March 16, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – The Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBH) along with the Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB), the Institute for Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law, Institute for Research Genocide, Canada, Bosnian American Genocide Institute and Education Center and Bosniak Cultural Association sent a joint letter to Texas Governor, Rick Perry expressing our grave concern regarding the alarming language used in Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 39 which was signed on June 17, 2011.
Lines 19 and 20 of page 1 of the Resolution state that "in April of 1992, the siege of Sarajevo began, leading to the deaths of more than 2,000 Bosnian Serbs." The aforementioned quote is a complete disregard of historical facts and an insult to the victims of genocide committed by Serbian forces in BiH. It is important to note that no one was ever indicted for an alleged genocide of Serbs in Sarajevo and we urge Governor Perry to act swiftly to amend this resolution and disallow a rewrite of history.
While ACBH strongly believes in the importance of declaring the month of April as the Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month in tribute to all those whose lives were touched by genocide, we were alarmed by the utter historical inaccuracy of lines 19 and 20 and the Resolution's failure to mention the Srebrenica genocide or other atrocities that occurred in BiH during the war of aggression.
The aggression and genocide that was waged on BiH lasted from April 6, 1992 until September 14, 1995 and resulted in the deaths of 200,000 people and the displacement of over 2 million. The genocide that occurred in BiH was characterized by the policy of systematic rape of Bosniak women and girls, horrific and prolonged siege and shelling of Bosniak cities, including Sarajevo, and the starvation and terrorization of the Bosniak population in the besieged enclaves. The city of Sarajevo was besieged by the Serb forces of Republika Srpska and the Yugoslav People's Army which was comprised of Serbs. The Siege of Sarajevo lasted from April 5, 1992 until February 29, 1996 and is considered to be the longest siege in modern day history. According to the United Nations Commission of Experts published in 1994, during the siege, Serb forces killed more than 10,000 people, 1,500 of those being innocent children. An additional 56,000 persons were wounded, including nearly 15,000 children.
In recognition of these atrocities, in 2005 the United States Congress unanimously approved the Srebrenica Resolution (S. Res. 134 and H. Res. 199) on genocide, which states that:
"the policies of aggression and ethnic cleansing as implemented by Serb forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995 meet the terms defining the crime of genocide"
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Bosnia (Bosnian Caucus) and an advocate of human rights introduced the aforementioned H. Res. 199. Together with Bosnian Caucus co-chair Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and the 27other members of the Bosnian Caucus, Congressman Smith has worked relentlessly on the dissemination of truth about the war in BiH and we ask Governor Perry to do the same.
The language in Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 39 of 2011 is not in line with established historical facts and we owe it to the victims of genocide everywhere, not just in Bosnia, to honor them by remembering what they suffered in a correct and accurate way. After the Holocaust, the civilized world made a promise to never let such atrocities happen again, yet because of unchecked rhetoric and appeasement, the unthinkable happened again in the heart of Europe. It is therefore of utmost importance that we increase the awareness of the dangers of genocide denial in order to prevent a genocide from happening again elsewhere in the world.
We ask all Bosnian Americans and friends of BiH to TAKE ACTION and not allow history to be rewritten.
Please find a sample letter HERE and express your concerns to:
The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor of the State of Texas
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
The Honorable David Dewhurst
Lieutenant Governor of the State of Texas
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711
The Honorable Joe Straus
Speaker of the House
Texas House of Representatives
Room CAP 2W.13, Capitol
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768