Date: Sun, 23 Mar 97 00:58:46 CST
From: Bosnian Congress—USA <>
Article: 7807

Dutch ordered Bosnia Retreat

By Ed Vulliamy (New York), The Observer, 9 February 1997

The retreat by Dutch troops from the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica during the worst massacre in Europe since the Nazi era was ordered not by the soldiers' United Nations commanders but secretly and unilaterally by their own government, according to a book just published in the Netherlands.

The allegation delivers a devastating blow to the Dutch military over the debacle, and further implicates the country's government in failing to protect Bosnian Muslims from the slaughter that ensued.

The book ‘Srebrenica, het zwartste scenario’ ('Srebrenica, The Darkest Scenario’) was written by journalists Frank Westerman and Bart Rijs, who penetrated the enclave during Bosnia's war. It contains sensational leaks of classified documents which rewrite the history of the international community's failure to stop the massacre of about 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the enclave by Bosnian Serbs.

At the core of the writers' findings is an order given on 13 July, 1995, for the Dutch soldiers in charge of thousands of Bosnian Muslim refugees to leave their camp at Potocari, near Srebrenica.

The order detailed the need to take all equipment and weapons—but there was no mention of what to do with the refugees seeking shelter from the Serbs; thousands of them began to be slaughtered as the Dutch packed up.

Oddly, the order was written in Dutch—UN communications were usually in English—and was circulated only to Dutch UN officers. The authors trace it back to the Dutch Defence Minister, Joris Voorhoeve.

Other documents and leaked minutes demonstrate that the Dutch government was obsessed with the safety of its troops as the London conference of 21 July approached, with United States and French leaders talking about air strikes against the Serbs. ‘If you want to take firm action against the Serbs, more than 300 Dutch hostages is a bad start,’ said Voorhoeve, according to minutes of a meeting on 12 July.

The following day, the order was issued to the Dutch commander on the ground Colonel Ton Karremans, who was known to be meeting with General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnain Serb general - and now a war crimes fugutive.

Col. Karremans gave evidence against Mladic at the Hague war crimes tribunal last year and failed to mention the order.

’All of a sudden, it is as though the UN has a chain of command that is Dutch at all levels, and that the UN is suddenly talking to each other in Dutch,’ Westerman said.

The two Dutch authors produced the message logsheet for 12 July at the UN base in Tuzla, which oversaw Srebrenica. It recorded the Dutch saying they were to leave offering ‘no resistance, no provocation’ to the Serbs.

The authors then cite soldiers saying that, as they evacuated, they passed trailers full of Bosnian Muslim corpses.