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Journalist Rade Rankovic Graffiti wall in Sarajevo Student Veckey Petkovic Bridge at Mostar

Rough Cut
Dark Shadows
The legacy of war in Serbia and Bosnia
 

 

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Length: 18:00

Joe Rubin

"Dark Shadows" is Joe Rubin's third documentary for FRONTLINE/World. Rubin has also produced and reported for ABC's Nightline, including his 2000 documentary on an emerging resistance movement against Slobodan Milosevic, which got him hooked on the Balkans. An unbridled enthusiast for the possibilities of video journalism, Rubin recently returned from a stint in Latin America as a Knight Fellow where he taught digital journalism in Panama, El Salvador and Ecuador. Rubin is currently developing a new program with HBO and lives in Oakland, California.

The 10th anniversary of the worst massacre in Europe since World War II has focused the world's skittering attention on the unfinished business of the Balkan war. Thousands gathered this week in Bosnia to commemorate the Srebrenica massacre, when Bosnian Serb soldiers killed at least 7,000 Muslim men and boys.

The men most responsible for that atrocity -- Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, General Ratko Mladic -- have been indicted for genocide by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Yet both men remain at large.

That may change soon as political pressure builds for their arrest. Serbia is trying to join the European Union; Bosnia wants membership in NATO. Neither stands a chance as long as notorious war criminals find aid and comfort from ultra-nationalist Serb supporters who hide and protect them.

This week on Rough Cut, we present Joe Rubin's report from Serbia and Bosnia. "Dark Shadows" is the story of his journey through a region still struggling to emerge from the smash-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Rubin is a veteran video journalist who has reported many times for FRONTLINE/World. Five years ago, he went to Belgrade to cover the student movement Otpor, which led the nonviolent revolution that toppled Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, who was finally extradited to The Hague, where his trial for war crimes drags on. Rubin's report on those dramatic events appeared on ABC's Nightline.

With the help of a German Marshall Fellowship fund, Rubin went back to the Balkans to visit old friends and see what progress they had made in reforming the Serbian and Bosnian political systems and overcoming the deep ethnic divides between Serbs, Croatians and Muslims. He found some cause for hope: journalists still investigating war criminals, flights restored between Belgrade and Sarajevo, the historic bridge in Mostar rebuilt. But he also found disturbing signs that this haunted region has not yet emerged from the dark shadows of the Balkan civil wars. In Serbia, the once obscure Radical Party -- whose leader, Vojislav Seselj, is on trial in The Hague for war crimes -- now controls more seats than any other party in the Serbian parliament. Venturing into the party's headquarters, Rubin finds an unrepentant group that scorns efforts to bring Serbian war criminals to justice.

In this eyewitness report, you will see for yourself what the Balkan political landscape looks like and how those who ousted Milosevic are still trying to forge a normal life. Along the way you will meet graffiti artists, a journalist inspired by Al Pacino's role in The Insider and a stuttering DJ who during the siege of Sarajevo found salvation in underground punk rock clubs.

REACTIONS

(anonymous)
Hey, I'm 16 and living in Perth, Australia. I'm Bosnian, born in Tuzla. I hope that one day Bosnia well regain its power in the world like before, but not under communist rule but under Alija's dream of a peaceful democratic nation. But before that hapens all Bosnians must unify...and put aside their differences.

Liz Coltrain - Des Moines, IA
I recently met a man from Bosnia. He thinks America is the greatest country. He was surprised that I knew of the war. He told me about his brother who was killed by the Serbs. He had tears in his eyes. He shook my hand and then gave me a huge hug. I knew a lot about what happened during the war and I told him so. Here I was just some anonymous American who still remembered. Still knew what happened. It was an honor for me to shake his hand. With one chance meeting, I was able to see first hand the pain and suffering of the Bosnians that haunts them still to this day. Genocide should not be tolerated in any country in any form. I find it ironic that after WWII and the Holocaust, the famous quote was "Never Again", but it's still happening over and over again... No one wins in war. If we do not remember the past, we are doomed to repeat that past... It is time to make the quote "Never Again" mean just that: "NEVER AGAIN".

(anonymous)
The Bosnian Muslims and Croats suffered the actions of depraved and demented leaders: Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic. I hope the press brings out all the testimony during the trial of Karadzic about the horrible war crimes . The people need to figure out how did these criminals get control of the country.

(anonymous)
I'm Bosnian.I lost everything and everyone.You can't even imagine the pain and the sufferings that all the Bosnians went through.What happened is inhumane.

Mehmed Fejzic - Chicago, IL
I am Bosnian and I am 16 years old from Chicago and I lost a brother that was 8 months old. I'm just showing respect for the ones that lost loved ones in Srebrenica and the war.

(anonymous)
With the recent capture of former Croatian Gen. Ante Gotovina, the wounds of Bosnia are slowly healing. Karadzic and Mladic are still running, but their nation will continue on past them.

George Bozovic - Boston, MA
I respect Mr. Rubin's courage to try to discover the true story behind the scenes. However, I believe he failed to highlight the essence of the problem. As an American who lived the last three years in Belgrade, certain things I would like to point out. The radical party is strong not because a majority of people are ultra-nationalistic, but rather because the democratic parties of Serbia are split and are continously fighting each other. If you account for all of the democratic parties (ex-DOS) you will certantly have a majority over the radicals. The radicals themselves have the single biggest voter group. Secondly, people are turning to the radicals not because of nationalism, but rather economic hardship that people face in transition. Life in Serbia is a lot harder now that the country realized it's economically poor. The radical party, like every other, is about power and corruption. They play the nationalistic rethoric because that's what people want to hear (it sells). However, if in power they would want just to steal. They would not go to war, attack Kosovo, or anything else. It would be damaging if the radical party ever wins. However, the damage would be mostly economic, not geo-political (no reform, economic sanctions).Finally, there is much talk about the lack of will to arrest Karadzic and Mladic. There is significant pressure on Serbia (and other ex-Yu states) to cooperate with the Hague. The extradition of Milosevic and cooperation cost this country a prime minister's life (Djindjic). Political and international pressue for cooperation with the Hague will only cause greater instability as people will turn to the radical party. People in Serbia are afraid and poor.I don't understand. NATO had 50,000 troops in Bosnia from 1995-2000. With all their intelligence, technology, and political will, why didn't they arrest them when they were right in their back yard.

Mirzeta Gabeljic - Louisville, KY
I feel sorry for the people that got killed.

Janet Kuhwald - Canungra, Queensland
To mothers that have lost a son: I have a son that I would never want to loose to such attrocities. Is there a communication network setup so as to send letters as I imagine computers may not be available for use. Please someone out there open the lines of communication for these women.