|Foča ethnic cleansing|
Chart showing exhumations carried out between 1996 and 2000 in the Foča municipality, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Image provided courtesy of the ICTY)
|Location||Foča, Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Date||7 April 1992 to January 1994 (Central European Time)|
|mass killing, rape, forced transfer|
There was a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the area of the town of Foča committed by Serb military, police, and paramilitary forces on Bosniak civilians from 7 April 1992 to January 1994 during the Bosnian War. By one estimate, around 21,000 non-Serbs left Foča after July 1992.
In numerous verdicts, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled that the ethnic cleansing (all Bosniaks were expelled), killings, mass rapes, and the deliberate destruction of Bosniak property and cultural sites constituted crimes against humanity. According to the Research and Documentation Center (IDC), 2,707 people were killed or went missing in the Foča municipality during the war. Among them were 1,513 Bosniak civilians and 155 Serb civilians. Additionally, Bosnian Serb authorities set up locations, commonly described as rape camps, in which hundreds of women were raped. Numerous Serb officers, soldiers and other participants in the Foča massacres were accused and convicted of war crimes by the ICTY.
At the outset of the Bosnian War, Serb forces attacked the non-Serb civilian population in Eastern Bosnia. Once towns and villages were securely in their hands, Serb forces—i.e. the military, the police, the paramilitaries and, sometimes, even Serb villagers—applied the same pattern: Bosniak houses and apartments were systematically ransacked or burnt down while Bosniak civilians were rounded up or captured and, sometimes, beaten or killed in the process. Men and women were separated, with many of the men detained in local camps.
Thirteen mosques including the Aladža Mosque were destroyed and the 22,500 Muslims who made up the majority of inhabitants fled. Only about 10 Muslims remained at the end of the conflict. On January 1994, the Serb authorities renamed Foča "Srbinje" (Serbian: Србиње), meaning "place of the Serbs" (from Srbi Serbs and -nje which is a Slavic locative suffix).
Bosniak women were kept in various detention centres where they lived in unhygienic conditions and were mistreated in many ways, including being repeatedly raped. Serbian soldiers or policemen would come to these detention centres, select one or more women, take them out and rape them. All this was done in full view, in complete knowledge and often with the direct involvement of the Serbian local authorities, particularly the police forces. The head of Foča police forces, Dragan Gagović, was personally identified as one of the men who came to these detention centres to take women out and rape them. There were numerous rape camps in Foča. "Karaman's house" was one of the most notorious rape camps. The women kept in this house were raped repeatedly. Among the women held in "Karaman's house" were minors as young as 15 years of age.
Bosniak women were raped by the Serbs as part of a methodical and concentrated campaign of ethnic cleansing. For instance, the girls and women selected by the later convicted war criminal Dragoljub Kunarac or by his men, were systematically taken to the soldiers' base, a house located in Osman Đikić street number 16. There, the women and girls (some as young as 14) were repeatedly raped. Serb soldiers regularly took Muslim girls from various detention centres and kept them as sex slaves.
Radomir Kovač, who was also convicted by ICTY, kept four Bosniak Muslim girls in his apartment, sexually abusing and repeatedly raping them. Kovač would also invite friends to his home and allow them to rape the girls. Kovač also sold three of the girls; prior to selling them, he gave two of the girls to other Serb soldiers who gang raped them for more than three weeks. The girls were then taken back to Kovač, who immediately sold one and gave the other away as a present to his friend.
Dragan Gagović and Janko Janjić were indicted by the ICTY but died in 1999 and 2000, respectively.