August 1999 by
The Croatian ex-militia man's confession to acts of torture committed against Serbians in the carnage left after the collapse of Yugoslavia demands our full attention and the vigorous action of indigenous nation's governments. Former Croatian militiaman and former civilian police officer, Miro Bajaramovic, speaking in an interview with the Federal Tribune, an independent Croatian newspaper, pleaded a deep sense of "guilt and bitterness" for killing 72 people "with my own hands." Mr. Bajaramovic's guilt was from torturing and killing men and women (some of whom he knew personally), both Croatians and Serbs. His bitterness was from the failure of leading Croations to reward him for his services. It was the combination of these deep emotions that prompted Mr. Bajaramovic to tell the world of his crimes and the criminal role of 400 other Croatians-many still holding high office in the Croatian government.
These crimes cannot go unpunished. Mr. Bajaramovic admits to committing the act of Genocide, and he points to other Croations who must be charged, arraigned and tried before the International Tribunal at The Hague. Croatians, Bosnians, Serbes and mercenaries who committed genocide in the Balkan War must be brought before the court for trial.
No state government nor the government of any indigenous nation must be permitted to sanction or actively engage in genocide. The act of killing a people "in whole or in part" is the language of the 1948 Genocide Convention. Indigenous nations must be especially sensitive to the importance of this language. Indigenous nations are the true concern of this Convention. They are the most vulnerable of peoples and must be guaranteed the absolute right as human beings to freely exist without threats or acts which result in their destruction in whole or in part. Whether by military violence, economic violence, environmental violence or cultural violence, indigenous nations are vulnerable to genocide.
For torturing men and women with electric probes, burning parts of the body and "you…pour vinegar on the wounds, mostly on the genitals and the eyes," and then pouring gasoline over them while igniting their screaming body Mr. Miro Bajarmovic, should receive the severest of punishment.
Before the collapse of Yugoslavia, Mr. Bajaramovic's Croatia was an indigenous nation under the control of a state. After its breakup Croatia became a nation in control of a state. The indigenous nation of Croatia and now its state government must assume responsibility for Croatian crimes of genocide.
Serbia, the Republic of Srbska and Bosnia must also accept responsibility for crimes of genocide committed by their leaders and their citizens.
Cambodia, Kmer Rouge, Guatemala, the Tutsi and Hutu of Rwanda and Burundi, the Surviving officials of the U.S.S.R. responsible for the torture, starvation and killing of more than 20 million people during World War II, the surviving officials responsible for the deaths of Manchurians, Uygurs, Hui, and Tibetans inside the People's Republic of China, and the Indonesian officials responsible for the deaths of more than 200 thousand Papuans and one-third of the East Timorese since 1969 must all be brought before Genocide Tribunals.
Indigenous nations have a special duty to guard against genocide committed in the name of indigenous nations or in the name of states. Indeed, acts of genocide appear to be committed in the name of transnational corporations (consider northern India) and transnational religion (consider Algeria) as well. To fulfill their duty the world's more than 6000 nations ought to consider and ratify the 1948 Genocide Convention. While doing this nation's should amend the Genocide Convention to establish a permanent Tribunal and then assume responsibility for that Tribunal.
Indigenous nations should assume the responsibility for invoking and enforcing the Genocide Convention and place judges on the Court. Leaving this responsibility to state's governments while not accepting the responsibility themselves leaves nations, indigenous peoples, wholly vulnerable to the act of genocide. Mr. Bajaramovic's confession is testimony to this fact.