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Mlevludin Oric, Bosnian Muslim Soldier, Discusses Surviving Mladic’s Killing Fields

(Via IslamophobiaToday)

SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The hardest part was the ants. They crawled over his arms and legs, over his face and into his mouth, hour by hour as he pretended to be dead in a pile of corpses slowly turning stiff.

Mevludin Oric lay for nine hours in one of the Srebrenica killing fields where Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic’s troops executed 8,000 Muslim men and boys in July 1995. He escaped in the dead of night, after the soldiers had satisfied themselves that everyone in the sea of bodies was dead.

On Thursday, Oric returned for the first time to the execution ground – a pretty V-shaped meadow surrounded by a forest – with Associated Press journalists to share his feelings about the capture of the man who orchestrated Europe’s worst carnage since World War II.

He brought his eldest daughter, 17-year-old Merima. He wanted her to know what happened here – he wants everyone to know, vowing to testify against Mladic at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands.

“I can’t wait to look into the eyes of that animal,” said the lanky 42-year-old, his eyes lighting up after a morning spent on the verge of tears.

Serbia extradited Mladic to the Netherlands on Tuesday to face genocide charges; he was arrested last week in a village north of Belgrade after 16 years on the run.

Oric, a Bosnian Muslim soldier captured by Serbs as he fled through the woods, is one of four men known to have survived the Srebrenica massacre. All endured the unspeakable ordeal of playing dead while Serb troops patrolled the blood-soaked field, finishing off anybody who showed signs of life with a pistol shot to the head.

Ants bit Oric as they prowled his body, but he didn’t dare move. Nearby, an old man begged for his life: “Children, we didn’t do anything. Don’t do this to us.” He, too, was shot.

On top of Oric was his dead cousin Hars. In the execution line, Hars took Oric’s hand and whispered: “They’ll kill us all.” When the gunfire erupted, Oric threw himself to the ground, as Hars fell over him, groaning in agony.

At one point, Oric saw a Serb soldier walk in his direction. The soldier paused to shoot a man in the head, then continued walking toward Oric. It’s my turn, he thought.

“I closed my eyes,” Oric said, looking at Merima, “and I thought about you and your mother. And for a few seconds before the expected shot, I wondered what it is like in heaven, or in hell.”

The shot never came. But it would be hours more before Oric would be free.

As he toured the meadow Thursday, Oric deciphered its grim geography: “This is where I lay… This is where the pit was…”

“This here is soaked with blood,” he said. “I should have been here. But destiny…” His voice trailed off.

“I would like to cry,” said the construction worker, who lives with his mother and three daughters in central Bosnia. “But there’s something in my throat that doesn’t allow me to cry.”

Close to midnight, the shooting stopped and the Serbs left. Oric’s arms and legs were numb, but he managed to shake off his cousin’s body and stand up. Moonlight shone over the field of bodies; he saw a shadow approach.

“It was the shadow of a man like a ghost” he said. “First I thought it was a soldier left to stand guard.”

But it was Hurem Suljic, a Bosnian Muslim bricklayer with a bum leg who had also survived. Suljic got closer and asked, “Are you wounded?” Oric said no.

Looking around, they saw others still alive but destined to die from rifle wounds. One man had a gash in his side exposing his kidney. “Can you give me a jacket?” he pleaded, “I’m cold.” Oric took a jacket from a dead man and gave it to him.

Oric saw another man crawling on his arms, dragging behind his bullet-riddled legs. “Run, brother,” the man said. “Don’t mind me. I won’t make it.”

Oric and Suljic stepped over corpses and headed into the forest. The journey was hard because of Suljic’s bad leg. At times, Oric said, he had to carry the older man on his back. Four days later, they crossed a mine field at the front line and were met by Bosnian soldiers.

Before the trip back to Srebrenica, Oric took Merima to the school gymnasium where he and hundreds of other Bosnian Muslim captives had been held by Serb forces before the massacre.

Oric said Mladic was there too on that day, inspecting the prisoners minutes before they were loaded onto trucks and driven to the execution ground. Suljic has given similar testimony.

In the school gym, the Muslim men were told they would be part of a prisoner swap. But the men had doubts because they heard gunfire all around.

As Oric and his daughter toured the grounds, people in surrounding houses in the Serb-dominated area called out.

“Let Mladic go!” they yelled.

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  • SKhan

    @farlowe

    The banu qarayza incident was justified. The tied to kill rasulullah while he as already being attacked, breaching the constitution of medina that they themselves had ratified, but he didn’t kill them immediately. He chose a mediator from one of their allied tribes. The mediator decided they should be killed according to the tribal custom of that time.

  • Abdulmajid

    The Bosniaks themselves must make sure than NEVER AGAIN genocide is committed against them. Nobody else will do it for them. Last time nobody helped them and next time nobody will. Bosnia stands alone.

  • mtc

    I despise what Muslims perpetrated against the US on 9/11 and I believe there are too many Muslims who won’t denounce terrorism. But the Serbian genocide against the Muslims is wrong. Anyone who commits war crimes should be punished.

  • Farlowe

    Michael Akkawi: Yes I agree that muslims should be spared another genocide like the one in the article. Let’s hope nothing like that ever happens again.

  • Michael Akkawi

    @Farlowe

    Yes thats the point. Genocides are all horrible irrespective of who committed them and against who. That’s a universal truth.

    But you have to remember this is NOT an Islamic website. One of the main things this website is trying to do is to prevent another genocide against Muslims (who are unprecedentedly targeted).

    The point here is exactly what you were trying to say. Genocides are horrible period. Violence is not exclusively Islamic and is to be ALWAYS, not selectively condemned.

  • Nur Alia

    hol·o·caust [ hóllə kàwst ]
    destruction of human life: wholesale or mass destruction, especially of human life
    complete destruction by fire: complete consumption by fire, especially of a large number of human beings or animals
    burnt offering: a religious sacrifice that is totally consumed by fire

    I am going to make some people angry here…but it is time to make a stand somewhere.

    I posted the defintion of the word holocaust for a reason.

    There have been many holocausts in this world, and some of them fit the true definition of the word. A massive loss of human life.

    There is nothing we can do about holocausts that happen because of natural causes, like earthquakes or tsunamis, but many holocausts have happened because of our own arrogance to belive we are better than another human being Allah has placed here as our neighbour.

    Exceptionalism is the root cause of genocide, and things like the atrocities like using atomic devices on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the firebombing of Dresden Germany, and of course, the mass murder of European Jews…and those who helped them and protected them from an undeserved fate.

    All of those autrcities are a blot on our humanity…but in order to make us better as humanity, we must take the lessons from them…learn thier causes and consequenses, and vow not to let it happen again…on an individual basis. Also, we must never let those who were victimised use it as an excuse to do it to someone else.

    In other words, in our modern world, the autrocities of war are remembered by most. They remember thier victims, they vow not to let it happen again…to any one…at any time…and for any reason.

    However some of humanity have made industry of pity and victimhood. They have turned thier victimhood as an excuse to do it to other, undeserving people. They have used religion, and guilt to exceptionalize themseves above others, and have gained supporters who blindly speak on thier behalf. They hijack the meanings of words, and minimise the rest of those who suffered the same fate in our memories.

    In other words, we blindly enable them to keep staining our humanity, like a person…beliving that they are minimizing the suffering of a drug addict withdrawing from his poison…by giving him more of it.

    In order to heal, and to help those who suffered autrocity heal, we must stop at some point treating them as victims. We must point them in such a way that they become survivors…so that they dont see an ‘enemy’ in every corner, and panic whenever they are criticised.

  • Farlowe

    Yep , I forgot to mention Old Testament madness as well. And many other examples.

    The common pattern is that one person (the “leader”) decides to kill a group and the followers do all the killing. There may be a valid legal argument that is used to justify the killing or there may be no legal argument given …either way to kill a large group of people is wrong. The list of this type of atrocity is huge.

    The example in the article is horrific. 8000 muslims, including boys, killed because some idiot like Mladic told his followers to do it. Tragic and totally wrong.

  • sadia

    this genocide is same as holocaust…any killing of humans without a just reason is a genocide. to ignore it is to be partly responsible for it….shame on bigots trying to downplay this brutal history of the 21st century!

  • Nur Alia

    There is always a humbling time for excetionalists and blind followers.

    It can be a humbling by someone elses suffering, or, when suffering is ignored, it will come upon those who belive they above it.

    Most of the world has seen this kind of suffering…and remember it as something they dont want others to experience.

    Hopefully, all of us can do this one day.

  • Khushboo

    denying Muslim genocide is as bad as denying the holocaust. Such a sad story but it really needed to be told. Thanks for posting this!

  • Muslim

    @ June 4th, 2011 at 1:14 am Farlowe:

    How about the genocides in the Old Testament?
    I am glad that you gave a wide list covering a large group of humanity instead of reverting to tribal/sectarian bias. That redeems my faith in faith, even Islamophobes.

  • mindy1

    Awww I wish I could hug him :'( hope he can live the rest of his days in peace. :( To those who deny such things happend-may you rot

  • Farlowe

    To some, the Banu Qurayza incident was just as much a war crime.
    I am not a big fan of killing any large group of people no matter how ‘legal’ it is. Hiroshima, Dresden, Treblinka, Srebrenica, Cambodia …. all war crimes. All bad.

  • Nasser Oric
  • marco

    What a vile disgusting person Pam Geller & her ilk are. To deny the suffering of these people who went through a genocide, all the people that died – to deny the numbers, and to even justify it – and why? Because they are Muslims.

    Pam Geller is evil. Robert Spencer is evil. And if they have it their way, seeing as they support what happenned – the same stuff will happen to Muslims in other countries soon enough – and they’ll be sitting back and pretending they are innocent of any wrong doing.

  • Ibrahim

    This comment is somewhat unrelated, but bear with me.

    Reading about the Srebernica massacre a few years ago (in the context of one academic’s attempt to deny its classification as a ‘genocide’) actually made me understand why Jewish people got so sensitive about the Nazi Holocaust.
    Holocaust denial *would* hurt, very personally. And there’s nothing to be gained from throwing around such remarks at people.

  • JD

    If Pam Geller and Rob have there way we American muslims will be telling the same story in a few years

  • http://webdawah.blogspot.com/ Webdawah

    Heart wrenching. I wonder how anyone can fully recover from such a harrowing experience. I can imagine PTSD for the rest of his days.

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