Christiane Amanpour – Eyewitness Testimony
Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada
Published: July 11, 2009
Christiane Amanpour has covered war zones around the world. Throughout the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, her broadcasts on CNN reported the suffering of Bosnian civilians to international audiences. On April 13, 1993, Amanpour reported on the evacuation of Bosniak civilians who had been wounded during a Bosnian Serb assault on the town of Srebrenica. She was shocked to discover that many of the wounded were children.
The Serb offensive ceased when the United Nations declared Srebrenica a “safe haven” on April 16, 1993. Two years later, however, the Bosnian Serb army staged a brutal takeover of Srebrenica and its surrounding area, where they proceeded to perpetrate genocide. Over a period of several days the Bosnian Serb soldiers separated Bosniak families, forcibly expelled 30,000 people in a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing and systematically murdered more than 8,000 boys, men, and the elderly in fields, schools, and warehouses throughout the local area.
Despite efforts to conceal the crime, as of July 2009 the identity of 6,186 Srebrenica Genocide victims have been identified through DNA analysis conducted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The victims’ remains have been excavated from some 80 mass graves. According to the ICMP, “the overall high matching rate between DNA extracted from these bone and blood samples leads ICMP to support an estimate of close to 8,100 individuals missing from the fall of Srebrenica.”
“By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They targeted for extinction the 40,000 Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general…. The Appeals Chamber states unequivocally that the law condemns, in appropriate terms, the deep and lasting injury inflicted, and calls the massacre at Srebrenica by its proper name: genocide. Those responsible will bear this stigma, and it will serve as a warning to those who may in future contemplate the commission of such a heinous act.” – Presiding ICTY Judge Theodor Meron.
Christiane Amanpour − The stories that haunt me are, when we went finally to Srebrenica, and saw these people. I mean, these civilians, who were part of Europe, where there was once the Olympic Games, living like animals, trapped in their little village with the most primitive conditions, as the world looked on.
And I remember once, because Srebrenica was besieged, we couldn’t get in. So we waited outside, and they brought out truckloads of wounded. One of these trucks of people, covered with tarpaulin, arrived at one of the hospitals in a nearby town. And we weren’t prepared for what we saw when they took the tarpaulin off, and they were children.
All of them were children, desperately injured children with dirty bandages and blood all over themselves, and crying and afraid. And I’ll never forget that. And the photographs of that day and that moment reverberated across the world.
I do actually think that when journalists do their duty and tell the story, and report the truth, that it does eventually make a difference.
CNN Report − The refugees came through in eleven covered trucks. Those who managed to peek out the sides waved happily, but their smiles belied the horror of this exodus. One truck was full of wounded. It went straight to the hospital, the doctors stunned by what they found inside.
“You’re free now, don’t be afraid anymore,” he says to this young boy so savagely injured. Here on these faces, these broken bodies, hard evidence of the previous day’s Serb onslaught on Srebrenica.