YIHR Croatia refuses to respond to Luka Mišetić’s ‘Challenge’

YIHR Croatia refuses to respond to Luka Mišetić’s ‘Challenge’

On January 16th, Luka Mišetić tweeted a ‘challenge’ to YIHR Croatia to ‘identify one Serb – by name – who claimed to have left Croatia during Storm due to fear of shelling’. YIHR refuses to do so. The reason is twofold, and very simple. One, YIHR Croatia is not a court nor a Tribunal. A jurist of Mišetić’s profile should be aware of that. Secondly, and more importantly, we refuse to participate in twitter ‘challenges’ that play with people’s lives and destinies in such a manner.

We, however, will remind Mr. Mišetić of two things. One has to do with established facts that, again, a lawyer of his profile with interest in the subject matter should be aware of. And the second has to do with the background of the ‘challenge’ he posed.

As for the first, we remind Mr. Mišetić of what the ICJ established in its 2015 Judgment re: Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia): “the Court notes that it is not disputed that a substantial part of the Serb population of the Krajina fled that region as a direct consequence of the military actions carried out by Croatian forces during Operation Storm, in particular the shelling of the four towns referred to above. It further notes that the transcript of the Brioni meeting, to which it will return later (see paragraphs 501-507 below), makes it clear that the highest Croatian political and military authorities were well aware that Operation Storm would provoke a mass exodus of the Serb population; they even to some extent predicated their military planning on such an exodus, which they considered not only probable, but desirable” (479). The ICJ concluded that this was not sufficient to represent actus reus of genocide and when studying the Brioni Transcripts, the ICJ concluded “It [statements from the Brioni meeting] cannot be interpreted as reflecting an intent on the President’s part to destroy the Krajina Serbs as such.”

As for the latter, the background of the challenge is such that Mr. Mišetić shared an excerpt from an OSCE report that cites UNCHR data that indicates a number (“some 16.000 of the 67.000”) of Serbs left the Eastern Slavonia and Baranja region between August 1996 and July 1998. With this excerpt, Mr. Mišetić noted that “…UNHCR reported that 25% of the Serb population chose to leave rather than live in independent Croatia. To be considered when discussing why Serbs left during Storm”. Without denouncing this as a reasonable consideration or even a plausible argument, YIHR Croatia added to the discussion by sharing the above mentioned paragraph 479 of the ICJ Judgment.

 If anything, these arguments can be seen as complementary. We do not claim that a number of people didn’t leave because they didn’t want to live in independent Croatia. We did not interview all of them and cannot claim for certain that such cases do not exist. Likewise, we cannot claim that there were no other reasons, such as fear, and we can only accept these interpretations as plausible or reasonable arguments. However, the above cited paragraph of the ICJ Judgment is a formal conclusion of a competent international judicial institution. Thus, it is entirely irrelevant what YIHR Croatia or Mr. Mišetić think about this. This is established.

Furthermore, speaking of shelling during the Operation Storm, let us remind Mr. Mišetić of paragraphs 481 – 485 of the same Judgment “Killing of Serbs fleeing in columns from the towns under attack”. Paragraph 485 states: “The Court’s conclusion is that killings were in fact committed during the flight of the refugee columns, even if it is unable to determine their number, and even though there is significant doubt as to whether they were carried out systematically. These killings, which fall within the scope of subparagraph (a) of Article II of the Genocide Convention, constitute the actus reus of genocide.”

Luka Mišetić “challange” on twitter: