pp. 249-251.
 Information about the footage which was not aired has been taken from http://www.srpska-mreza.com/lm-f97/deichmann-press.html , ‘ITN vs Deichmann and Truth – Report on Jan. 31 press conference’.
 Nightline, ABC News, 06/08/92; T. Deichmann, ‘Es war dieses Bild, das die Welt in Alarmbereitschaft versetzte’ (‘It was this picture that put the world on alert’), Novo (1997)26 (January/February). The photos were published in the Daily Mail on 07/08/92; ‘ITN’s Penny Marshall tells how she made the world wake up’, Sunday Times, 16/04/92.
 Ed Vulliamy, ‘Poison in the well of history’, The Guardian, 15/03/00; Eric Alterman, ‘Bosnian camps: a barbed tale’, The Nation, 28/07/97.
 This paragraph is based on the account of Phillip Knightley, who saw the uncut ITN tapes, ‘Es stellt sich heraus, dass der Stacheldraht nur ein Symbol war’ (It becomes clear that the barbed wire only a symbol was), Novo(1997)27(March/April).
 Photos taken by Ron Haviv prove that this man, Fikret Alic, was by no means the only emaciated man in the camp’, Blood, pp. 87-89.
 Don Oberdorfer & Helen Dewar, ‘Clinton, Senators Urge Bush to Act on Balkans’, The Washington Post, 06/08/92.
 See also ‘Nightline’, ABC News, 06/08/92.
 James Harff, director of PR firm Ruder Finn, quoted in Nadja Tesich, ‘New and old disorder’, NATO, p. 188.
 Quoted in: R. Ciolli, ‘Bosnia Reports Prompt Outrage. Prison camp images drive home urgency’, Newsday, 08/08/92.
 ‘The Proof’, Daily Mail, 07/08/92.
 R. Howell, ‘Outrage. At UN Pressure For Armed Reply’, Newsday, 07/08/92. Similar utterances in Sandra Sanchez, ‘Horror in Serbian prison camps’, USA Today, 07/08/92.
 Mestrovic, Balkanization, p. 51.
 Levinsohn, Belgrade, pp. 15-17, 53, 259-260, 273; Sremac, War, pp. 30 and 61; Daniel Kofman, ‘Israel and the War in Bosnia’, Cushman & Mestrovic (eds.), Time, p. 93.
 Carol Matlack & Zoran B. Djordjevic, ‘Serbo-Croatian PR War’, The National Journal, 14/03/92.
 See also Daniel Kofman, ‘Israel and the War in Bosnia’, Cushman & Mestrovic (eds.), Time, pp. 91-92.
 Gajic Glisic, Vojska, pp. 23 and 47.
 Gwen Ackerman, ‘Israel Breaks Silence, Offers Aid to Distressed Yugoslavia’, The Associated Press, 05/08/92.
 Gwen Ackerman, ‘Israel Breaks Silence, Offers Aid to Distressed Yugoslavia’, The Associated Press, 05/08/92.
 R. Howell, ‘Rabin Calls On World for Action’, Newsday, 08/08/92. See also Hugh Orgel, ‘Israeli cuts Bosnia mission short as Rabin demands end to atrocities’, The Ethnic NewsWatch. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 11/08/92.
 Cf. Igor Primoratz, ‘Israel and genocide in Croatia’, Mestrovic (ed.), Genocide, pp. 195-206.
 G. DeWan, ‘Newsday Student Briefing Page on the News’, Newsday, 11/08/92. See also ‘A Demand for Action’, The Ethnic NewsWatch. Northern California Jewish Bulletin, 07/08/92; ‘A Terrible Throwback’, The Ethnic NewsWatch. Baltimore Jewish Times, 07/08/92; Nancy Hill-Hotzman, ‘Balkans: Jewish groups react to reports of tortures and murders’, Los Angeles Times, 08/08/92; Cohen, War, p. 122.
 F. Bruning, ‘Human-Rights Probe of Serbia Urged’, Newsday, 14/08/92. For a more detailed survey of the Jewish and Israeli attitude to Serb war practices in the early 1990s see Cohen, War, pp. 122-128; Primoratz, Israel.
 Jacques Merlino, ‘Da haben wir voll ins Schwarze getroffen.’Die PR-Firma Ruder Finn’, Bittermann (Hg.), Serbien, pp. 155-156.
 ‘Jewish Community Rallies for Action to End Atrocities in Bosnia’, U.S. Newswire, 05/08/92.
 Debra Nussbaum Cohen, ‘Jewish groups express outrage over atrocities in Bosnia’, The Ethnic NewsWatch; Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 05/08/92.
 Cheong Chow, ‘US Jews calling on Bush, UN action for camps’, The Boston Globe, 10/08/92.
 Allison Kaplan & Tom Tugend, ‘US Jews call for action against Serb atrocities’, The Jerusalem Post, 06/08/92.
Part I The Yugoslavian problem and the role of the West 1991-1994
Chapter 6 Emotionalization of the debate following reports about the camps (‘Omarska’): June 1992 – August 1992
Impact on public image
With this bulletin, ITN itself raised the question of the impact made by its pictures. The pictures strengthened a feeling that had been present for some time, namely that this time the population of the free world would not be able to say, as they had during the Holocaust, that they had known nothing of the mass slaughter which was taking place. As the Dutch commentator W.L. Brugsma would later write: ‘Due to the disastrous invention called television, the saying “What you don’t know won’t hurt you” no longer applies.’
Nevertheless, this is only relative. Television is highly dependent on the possibilities of visualizing a situation. As far as television newsrooms are concerned, if there are no pictures of a subject, it cannot be news. ‘What cannot be shown in images, receives little attention (…) For instance, we were inadequately informed about the genocide in Congo because no cameras were set up there’, said the Belgian philosopher Bart Pattyn, an expert in media ethics. The difference in Bosnia was that the cameras there had found the pictures the West was looking for.
Even before the pictures of Fikret Alic behind barbed wire had been broadcast Milosevic had been compared with Hitler, the Muslims’ lot with that of the Jews in the Holocaust, the actions of Croatian and Bosnian Serbs with those of the Sudeten Germans in the late 1930s and incidents such as murder, rape, ethnic cleansing and deportation with those of the Second World War in general. But thanks to the pictures of the emaciated Fikret Alic behind barbed wire, the image of the aggressive Serbs could be definitively linked to the actions of the Nazis during the Second World War. In the course of almost fifty years of peace in Europe, the Second World War had become a frame of reference for right and wrong. How much more effectively it could be used to make a divide between rogues and heroes, now that there was a war going on with ethnic cleansing which looked very similar to the pictures in Schindler’s List and now that there were again camps which evoked memories of what an earlier film had made known as the Holocaust?
The pictures of Fikret Alic behind barbed wire were an answer for journalists and newsrooms who were wrestling with the problem that the public at large had lost track of the war in Bosnia. The reports about refugees had already offered some elements the public could identify with, but it was not until the picture of Fikret Alic in the camp that there was something they could grasp hold of, in the form of a human figure.
An analogy with the Nazi concentration camps and in particular the death camps or extermination camps of fifty years earlier was soon made. Even those who queried such a comparison admitted the possibility that it might as yet turn out to be justified. In Newsday for example the following appeared:
‘Is this the same as 1942? Is this a Final Solution? The answer to that is no. This is not systematic annihilation. (…) The Serbs, while imprisoning the Muslims, are not systematically killing them, though the conditions in which they are keeping them guarantee that many will die. (…) Yet, to some degree, this analogy is irrelevant because this is not a question of comparative suffering. The direct historical parallel to the Holocaust is to be found in the actions of the perpetrators and the bystanders (…)What is going on in Bosnia is not yet a Holocaust and we must ensure that it does not become one.’
Nevertheless the analogy with the Nazi camps persisted for a long time. At the beginning of December 1992 the otherwise so diplomatic former American Minister of Foreign Affairs George Shultz advised television makers to show films of concentration camps from the Second World War the next time they devoted attention to Bosnia: ‘The message is the same.’ A year after the ITN broadcast the British newspaper The Independent wrote: ‘The camera slowly pans up the bony torso of the prisoner. It is the picture of famine, but then we see the barbed wire against his chest and it is the picture of Holocaust and concentration camps.’
The notion upheld by Serb propaganda that Croats and their Muslim confederates had been fascists in the Second World War and that ‘therefore’ everything that Croats and Bosnian Muslims did in the 1990s should be regarded with the deepest suspicion vanished into thin air in the West. The dichotomy between Serb war criminals and Bosnian Muslim victims became a fixed idea.
The reports of Serb outrages made many outside Serbia deaf to any further Serb arguments. According to some, the Serbs had lost their right to be heard. The reasoning was that their statements could not be trusted. Because the Serb camps were put on a par with concentration camps in the Second World War, anyone who asserted a different point of view was suspected of being a revisionist. After the Bosnian Serb authorities had given the International Committee of the Red Cross permission to inspect Trnopolje, the American Assistant Secretary of State for international organizations John Bolton commented that during the Second World War the Nazis had also managed to mislead the Red Cross during visits to concentration camps. In his opinion it was also unlikely that much interest could be aroused in Croat or Muslim camps in which Serbs were held prisoner and which, as was the case in the Croat-run camp in Mostar and the Muslim-run camp at Celebici fifty kilometres west of Sarajevo, were no less or little less atrocious than those of the Bosnian Serbs. An ICRC report of 4 August, in which it was concluded after visits to ten camps in Bosnia that all parties in the conflict were guilty of serious human rights abuses was to a large extent snowed under in the media uproar. There was also practically no interest in reports from (Bosnian) Serb leaders that possibly thousands of Serbs had died in Bosnian prison camps. Shortly before the appearance of the films made at Trnopolje a Reuter photographer had printed a photo of Serb prisoners of war being forced by Bosnian Croats to give the Hitler salute; this was certainly also a picture evoking memories of the Second World War. However, this photo was scarcely shown in the West.
When the ITN images appeared, they were, in the words of the then acting desk officer for Yugoslavia of the State Department George Kenney, ‘ruinous for the Bush administration’s hands off policy’. The pictures ‘could not but result in significant US actions’. This seemed correct; a whole range of measures taken by national governments and international organizations followed in the wake of the pictures of Trnopolje. Immediately after hearing about the report, the American President George Bush, in a hastily convened press conference, urged a Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in order to make sure humanitarian convoys reached their destinations. On the evening of 6 August the NATO Political Committee decided to make plans to open corridors for humanitarian convoys. The member states were asked to indicate what resources they would be able to deploy. On 13 and 14 August the UN Human Rights Committee held an emergency meeting for the first time since its foundation, with the situation in the former Yugoslavia as the sole point on its agenda. In fact the American government had already put forward a proposal for a meeting of this kind, which had been supported by the twelve EC countries, before the ITN broadcasts of the pictures of Trnopolje. The motive for the American initiative was the American government’s deep concern about the mounting atrocities in the former Yugoslavia and the difficulties confronting the ICRC there. The government in Washington also saw this initiative as a gesture towards the Islamic countries.
Mazowiecki is appointed rapporteur; the call for military intervention is heard
The committee demanded the release of all prisoners who were being held arbitrarily and also immediate free access for the ICRC to all camps and prisons. It decided to appoint the former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki as special rapporteur on the former Yugoslavia, with the task of reporting on human rights abuses and war crimes. His reports were also to be sent to the Security Council. On 13 August the Security Council passed Resolutions 770 and 771. Resolution 770 demanded access to the camps for aid organizations. The resolution also authorized the nations to make it possible to deliver humanitarian relief to Sarajevo and other places in Bosnia-Hercegovina if necessary, either on a national basis or through regional organizations, and ‘by all possible means’.
Resolution 770 was the first to authorize the use of force by the international community in Bosnia, in order to deliver relief supplies, but it did stipulate that this should take place ‘in co-operation with the United Nations’. It was only the second time in the UN’s existence that the organization had used the phrase ‘by all possible means’ in a resolution. The first time had been in the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, after troops from that country had invaded Kuwait. Resolution 771 held out the prospect of punishment for war criminals from the former Yugoslavia.
On 14 August the French government announced that it would make 1100 troops available for Bosnia. Confronted with a temporary consensus in British public opinion and the media as to military intervention and with strong domestic criticism of his leadership with respect to the Bosnian crisis, the British Prime Minister John Major cut short his holiday and called for an emergency Ministerial Council meeting on 18 August, at which it was decided to supply 1800 light infantry troops for the security of the UN convoys. Chancellor Kohl said that the German constitution, which prohibited the deployment of military troops outside the NATO area, should be revised.
The camps after the furore
Before going into the impact of the pictures in further detail, it seems appropriate to discuss what happened to the prisoners in the camps. After the TV broadcasts about Omarska and Trnopolje, the Red Cross was allowed to visit many Bosnian Serb camps. Camera crews of other television companies, UNHCR representatives and well-known people such as the French Minister Kouchner and the Israeli peace activist Elie Wiesel followed in the footsteps of ITN and the Red Cross. Inasmuch as people continued to be imprisoned in Serb camps, in general their lot immediately improved as a result of visits and inspections like these. The women and children who had been in Trnopolje were permitted to leave a few days after the ITN pictures. Room had to be made for yet more prisoners from the Omarska and Keraterm camps, which had to be displayed to the world press in a spotless condition. On 13 August, eight days after Marshall and Williams made their films, Fikret Alic managed to hide amidst a transport of women and children and to escape from the camp. Later he ended up in Denmark. Reporters who visited Trnopolje one and a half weeks after the ITN teams, observed that the newly arrived men were allowed to go to houses and gardens in the vicinity under supervision in order to get hold of food, although by then there was practically nothing left except maize. A few weeks later these internees were released and taken to Croatia. After the furore over the camps, caused first by Gutman’s and O’Kane’s articles and later by the ITN broadcast, the inmates of the camps were generally no longer in direct bodily danger, although some former camp detainees still died in incidents during transports. These transports were in fact the final episode of ethnic cleansing.
Between July and December 1992 the Red Cross visited 10,800 prisoners in 16 camps: 8100 imprisoned by Bosnian Serbs, 1600 in the hands of the Bosnian government and 1100 detained by Bosnian Croats. Gradually they were released and on 1 October the ICRC concluded an agreement with the Bosnian Serb authorities stipulating that the remaining 7000 prisoners in 11 camps were to be released at the end of that month.
However, the ICRC was faced with a dilemma in relation to the prisoners’ future lot. If the Red Cross and the international community succeeded in getting the prisoners released, they would not be able to return to their homes. Even if those homes were still fit to live in, it was still too dangerous. For example, of a group of 15 people who were released from Manjaca, 13 were murdered when they returned to their homes. But if the prisoners could not go back to their homes, the question was, where could they go? The governments in their Europe were not eager to welcome the former camp inmates.
The human rights organization Amnesty International also pointed out these problems in a report issued on 23 October. Amnesty International admitted that the fate awaiting the prisoners upon their release might well offer them little more security than they had had during their imprisonment. They therefore called on the international community to monitor the safe return of the former prisoners to their homes or, if those released did not want this because they feared for their safety, to ensure there was ‘an appropriate place of refuge’. However, there was not a single European country that guaranteed to accept former camp internees on any significant scale. After the first large group of released prisoners, 1560 people from Trnopolje, had arrived in a transit camp at Karlovac in Croatia, it turned out that there was not a single country that was prepared to take them. This meant that no new prisoners in Bosnia could be picked up by the International Committee of the Red Cross, because in Karlovac they would have to take the place of the group of 1560. The result of the attitude of the governments in the countries outside Bosnia-Hercegovina was that the ICRC had to ask the Bosnian Serb authorities to keep camps like Trnopolje open for months longer than the end of October, the date the Bosnian Serb leaders and the Red Cross had eventually agreed on.
In the autumn of 1992 the Bosnian Serb authorities were even forced to open a new camp in Kotor Varos, on the outskirts of Banja Luka, to relieve Croats and Muslims who were trying to escape from the intimidation and incidental murders in their home surroundings. Every time the ICRC succeeded in getting a number of inmates out of the Bosnian Serb camps, their places were immediately filled by others who preferred the relative safety of the camp to the ‘freedom’ outside. It is unpleasant to have to acknowledge that the pictures which caused such a commotion in the West had so little effect on international readiness to accept victims of the camps.
In the following months, thousands more prisoners were in fact released from the Bosnian Serb camps. On 18 December the last 418 prisoners from the Manjaca camp were released and taken to Karlovac in Croatia under supervision of the ICRC. According to the ICRC, by about 1 January 1993 all but 2700 of the internees had been released from camps whose existence had been confirmed. Then the CIA produced a report, which found its way to various newspapers, that approximately 70,000 more people were being detained in camps run by all three parties in Bosnia. According to the CIA, information obtained by satellite espionage, conversations with prisoners who had been released or had run away, and reports made by humanitarian organizations seemed to indicate the existence of previously unknown camps. However, this figure was entirely unfounded. Apparently the American authorities, who had kept their knowledge of the camps silent for so long in the past, now wanted to give the impression that they could search better than the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations. In August 1993 the Red Cross named the figure of 6474 detainees still remaining in 51 camps, distributed throughout Bosnia. In reports issued in April 1993 and addressed to all three parties in the Bosnian conflict, the International Committee of the Red Cross stated in bold terms that the conditions in which these people were detained were still no better than they had been in the summer of 1992.
p1_c06_s009_b01.htmlp1_c06_s009_b01.htmlp1_c06_s010_b01.htmlp1_c06_s010_b01.html\l “\l “
 W.L. Brugsma, ‘Wat weet dat deert’ (‘What you know hurts you’), HP/De Tijd, 27/08/93, p. 46.
 Liesbet Walckiers, ‘De media en de derde Wereld’ (‘The media and the third world’), Becker (red.), Massamedia, p. 129.
 Bart Pattyn, ‘Verveling en mediagebruik’ (‘Boredom and media custom’), Becker (red.), Massamedia, p. 91.
 See for example ‘Milosevic Isn’t Hitler, But…’; The New York Times, 04/08/92. The American senator Bob Dole had even said that Miloševic was worse than Hitler, Maarten Huygen, ‘Bosnië plaatst VS voor dilemma’ (‘Bosnia places US in a dilemma’), NRC Handelsblad, 27/06/92.
 See for example John Omicinski, ‘War in Yugoslavia: The new Holocaust? Is Slobodan Milosevic the Hitler of 1992?’, Gannett News Service, 29/07/92.
 ‘Belgrado niet immuun’ (‘Belgrade is not immune’), de Volkskrant, 29/05/92.
 Richard J. Sideman, chairman of the American Jewish Committee, San Francisco, ‘Brutalities in Bosnia’, The San Francisco Chronicle, 30/07/92.
 For a striking example of this ‘almost parallel’ see T. Cushman and S.G. Mestrovic, ‘Introduction’, id. (ed.), This Time, especially pp. 6-9.
 Caroline de Gruyter, ‘In Kroatië is iedereen goed’, Elsevier, 08/08/92, p. 32.
 Michael Schiffler, analyst at the Center for War, Peace and the Media in New York, a few days after the broadcast of the ITN pictures, cited in R. Ciolli, ‘Bosnia Reports Prompt Outrage. Prison camp images drive home urgency’, Newsday, 08/08/92.
 D. Lipstadt, ‘Bosnia’s Horror Is Not a Holocaust. But the outrage also is not a question of comparative suffering’, Newsday, 13/08/92. See also Patrick Cockburn, Independent on Sunday, 09/08/92; Allcock & Milivojevic & Horton (eds.), Conflict, pp. 73-74.
 E. Sciolino, ‘Clinton faults Bush over Bosnia policy’, New York Times News Service, 11/12/92, 2053EST. See also Wall Street Journal, 23/02/93, p. A1: ‘Nazi-like detention camps’, quoted in T. Cushman and S.G. Mestrovic, ‘Introduction’, id. (ed.), This Time, p. 20.
 Independent, 05/08/93.
 See Thomas Cushman/Stjepan G. Mestrovic, ‘Introduction’, id. (eds.), Time, p. 15: ‘(…) the Serbs relinquished the right to be heard. Genocide committed by Serbian leaders in the name of Greater Serbia has nullified their right to be heard as an equal in the community of nations.’ Cf. M. Borogovic and S. Rustempasic, ‘The white paper on Alija Izetbegovic’, http://www.xs4all.nl/~frankti/Bosnian_congress/izetbegovic_white_paper.html consulted on 17/02/00, which finds the crimes committed by the Serb leaders against Bosnia so heinous ‘that they take away the right of their perpetrators to belong to the human race, let alone accuse anyone of anything.’
 Jacques Merlino, ‘Da haben wir voll ins Schwarze getroffen.’Die PR-Firma Ruder Finn’, Bittermann (Hg.), Serbien, p. 156.
 Cf. Peter Brock, ‘Meutenjournalismus’, in: Bittermann (Hg.), Serbien, pp. 29-30; Dorothea Razumovsky, ‘Gott will es!’, in: ibid., p. 98.
 For Mostar see Allcock & Milivojevic & Horton (eds.), Conflict, p. 75; for Celebici see Marlise Simons, ‘A War-Crimes Trial, but of Muslims, Not Serbs’, The New York Times, 03/04/97; Burg & Shoup, War, p. 180.
 See for example F. Bruning, ‘Human Rights Probe of Serbia Urged’, Newsday, 14/08/92.
 ‘Serbs Vow Fresh Offensive’, Newsday, 10/08/92; R. Howell, ‘Outrage. At UN, Pressure For Armed Reply’, Newsday, 07/08/92; Sremac, War, pp. 116-117.
 Caroline de Gruyter, ‘In Kroatië is iedereen goed’, Elsevier, 08/08/92, pp. 32-33, where the photo was in fact shown.
 G. Kenney, ‘How media misinformation led to Bosnian intervention’, http://www.suc.org/politics/conc-camps/html/Kenney.html , consulted on 26/02/00.
 ‘World News Night with Peter Jennings’, ABC News, 06/08/92; Jonathan Miller, ‘Death-camp scoop made the world sit up’, Sunday Times, 09/08/92; ‘ITN’s Penny Marshall tells how she made the world wake up’, Sunday Times, 16/08/92.
 Stephen Robinson & Peter Almond & John Hibbs, ‘NATO orders relief plan for Bosnia’, The Daily Telegraph, 07/08/92.
 ABZ, DWH/ARA/00844.COREU The Hague, 06/08/92, cpe/hag 439; Wagenmakers 564 to Van den Broek, 06/08/92.
 ABZ, DWH/ARA/00844. Meesman 740 to Van den Broek, 06/08/92.
 Simms, Hour, p. 44.
 See for example Michael Binyon, ‘Evidence mounts of executions and beatings in Serb-run camps’, The Times, 07/08/92; Craig R. Whitney, ‘Balkan Scenes Stir Europe, But Action Remains Elusive’, The New York Times, 08/08/92.
 Ian Traynor, ‘We moesten over lijken en hersenen stappen’, de Volkskrant 07/10/92.
 Marjolein Sebregts, ‘Vannacht waren het er tien’ (‘Tonight there were ten of them’), Elsevier, 15/08/92, p. 29.
 ABZ, DPV/ARA/01812. Statement by Ogata, Geneva, 09/10/92.
 See for example Vulliamy, Seasons, pp. 107 and 158; Gutman, Witness, p. 101.
 Mercier, Crimes, p. 226 n. 23.
 Vulliamy, Seasons, p. 113.
 Nina Bernstein, ‘Too dangerous to release Bosnian captives’, Newsday, 30/08/92.
 Amnesty International, ‘Bosnia-Hercegovina. Gross abuses of basic human rights’ (AI Index: EUR 63/01/92).
 p. 13.
 Mercier, Crimes, p. 115; Vulliamy, Seasons, p. 113; Gutman, Witness, pp. 87 and 105-107.
 Mercier, Crimes, pp. 64-65; Vulliamy, Seasons, pp. 113 and 158.
 Vulliamy, Seasons, pp. 113-114.
 ‘Veiligheidsraad veroordeelt verkrachtingen’ (‘Security Council condemns rape’), Brabants Nieuwsblad, 19/12/92.
 Mercier, Crimes, p. 226 n. 23.
 Gutman, Witness, p. 141.
 Interview Lord Owen, 27/06/01.
 Mercier, Crimes, p. 117
 Allcock & Milivojevic & Horton (eds.), Conflict, p. 74.
 Mercier, Crimes, pp. 116-117.