Coat-of-arms of the White Eagles
Republic of Serbian Krajina
Šešelj's men (Šešeljevci)
|Engagements||Battle of Vukovar (among others)|
The White Eagles (Serbian: Бели орлови / Beli orlovi), also known as the Avengers (Осветници / Osvetnici), were a Serbian paramilitary group associated with the Serbian National Renewal (SNO) and the Serbian Radical Party (SRS). The White Eagles fought in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Yugoslav Wars.
In the 2003 ICTY Vojislav Šešelj indictment, the group is included as an alleged party in the joint criminal enterprise, in which Vojislav Šešelj allegedly took part. In the indictment the group is identified as "volunteer units including 'Chetnik', or Šešeljevci (Serbian Cyrillic: Шешељевци, translated into English as 'Šešelj's men')". This association has been denied by SRS leader Vojislav Šešelj.
Although the group's members were occasionally referred to as Chetniks, they are not to be confused with the Serbian anticommunist guerrilla group during and after World War II also known as the White Eagles and also referred to as Chetniks. The name White Eagles comes from an anti-communist organisation that was formed during World War II and continued a guerrilla war against Tito's government after the war. White Eagle refers to the national symbol of Serbia, the double headed white eagle under a crown.
The White Eagles paramilitary group was formed in late 1990 by Dragoslav Bokan and Mirko Jović. The group split into different fractions as Bokan and Jović went their separate ways in 1991. Jović called for "a Christian, Orthodox Serbia with no Muslims and no unbelievers". Šešelj states that the group was started by Jović but they got out of his control. According to Šešelj the White Eagles and Arkan's Tigers operated with help from the Yugoslav counterintelligence service.
Paramilitary units are responsible for some of the most brutal aspects of "ethnic cleansing". Two of the units that have played a major role in the "ethnic cleansing" campaign in BiH, the "Cetniks" associated with Vojislav Šešelj and the "Tigers" associated with Željko Ražnatović (Arkan), have been active in the Republic of Serbia as well. Seselj's followers have reportedly waged "ethnic cleansing" campaigns against ethnic minorities in Serbia's provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo.— Report of the United Nations Commission on ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Testimony at the International War Crimes Tribunal indicates that the White Eagles were responsible for a number of atrocities during the Croatian and Bosnian wars, including: the Voćin massacre, Višegrad massacre, crimes at Foča, Gacko and others. Various members of the White Eagles were indicted by the Tribunal. Mitar Vasiljević received a fifteen-year sentence. Former head, Milan Lukić, received a life sentence for his war crimes which include murdering men, women and children.
In December 2010 a group called "Beli Orlovi" (White Eagles) took responsibility for the killing of Kosovo's Bosniak leader Šefko Salković in the north of Kosovo. The group also took responsibility for obstructions of the election process in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, as well as for attacking KFOR troops.