NOTE: The subtitles are ours.
Escape to the Serbian side
This is the story of a girl who was raped in the midst of a civil war, not
by her enemies, but by men who claimed to protect her.
The brutality and horror of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been
measured over the last two bloodstained years, less by death and wounds,
rape. Almost from the first fighting,
rape - actual, threatened and
rumoured - became a tool of terror and control. Now, in the chaos and
lawlessness of the Muslim enclaves in southern Bosnia, a new pattern of the
same crime is emerging.
Only a few survivors have yet been able to testify to these latest events.
One of them is Vehida Dedic. Raped and beaten by a
gang of men led by the Bosnian Muslim commander of Srebrenica, Naser Oric,
she was left with no-one to turn to in her own town.
For her, crossing the lines into the
hands of an army which was shelling the people around her, was the only
means of escape.
Safe among the Serbs
A rotund, gentle, elderly man, a lawyer from Belgrade, sits in the cramped,
dusty office of a disused factory in the Bosnian Serb town of Bratunac.
Opposite him is a tall, thick-set young Serb soldier, toying with a
handgun, slumped in a chair. A diminutive 15 year-old girl enters and the
two men stiffen. They each know why she is here.
The soldier is the girl's temporary warder. She is, after all, an object of
some curiosity in Bratunac [a Serbian town next to Srebrenica]: an infiltrator
from across the nearby front-line. The lawyer is here to take a statement
for Yugoslavia's own War Crimes Tribunal. Vehida Dedic, visibly in pain
and with one side of her face swollen by toothache, tells her story.
"I was desperate. I realised that I couldn't live there any more ...
I was thinking of committing suicide." As fighting spread across
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vehida and her family had fled from their village
of Pobudje to the nearby Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Vehida, initially
in makeshift refugee accommodation, had recently found space - although
no protection - in a house in the centre of Srebrenica. It was there that
she met the town's commander.
Muslim commander's bordello
"Two months ago, I moved to that house. I lived there until the first of
April. Every second evening or so, Naser Oric used to come, usually with a
different woman. He was always followed into the house by three Muslim
"On the 27th of March, they came again. I made coffee,
as the housekeeper told me to. Then the three soldiers ordered me to
another room. I knew their names: Safet, Serd and Ibro, [all Muslim names]
boys of 20 years, all three from the village of Glogove. When I entered
the room, the soldiers told me to strip
off, lie down on the bed and have sex with them. I started protesting. I
tried to free myself. At one point, I tried to jump through the window;
this was upstairs. Safet caught me and started to beat me on the face and
body. Then all three started to beat me and take off my clothes. That's how
they stripped me naked. Safet was the first to rape me. After that, Serd
and Ibro raped me as well."
Vehida's quiet, measured voice continues, weakened only by her
swollen mouth. She holds back tears and stares into the lawyer's eyes.
She remains outwardly calm. "By the end, I was unconscious. I came
round before dawn. I realised that I was alone and naked, and the door
of the room was open. The rape started around eight in the evening. I don't
know when they left the room."
"At first, I couldn't stand up. Then I dressed, and went to find the
housekeeper. When I found her I told her what had happened, but she just
laughed at me. In the morning, Commander Oric came
back, so I told him what his comrades had done to me. He hit me and swore
Vehida Dedic's only culpability had been to trust those around her.
Now, she was to be victimised by all. "I went
to the Muslim police, to complain to them. But when I told them what
happened, they shouted 'Get out of here!' and threw me out of the police
station. 'You have complained to Naser', they said 'If he didn't help you,
Human shield for terrorists
Naser Oric, the 24 year-old army commander of
Srebrenica, first came to prominence in March, 1993. At that time,
the charismatic UNPROFOR General, Philippe Morillon, demanded that -
if the town was to become a so-called "safe area" - then
Naser Oric must hand over his weapons to the Canadian UNPROFOR troops.
Oric dismissed the demand and halted the evacuation of the town's women
and children. Faced with angry demonstrations as the townsfolk stampeded
on to UN trucks, the Muslim commander said that he would "screw
up those convoys", preferring to maintain a human shield of 9,000
civilians for Srebrenica's 8,000 fighters.
Once she had been publicly victimised, Vehida Dedic had no future in
Srebrenica. But she had the idea to escape, inspired by two other rape
survivors, from a chance encounter: "I met two girls who had been in
Bratunac and wanted to get back to Srebrenica, in a prisoner exchange.
Their nicknames were Ceca and Buba. They came from the village of Tegere.
They told me that they were okay in Bratunac, but when they came back to
Srebrenica they had both been raped. When they complained to the police
like I did, the police told them to go to Naser."
The U.N. treats civilians - as hostages!
Vehida persuaded a girlfriend, Serifa, [also a muslim] to come with
her on the five mile walk across the front-line, to Bratunac. But by this
time - under Naser Oric's instructions, and with the active compliance of
the UN - Srebrenica had effectively become a prison. The walk was almost
suicidal. "The only way out was down the main road from Srebrenica
to [the Serb held] Bratunac. If we went into the hills, someone could
have shot us. There were Muslim positions there. We
could have found some Muslim soldiers who could have killed us. So
we went down the street."
"Myself and Serifa walked out from Srebrenica. But,
when we came to the UN guards, they prevented
us from going on and told us that they would shoot at us. They were
very short with us. They ordered us to go back to Srebrenica ... but
we didn't want to go."
Rescued from a minefield
"So the two of us agreed to bypass the UN guards. We crossed a
stream about five kilometres from their post and went on our way to
Serbian territory ... where the Serbian soldiers were posted. At about
half past twelve we reached their positions. A Serb soldier saw us and
beckoned. Then we saw that we were in the middle of a minefield. We asked
the soldier to come and take us out ... so that we didn't step on a mine.
He came and took us to the Serb guns. The Serb soldiers gave us gave us
food. Then they took us to Bratunac by car. Sarifa was taken to hospital,
she was pregnant."
The lawyer completes his notes. The statement is concluded. But now,
what will happen to Vehida? What can be done for someone so totally
dispossessed? "In no way would I ever go back to Srebrenica ...
I want, if I can, to stay here and live in Bratunac. But if they won't
let me, I'll go on, to Valjevo, to see my grandmother ... she's called
Dessa Mehmedovic." But no-one knew if Dessa Mehmedovic was still