Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal

By Gerard Toal; Carl T. Dahlman | Go to book overview

4
Ethnic Cleansing

Coup De Violence: Zvornik and the Drina Valley

In late March 1992, Vojislav Šešelj arrived in Zvornik with a paramilitary force, officially the Serbian Četnik Movement but known to most simply as Šešeljevci (Šešelj’s men). Šešelj and his men had already seen action in eastern Croatia and came to Zvornik with a similar purpose: to ethnically cleanse the opština, to destroy non-Serb homes, and so to further the creation of a homogeneous Serb homeland.1 For this purpose he brought weapons to arm local SDS members and a list of local Muslims who were to be killed.2 He also carried the poisonous notion that Muslims did not belong in Bosnia or indeed within Yugoslavia at all. Speaking at a rally in Mali Zvornik, a small hamlet in Serbia across the river from the Bosnian town of Zvornik, he sought to motivate his followers: “Dear Četnik brothers, especially you across the Drina River, you are the bravest ones. We are going to clean Bosnia of pagans and show them a road which will take them to the east, where they belong.”3 Šešelj knew something about how to wage a “total war of liberation,” having written on the subject and practiced it in Croatia.4 He also knew his endeavors were part of a more comprehensive plan. “The Zvornik operation was planned in Belgrade,” he said later, “… everything was well organized and implemented.”5

The Šešeljevci were one of several paramilitary or “volunteer” units preparing to ethnically cleanse Zvornik and other towns in the Drina River valley.6 The dominant force was the Arkanovci or Arkan’s Tigers, under the

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Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xv
  • Figures xvii
  • Tables xix
  • Abbreviations xxi
  • Introduction - Ethnic Cleansing and Return as Geopolitics 3
  • 1 - Yugoslavia’s Violent Dissolution 20
  • 2 - A Distinctive Geopolitical Space 46
  • 3 - Polarization and Poison 83
  • 4 - Ethnic Cleansing 112
  • 5 - Persistent Ambivalence 142
  • 6 - Early Battles over Returns 167
  • 7 - Building Capacity 194
  • 8 - Rule of Law 228
  • 9 - Localized Geopolitical Struggles 256
  • 10 - Did Ethnic Cleansing Succeed? 293
  • List of Interviews 321
  • Appendix 327
  • Notes 337
  • References 411
  • Author Index 441
  • Subject Index 446
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