Role of the media in the Yugoslav wars
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Picture of "Serbian boy whose whole family was killed by Bosnian Muslims", published by Večernje novosti during Bosnian War.
Orphan on the mother's grave. Painting of Uro Predić from 1888.
During the Yugoslav wars propaganda was used as a military strategy by governments of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and Croatia. Mostly it was used in the war against Bosnia and Herzegovina based on Karađorđevo agreement. However, propaganda was used in Croatian war and Kosovo war as well.
1 Serbian propaganda
1.1 Miloević's control of media in Serbia
1.1.1 Propaganda as part of the indictment against Miloević
1.1.2 Propaganda as a war crime in the eelj's case
1.2 Recent situation
2 Croatian propaganda
3 See also
In the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indictments of former Serbian leader Slobodan Miloević, one of his contributions to the joint criminal enterprise to ethnic cleansing of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina was use of the Serbian state-run media to create an atmosphere of fear and hatred among Yugoslavia's Orthodox Serbs by spreading "exaggerated and false messages of ethnically based attacks by Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats against Serb people..."
Miloević's control of media in Serbia
Miloević began his efforts to gain control over the media in 1986-87, a process which was complete by summer of 1991. In 1992 Radio Television Belgrade, together with Radio Television Novi Sad (RTNS) and Radio Television Pristina (RTP) became a part of Radio Television of Serbia, centralized and closely governed network aimed to be a loudspeaker for Miloevic and his policy. During the 1990s, Dnevnik (Daily news) was used to glorify "wise politics of Slobodan Miloević" and to attack "servants of Western powers, forces of chaos and despair", i.e., Serbian opposition.
JNA soldier reads propaganda of "Pobjeda" on Ustashe hidden behind the walls of Dubrovnik.
According to the witness called by the ICTY's Office of the Prosecutor, Professor Renaud De la Brosse, Senior Lecturer at the University of Reims, Serbian authorities used media as a weapon in their military campaign. "In Serbia specifically, the use of media for nationalist ends and objectives formed part of a well thought through plan - itself part of a strategy of conquest and affirmation of identity." According to de la Bosse, nationalist ideology defined the Serbs partly according to a historical myth, based on the defeat of Serbia by the Ottoman forces at the battle of Kosovo in 1389 and partly on the genocide suffered by Serbs during the Second World War at the hands of the Independent State of Croatia. Croatian will for independence fed the flames of fear, especially in Serb majority regions of Croatia. According to de la Bosse, the new Serbian identity became one in opposition to the "other" - Croats (collapsed into Ustashe) and Muslims (collapsed into Turks). Even Croatian democracy was dismissed since Hitler came to power in Germany within the framework of a multi-party mechanism but subsequently became a great dictator, aggressor and criminal
While Miloević, until the run up to the Kosovo war, allowed independent print media to publish, their distribution was limited. His methods of controlling the media included creating shortages of paper, interfering with or stopping supplies and equipment, confiscating newspapers for being printed without proper licenses, etc.. For publicly owned media, he could dismiss, promote, demote or have journalists publicly condemned. In 1998, he adopted a media law which created a special misdemeanor court to try violations. It had the ability to impose heavy fines and to confiscate property if they were not immediately paid. According to the report by de la Brosse, Milosevic-controlled media reached more than 3.5 million people every day. Given that and the lack of access to alternative news, de la Brosse states that it is surprising how great the resistance to Milosevic's propaganda was among Serbs - evidenced not only in massive demonstrations in Serbia in 1991 and 1996-97 both of which almost toppled the regime, but also widespread draft resistance and desertion from the military.
De la Brosse describes how RTS (Radio Television of Serbia) portrayed events in Dubrovnik and Sarajevo: "The images shown of Dubrovnik came with a commentary accusing those from the West who had taken the film of manipulation and of having had a tire burnt in front of their cameras to make it seem that the city was on fire. As for the shells fired at Sarajevo and the damage caused, for several months it was simply as if it had never happened in the eyes of Serbian television viewers because Belgrade television would show pictures of the city taken months and even years beforehand to deny that it had ever occurred." The Serbian public was fed similar disinformation about Vukovar, according to former Reuters correspondent Daniel Deluce, "Serbian Radio Television created a strange universe in which Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, had never been besieged and in which the devastated Croatian town of Vukovar had been 'liberated'."
ICTY sentencing judgement for Milan Babić which has been first president of Republic of Serbian Krajina, a self-proclaimed Serbian dominated entity within Croatia will declare:
"Babic made ethnically based inflammatory speeches during public events and in the media that added to the atmosphere of fear and hatred amongst Serbs living in Croatia and convinced them that they could only be safe in a state of their own. Babic stated that during the events, and in particular at the beginning of his political career, he was strongly influenced and misled by Serbian propaganda, which repeatedly referred to an imminent threat of genocide by the Croatian regime against the Serbs in Croatia, thus creating an atmosphere of hatred and fear of the Croats. Ultimately this kind of propaganda led to the unleashing of violence against the Croat population and other non-Serbs."
eljko Kopanja, editor of the independent newspaper Nezavisne Novine, was seriously hurt by a car bomb after publishing stories detailing atrocities committed by Serbs against Bosniaks during the Bosnian war. He believed the bomb was planted by Serbia's security services to stop him from further publishing stories. An FBI investigation supported his suspicions.
Propaganda as part of the indictment against Miloević
According to the prosecution at the ICTY trial of Milosevic, Serbian television and radio's repetitive use of pejorative descriptions, such as "Ustashe hordes", "Vatican fascists", "Mujahedin fighters", "fundamentalist warriors of jihad", and "Albanian terrorists", became part of common usage. Unverified stories, presented as fact, were turned into common knowledge, for example, that Bosniaks were feeding Serb children to animals in the Sarajevo zoo. According to de la Brosse, the easier it was to fear other ethnic groups, the easier to justify their expulsion or killing.
Two members of the Federal Security Service (KOG) testified for the Prosecution in Milosevic's trial about their involvement in Milosevic's propaganda campaign. Slobodan Lazarevic revealed alleged KOG clandestine activities designed to undermine the peace process, including mining a soccer field, a water tower and the reopened railway between Zagreb and Belgrade. These actions were blamed on Croats. Mustafa Candic, one of four assistant chiefs of KOG, described the use of technology to fabricate conversations, making it sound as if Croat authorities were telling Croats in Serbia to leave for an ethnically pure Croatia. The conversation was broadcast following a Serb attack on Croatians living in Serbia, forcing them to flee. He testified that the propaganda war was code named "Operation Opera, see Opera orientalis which included bombing of a Jewish cemetery and the Jewish Community Center in Zagreb, Croatia." He also testified to another instance of disinformation involving a television broadcast of corpses, described as Serb civilians killed by Croats. Candic testified that he believed they were in fact the bodies of Croats killed by Serbs, though this statement has not been verified.
Propaganda as a war crime in the eelj's case
Propaganda as a war crime (incitement to genocide) is the subject in the recent indictment of Vojislav eelj, head of the Serbian Radical Party and an active player throughout the wars in the former Yugoslavia. According to the indictment, Seselj bears individual criminal responsibility for instigating crimes, including murder, torture and forcible expulsion on ethnic grounds. It reads, "By using the word 'instigated', the Prosecution charges that the accused Vojislav Seselj's speeches, communications, acts and/or omissions contributed to the perpetrators' decision to commit the crimes alleged." 
Building of RTS damaged in NATO strike 1999.
During the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, building of Radio Television of Serbia in Belgrade was targeted.
When Miloević's regime was finally overthrown in October 2000, RTS was a primary target of demonstrators. After attacking the Parliament, the demonstrators headed for the RTS building.
In Serbia, journalists are still being threatened and some were even killed. Mostly investigative journalists are targeted.
Role of the media in the Yugoslav wars - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia