It turns out that genocide denial has a price tag -- and a hefty one at that. Financial records from the Bosnian Serb entity known as Republika Srpska reveal that a Hague-based group of pseudo-experts that calls itself the "Srebrenica Historical Project" has received more than $1 million from the cash-strapped mini-state over the past five years.
As diligent readers of this blog will know, the Srebrenica Historical Project specializes in questioning, and in many cases denying, basic historical facts concerning massacres carried out by Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic in July 1995. It is led by a 62-year-old Serb American "lawyer" from Chicago named Stephen Karganovic (photographed above), who claimed, in an interview with me last year, that fewer than a thousand Muslim prisoners were executed following the fall of the United Nations "safe area."
An exhaustive international investigation of the Srebrenica events, involving teams of forensic pathologists, DNA specialists, demographic experts, and detectives has established that Bosnian Serb forces murdered around 7,000 Muslim prisoners in a series of massacres between July 12 and July 16, 1995. A further 1,000 or so Muslim men and boys were killed as a result of ambushes and armed clashes as they tried to reach Muslim-controlled territory north of Srebrenica.
What is most alarming about the Srebrenica Historical Project is not that there are people out there claiming that black is white, but that the denial industry is being financed by the Bosnian Serb authorities. A rough analogy might be the German government and parliament voting every year to fund the research of David Irving and other revisionist Holocaust historians.
Here is a breakdown of the annual subsidies to the Srebrenica Historical Project, approved by the government and parliament of Republika Srpska.
At the current rate of exchange of 1 Bosnian mark = 64 U.S. cents, this is nearly $1.1 million dollars.
To be clear, I have no objection at all to a vigorous and open debate about the evidence presented to the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, which deserves to be fully scrutinized. Nor do I object to differing interpretations of the international law on genocide. While the tribunal has ruled that genocide was committed at Srebenica, I respect the right of people to disagree, for a variety of different reasons. What we are dealing with here are opinions or interpretations of the law, not historical truth.
What is not admissible, it seems to me, are unsubstantiated challenges to underlying facts that have been proven beyond reasonable doubt. There is no evidence to support Karganovic's claim that the "vast majority" of Muslim victims at Srebrenica died in military clashes with Bosnian Serb forces. For the government and parliament of Republika Srpska to finance such outlandish theories makes the Bosnian Serb statelet complicit with efforts to suppress the truth about the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.
For those of you who missed it the first time round, here is my interview with Karganovic at the Belgrade book fair. At least we now know who funds him.
Ratko Mladic has been described as "one of those lethal combinations that history thrusts up occasionally-a charismatic murderer." What drove the Bosnian Serb military commander to order Europe's deadliest massacre since World War II? Could it have been prevented? Michael Dobbs, a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum fellow, investigates.