[Marxism] Information on propaganda on women supposedly raped in Bosnia

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 14 07:15:32 MDT 2006

>This is specifically addressed to Louis - I remember you giving various 
>citations for the use of propagandistic disinformation about the 50 000 
>Bosnian women supposedly raped by Serbian soldiers, used in order to gain 
>liberal support for US intervention in the Yugoslavian war. I am writing 
>something at the moment on the misappropriation of identity politics, and 
>would like to cite reliable sources on this matter. Could you post a list 
>of sources to Marxmail again, or alternatively e-mail them to me privately?

In addition to writing propaganda about Serb "death camps," Gutman 
specialized in the rape as political weapon story. On August 9, 1992 he 
filed a story titled "Bosnia Rape Horror" that relied on the testimony of a 
single 16-year-old girl that supposedly was repeated in the "tens of 
thousands". Gutman also relied on the information provided by Jadranka 
Cigelj, whom he described in Newsday as a "lawyer and political activist." 
Cigelj supposedly witnessed nightly beatings and rape at a Serb prison camp 
in Omarska.

Gutman conveniently omitted the exact character of Cigelj's political 
activism. Johnstone points out that "Cigelj was a vice president of 
Croatian president Franjo Tudjman's ruling nationalist party, the Croatian 
Democratic Community (HDZ) and was in charge of the Zagreb office of the 
Croatia Information Center (CIC), a wartime propaganda agency funded by the 
same right-wing Croatian émigré groups that backed Tudjman. The primary 
source for reports of rape in Bosnia was Cigelj's CIC and associated 
women's groups, which sent 'piles of testimony to Western women and to the 
press'." She adds:

"The CIC benefited from a close connection with the 'International 
Gesellschaft fur Menschenrechte' (International Association for Human 
Rights, IGfM), a far right propaganda institute set up in 1981 as a 
continuation of the Association of Russian Solidarists, an expatriate group 
which worked for the Nazis and the Croatian fascist Ustashe regime during 
World War II. In the 1980s, this organization led a propaganda campaign 
against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, accusing them of running camps where 
opponents were tortured, raped, and murdered on a massive scale."

This did not prevent Cigelj from becoming a feminist heroine. She was feted 
by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Women Make Movies in a 25 
city tour that featured a documentary "Calling the Ghosts: A Story of Rape, 
War and Women."

In response to all of the atrocity stories flowing out of Bosnia, the 
United Nations launched an investigation that unsurprisingly corroborated 
the lurid reports penned by Gutman and others. The original president of 
the committee was Frits Kalshoven, professor of humanitarian international 
law at the University of Leiden in Germany. An Egyptian-American named 
Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, whose sympathy for the Muslims was obvious, 
replaced him. Notwithstanding the propaganda consensus that Serbs were 
using mass rape as a political weapon, Kalshoven concluded:

"Terms like 'genocide' came all too easily from the mouths of people like 
Bassiouni, an American professor of law, who had to establish a reputation 
and to work on fund-raising. In my opinion these terms were way out of 
line. 'Genocidal rape' is utter nonsense. 'Genocide' means extermination, 
and it is of course impossible to exterminate people and make them pregnant 
at the same time. It is a propaganda term which was used against the Serbs 
right from the start, but I have never found any indication that rape was 
committed systematically by any of the parties -- and I understand by 
'systematically', on orders from the top."

full: http://www.swans.com/library/art9/lproy04.html



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