“I realize that what happened in Bosnia could happen anywhere in the world, particularly in places that are diverse and have a history of conflict. It only takes bad leadership for a country to go up in flames, for people of different ethnicity, color, or religion to kill each other as if they had nothing in common whatsoever. Having a democratic constitution, laws that secure human rights, police that maintain order, a judicial system, and freedom of speech don’t ultimately guarantee long lasting peace. If greedy or bloodthirsty leaders come to power, it can all go down. It happened to us. It can happen to you.”
— Savo Heleta
Perpetrator(s): Slobodan Milosevic
Affected Group(s): Bosniaks and Croats.
Southeastern Europe: Bosnia-Herzegovinia and the former republic of Yugoslavia
For over four decades, various ethnic and religious groups lived together under Yugoslavia’s repressive communist government. With the fall of the communist regime in the early 1990s some of the provinces declared independence. A civil war broke out as the ethnic tensions turned people agains each other. As Bosnia pushed to secede, Slobodan Milosevic, the leader of Serbia invaded Bosnia. Beginning in April 1992, Serbia set out to ethnically cleanse the Bosnian territory by removing the Bosniaks, the Bosnian Muslims.
Even though the UN Security Council declared that Sarajevo, Goradze, Srebrenica and other Muslim territories were safe areas, in 1995 Serbs committed a widespread massacre where an estimated 23,000 men, women, children and elderly were detained and slaughtered. In 1994, NATO initiated air strikes to stop the attacks. On December 14, 1995 the Dayton Accords were signed, ending the conflict in Bosnia.