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Ethnic Cleansing and Atrocities in Bosnia

Statement by CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence John Gannon
on Ethnic Cleansing and Atrocities in Bosnia
Joint SSCI SFRC Open Hearing

August 9, 1995

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I'm pleased to be here. I have a brief statement to provide you, and then I'll show you some related aerial photography.

We have heard and read the statements of many Bosnian refugees since 1992 and have found them compelling and dramatic. Those who were forced from their homes earlier in the conflict told stories of cruelty and inhumanity that we found hard to believe, but we now know that too many were true.

Similar reports of terror--of rape, torture, and murder--have emerged since the attacks last month by Bosnian Serb forces on the eastern enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa.


  • The Bosnian Serb assaults have displaced tens of thousands of Muslims, led to the detention of perhaps several thousand more, and resulted in the apparent purposeful deaths of at least several hundred--a number that could increase to thousands as we learn more.
  • Bosnian Serbs took many Muslim men prisoner, and the fate of most of them is unknown. The International Red Cross has gained access to only a small number of detainees and estimates that some 6,000 refugees from Srebrenica remain unaccounted for.
  • Exactly how many of those missing are prisoners, are in hiding, or have been killed remains unclear, but a growing body of information from a variety of sources indicates that Bosnian Serbs have--again--committed atrocities in the region.


The testimony and eyewitness accounts of atrocities by those who've been displaced increasingly have been corroborated.


  • Dutch peacekeepers who were in Srebrenica have offered eyewitness accounts of Bosnian Serb abuses and atrocities against Muslims. The Dutch reported that, in one case, Bosnian Serb soldiers took away nine Muslim men, who later were found dead from gunshot wounds.
  • The Dutch troops also found the personal effects--shoes and backpacks--of about 100 people in Nova Kasaba where Muslim refugees had earlier reported seeing bodies. One peacekeeper also saw bodies piled on a cart, a dumptruck, and an earthmover. At least two refugees claim to have survived a massacre there.
  • And last week in Bosnia, Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck interviewed a number of Muslims who fled from Zepa and Srebrenica. He reported hearing credible accounts of mass executions of men and boys, who were then bulldozed into mass graves on the spot. Other refugees told him how the Bosnian Serbs ambushed and killed fleeing Muslims.


These latest events in eastern Bosnia are especially disturbing because they indicate the continuation of a pattern of activity by the Bosnian Serbs that we can trace back over three years.


  • Our analysis shows that the vast majority of the ethnic cleansing carried out in Bosnia since 1992 can be attributed to the Bosnian Serbs.
  • We base this judgment on a large body of evidence from a wide range of sources, including press accounts, reports from international human rights and relief organizations, and public statements by refugees.


We know that Croats and Muslims in Bosnia have also committed atrocities and have forced Serb civilians to flee, but the ethnic cleansing actions carried out by the Bosnian Serbs are unequaled in their scale and intensity.


  • The expulsions of thousands of non-Serbs from Srebrenica and Zepa continue Bosnian Serb efforts to consolidate their control and establish an ethnically pure Serb homeland.


To conclude, Mr. Chairman, let me refer briefly to the situation in the Krajina. The situation there since the Croatian invasion last week differs from that in eastern Bosnia. We have not heard reports of the kinds of atrocities and human rights violations that so quickly followed the fall of Srebrenica.


  • International observers have reported scattered human rights abuses, but so far there have been no reports of the massive, systematic abuses we have seen in Bosnia.


Nonetheless, by failing to sufficiently reassure the Serb population in the Krajina or, more accurately, to follow up on Croatian Government pledges that human and civil rights would be respected, the Croatians have added measurably to humanitarian disaster in the region.


  • Reports from the UN and relief organizations indicate that 150,000-200,000 Serb refugees are fleeing the region--that represents almost the entire Serb population of the Krajina.


That concludes my statement. Thank you, sir.

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 03, 2007 08:53 PM
Last Updated: Jun 20, 2008 07:31 AM