Serbian Orthodox Christians in Bosnia, Krajina and Kosovo had their entire history and martyrdom crushed by a mass media which ignored the past, the reality of the time and this ongoing blindness continues today. The stunning art piece by Alyse Radenovic titled Bratunac – Blue says much about these distortions of reality.
By Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Alyse Radenovic (http://www.alyseradenovic.com) was born in 1973 therefore during her early adult life the war in the former Yugoslavia was blazing. This extremely talented artist was born in America and her adorable fine art covers many different themes and often flows in many directions. Many strong passions exist within Alyse Radenovic and this applies to her love of art and her deep respect towards many political issues. Of major concern for Alyse Radenovic is the distortion of reality when it comes to the coverage of what happened to the Serbs in Bosnia, Krajina and Kosovo. Therefore, this article is about fusing art, history and the “other reality” which was neglected by the mass media. Also, it highlights the fact that many major nations will do anything in order to appease the petrodollar nations of the Gulf.
It firstly must be stated that Alyse Radenovic is a fine arts artist who focuses on many themes. Therefore, the words in this article belong to the respective writers despite being inspired by the art of Alyse Radenovic. However, it must be stated that Alyse Radenovic is troubled by the re-writing of history – or, better to say – a history that was never taught in the first place outside of the embattled Serbs of Bosnia, Krajina and Kosovo.
In this article all the art pieces by Alyse Radenovic are focused on Bratunac and Srebrenica. These images can be put within a limited theme applying to what the viewer can see and feel. Or, alternatively, a bigger picture may entail from many different angles. If we then take the names Bratunac and Srebrenica away then the mist of reality can’t be debated. Yet, the titles clearly state that the art pieces apply to Bratunac and Srebrenica. Despite this, at no point am I implying that Alyse Radenovic is focused on the deeper meaning – only this talented artist can answer this; however, it is this chaos which aptly applies to Bratunac and Srebrenica which creates many images within the mind.
Serbian Orthodox Christians in Bosnia, Krajina and Kosovo had their entire history and martyrdom crushed by a mass media which ignored the past, the reality of the time and this ongoing blindness continues today. In modern day Europe you have northern Cyprus whereby Turkey continues to occupy parts of this country. Following on from Turkish occupation is the de-Christianization of this part of Cyprus. Likewise, in modern day Kosovo vast numbers of Orthodox Christian churches and important Serbian architecture have been destroyed. On top of this, many Orthodox Christians have been killed in Kosovo since the ending of the conflict under the watch of America and Europe. It is no coincidence that the petrodollars of the Gulf and the importance of Turkey in NATO, meant that in three conflicts involving Orthodox Christians and Muslims in the last 40 years in Europe; that America sided with Muslim forces in each conflict.
The stunning art piece by Alyse Radenovic titled Bratunac – Blue says much about the distortions of reality. In this image we see the power of the mountains, distant buildings and flowers which immediately hit you. Tranquility can be viewed despite the rugged landscape. However, for the Bosnian Serbs of Bratunac and other mainly Orthodox Christian villages in and around Srebrenica; then only death, persecution and fear could be found during the Bosnian conflict.
Many powerful individuals on the ground and people in the know, fully understood the real reality of Bratunac, Srebrenica and the entire area whereby mutual hatred flourished. In this atmosphere of hatred many innocent Muslims and Orthodox Christians were killed by opposing forces in this part of Bosnia. French General Philippe Morillon, the UNPROFOR commander who first called international attention to the Srebrenica enclave, is adamant that the crimes were quite “extraordinary in the region committed by those Muslim soldiers made the Serbs’ desire for revenge inevitable. He testified at The Hague Tribunal on February 12, 2004, that the Muslim commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, “engaged in attacks during Orthodox (Christian) holidays and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the region.”
Philippe Morillon further states that “Naser Oric was a warlord who reigned by terror in his area and over the population itself. I think that he realized that these were the rules of this horrific war, that he could not allow himself to take prisoners. According to my recollection, he didn’t even look for an excuse. It was simply a statement: One can’t be bothered with prisoners.”
Morillon continues by stating that “the Serbs took me to a village to show me the evacuation of the bodies of the inhabitants that had been thrown into a hole, a village close to Bratunac. And this made me understand the degree to which this infernal situation of blood and vengeance […] led to a situation when I personally feared that the worst would happen if the Serbs of Bosnia managed to enter the enclaves and Srebrenica.”
“I feared that the Serbs, the local Serbs, the Serbs of Bratunac, these militiamen, they wanted to take their revenge for everything that they attributed to Naser Oric. It wasn’t just Naser Oric that they wanted to revenge, take their revenge on; they wanted to revenge their dead on Orthodox Christmas.”
Bratunac and the entire area in and around Srebrenica witnessed countless massacres against local Orthodox Christians. Indeed, while nobody can deny the brutality of what happened when Srebrenica was taken by Bosnian Serb forces – how, what really happened and the numbers killed can be debated; but it is clear that thousands of Muslim males were killed. However, unlike Naser Oric and the brutality that occurred under his command against old people, women and very small children; the Bosnian Serbs allowed Muslim women and children to escape. At no point does this cover-up the massacres that took places by victorious Bosnian Serb forces when Srebrenica fell. However, it is ironic that the brutal murder of over 3,500 Orthodox Christians was brushed under the carpet despite three years of brutality by Muslim forces in the region.
In the art piece by Alyse Radenovic titled Srebrenica – Gold Red then the stylishly distorted images of houses and the vivid color red denotes the distorted bloodshed and reality which happened throughout this part of Bosnia. The Gold background can denote many things. Yet for both writers of this article it denotes the petrodollars of the Gulf and how America and the United Kingdom were willing to “sell their collective souls” while Turkey and Saudi Arabia were dreaming about the re-Islamization of vast parts of the Balkans. Alyse Radenovic may of course see something very different and the same applies to everyone who views this lovely art piece. Yet this is the connection between art, history, power mechanisms and various thought patterns – after all, much will depend on the world that you see – or the world that you have been allowed to witness.
Major-General (Ret) Lewis Mackenzie, a retired Canadian general, also raises serious doubts about “good” and “evil.” In his article titled “The real story behind Srebrenica. The massacre in the UN ‘safe haven’ was not a black and white event,” which was published in The Globe and Mail (July 14, 2005), he clearly highlights many neglected areas.
Lewis MacKenzie witnessed many events and he states the following:
“As the Bosnian Muslim fighters became better equipped and trained, they started to venture outside Srebrenica, burning Serb villages and killing their occupants before quickly withdrawing to the security provided by the UN’s safe haven. These attacks reached a crescendo in 1994 and carried on into early 1995 after the Canadian infantry company that had been there for a year was replaced by a larger Dutch contingent.”
“The Bosnian Serbs might have had the heaviest weapons, but the Bosnian Muslims matched them in infantry skills that were much in demand in the rugged terrain around Srebrenica. As the snow cleared in the spring of 1995, it became obvious to Nasar Oric, the man who led the Bosnian Muslim fighters, that the Bosnian Serb army was going to attack Srebrenica to stop him from attacking Serb villages. So he and a large number of his fighters slipped out of town. Srebrenica was left undefended with the strategic thought that, if the Serbs attacked an undefended town, surely that would cause NATO and the UN to agree that NATO air strikes against the Serbs were justified. And so the Bosnian Serb army strolled into Srebrenica without opposition.”
Most tellingly, Lewis MacKenzie comments that “two wrongs never made a right, but those moments in history that shame us all because of our indifference should not be viewed in isolation without the context that created them.”
Lord Owen was equally alarmed and on page 143 of his book, Balkan Odyssey, he states that “On 16 April I spoke on the telephone to President Milosevic about my anxiety that, despite repeated assurances from Dr. Karadzic that he had no intention of taking Srebrenica, the Bosnian Serb army was now proceeding to do just that. The pocket was greatly reduced in size. I had rarely heard Milosevic so exasperated, but also so worried: he feared that if the Bosnian Serb troops entered Srebrenica there would be a bloodbath because of the tremendous bad blood that existed between the two armies. The Bosnian Serbs held the young Muslim commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, responsible for a massacre near Bratunac in December 1992 in which many Serb civilians had been killed. Milosevic believed it would be a great mistake for the Bosnian Serbs to take Srebrenica and promised to tell Karadzic so.”
The three individuals quoted come from Canada, France and the United Kingdom and all are respected individuals within the military and political world. Sadly, if Modern Tokyo Times gave quotes from Serbians, then people who want to gloss over the reality of Bratunac and Srebrenica, will use any means at their disposal. After all, the point was to kill Orthodox Christians in silence and then to hide what really happened by either silence or mass propaganda. In truth, all sides did massacres throughout the Bosnian conflict – after all, you don’t have any war whereby one side is free from committing massacres irrespective of faith, nationality and so forth. Germany committed many massacres during World War Two but millions of German civilians were also killed by carpet bombings and other brutal realities.
The Serbs of the former Yugoslavia have witnessed dhimmitude under the Ottoman Empire and enslavement; the brutal rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; NAZI Germany; Bosnian Muslim, Catholic Croatian and Albanian SS units. On top of this, the communist leadership in Yugoslavia after World War Two allowed further Albanianization to take place in Kosovo. During the conflict in Bosnia the Bosnian Serbs faced Bosnian Muslim forces, America, al-Qaeda, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the role of many other nations – in time NATO would bomb Serbia from the sky at a later date. Therefore, the mass media not only distorted the Bosnian conflict but they trashed the martyrdom and history of the Serbs by simplistic phrases. Today the same mantra is being thrown at Syria whereby America, Gulf nations and major NATO powers are once more siding in a brutal conflict; whereby Islamist terrorists are on the same side and the Croatian military angle is being used to arm the friends of Washington, Ankara, Doha, London, Paris and Riyadh alongside many other ratlines.
Therefore, the art of Alyse Radenovic with regards to Bratunac and Srebrenica unites with the distortions of reality but in a positive sense. The natural beauty of the art pieces by Alyse Radenovic, in relation to this article, also highlights the stillness of time and the rugged landscape. If people don’t know about the history of the former Yugoslavia before the Bosnian conflict, during and after the demise of this entity; then it is easy to take these art pieces at face value. Of course, Alyse Radenovic may desire people to take these pieces of art at face value but given the places that she portrays – then maybe the meaning is much more powerful than what people see outside of the images which spring to mind?
Irrespective of the real reasons behind the art work of Alyse Radenovic towards Bratunac and Srebrenica; the art pieces according to both writers of this article depicts “the ghosts of the dead that have been abandoned by the whims of outside forces.” Therefore, by Alyse Radenovic depicting natural landscapes alongside more blurred images of Bratunac and Srebrenica; it is what can’t be seen which also fascinates given her love towards the abandoned Serbs of Bosnia, Krajina and Kosovo. In this sense, for people who adore the art of Alyse Radenovic it is important to explore the real meaning behind the subject matter in this article. On a bigger scale, the same obviously applies to the distortions of reality when it comes to Bosnia and other issues related to the former Yugoslavia.
Art may appear to be a million miles away from what happened in Bratunac and Srebrenica. Yet, art is open to enormous interpretation and clearly all individuals will come up with their own meaning to the art viewed. However, when it comes to Bratunac and Srebrenica – just like in modern day Syria – then the mass media and powerful nations want only “their single interpretation.” In this sense, the natural charm of Alyse Radenovic allows many interpretations; if only the mass media and major nations would allow the same logic instead of instigating hatred and falsehood.
President Milorad Dodik of Republika Srpska (RS) comments that “The suffering of the Serbs in and around Srebrenica during those three years was in no way inferior, it just didn’t take place cumulatively in the space of a few days, but over the course of three years. Over 3,500 people lost their lives there, for which, as you can see, they clear Naser Orić, and convict Biljana Plavšić of command responsibility, even though she didn’t command anything in the RS, and only held political office. And that makes us wonder again if we’re willing to accept the double standards in this republic or not. I am not willing.”