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The Emperor's New Clothes
Piercing a Fog of Lies

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Srebrenica 'Massacre':
Is The Hague Hyping a Hoax?
Part I

by George Pumphrey

Originally posted, on
The Emperor's New Clothes
8 May 2000

"As a result of the Srebrenica hoax, a new order of the world is beginning to take shape, where the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] assists in creating refugees, where the Red Cross helps separate families and where Tribunals indict first and look for crimes later." - G. Pumphrey


Five years ago, George Pumphrey wrote "Srebrenica: Three Years and Still Waiting..." That was a ground breaking article because it convincingly challenged the almost unanimous stance of the Western mass media and the political left, right and center, that the Bosnian Serb Army had slaughtered 7000 (or 3000 or 8000) POWs and/or civilians when that Army re-took the town of Srebrenica.

Two years after his first article, Pumphrey produced an entirely new analysis. Though shorter, the new article includes new information and arguments. I find its handling of the labyrinth of contradictory reports about Srebrenica clearer and easier to read as well.

Now on the eighth anniversary of this alleged event (imagine - in our brave new world, we have 'alleged events'!) Pumphrey's article takes on special significance. The Hague Tribunal is pressing to get hold of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Serbian Gen. Radko Mladic. And Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is already in The Hague, fighting the accusation that he is responsible for an alleged massacre which the Tribunal has yet to prove even happened at Srebrenica.

-- Jared Israel
11 July 2003

Srebrenica 'Massacre': Is The Hague Hyping a Hoax?
Part 1
by George Pumphrey

The "massacre of Srebrenica", where 8,000 Muslim males of military age are reported to have been summarily executed by Bosnian Serbian troops in the aftermath of the takeover of the town, has been termed the worst war crime in Europe since World War II. Most significantly, it has been deemed not merely a crime of war, but evidence of a campaign of genocide, the worst war crime imaginable.

The case of Srebrenica, and the subsequent genocide indictment, can be seen to have brought about a major change in the political and social rules of conduct in international relations, and not only for this region of Europe. A new set of factors has been introduced into world politics. Some of the most important changes are:

  • The discrediting of the United Nations for supposedly having stood idly by, allowing a "genocide" to take place on territory under its authority, which was a prerequisite for:
  • Promoting NATO as the world's new "peace keeping" force, allowing the US-led military alliance to strike and eventually occupy sovereign states or to take sides in civil wars outside the constraints of the democratic and peace-oriented principles of the United Nations Charter;
  • The relativisation and resulting trivializing of Nazi barbarism, a prerequisite for releasing Germany from its obligations to seek reconciliation with its World War II victims and allowing it once again to exercise military force anywhere in the world;
  • Creating public acceptance of inquisitorial methods of journalism and judicial inquiry, denying the accused not only the presumption of innocence and the benefit of the doubt, but of long-established democratic rights to proper legal defense;
  • Undermining journalistic standards of fairness in favor of propaganda in a media industry organically linked to dominant economic and military powers;
  • The imposition of a discriminatory "moral" double standard of "human rights", selectively applied in favor of particular national, social, cultural or "ethnic" groups, leaving others without "rights" worthy of respect by Euro-American powers, and therefore:
  • Growing acceptance of treating a whole nation or people as inherently criminal and therefore unworthy of basic rights of equity before the law.

In short, with Srebrenica important mainstays in the international political order of the post-war period were ushered out the door. This has all been made possible through a massive propaganda campaign spreading the story of a yet-to-be-proven massacre, which has become the key piece of evidence for an also yet-to-be-proven campaign of genocide. Momentous political decisions have been based upon and justified by the supposition that a huge massacre took place in Srebrenica, decisions determining the welfare of the peoples of this region and beyond.

Three years later, in 1998, the effort to find evidence was still underway, as yet more areas in the vicinity of Srebrenica were being dug up in search of the "mass graves" presumed to contain the remains of the victims of the "Srebrenica massacre." As with previous years' excavations, representatives of the UN Security Council's ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia held their press conference at the beginning of the dig.

   A revealing press conference

Information from this press conference, as reported in the New York Times, provokes questions about the basis of the juridical work of this ad hoc Tribunal. Mike O'Connor, reporting on the beginning of a dig in the village of Kamenica, in the spring of 1998, writes that:

"Exhumations in 1996 [the first year of digging] recovered 460 bodies, (...) 7,500 others were still missing from the town of Srebrenica. Finding the others has been the goal of war-crimes investigators for more than two years."1

Anonymous investigators (investigators for the Tribunal spoke to the reporter "on condition of anonymity") said that what they hoped to find "will bolster the cases against [the] 2 Bosnian Serb leaders" Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Radko Mladic, indicted for genocide by the Tribunal.1

Two months later, the NY Times reported that the total number missing was 7,300, that 1,000 bodies had been found, but that "only about 15 bodies have been identified.2 Other reports have given similar, though slightly inconsistent, figures.3 This inconsistency is based on the different sources of the figures. Whereas O'Connor sticks to the quasi-official (because least partisan) figures given by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the author of the second Times article, David Rohde, relies on figures from the "survivors" of Srebrenica, meaning Muslim (usually Muslim government) sources. That the Muslim authorities have every reason to exaggerate the number of victims on their side of the conflict is without question and therefore their figures are to be taken with more than a grain of salt. Already throughout the course of the war their estimations of the numbers of dead - widely reported in the press without verification - have had to be revised downward.4 Thus, for this paper, the Red Cross figures will be used.

But if finding the other 7,000 has been the goal of war crimes investigators for more than two years, the question should be raised: on what did the Tribunal base its charges of "genocide" if they did not even have the proof that the massacre for which the two Serb leaders are charged ever occurred? If they now - three years later - are still trying to scrape together enough bodies to make their indictment plausible, on what was their indictment based?

O'Connor writes that the Tribunal now has to try to "prov[e] that the soil around the bodies came from the original mass graves."5 Does this mean that what they had considered to be "the original mass graves" were either empty or sheltered too few bodies to justify their charges?

Under such circumstances, it appears that the Tribunal charged Karadzic and Mladic according to the principle: "Indict now. Look for evidence of a crime later". And even when the evidence is not found, there is no suggestion that perhaps the proper course would be to revise the indictment or drop the charges.

Diana Johnstone, who has been closely following the developments in the Balkans, noted in The Nation:

  • "When, in the early months of the war which raged across Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo, seconded by Croatian agencies in Zagreb, presented Western media with reports indicating that the Serbs were pursuing a deliberate policy of genocide, a basic principle of caution, essential to justice was rapidly abandoned. That is the principle that the more serious the accusation, the greater the need for proof, since otherwise accusations will become an instrument of the lynch mob."6

In the media, each succeeding generation of speculation - even falsification - is built upon preceding generations of unproven reports, many of which were set in motion as deliberate disinformation by secret services and public relations agencies. Once they have been repeated over and over as certainty, anyone who would dare to venture upstream to the source and demand substantiating evidence runs the risk of being verbally lynched for having denied something as obvious as that the earth's surface is flat.

Given the fact that the number of persons alleged to have been summarily executed could make the difference between a charge of "genocide" and a charge of "war crime", and faced with the difference between the 8,000 alleged to have been killed and the 460 dead bodies actually found, the first step in beginning to sort out fact from fiction would be to clear up this discrepancy in numbers.

   Playing the numbers

The International Committee of the Red Cross published a press statement on September 13, 1995, which stated:

  • "The ICRC's head of operations for Western Europe, Angelo Gnaedinger, visited Pale and Belgrade from 2 to 7 September to obtain information from the Bosnian Serb authorities about the 3,000 persons from Srebrenica whom witnesses say were arrested by Bosnian Serb forces. The ICRC has asked for access as soon as possible to all those arrested (so far it has been able to visit only about 200 detainees), and for details of any deaths. The ICRC has also approached the Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities seeking information on some 5,000 individuals who fled Srebrenica, some of whom reached central Bosnia."7

The September 15, 1995, New York Times gives another accounting:

  • About 8,000 Muslims are missing from Srebrenica, the first of two United Nations-designated 'safe areas' overrun by Bosnian Serb troops in July, the Red Cross said today. (...) Among the missing were 3,000, mostly men, who were seen being arrested by Serbs. After the collapse of Srebrenica, the Red Cross collected 10,000 names of missing people, said Jessica Barry, a spokeswoman. In addition to those arrested, about 5,000 'have simply disappeared,' she said.8

Aside from simply adding the 3,000 Muslim men in Srebrenica upon arrival of the Bosnian Serb military (who the Serbs then took as prisoners of war) and the 5,000 Muslim men, reported to have left Srebrenica before the arrival of Bosnian Serb forces, to inflate the figures - and therefore the gravity of the accusation - this report makes no mention of the fact that by mid-September 1995 a sizable portion of the group of 5,000 had already reached Muslim territory and safety.

And the fact that the Red Cross was asking the Bosnia-Herzegovina [Muslim] authorities for information about the 5,000 (the original figure) - "some of whom [had already] reached central Bosnia" - has completely disappeared from the news. The entire 5,000 of the one group and the 3,000 of the other are still today - 3 years later - being counted as "missing" and therefore presumed dead.

   Even the Red Cross played loose with the numbers

The Red Cross report was itself lacking the objectivity that one would have hoped for from a non-partisan organization. Its very off-hand "some of whom reached central Bosnia" gives the impression that only a handful could be accounted for by mid-September. But again the press gave another picture. Within a week of the takeover of Srebrenica (July 18, 1995) one learns that:

  • "Some 3,000 to 4,000 Bosnian Muslims who were considered by UN officials to be missing after the fall of Srebrenica have made their way through enemy lines to Bosnian government territory. The group, which included wounded refugees, sneaked past Serb lines under fire and crossed some 30 miles through forests to safety."9

Similar reports appeared in other journals at the time. On August 2, 1995, The Times of London published the following:

  • "Thousands of the "missing" Bosnian Muslim soldiers from Srebrenica who have been at the centre of reports of possible mass executions by the Serbs, are believed to be safe to the northeast of Tuzla. Monitoring the safe escape of Muslim soldiers and civilians from (...) Srebrenica and Zepa has proved a nightmare for the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. For the first time yesterday, however, the Red Cross in Geneva said it had heard from sources in Bosnia that up to 2,000 Bosnian Government troops were in an area north of Tuzla. They had made their way there from Srebrenica "without their families being informed," a spokesman said, adding that it had not been possible to verify the reports because the Bosnian Government refused to allow the Red Cross into the area.10

The Washington Post explains: "The men set off at dawn on Tuesday, July 11, in two columns that stretched back seven or eight miles."11

   Double counting?

Two weeks before the Red Cross representatives Angelo Gnaedinger and Jessica Barry gave their numbers to the press, another spokesperson for the International Red Cross in Geneva, Pierre Gaultier, provided an important detail. In an interview given to the German journal Junge Welt, he explained:

  • "All together we arrived at the number of approximately 10,000 [missing from Srebrenica]. But there may be some double counting... Before we have finished [weeding out the double counting] we cannot give any exact information. Our work is made even more complicated by the fact that the Bosnian government has informed us that several thousand refugees have broken through enemy lines and have been reintegrated into the Bosnian Muslim army. These persons are therefore not missing, but they cannot be removed from the lists of the missing (...) because we have not received their names."12

Since the number of "missing" (and therefore assumed dead) has remained at roughly 8,000 throughout the past 3 years, it can be reasonably assumed that the Muslim government has never furnished the Red Cross with the names of those who reached Muslim lines.

   3,016 massacre victims vote...

Also to be noted is that when Prof. Milivoje Ivanisevic at the University of Belgrade took a close look at the Red Cross list, he discovered it contained the names of 500 people who were already deceased before Bosnian-Serb troops entered Srebrenica.

Even more interesting, when comparing the Red Cross' list with the electoral list for the 1996 fall elections, he also found that 3,016 people listed by the Red Cross as "missing" were on the electoral lists the following year.13 This leads to one of two possibilities: either the Muslims were having their dead vote, meaning that the voters were bogus, and the election a fraud; or the voters were in fact alive, in which case, here is an additional piece of evidence that the massacre is a fraud.

Early in the war, journalists from Time magazine saw through the game being played on the press and international organizations. They wrote: "Bosnian Muslims, fighting at the raw level of their rivals, are likewise guilty of barbarism--and of inflating horror stories about the Serbs to win sympathy and support."14 It appears that they were not without success.

   Poor performance by Red Cross and media

With deliberately inflated figures clearly being used to fuel a major propaganda campaign to make "Srebrenica" a symbol of Serbian "genocide", some Red Cross spokespersons in effect became a party to the conflict by failing to bring important information to public attention. It is difficult to understand how correspondents such as Mike O'Connor and their editors could be unaware of the extremely misleading and inaccurate content of the reports they published.

Both Red Cross and UN officials knew that thousands were safe. Yet neither corrected the communiqué given in September. And both failed to report that Ms. Barry's 5,000 who "simply disappeared," had in fact simply disappeared back into the ranks of the Bosnian army. The propaganda put into circulation by representatives of the Bosnian government was allowed to stand uncontested even by organizations otherwise seen as non-partisan.

Within days of the take-over of Srebrenica, Zepa, a second Moslem enclave (and UN Safe Area), was also captured by Bosnian Serb forces. Among the defenders of Zepa were hundreds of the "missing" soldiers from Srebrenica. The New York Times recounts:

  • "The wounded troops were left behind, and when the Bosnian Serbs overran the town on Tuesday, the wounded were taken to Sarajevo for treatment at Kosevo Hospital. Many of them had begun their journey in Srebrenica, and fled into the hills when that 'safe area' fell to the Bosnian Serbs on July 11. These men did not make it to Tuzla, where most of the refugees ended up, but became the defenders of Zepa instead. 'Some 350 of us managed to fight our way out of Srebrenica and make it into Zepa,' said Sadik Ahmetovic, one of 151 people evacuated to Sarajevo for treatment today. (...) They said they had not been mistreated by their Serb captors."15

It might seem strange that the Muslim soldiers of Zepa would abandon their wounded comrades and that 5,000 Srebrenica soldiers would abandon their women and children to an enemy with a reputation - at least in the media - of being sadists, and rapists seeking to commit "genocide". Could it be that these Muslim soldiers knew that they need not be particularly worried about their women, children and wounded comrades falling into the hands of their Serbian countrymen? The Serbian forces had the wounded Muslim soldiers evacuated behind Muslim lines to their Muslim hospital in Sarajevo. Is this how one goes about committing genocide? Is this the military force compared to Nazis? What a trivialization of Nazi barbarism!

The London Times article quoted above mentions that 2,000 Srebrenica soldiers made their way to the north of Tuzla "without their families being informed". Were their families ever informed? Other than the very few articles that took notice of their resurrection from the presumed dead, the public at large was never informed that they were in fact alive. On the contrary. And the women of Srebrenica continue to demonstrate demanding information about their loved ones, whom they believe are still alive.

   Supposed massacre victims are...
   secretly sent to other countries!

To maintain the hoax, it is not only necessary to create the illusion that the proof of a massacre exists, but it is also necessary to suppress any evidence that it did not happen. Not only must the 5,000 never be accounted for, but not too many of the 3,000 listed by the Red Cross as prisoners of war must be allowed to return "from the dead."

On January 17, 1996, the British daily "Guardian" published an article concerning one group of the former Muslim POWs from Srebrenica and Zepa, who, once liberated from a POW camp, were flown directly to Dublin:

  • "Hundreds of Bosnian Muslim prisoners are still being held at 2 secret camps within neighboring Serbia, according to a group of men evacuated by the Red Cross to a Dublin hospital from one camp - at Sljivovica. (...) A group of 24 men was flown to Ireland just before Christmas [1995](...). But some 800 others remain incarcerated in Sljivovica and at another camp near Mitrovo Polje, just three days before the agreed date for the release of all detainees under the Dayton peace agreement on Bosnia(...). The Red Cross in Belgrade has been negotiating for several weeks to have the men released and given sanctuary in third countries. A spokeswoman said most were bound for the United States or Australia, with others due to be sent to Italy, Belgium, Sweden, France and Ireland. (...) Since late August, the Red Cross has made fortnightly visits from its Belgrade field office. (...) Teams from the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague have been in Dublin to question and take evidence from the men."16

Why would prisoners of war, whose normal first wish upon being freed would be to be reunited with their families and to restart their interrupted lives in peacetime, be rushed off to Dublin, with "papers to remain in Ireland"? Why would the Red Cross - usually known for reuniting families - be seeking to secretly spirit them out of their homeland, away from their family and friends? Were their families ever informed?

The ex-prisoners were widely dispersed. For instance, to a second country...

  • [The] US decided to accept 214 Bosniaks who, (...) had been detained in Serbian camps and give them refugee status.17

Why have neither the Red Cross (which has been visiting the prisoners since August 1995), nor the Tribunal (in its search for evidence of a "genocide" in Bosnia, for which Srebrenica is slated to be the centerpiece), nor the American government made mention since August 1995 of these men being given refugee status?

And to a third country...

In 1996, the pro-government (Muslim) news agency TWRA reported:

  • "[One] Hundred-three Bosnian soldiers who were recently released from prisons in Serbia, were sent to Australia against their will", claims their commander, Osmo Zimic. Zimic also criticizes the UNHCR, whose spokesman claimed these soldiers demanded departure to Australia and by no means return to Bosnia for they would allegedly face criminal charges as deserters there. "This is not true", says Zimic. Australian immigration & ethnic affairs office spokesman says he was informed [of] Zimic's allegation from the Bosnian embassy in Canberra and that the investigation was initiated."18

    "The Bosnian Embassy in Australia requested the Hague International Tribunal (ICTY) to start an investigation on the deportation of Bosniaks (800 persons) from Serbia to Australia and Europe in which, supposedly, UNHCR assisted, instead [of] involving Bosniaks in the exchange of prisoners, esp. for they had been in the camps in Serbia which claimed not to be involved in the war in Bosnia. The principal witness for the prosecution is Osmo Zimic, a Bosnian Army Officer, one who had been deported to Australia against his will."19

It seems as though the Red Cross, the UNHCR, and a host of "western" governments around the world were engaged in hiding the fact that these men were not massacred.

Who stood to gain?

As a result of the Srebrenica hoax, a new order of the world is beginning to take shape, where the UNHCR assists in creating refugees, where the Red Cross helps separate families and where Tribunals indict first and look for crimes later.

Before discovery of conclusive evidence that the alleged crime has even been committed, the indictment alone is made to serve as punishment. This reverses the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" and amounts to inquisitorial justice. For three years the Tribunal has been searching for evidence of an alleged genocide which has already largely served its political purpose. Now the search is on for a retrospective judicial fig leaf.

End of Part I.

   Footnotes and Further Reading

Emperor's Clothes has published other articles challenging the Srebrenica massacre story. For a list, with brief summaries, go to "Was There a Massacre in Srebrenica?" at

Footnotes for Part I:

1) O'Connor, Mike; Mass Graves in Bosnia Bolster War-Crimes Cases; IHT (NYT-Services), 14.5.98

2) Rohde, David; "In Bosnian Town Where Thousands Died, Ethnic Hate Overwhelms Small Kindnesses" New York Times, July 25, 1998.

3) As noted below, early reports used the figures 10,000 and then 8,000. The Washington Post gives 12,000 as the original number of missing.

4) "News organizations and specialists, after three years of war, talk of 200,000-250,000. The Bosnian government in April 1995 lowered its previous estimate to just over 145,000, about 3 percent of the pre-war population."(my emphasis, gp) David Owen, Balkan Odyssey, Harcourt Brace, 1995, pg. 80;

5) ibid

6) Johnstone, Diana, Selective Justice in The Hague: The War Crimes Tribunal on Former Yugoslavia is a Mockery of Evidentiary Rule; The Nation, 22.9.97

7) Former Yugoslavia: Srebrenica: help for families still awaiting news; ICRC News 37

8) AP; Conflict in the Balkans; 8,000 Muslims Missing; New York Times; Sep 15, 1995; p. 8.

9) Chris Hedges; Conflict in the Balkans: In Bosnia; Muslim Refugees Slip Across Serb Lines; New York Times; July 18, 1995, p. 7.

10) Evans, Michael and Kallenbach, Michael; Missing' enclave troops found; The Times; 02 August 1995 p. 9.

11) Dobbs, Michael/ Spolar, Christine; 12,000 Muslims Massacred In July Srebrenica Exodus; Washington Post, October 27, 1995.

12) Pierre Gaultier (interview), Wo sind die Vermißten aus Srebrenica? Junge Welt, 30.8.95

13) Faux électeurs... ou faux cadavres; Balkans Infos, Paris; Oct. 1996 (No. 6); See also Ivanisevic, Milivoje; "Un Dossier qui pose bien des Questions"; Balkans Infos, Paris; Dec. 1996 (No.8).

14) McAllister, J.F.O. et al; Specters of barbarism in Bosnia compel the US and Europe to ponder: Is it time to intervene?; Time Magazine Aug. 17, 1992.

15) Hedges, Chris; Bosnia Troops Cite Gassings At Zepa; New York Times, Jul 27, 1995

16) Vulliamy, Ed; Bosnia: The secret War - Serbs 'run secret camps': Men freed from clandestine detention tell Ed Vulliamy of random beatings and 'mobile torture machines'; Guardian, 17.1.96

17) S.K., Another Two Mass Graves Discovered, Press TWRA, Jan 19,1996

18) A.S.; Bosnian Soldiers in Australia Against Their Will; Press TWRA, Feb 6, 1996

19) A.S.; Investigation on Deportation of Bosniaks Requested; Press TWRA, March 9, 1996

19a) See UN War Crimes Tribunal Delivers a Travesty of Justice by Prof. Robert M. Hayden at

19b) See Still More Evidence - Was the Srebrenica Massacre a Hoax? by René Grémaux and Abe de Vries at

Further reading...

Emperor's Clothes has published many articles on Srebrenica. For a list with brief descriptions. go to


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Last revised: October 14, 2004