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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Anger over Dutch Srebrenica report
Hasa Selimovic outside the Dutch parliament
Bosnian widows want the Dutch report to be revised
Bosnian women have staged a silent protest in The Hague against a government-commissioned report which stops short of blaming Dutch peacekeepers for failing to prevent the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Serious and reasoned warnings were ignored

Algemeen Dagbladet newspaper
"We seek truth and justice about Srebrenica, and that what happened there should not be forgotten," said Hajra Catic, whose husband and son were among the 7,000 men and boys who perished when Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN "safe area".

The report, published on Wednesday, said the Dutch battalion which was stationed in the town had been sent on a "mission impossible" and that the United Nations and the Dutch Government should share responsibility.

It did, however, condemn the troops for helping to organise the exodus of refugees gathered in Srebrenica, after which many were never seen again.

Dutch debate

The report, by the Netherlands Institute of War Documentation (NIOD) has triggered a soul-searching debate in the country.

Protesters in Sarajevo
Protesters in Sarajevo handed a letter to the Dutch ambassador
Newspaper editorials have condemned the political leaders of the time, who are still in office and facing elections next month.

The Algemeen Dagbladet daily said it was a mistake to send the peacekeepers on a mission that, according to the NIOD, they were not trained for.

"Serious and reasoned warnings were ignored," the paper said.

"And when it went wrong, the responsible ministers in their bunker in The Hague raised their hands powerlessly in the air."

Once again Dutch responsibility is denied

Interchurch Peace Counsel
The daily De Volkskrant was among papers calling for a parliamentary inquiry in which ministers would be compelled to testify under oath.

A statement by the Interchurch Peace Counsel, which released its own report on the massacre last month, described the NIOD report as a "bitter disappointment".

Milosevic case 'undamaged'

"Once again Dutch responsibility is denied and others are to blame for the fall of Srebrenica and the genocide that followed," the statement said.

Mrs Catic said the protesters would meet again with the NIOD director, Hans Blom, in an attempt to persuade him to revise the findings - especially an assertion that half of those killed had fought in the Bosnian Muslim army.

They also denounced the conclusions that there was no evidence to link former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the massacre, and that the role of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was unclear.

Mr Milosevic is on trial at the UN war crimes tribunal facing 66 counts of war crimes, including charges of genocide in Bosnia. The Srebrenica episode features in his indictment.

Officials at the war crimes tribunal rejected speculation that the report would damage the prosecutors' case against Mr Milosevic.

They said UN investigators may have material that was unavailable to the NIOD historians.

One of the demonstrators in The Hague, Hassan Nuhanovic, a former interpreter for the Dutch battalion whose parents and brother were killed, said he harboured no resentment towards the Dutch people.

However, he added that he and fellow Muslims were exploring the possibility of launching legal action against the Dutch authorities for their role in Srebrenica.

The BBC's Allan Little
"Holland is haunted by the affair"
Professor Petr Romain the report's co - editor
"We cannot alter the facts and that is the problem"
The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan
"The new report spreads the blame for what happened fairly thinly"

Key stories

Srebrenica massacre



See also:

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