The judges of the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague called on Professor
Paul Garde to give an historic overview of the Balkans region and Garde then
fielded questions from the judges. Garde's testimony was given June 27-28,
1996. He is a professor of Slav literature and languages and has written many
lingustics books. Since 1991 Garde's research and writing have focused on the
break-up of Yugoslavia.
Q. When did the policy of "ethnic cleansing" get initiated historically
in the former Yugoslavia ?
A. Well, what happened, for instance, in the 18th century under Austrian rule
and in the 19th
century in Serbian and Montenegrin territory, the Muslims were driven out.
what happened then in Croatia and Bosnia in 1941 for the first time was ethnic
that was practised by representatives of a Christian people on another
that is to say, by Croats on Serbs. So that was the first time that ethnic
taking place without for once the Muslims being the victims. That was also the
where the proportions were as vast, as systematic, as they were. Of course,
this was in
tune with the fascist Nazi ideology at the time. It is fair to say that ethnic
as practised in Croatia during the second half of 1991 and then in Bosnia from
1995, that that was also a follow-up to the same kind of operation. But this
time it was
carried out in a more systematic fashion and a better organised fashion than
had ever seen
Q. Who practised in the ethnic cleansing in the period of the war, late
1991 to `95?
A. The Serbs against the Croats and against the Croats in Croatia, and I am
Croats and non-Serbs, that included the Hungarians who were also victims and in
was practised against Croats and, essentially, against the Muslim Bosnians who
terms of number the main victims.
This does not preclude the fact that in Bosnia you also had ethnic cleansing
practised by Croats against Bosnian Muslims and vice versa in 1993. But in
numbers or statistics, if you like, ethnic cleansing was practised,
essentially, by the Serbs.
In the course of the 90s, the Serbs took that initiative. They practised
ethnic cleansing in a
systematic manner. So, from a statistical point of view, it was in very large,
Q: How do you define "ethnic cleansing" in terms of its principle and in
terms of its method?.
A. Well, ethnic cleansing is a practice where in a given
territory the members of a given ethnic group are eliminated. It means a
practice that aims
to make a territory ethnically pure. So, in other words, that
territory would contain only members of the ethnic group that took the
of cleansing the territory.
So, in other words, the members of the other groups are eliminated by different
ways, by different methods. You have massacres. Everybody is not massacred,
mean in terms of numbers, you have massacres in order to scare these
Sometimes these massacres are selective, and they aim at eliminating the elite
of a given
population, but they are massacres. So whenever you have
massacres, naturally the other people are driven away. They are afraid. They
try to run
away and you find yourself with a high number of a given people that have been
massacred, persecuted and, of course, in the end these people simply want to
are also submitted to pressures to leave.. They are driven away either on
own initiative or they are deported. But the basic point is for them to be out
territory and some of them are locked up in camps. Some women are raped
and, furthermore, often times what you have is the destruction of the monuments
marked the presence of a given population in a given territory, for instance,
places, Catholic churches or mosques are destroyed.
So, basically, this is how ethnic cleansing was practised in the course of this
Q: In this connection of ethnic cleansing,, when you speak of "Muslims"
are you talking about a religious or an ethnic group?
A. When I talk about Muslims in the 18th and 19th century, of
course, I was dealing with a religious group, but now when we talk about the
the course of the 20th century and, more specifically, in Bosnia, we no longer
deal with a
In these particular regions and, more specifically, in
Bosnia where the different populations all speak the same language, the
based on a confessional criteria, i.e. belonging to a given confessional group.
those that by tradition were Catholics. The Serbs by tradition are orthodox.
Bosnians are those with a capital "M" and belong to the muslim tradition,
Muslim this time
time spelt with a low case "m".
That does not mean that these people had a personal faith in that religion,
they practised that religion. It simply means that by tradition they came from
are Muslim, that their ancestors also belonged to the Muslim community, but it
mean at all that they themselves practised the Islam religion or that they
believed in what
Muslims believe in. The same applies to the Catholics or the orthodox.
It simply means that these people belong to that particular community by
tradition and they considered a sort of heritage in belonging to that
community, and others consider them as belonging to that community too. But it
imply anything in terms of their personal creed or their religious practice.
Of course, even among the Serbs and even those that claimed that they belonged
to the orthodoxy, and though they defended the Orthodox Church, still there are
Serbs that are agnostic or did not believe or had no creed. The same applied
Croats and to Muslims, spelt with a capital "M". So again it is not a question
faith or creed. It is more a question of belonging to a given group, to a
Q: Can rape be used as a weapon for ethnic cleansing purposes? Has it
been used as a weapon?
A. Yes, yes, it has. It was used for that purpose because, you know, rape is
humiliation felt by the woman who is raped and by her whole family and the
to which she belongs. Rape is something that makes it even more difficult,
intolerable, to live together amongst the different groups. Returning in the
rape takes place, it is even more difficult. So, undoubtedly, that weapon has
systematically. In answer to your question, there are certainly better
placed experts than me, so I am only repeating here what has been written on
Q. The word "systematic" is often used to describe the ethnic cleansing
in the former Yugoslavia. Who promoted this idea or this policy at the
beginning in the present conflict?
A. There was a text dating back to '37 that clearly explained how we should do
with the Albanians from Kosovo. There were orders given by General Mihajlovic
Second World War that indicated we need to proceed to ethnic cleansing,
apocryphal orders but that probably emanated anyway from these Chetnik
But the point is that the whole idea was floating in the air and this practise
already existed. So in the present conflict, it is difficult to find or, at
least, I for one do not
know of any text in which it was expressively said that such populations had to
deported. But, however, it is said expressis verbis everywhere that "we cannot
together any more, we must not live together any more. We must not live with
Muslims under the same roofs". The same idea was found, well, I do not have
the text in
mind, but anyway, I mean, this whole idea had been expressed before and