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Open Letter to Amnesty International Regarding Chomsky’s Invitation to Speak, By Ed Vulliamy

October 29, 2009


Update: For those of you visiting from Counterpunch, National Review, and Media Lens, I have replied in part to Herman and Peterson here.  Additionally, regarding the ITN/LM/Knightley issue, as Owen points out in the comments, there is further commentary about the issue at David Campbell’s site that you can find here and here.

Background on this post is here with email contacts from Amnesty International for letter writing.  Letter writing guide is here.  For those of you joining the campaign to protest Amnesty International’s invitation to Chomsky – feel free to cut and paste the letter into your own blogs or to past into emails for distribution.  I have updated the letter, as it seems that I posted a draft earlier.

Open Letter to Amnesty International 

To whom it may concern: 

I have been contacted by a number of people regarding Amnesty International’s invitation to Professor Noam Chomsky to lecture in Northern Ireland. 

The communications I have received regard Prof. Chomsky’s role in revisionism in the story of the concentration camps in northwestern Bosnia in 1992, which it was my accursed honour to discover.

As everyone interested knows, a campaign was mounted to try and de-bunk the story of these murderous camps as a fake – ergo, to deny and/or justify them – the dichotomy between these position still puzzles me. 

The horror of what happened at Omarska and Trnopolje has been borne out by painful history, innumerable trials at the Hague, and – most importantly by far – searing testimony from the survivors and the bereaved. These were places of extermination, torture, killing, rape and, literally “concentration” prior to enforced deportation, of people purely on grounds of ethnicity. 

Prof. Chomsky was not among those (“Novo” of Germany and “Living Marxism” in the UK) who first proposed the idea that these camps were a fake. He was not among those who tried unsuccessfully (they were beaten back in the High Court in London, by a libel case taken by ITN) to put up grotesque arguments about fences around the camps, which were rather like Fred Leuchter’s questioning whether the thermal capacity of bricks was enough to contain the heat needed to burn Jews at Auschwitz.  But Professor Chomsky said many things, from his ivory tower at MIT, to spur them on and give them the credibility and energy they required to spread their poisonous perversion and denials of these sufferings. Chomsky comes with academic pretensions, doing it all from a distance, and giving the revisionists his blessing. And the revisionists have revelled in his endorsement. 

In an interview with the Guardian, Professor Chomsky paid me the kind compliment of calling me a good journalist, but added that on this occasion (the camps) I had “got it wrong”. Got what wrong?!?! Got wrong what we saw that day, August 5th 1992 (I didn’t see him there)? Got wrong the hundreds of thousands of families left bereaved, deported and scattered asunder? Got wrong the hundreds of testimonies I have gathered on murderous brutality? Got wrong the thousands whom I meet when I return to the commemorations? If I am making all this up, what are all the human remains found in mass graves around the camps and so painstakingly re-assembled by the International Commission for Missing Persons? 

These people pretend neutrality over Bosnia, but are actually apologists for the  Milosevic/Karadzic/Mladic plan, only too pathetic to admit it.  And the one thing they never consider from their armchairs is the ghastly, searing, devastating impact of their game on the survivors and the bereaved. The pain they cause is immeasurable. This, along with the historical record, is my main concern.  It is one thing to survive the camps, to lose one’s family and friends – quite another to be told by a bunch of academics with a didactic agenda in support of the pogrom that those camps never existed. The LM/Novo/Chomsky argument that the story of the camps was somehow fake has been used in countless (unsuccessful) attempts to defend mass murderers in The Hague. 

For decades I have lived under the impression that Amnesty International was opposed to everything these people stand for, and existed to defend exactly the kind of people who lost their lives, family and friends in the camps and at Srebrenica three years later, a massacre on which Chomsky has also cast doubt. I have clearly been deluded about Amnesty. For Amnesty International, of all people, to honour this man is to tear up whatever credibility they have estimably and admirably won over the decades, and to reduce all they say hitherto to didactic nonsense. 

Why Amnesty wants to identify with and endorse this revisionist obscenity, I do not know. It is baffling and grotesque. By inviting Chomsky to give this lecture, Amnesty condemns itself to ridicule at best, hurtful malice at worst – Amnesty joins the revisionists in spitting on the graves of the dead.  Which was not what the organisation was, as I understand, set up for.  I have received a letter from an Amnesty official in Northern Ireland which reads rather like a letter from Tony Blair’s office after it has been caught out cosying up to British Aerospace or lying over the war in Iraq – it is a piece of corporate gobbledygook, distancing Amnesty from Chomsky’s views on Bosnia, or mealy-mouthedly conceding that they are disagreed with. 

There is no concern at all with the victims, which is, I suppose, what one would expect from a bureaucrat. In any event, the letter goes nowhere towards addressing the revisionism, dispelling what will no doubt be a fawning, self-satisfied introduction in Belfast and rapturous applause for the man who gives such comfort to Messrs Karadzic and Mladic, and their death squads.  How far would Amnesty go in inviting and honouring speakers whose views it does not necessarily share, in the miserable logic of this AI official in Belfast?  A lecture by David Irving on Joseph Goebbels?

Alistair Campbell on how Saddam really did have those WMD? The Chilean Secret Police or Colonel Oliver North on the communist threat in Latin America during the 70s and 80s?  What about Karadzic himself on the “Jihadi” threat in Bosnia, and the succulence of 14-year-old girls kept in rape camps? 

I think I am still a member of AI – if so, I resign. If not, thank God for that. And to think: I recently came close to taking a full time job as media director for AI. That was a close shave – what would I be writing now, in the press release: “Come and hear the great Professor Chomsky inform you all that the stories about the camps in Bosnia were a lie – that I was hallucinating that day, that the skeletons of the dead so meticulously re-assembled by the International Commission for Missing Persons are all plastic? That the dear friends I have in Bosnia, the USA, the UK and elsewhere who struggle to put back together lives that were broken by Omarska and Trnopolje are making it all up? 

Some press release that would have been. Along with the owner of the site of the Omarska camp, the mighty Mittal Steel Corporation, Amnesty International would have crushed it pretty quick.  How fitting that Chomsky and Mittal Steel find common cause. Yet how logical, and to me, obvious.  After all, during the Bosnian war, it was the British Foreign Office, the CIA, the UN and great powers who, like the revisionists Chomsky champions, most eagerly opposed any attempt to stop the genocide that lasted, as it was encouraged by them and their allies in high politics to last, for three bloody years from 1992 until the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. 

Yours, in disgust and despair, 

Ed Vulliamy,

The Observer.

On the heels of its announcement of the Chomsky lecture Amnesty published a report on the ongoing search for justice by the victims of rape in Bosnia.

Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe Programme Director, acknowledges that “During the war, thousands of women and girls were raped, often with extreme brutality. Many were held in prison camps, hotels and private houses where they were sexually exploited. Many women and girls were killed. To this day, survivors of these crimes have been denied access to justice. Those responsible for their suffering – members of military forces, the police or paramilitary groups – walk free. Some remain in positions of power or live in the same community as their victims.”

Alisa Muratcaus of the Association of Concentration Camp Torture Survivors, Canton Sarajevo, insists that people who deny that the mass rape of Bosnian women was a strategic element of the war are talking “nonsense”. Her Association, composed of Muslim, Croat, Serb, and Romani members, many of them victims in camps and prisons throughout Bosnia of atrocities including rape and other forms of sexual torture, works closely with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague which has established beyond doubt that rape was used in Bosnia as a weapon of war.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Owen permalink*
    October 30, 2009 7:16 pm

    Thanks very much for posting Ed’s open letter, Samaha. Chomsky appears to have no idea, or not to care, what impact his denial of the truth of what Ed reported has on people who say quite straightforwardly, without any dramatic effect, that Ed, Penny Marshall and Ian Williams’s report saved their lives. It’s been described as the gritty taste of hearing strangers line up with the neighbours and friends who perpetrated those atrocities.

    I just don’t understand how Amnesty can pretend it’s not an issue for them to honour Chomsky again.

  2. Owen permalink*
    November 1, 2009 12:20 am

    The past that lingers:

    BBC World Service scheduling of “Bosnia’s War Babies” Parts 1 and 2 at

  3. Owen permalink*
    November 1, 2009 7:46 am

    Samaha, I found I couldn’t leave this comment under the preceding post about the protest to Amnesty, though of course it’s not out of place here.

    I’ve just been struck by reading Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan introducing Chomsky to students at Queen’s University, Belfast on Friday. He is reported in the Belfast Telegraph as saying,

    “Noam Chomsky’s message is as relevant for people in Belfast as it is for those in Beirut, Baghdad or Beijing.

    “We all have a responsibility to stand up for justice and to stand against those who would take away the human rights of the most vulnerable.”

    “By standing together, through organisations like Amnesty International, ordinary people can make a call for justice which will be heard in all the world’s capitals.”

    His alliterated list of the Bs seems to have skipped over Bosnia. As you know, I and others have been trying to get Patrick Corrigan and Amnesty International to address the issue of Chomsky’s record of denial. I don’t know whether Amnesty International have consulted their Bosnian partners how Bosnians might feel about having their vulnerability entrusted to Chomsky’s call for justice, but from the Belfast Telegraph report Corrigan appears to have considered Bosnia irrelevant.

    As far as his views on the reality of what happened in Bosnia are concerned, there’s not much Chomsky could say that could be clearer than the interview he gave to Daniel Mandic of RTS Online, starting at The key excerpt is at,
    1:28 mins in. Remember that this is an interview with RTS – Serbian Television – conducted in 2006.

    “… one famous incident which has completely reshaped the Western opinion and that was the photograph of the thin man behind the barb-wire.

    [Interviewer: A fraudulent photograph, as it turned out.]

    You remember. The thin men behind the barb-wire so that was Auschwitz and ‘we can’t have Auschwitz again.’ The intellectuals went crazy and the French were posturing on television and the usual antics.”

    It’s that confident “You remember.” on the YouTube clip, said in 2006 in response to a matter-of-fact assertion by an RTS interviewer – ie addressing a Serbian audience, not in a context where he might feel constrained to correct possible Western misapprehensions – that indicates exactly where Chomsky stands on the reality of the Prijedor camps.

    Six years after the result of the LM libel trial in 2000, Chomsky is calling the ITN pictures of Trnopolje fraudulent and wilfully misrepresenting what they show.

    To me, calling what Ed Vulliamy reported from Trnopolje a lie is equivalent to genocide denial. Amnesty can’t be unaware of Chomsky’s position.

    If anyone wants a decent analysis of the Trnopolje pictures I suggest David Campbell’s essay, Atrocity, Memory, Photography at

  4. November 1, 2009 1:00 pm

    hey samaha,

    this is really interesting as i’ve read before that chomsky has downplayed and/or denied the concentration camps in bosna, but i never really knew in what context and i know alot of media try to smear him, so i didnt want to judge. i respect alot of chomskys other work, but obviously i do not agree with this. do you know what the reasoning behind his claims is? its definately given me a bit of reading to do im going on google now lol.

  5. esad permalink
    November 2, 2009 10:06 am

    Thanks for the text.
    We have always been having people who did not want to see what actually happened in my country. For those who want to see, I am repeating, to see with their own eyes, hundreds of Bosnians victims’ massgraves that Mr. Ed Vulliamy talks about go to
    This red dots on the map are the massgraves and if you want to see them, you can come to Bosnia any time. For people like professor, whose name deserves not to be mentioned, let them live in the bubble of ignoring genocide in my country.

  6. Owen permalink*
    November 2, 2009 8:18 pm

    Sorry, that extra bracket turned the David Campbell link into a scrambled egg.

    This should work:

    You have to click in the links in the text for:

    Atrocity, Memory, Photography — part 1
    – the allegations concerning the filming of the Trnopolje inmates are considered in detail, and

    Atrocity, Memory, Photography — part 2
    – the argument moves beyond the specifics of the case and the camp to an exploration of the historical, political and visual context in which those specificities are located. This involves understanding the significance of the camps in terms of the Bosnian War and the history of the concentration camps, as well as discussing the issue of photography and the Holocaust to question how particular atrocities are represented. The articles conclude with the issue of intellectual responsibility and the politics of critique in cases such as these.

    Unfortunately the essay doesn’t have its own pages like it once had, so you have to read the text at Scribd.

  7. mike permalink
    November 24, 2009 5:03 am

    There is an extensive critique written by Edward Herman and David Peterson on Counterpunch today (Nov 23):

    I suggest it to readers curious as to what Chomsky might say in response, as Herman is obviously close to Chomsky and Peterson has also written on the subject from a shared point of view…

  8. mike permalink
    November 24, 2009 5:08 am

    Here’s an excerpt of the Herman article, dealing with the photograph controversy:

    “The other big issue was whether the famous images of an emaciated man, Fikret Alic, the “symbolic figure of the war,” as Vulliamy once described him, “on every magazine cover and television screen in the world,”[12] who seemed to stand behind a barbed-wire fence while interviewed by the British reporters, were deceptive and misleading.

    The simple answer is: Yes. First, it is well established that Fikret Alic’s physical appearance—often described as “xylophonic” because his ribcage showed prominently through his extremely thin torso—was not representative of the rest of the displaced persons seen at Trnopolje by the British reporters on August 5, 1992.

    More important, it is also well established (in the face of fanatic denials to the contrary) that Alic at no time while he was photographed and interviewed that day by the British reporters was standing behind a barbed-wire fence that enclosed him and the other Bosnian Muslim men. In fact, the actual fence used in the famous shots of Alic and the other men consisted of chicken-wire that stretched from the ground up roughly as high as the men’s chests, with three strands of barbed-wire above the chicken wire, both affixed to the side of the fence posts facing away from the British reporters. In other words, this fence enclosed the area where the British reporters had positioned themselves to interview and film the Bosnian Muslim men, and these men—Fikret Alic included—stood outside the area enclosed by the fence.

    This is what Thomas Deichmann’s original debunking of “The picture that fooled the world” argued correctly[13]—much to the chagrin of the British reporters, to ITN, and to the British establishment, which resorted to Britain’s onerous libel laws to punish LM magazine for publishing Deichmann’s work in 1997, and used the British High Court to exact from LM the ultimate price: LM’s bankruptcy and liquidation.[14] Deichmann, who studied a copy of the unused film shot that day by ITN cameraman Jeremy Irvin, wrote:

    When Marshall, Williams and Vulliamy entered the compound next to the camp, the barbed wire was already torn in several places. They did not use the open gate, but entered from the south through a gap in the fence. They approached the fence on the north side, where curious refugees quickly gathered inside the camp, but on the outside of the area fenced-in by barbed wire. It was through the barbed wire fence at this point that the famous shots of Fikret Alic were taken….

    [Thus] an important element of that “key image” had been produced by camera angles and editing. The other pictures, which were not broadcast, show clearly that the large area on which the refugees were standing was not fenced-in with barbed wire. You can see that the people are free to move on the road and on the open area, and have already erected a few protective tents. Within the compound next door that is surrounded with barbed wire, you can see about 15 people, including women and children, sitting under the shade of a tree. Penny Marshall’s team were able to walk in and out of this compound to get their film, and the refugees could do the same as they searched for some shelter from the August sun.[15]

    The journalist Phillip Knightley also acquired the film shot by ITN’s Jeremy Irvin that day (the out-takes included) and “examined it frame by frame.” In an affidavit he filed on behalf of the LM defense, Knightley wrote:

    The barbed wire turns out to be only symbolic. Were all the inmates starving? No. Fikret Alic was an exception. Even in Marshall’s report other men, apparently well-fed, can be seen, and the out-takes reveal at least one man with a paunch hanging over his belt. Phil Davison, a highly-respected correspondent who covered the war from both sides for The Independent says, “Things had gone slightly quiet. Suddenly there were these death camps/concentration camps stories.”….

    When…the ITN report was hailed as a great image, should the team have stood up and publicly said, “Hey, hang on a minute. It wasn’t quite like that.” In an ideal world, yes…. But given the commercial pressures of modern TV and the fact that to have spoken out would hardly endear the ITN crew to their employers and might even have endangered their jobs, it is understandable but not forgivable that no one chose to do so.[16]”

  9. Robert Y permalink
    November 24, 2009 8:40 pm

    For what it’s worth, Ed Herman and David Peterson respond in detail to Vulliamy’s Open letter over at Counterpunch:

  10. Owen permalink*
    November 24, 2009 8:52 pm

    Herman and Peterson blithely assert that “it is well established that Fikret Alic’s physical appearance … was not representative of the rest of the displaced persons seen at Trnopolje by the British reporters on August 5, 1992.”

    None of H&P’s usual obsessive footnote referencing here, I observe. Because the reality is that although the inmates of the camp were not all emaciated like Fikret Alic (there were different reasons why people were in the camp, not all of them associated with being deprived of food but all of them associated with the terrorisation and ethnic cleansing of the area’s non-Serb population), nevertheless Alic’s physical appearance certainly was representative of the appearance of the prisoners arriving at Trnopolje from the other camps in the Prijedor system.

    A number of the other desperately emaciated prisoners were clearly visible in the rest of the footage shot at the camp. No-one paying normal attention to the footage could have failed to notice their presence. The images obtained by the ITN team are similar to those documented by for example the photojournalist Ron Haviv.

    The prisoners’ appearance was clearly illustrative of what was going on in the other camps of the Prijedor system, as the ITN report clearly demonstrated when the footage of the regime at Omarska was broadcast ahead of the footage from Trnopolje.

    Alic himself had arrived at Trnopolje very shortly before from the inhuman concentration/death camp at Keraterm where there was a very similar regime of inhumane treatment, degradation and murder to Omarska.

    Chomsky, Herman, Peterson turn away from discussing the reality of Omarska and Keraterm because they haven’t got a Deichmann/LM controversy to confuse their audience with.

    Samaha, any of your vistors from Counterpunch and elsewhere might usefully visit David Campbell’s site and read his commentary on the pictures –
    or – more readably –

    Illustrating Campbell’s commentary they’ll see some of the photographs that Dr Idriz Merdzanic smuggled out of Trnopolje via Penny Marshall. For example Figure 13. Again not representative of Chomsky’s depiction of Trnopolje, but I’m afraid only too real.

    Dr Merdzanic, an inmate himself, was responsible for treating the victims of torture and rape in the camp. Counterpunch readers might like to consider why they don’t hear much mention of Dr Merdzanic’s name by Chomsky, Herman and Peterson. That might have something to do with the fact that it was Merdzanic’s evidence to the ITN libel trial that confirmed the true nature of Trnopolje – a camp where prisoners were kept under guard and beaten, tortured, raped and murdered.

    It was Merdzanic’s evidence that LM decided they could not challenge. It was Dr Merdzanic’s evidence that the jury accepted. And it’s Dr Merdzanic’s evidence that Noam Chomsky needs to comment on if he wants to show that he has any interest in the truth about Trnopolje and the Prijedor camp systrem.

  11. Owen permalink*
    November 24, 2009 8:59 pm

    As far as the issue of the barbed wire is concerned the libel trial and Dr Merdzanic’s evidence should have seen the back of that, but Penny Marshall’s comment to the LM barrister at the libel trial is informative. She observed “You look at the picture and you see the barbed wire. I look at the picture and I see Fikret”.

    The barbed wire was peripheral to the reality of Trnopolje. But Fikret Alic’s appearance showed what was going on in the Prijedor camp system as a whole. The image didn’t fool the world. The world saw very clearly what was going on.

  12. Owen permalink*
    November 24, 2009 9:09 pm

    Dr Merdzanic’s evidence to the Stakic trial:

    19 A. Guards were posted around Trnopolje, all around Trnopolje. There
    20 were guard posts, and then there was this fence. One could easily jump
    21 over that fence, however. But apart from the checkpoints and the guards,
    22 even if only a simple line had been drawn on the ground, nobody would dare
    23 cross that line.”

  13. Ron permalink
    November 25, 2009 5:12 pm

    Unless you can legitimately cite an instance where Chomsky denies there were atrocities committed by Serbians and that denies there was genocide at Srebrenica, this is just libel. But these allegations by Vulliamy contains no citations of Chomsky. To the dispassionate reader, this would be a warning sign to take any of these claims with heavy skepticism.

    Ed Vullliamy, please backup your allegations with real citations of Chomsky so we can judge for ourselves if the facts support your claims. Otherwise, your passionate accusations have no credibility, and are simply libel.

  14. November 25, 2009 5:45 pm


    Read the letter again. Vulliamy doesn’t say that Chomsky denies atrocities committed by Serbians or the Srebrenica genocide.

    The issue here is the support that he gives to revisionist views. Regardless of whether or not Chomsky believes that atrocities were committed – the role he plays in supporting Diana Johnstone’s work is dispicable.

    I have a post up which highlights how and where the problems are – it’s complete with quotes and links.

    Part II will concentrate on Chomsky’s role in pushing the controversy in regards to the Trnopolje camp media controversy – the way Chomsky presents that in various situations without any regard to far worse camps that existed in Bosnia is part of the problem. It seems that Chomsky so desparately wants to fit in the situation in Bosnia into his grand scheme of all things that he keeps making a blunder of it all. In certain situations that might be acceptable but to be making blunders about a region that has a history of attempted genocide and ethnic cleansing is absolutely not acceptable. Although the situation in Bosnia may seem peaceful – underlying political problems, the continued Serb nationalism, and bad economic conditions leaves this region unstable. There needs to be some responsibility and accountability here.

  15. Ron permalink
    November 25, 2009 9:28 pm

    So, your whole problem with Chomsky is that he supported Diana Johnstone. The fact that he agrees atrocities and genocide happened in Serbia isn’t enough for you.

    To be honest, all this posturing seems disingenuous and trumped up for the purpose of attacking and degrading another person. Honestly, I am even less convinced by your statements now.

  16. November 26, 2009 8:33 pm


    My problem is not with Chomsky’s support of Johnstone. My problem is that Chomsky on one hand supports views which try to minimize Serbian atrocities and then on the other hand Chomsky tries to say that he does not do this. Additionally, Chomsky himself propogates revisionist views of his own which will be discussed in the second post.

    Just because Chomsky is not an outright genocide denier, does not mean that his revisionist views are any more acceptable. To allow the contradictions to continue would be irresponsible on my part. I know and knew that when I brought this issue up that I would receive criticism for it – that’s not my concern. My concern is that the revisionist theories, views, and conspiracy theories will contribute to another mass effort of ethnic cleansing and genocide to occur – this time it would be sooner than later.

    I’m sorry that you feel that this is an attack or attempt to degrade a person – perhaps the atrocities that have happened in Bosnia (what happened in Serbia is not the concern here) are of no interest to you – perhaps you could care less if another attempt at genocide or ethnic cleansing were to occur. But for me – that’s not an option – I have family and friends there. I already have friends and family that have lost their lives here. For me, none of this was an attack or degredation of a person but an attempt at comming to some sort of resolve on the matter.

    You and Mr. Chomsky sit safe and sound – able to say whatever you like, not take a care in the world about how this all affects other individuals. I can’t sit here and take it – again. I can’t watch it again. I’m sorry.

  17. sinter permalink*
    November 29, 2009 9:39 pm

    Ron, why are you trying to narrow the focus down to Chomsky’s support for Diana Johnstone?

    You’re being disingenuous in trying to suggest that other issues are not involved, like Chomsky’s indication that the Fikret Alic photograph was fraudulent and his claim that Trnopolje was merely a refugee camp, so not part of the camp system which played such a key role in the ethnic cleansing of the non-Serb population of the Prijedor area.

    It’s always the same thing, narrow down the focus to obscure the nature of the revisionist campaign and who that campaign might benefit.

  18. WakaJawaka permalink
    December 1, 2009 5:42 pm

    Chomsky is wonderful! He is one of a small number of people who leave nothing to speculation but study the documents and observe the facts as they present themselves. Unlike the hyped and twisted garbage we’re all being fed by the mainstream media his analysis of the situation is always sane, sober, rational, secular and enlightened. AI did the right thing when they asked Noam Chomsky to deliver the 2009 Stand Up for Justice lecture.

    I think The Guardian should sack Vulliamy. His smear campaign against Chomsky is slanderous. In the past he has also proven on many occasions that he is a manipulative twister of facts and a compulsory liar. Having someone like him as a member of the editorial staff is a disgrace and harms the reputation of the paper.

    Here is Edward S. Herman’s take on Vulliamy’s so called “open letter” …

  19. Owen permalink*
    December 3, 2009 8:06 am

    Study the documents WakaJawaka? Study them yourself, because Chomsky doesn’t. All the evidence about Trnopolje is there, in many sources, not least the mouths of the people like Dr Merdzanic who saw it at first hand. Who are you to know better? And who is Chomsky to pronounce when he uses old, discredited sources like Knightley to back his unresearched disinformation?

  20. Owen permalink*
    December 3, 2009 8:20 am

    WakaJawaka, Herman is notorious for the way he seeks to minimise and distract attention from the reality of the atrocities perpetrated in the Prijedor camp system.

    Remember that Vulliamy actually saw the vileness of Omarska and Trnopolje with his own eyes. His, Penny Marshall’s and Ian Williams’s reports led to the closing of the camps and saved real lives, the lives of people like you and me. I don’t forget that, you shouldn’t. Take a proper look at the ITN coverage for yourself.

  21. Owen permalink*
    December 12, 2009 6:34 pm

    Samaha, if anyone isn’t aware of the reality of Trnopolje and the other elements of the Prijedor camp system they can watch through the YouTube clips of “A Town called Kozarac”, Ed Harriman’s 1993 film for the Channel 4 Dispatches Programme. The programme can be watched in five clips at YouTube:
    Part 1/5
    Part 2/5
    Part 3/5
    Part 4/5
    Part 5/5

    That provides a brief overview of what happened in Kozarac and the role of the camp system in securing the ethnic cleansing of the Prijedor area.

    It’s worth comparing Dr Merdzanic’s interview at the end of Part 3 / beginning of Part 4 of the Dispatches film (filmed in a place of safety) with a discussion he has with the reporter from Serbian television (RTS) filming at Trnopolje “by chance” at the same time as the ITN team.

    That can be seen in the middle clip of the joint production “Judgment” (a purported expose of the Bosnian “Death Camp” accusation) – at

    It’s worth watching Dr Merdzanic’s stance and attitude, then carefully listening to the voiceover comments about him and Trnopolje.

    Then watch Dr Merdzanic when Penny Marshall returns a week later, after the world’s press have publicised the existence of the camps. She shows him the inside page of a British newspaper that has published one of the photographs of severely brutalised prisoners he gave her to smuggle out when he spoke to her off-camera on the first visit.

    (I think this is the photograph of Nedzad Jakupovic that he talks about in the Dispatches film, where Jakupovic is interviwed about his beatings in Omarska and Trnopolje).

    I’d not bothered with “Judgment” until very recently but it’s informative in its way. For example the way it confirms the line of prisoners beyond the ITN crew who are obviously contained by the fence, irrespective of barbed-wire, and not free to roam around or clustering round the ITN camera crew as the apologists suggest.

    It’s also interesting how RTS and the apologists neglect to mention at least four other emaciated prisoners visible near Fikret Alic in the same footage – as well as a lot more in Penny Marshall’s footage from Trnopolje a week later as Omarska and Keraterm are closed down and cleared.

    The footage of Omarska in Judgment is also worth comparing with the ITN footage – somehow all the gaunt, haunted looking prisoners seen by Marshall, Williams and Vulliamy in the canteen have all vanished, along with the guards refusing the ITN film crew access to the rest of the camp.

    All the details that can be made to disappear behind a strand of barbed wire.

  22. rhl47 permalink
    December 24, 2009 3:02 am

    Ron asked for “real citations of Chomsky so we can judge for ourselves if the facts support your claims.” Here are misleading statements of Chomsky’s:
    1. Serbian concentration camps in Bosnia / Living Marxism (LM) controversy
    2. The Srebrenica massacre
    3. The Kosovo War
    4. John Norris book Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo

    Compiled, with commentary, here:


  1. Chomsky’s Implication with Revisionism Regarding Bosnia: A Response to the Edward S. Herman and David Peterson Article “Smearing Chomsky” – Part I « Samaha
  2. Open Letter to Amnest International’s London and Belfast Offices, on the Occasion of Noam Chomsky’s Belfast Lecture « KOSMET VIA KOSMOS
  3. The Karadzic trial and Bosnian realities, Open Democracy, 3 November 2009 « theory and politics

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