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Bosnia and Herzegovina
Transcript of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an ethically rooted war in 1992-1995 that stemmed from post World War I border creation.The region was formerly known as Yugoslavia and composed of a multiethnic population. This population's primary ethnic components and the conflict's primary belligerents were the Muslim Bosniaks (formerly designated as Muslims), Christian Serbs, and Catholic Croats.
In 1946 the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina became one of the constituent republics of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. When the Ottoman Empire occupied the territory,the Turks first beginning their conquest in 1234 and conquering in 1482, many of the area's inhabitants converted to Islam.This Islamic conversion of many of populace precipitated future enmity,war, and division. Then, becoming part of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia became a Communist country.
Communism in Bosnia resulted in the abolition of many traditional Muslim institutions,such as Qur'anic primary schools, rich charitable foundations, and dervish religious orders. Dervish- "a member of a Muslim (especially Sufi or mystical branch of Islam) who has taken vows of poverty and austerity.Dervishes first appeared in the 12th century; they were noted for their wild or ecstatic rituals and were known as dancing, whirling or howling dervishes according to the practice of their order. However, in the 1960s, a change of offiical policy led to the acceptance of "Muslim" as a term of national identity. By 1971,Muslims formed the largest segment of Bosnia's population. Over the next twenty years, the Croat and serb populations within Bosnia fell` due to emigration.
Life in Bosnia
In the 1991 Bosnian census, Muslims composed two-fifths of the population, while Serbs made up slightly less than one-third and Croats one-sixth.From the mid-1990s, the term Bosniak replaced Muslim as this group's title. Simultaneously, the Yugoslav economy in the 1980s was declining rapidly and political dissatisfaction ,disillusionment, and rage among the Yugoslav populace peaked. In December 1990 multiparty elections resulted in the formation of a tripartite government coalition that represented the three national communities consisting of the Catholic Croats, Muslim Bosniaks, and Christian Serbs.
Parties representing each group gained seats in proportion to its group's population. The Bosniak politician Alija Izetbegović led a joint presidency with the leaders of the Serbian and Croatian parties. Tensions began to fester internally within Bosnia and external to it. Such tensions caused political conflict between Izetbegovic's government and Bosnia's Serbian Democratic Party, led by Radavan Karadzic.
Seeds of Dissent
In 1991, several self-styled "Serb Autonomous Regions" were established and proclaimed in highly Serb-populated areas of Bosnia.Implications that the Yugoslav People's Army was being used to secretly send arms to the Bosnian Serbs was proven to be true. In August 1991, the Serbian Democratic Party began boycotting the meetings of the Bosnian presidency. In October, the Party removed its deputies from the Bosnian assembly and created a "Serb National Assembly" in Banja Luka, northern Bosnia. At this point, the Yugoslav Republic was disintegrating and the partitioning of Bosnia among neighboring republics, as proposed in discussions between the Coratian President Franjo Tudjman and the Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, still seemed possible. Two Croatian communities,one northern and the other in southwestern Bosnia, were instituted in November 1991.
In December 1991, Croatia and Slovenia were recognized by the European Community (predecessor to the European Union) as independent countries. The EC then invited Bosnia to apply for it's independence as well. A referendum was then called to decide Bosnia's response to the invitation.Karadžić’s party obstructed voting in many Serb-populated areas.However, nearly two-thirds of the electorate cast a vote and almost all of the populace voted for independence.Bosnia thus became independent, officially declared so on March 3 by Pres. Alija Izetbegović.
The EC sought to establish ethnic "cantons," or second-level units of local autonomy within Bosnia, but the cantons failed due to the rejection of different versions of these plans by the three main parties.Then, when Bosnia’s independence was recognized by the United States and the EC on April 7, war erupted. Serbian forces began firing on Sarajevo, and bombarded the city. During April many of the towns in eastern Bosnia with large Bosniak populations, such as Zvornik, Foča, and Višegrad, were attacked by a combination of paramilitary forces and Yugoslav (then composed of Serbia and Montenegro) army units.
Most of the local Bosniak population was annihilated from these bombarded regions.These Bosniaks were the very first victims of “ethnic cleansing.” Within six weeks, an attack by the Yugoslav army, Serbian paramilitary groups, and local Bosnian Serb forces resulted in the Serbian attainment of nearly two-thirds of Bosnian territory. A Bosian army was assembled, receiving assistance from better-prepared Croat forces.These troops held the front lines for the rest of that year, though their power was steadily eroded in parts of eastern Bosnia. Then, in 1993-1994 , the Bosnian government was weakened militarily by an international arms embargo and by a conflict with Croat forces. In 1993-1994, however, Croats and Bosniaks agreed to form a joint federation.
The Response of the United Nations
The United Nations refused to intervene in the war in Bosnia, but its troops facilitated the delivery of humanitarian aid and established a number of UN-declared “safe areas” that it protected. It strove to establish a peace treaty but several peace proposals failed, largely because the Serbs refused to concede any territory.By 1994, the Serbs controlled 70 percent of Bosnian land.
In May 1995 NATO forces launched air strikes on Serbian targets after the Serbian military refused to comply with a UN ultimatum for peace. Subsequent air strikes precipitated U.S.-sponsored peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, in November. These peace talks established a federalized Bosnia in which 51 percent of the land would constitute a Croat-Bosniak federation (the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and 49 percent a Bosnian Serb republic (the Republika Srpska). To enforce the accord, signed in December, a 60,000-member international force was deployed, which simply evinces how atrocious and violent the conflict was.
Final Days of War
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had convicted 45 Serbs, 12 Croats and 4 Bosniaks of war crimes regarding the war in Bosnia.The most recent studies stipulate around 100,000 people were killed, estimates a total of 20,000 to 50,000 women were raped, and states over 2.2 million people were displaced.