On Tuesday, July 11, when the fall of the enclave appeared imminent, its military leadership ordered the men of military age to assemble in the area of Jaglici, the northern-most part of the safe area, about fifteen kilometers from the center of town. There they prepared for a fifty-mile march through Serb-held territory to Tuzla, the nearest area controlled by the Bosnian government. The acting military leader of the enclave was Maj. Ramiz Becirovic, who, according to many of the marchers, did not have firm control over the soldiers in Srebrenica.41
According to Major Becirovic, between 12,000 and 15,000 people assembled on the afternoon of July 11 to take part in the exodus.42 According to survivors, approximately half of the marchers were registered as soldiers in Srebrenica, most of whom had been conscripted after 1992. Of these, about 3,000 to 4,000 are thought to have been armed at the time of the march.43 One of the survivors, Lt. Dzemail Becirovic (not a relation of Maj. Ramiz Becirovic) reports:
All the men were in Jaglici. We sent the women, young boys, and old men to the camp in Potocari. Some of the women and girls who didnt want to be separated from their husbands and boyfriends stayed with the group.
There were about 12,000 to 15,000 people in Jaglici. We couldnt all leave at once. We had to make plans. So we contacted Sarajevo but they said they couldnt help us. We were on our own.44
From testimonies it emerges that, after some initial confusion, the marchers set out in an organized and disciplined manner in the early hours of July 12, but that groups leaving later proceeded in a more helter-skelter fashion. The assembled column, with the leadership and most of the armed men in the front, started to leave Jaglici between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on July 12, and the main group set off at around 5 a.m. The last marchers left at approximately 1 p.m., a full twelve hours later. Front and rear ends of the column were able to communicate with each other via hand-held radios.
The column was able to progress only slowly. Because of concern about minefields, the marchers were required to walk in single file, allowing them to walk in one anothers footsteps and avoid getting lost in the forestin the dark. Some held hands to facilitate their way. De-miners at the very front of the column cleared the path as they moved forward.45
Following daybreak on July 12, the situation among those starting out later appears to have become more disorganized. According to Lt. Samir Delic:
I left Jaglici at 12:30 p.m. on July 12. I was in the rear. Many had left before me. The situation was very confused. People were leaving singly and joining the column. Others were warning of mines ahead. It was very crowded. Everyone wanted to leave as soon as possible. I remained with the group who left last. I was thinking for a while and I saw that no one was taking care of anything. I asked twenty of my colleagues if they wanted to come with me. They agreed. We passed several sections of the column.46
The route taken by the majority of marchers is shown on a map drawn by one of the survivors of the march, an officer by the name of Memo Osmanovic. According to Osmanovic, the route drawn represents a rough approximation of the ground covered.47 (See map.)
The first planned stopping point after Jaglici was a hill overlooking the village of Kamenica, some six kilometers into the journey. Marchers began to arrive at Kamenica Hill early on the morning of July 12 and remained in that area, spreading out along a series of hills, until dusk. According to Major Becirovic, the decision had been taken by the military leadership to allow the whole column to reassemble as a single group in the Kamenica area.48
The Serb Shelling Starts
Most of the front section of the column was able to reach Kamenica Hill without incident, but late in the morning of July 12 the Bosnian Serb troops, referred to as Chetniks by the Bosniaks, apparently located sections of the column that were still leaving the enclave and began firing rifles, mortars, anti-aircraft guns and artillery at the marchers, from positions on Rogac Mountain and another hill above Kravici.49 Those who left Jaglici later in the morning report having been shelled almost constantly throughout the march to Kamenica Hill.50 There are alsoreports that Serb forces used megaphones to call on the marchers to surrender, telling them that they would be exchanged for Serb soldiers held captive by Bosniak forces.51
Much of the shelling was inaccurate because the Serb forces were not able to identify the precise location of the column as long as it passed through forested areas. The shelling became lethally precise any time the column had to cross open ground. According to Capt. Zulfo Salihovic, who had left Jaglici late in the morning of July 12, whenever the column crossed a clearing, Chetniks started shelling inside the column. I saw the bodies of four people killed by a shell. It was about 4 p.m. on July 12. These were the first dead I saw. In this area many people had stopped to fill their plastic bottles with water. The Serbs then started with their heavy shelling.52 Another witness, Mensur Memic, reports that during most of the day the shelling was intermittent, with shells landing every four or five minutes, but that in the evening the shells were falling at a deadly rate of every ten or fifteen seconds.53
Many were injured or killed as they made their way to Kamenica Hill. Ramiz Masic, who had arrived safely in the area earlier in the day but went back with some thirty others to collect the wounded, reports that it was a horrible sight. There were dead bodies all around.54 Most of the victims appear to have been killed either by the blasts of the exploding shells or by shrapnel. According to a second witness, Senad Grabovica: Most of the dead died from shelling. People had limbs missing.55
Mohamed Matkic says he arrived at Kamenica Hill at 8:30 p.m.: "My part of the column was being shelled continuously. When we arrived at Kamenica, they were still shelling. The shells were falling all the time. The Serbs fired everything they had at us.56
Around 8 p.m., when most of the marchers had finally reached the hilly area around Kamenica and the front of the column had already begun to move on, those still at Kamenica Hill were ambushed by Serb forces, who started shelling and firing from all directions. According to several witnesses, the ambush began with a loud noise, which Fahrudin Omerovic described as a loud wind but which from other testimonies appears to have been the sound of a large tree crashing down.57 As many of the marchers had been shelled en route to Kamenica Hill and as a resultwere very nervous, the ambush caused great panic and chaos.58 Those who were armed returned fire, apparently at random.59 All scattered.
Later in the evening following the attack, a group of men returned to the site of the ambush using cigarette lighters to light their way. There, they said, they found between eighty and ninety bodies. Captain Salihovic reports: We realized that the ambush had been set up at close range. They were using Zolja anti-tank weapons. I knew this because many people were burned. The shell, when it hits, burns everything around. These weapons have a range of 300 meters.60
Many people remained in the Kamenica Hill area for a number of days, unable to move on, the column having been cut in two where it crossed an asphalt road, with the remaining parts escape route blocked by Bosnian Serb forces. It is likely that most of the people in the latter part of the column either were killed in the Kamenica area, or surrendered and were executed soon afterwards. Very few ever returned home, and the majority must be presumed dead. Those who managed to escape crossed the asphalt roads to the north or the west of the area.61 A number of them, including Kadrija Softic and Samir Delic, set out to walk to Zepa, another U.N.-protected safe area. The Zepa enclave fell to Serb forces a couple of weeks later, on July 25; Mr. Softic and Mr. Delic were forced to flee again, finally reaching Bosnian government controlled territory on September 11.62
The Long Trek to Safety
The front of the column had already left Kamenica Hill by the time the ambush occurred. As it prepared to move on at about 4:30 p.m. on July 12, its leaders sent out reconnaissance groups to scout out the route toward Burnice and then began to move at about 6 p.m. This forward group reached the main asphalt road, located roughly equidistant between Kasaba and Konjevici Polje, at about 11 p.m. Heading for Mount Udrc, the marchers crossedthe road and subsequently forded the river Jadar. They reached the base of the mountain early on the morning of Thursday, July 13. Here the column regrouped. Only an estimated 3,000-4,000 people of the original group that had left Srebrenica arrived in Udrc.63
On the afternoon of July 13, sometime between 2 and 4:30 p.m., Serb forces located the column on Mount Udrc. At around 4 p.m., they fired several shells, which landed some distance from the marchers, prompting them to push on.64
From Udrc the marchers moved toward the River Drinjaka and on to Mount Velja Glava, continuing as darkness fell and through the night. Serb forces fired at the column only occasionally. Finding a Serb presence at Mount Velja Glava, where they arrived on Friday, July 14, the column was forced to skirt the mountain and wait on its slopes until 4 p.m. before it was able to move on toward Liplje and Marcici.
Arriving at Marcici in the evening of July 14, the marchers were ambushed by Bosnian Serb forces equipped with anti-aircraft guns, artillery, and tanks.65 According to Lt. Dzemail Becirovic, the column managed to break through the ambush and, in so doing, capture a Serb officer. This prompted an attempt at negotiating a cessation in the fighting, but negotiations with local Serb forces failed.66 Alija Jusic reports that, nevertheless, the act of repulsing the ambush had a positive effect on the marchers morale.67
Early on the morning of Saturday, July 15, the column crossed the asphalt road linking Zvornik with Caparde and headed in the direction of Planinci, leaving a unit of some one hundred to 200 armed marchers behind to wait for stragglers.68 It reached Krizevici later that day, and remained there while an attempt was made to negotiate with local Bosnian Serb forces for safe passage through the Serb lines into Bosnian government controlled territory. According to Lt. Dzemail Becirovic, the members of the column were advised to stay where they were, and to allow the Serb forces time to arrange for safe passage. It soon became apparent, though, that the small Serb force deployed in the area was only trying to gain time to organize a further attack on the marchers.69
At this point, the columns leaders decided to form several small groups of between one hundred and 200 persons and send these to reconnoiter the way ahead. On the evening of July 15, a heavy hailstorm caused the Serb forces to take cover. The columns advance group took advantage of this to attack the Serb rear lines at Baljkovica. During the fighting, the main body of what remained of the column began to move from Krizevici. It reached the area of fighting at about 3 a.m. on Sunday, July 16, just as the forward groups managed to breach the Serb line. Unable to move three captured tanks, they used them to fire into the Serb front line. Thus the column finallysucceeded in breaking through to Bosnian government controlled territoryat between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on July 16. Only some 3,000 to 4,000 of the marchers who had left Srebrenica four days earlier arrived safely in Tuzla on that day.
A number of the marchers interviewed by Human Rights Watch report having been attacked with unusual shells that produced slowly spreading colored smoke rather than shrapnel on several occasions during the trek to Tuzla. Following these attacks, some of the marchersthe numbers are unclearbegan to hallucinate and behave in an irrational manner. Most of those who are reported to have been thus affected apparently never reached Tuzla and could therefore not be interviewed; they are presumed dead.
It is not clear how many such attacks occurred, but from the available testimonies of survivors there appear to have been at least two, and perhaps three, distinct episodes: the first one on the first day, when a number of attacks including smoke-producing shells were reported in the Kamenica Hill area from the afternoon on and lasting into the evening; the second one in the same area on the second day, July 13; and a third one at Udrc on the second day of the march. However, the survivors memories were often confused about exact times and locations, and the group that was most affected, the one bringing up the rear, yielded the fewest survivors.
The first such reported attack occurred in the afternoon of July 12. Nedzad Malik, who was in the rear section of the column that had not yet reached Kamenica Hill, describes what he saw, around 3:30 p.m.:
They used different shells. Some exploded, others gave out a strange smoke. I didnt notice all the details. I was running away. There were some shells which caused shrapnel, others which gave out smoke, and some duds. It was like when it rains. Shells were falling ten to fifty meters away. One dud fell just in front of my father. He was just lucky.
The shells that emitted smokeat first I thought those shells were marking shells; they emitted black smoke and then it changed color, green and red....I was well equipped because my brother, who was a captain in Srebrenica, warned us and told us to take gauze, cloth, and food. As soon as I saw the shell, my father and I covered our faces and we started to run away.70
Ibro Huseinovic, who wandered around in the Kamenica Hill area for several days, reports that the column was shelled on the first day
...with regular shells and those that made people surrender. Fifteen minutes or half an hour after those shells fell people started shouting and wanting to surrender. The grenade gave out shrapnel and some blue-grey smoke. There was a fair amount of smoke. It rose like a mushroomabout three meters high and then spread.71
Mensur Memic, whose knapsack was struck by an anti-aircraft bullet on the morning of July 12, describes one shell which landed in the column, killing one man and wounding two others, sometime that day, and he refers to other shells that landed between seventy and a hundred meters away:
Those shells had no shrapnel. I didnt see any shrapnel. When it [the shell] landed I only heard a detonation and then I saw purple and yellow smoke. The smoke didnt rise in the air. It spread around at about the height of a man. It spread toward the column.72
Samir Delic says that the ambush at Kamenica Hill caused great confusion, and included shelling with shells that exploded, emitting a yellow smoke. I could see it. The shells were falling below me. They exploded with a low flash lasting three to four seconds. The smoke rose, and then I couldnt see it anymore....I dont think it came in my direction.73
Mujo Salihovic has described his actions when he noticed shells that did not explode but produced smoke as he was moving through a clearing on one side of Kamenica Hill around 11 p.m. on July 12. He says that he saw five shells fall but that more must have landed,
...because I heard them. I couldnt see anything [at that point], because I was lying down with gauze on my face. It was around 11 p.m.; it was dark. It looked like fog. It was spreading slowly and it went directly to a large group of people, a mix of soldiers and civilians. The smoke was coming toward me. When I saw there was no shrapnel and no deaths, I warned others that it might be poison. I had seventy pieces of gauze and gave these to others. They all lay down in a hollow. We were above the smoke. It was below us. The wind started to blow it uphill toward us. We lay on the ground and the smoke passed over us. We were lying down for about half an hour.74
Other witnesses who were in the Kamenica Hill area at the time of the ambush have been unable to confirm these reports. Capt. Zulfo Salihovic, for example, has described the impact of the shells as follows:
The detonations caused soil to be thrown up and smoke to rise. I did notice some strange smells, but I wouldnt know if it was because of the shells or just some mistaken perception on my part. All the shells falling around me were 82mm [mortar shells] causing shrapnel. I didnt pay attention to shells falling some distance from me.75
Likewise, Mohamed Matkic, who was in the front section of the column, reports: I havent seen any unusual shells with a lot of smoke, nor did I talk to anyone who saw anything unusual prior to the arrival in Kamenica.76 Ibro Hodzic, on the other hand, reports that from his vantage point on a hill overlooking the Kamenica Hill area, at some two kilometers distance, he saw smoke there: I thought it wasnt regular combat smoke. It hung around and seemed yellow and grey.77 The fact that the ambush occurred as dark had just started to fall, when visibility was restricted, may account for these contradictory reports about events at Kamenica Hill.
Strange smoke was observed in the area of Kamenica Hill on July 13 as well, after the head of the column had already moved on. Senad Grabovica remained in the area for some time before proceeding to Zepa. On July 13, he says,
when we were on the hill, a shell landed about forty meters away from me. It was red. It was different from the yellow ones of the day before. It had an unpleasant odor. I cant describe it. It irritated my throat....When the shell exploded there was much more smoke than dust. The smoke spread uphill. There wasnt a strong wind. It blew toward us. I put a bandage to my mouth.78
A third attack with what were described as unusual shells is reported to have occurred on the second day of the march, around 4 p.m. on July 13, between Udrc and Baljkovica, a mountain north of Udrc. One witness, Nijaz Masic, claims that a shell, which landed some fifty meters from him, emitted smoke which did not rise, remaining at the level of a persons height. The shell exploded, but no one was hurt. According to Masic, smoke from the shell went toward some of the marchers and blew over a group of some fifty people. About thirty were affected by the shell and started hallucinating. The shell was of a regular green color. The smoke emitted was of a dark yellow color.79
Likewise, Ibrahim Ibrahimovic reports that as he and others were on Udrc Mountain, at about 4 p.m. on July 13:
Serb forces fired a shell at us. It landed about 300 meters away. It hit the mountain directly, and we saw the exact place where it landed. Yellow smoke was emitted, which I think is an example of chemical weapons. I said [at the time] that we should all move, as this seemed like chemical weapons, and we had no gas masks....The smoke was thick and yellow and it spread in a circle...but because it was windy, it blew away from us and dispersed....About 100-200 people were about twenty meters from the shell....They said that their eyes were stinging, and they called out for water.80
No further reference was made to unusual munitions in descriptions of the journey from Udrc to Baljkovica, or from Baljkovica to Tuzla.
People Acting Strangely
Some of those present at Kamenica Hill at the time of the ambush in the evening of July 12 refer to the fear, panic and confusion that ensued from the surprise attack,81 while others, especially those in the rear section that reached the hill later in the day, like Ismet Hasanovic, report that there was something in the air which seemed to have certain unusual effects on some of the marchers:
I think that they may have used tear gas because people were crying. I was sneezing and my eyes were irritated. Everyone was saying, What is it? There was no coughing, only sneezing. I had never experienced anything like it before.82
According to several witnesses, it was after the ambush that a number of the marchers gathered on the hill began to hallucinate and act strangely. Marchers in the front of the column later recounted receiving reports about hallucinations from the rear, which surprised them as they had not had any such experiences. Asim Omerovic, for example, said: As we approached the asphalt road [on the evening of July 12], information reached us that people at the back were hallucinating. We didnt have that problem at the front. Soldiers coming from the rear told us...that close to Jaglici they were attacked with shells which emitted yellowish or reddish smoke.83
There are even earlier reports of hallucinations. Captain Salihovic, who was one of the last to leave Jaglici on July 12, speculated that Serb forces had poisoned the water in the streams along the marchers route from which they were drinking. He described the experiences he witnessed in the afternoon of July 12 as follows:
About an hour after people drank water [from the streams], they began to act strangely. It was very hot. About half an hour after [they had drunk], I drank from the water as well. Another half hour or an hour later, I began to feel queasy in the stomach. At first I attributed this to the pace and the heat.
There was someone behind mehis name was Jurif Nukicwho was very strong. He was an economist, smart and rational. We were talking as we were walking and he [suddenly] started talking gibberish. I tried to talk to him but realized that this was impossible. He was acting as if he was talking to some of his friends who were already dead. These were people who had died some time ago.
At one point he left the column and started hugging a tree. He was acting as if it was his wife. He seemed to think his children were there. He was acting as if he was already in Tuzla....I approached him and slapped him a couple of times. But even that didnt help. He left the tree, started shouting and began to walk in the direction of the Chetniks. I never saw him after that. We were all supposed to stay quiet, but he was shouting, acting crazily, and running up the hill toward the Chetniks.
According to Captain Salihovic, as time passed on that day, the number of people acting in this manner grew in number:
There were very few people you could talk to normally. Most people were not normal. Most people wouldnt register what you would tell them. Most of them were very sleepy, showed no interest, and were very passive. I noticed this because I was walking around and trying to organize groups. There were very few conversations. They were acting as if they were already in free territory. It was very unusual. At first, I thought it was just exhaustion, but as we were sitting, people were also throwing up.
During this time, the shelling was intense, and increasing. The Bosnian Serb forces, Captain Salihovic said, were firing conventional 82mm shells.84
Nedzib Budovic likewise reports unusual behavior among the marchers that first afternoon of the march: There were some shells which landed three or four meters away from me. These were mostly mortar shells. Some of them were conventional shells, and some were shells that caused people to behave strangely. I didnt see what these shells looked like. People lost consciousness and control. I saw people do this.85 Mensur Memic, who saw shells that produced purple and yellow smoke that day, says that some time after this, the man walking ahead of me started talking gibberish.86 Nedzad Malkic, who saw shells that produced strange smoke but managed to cover his mouth with cloth as he ran away, says that when he arrived at Kamenica Hill in the evening, people couldnt get up. But this is impossible after just a days walk. People couldnt be that exhausted after just a days walk. Some would stay behind and catch up later.87
Another person in the Kamenica area, Valid Osmanovic, who both observed and experienced strange behavior after two shells fell that produced no shrapnel and injured no one but yielded a yellowish smoke that spread horizontally, ten to fifteen meters away, says: People in the column panicked a little, and someone said: Its poison. Then we all ran away and covered our mouths. He found his brother who had been close to the impact of the shell. His brother got up and started to rip all the hair out of his head, was scratching himself, and tearing at his body and clothes, begging for water. He died sixteen hours later. Osmanovic says that about twenty minutes after the shells fell, he saw several people kill themselves, while others were screaming and shouting, making unusual voices and sounds. The smoke seemed to affect me also, he reports. I suddenly started to feel very nervous and began to itch all over my body and face. I started to sweat and became very thirsty. Two hours later I fell into a stream. The water cooled me off, and I drank a lot of it. The water may have saved my life.88
Senad Grabovica refers to the strange behavior that followed an attack with shells that produced smoke that had an unpleasant smell and irritated his throat on the second day in the Kamenica Hill area, where he had remained before proceeding to Zepa:
Some people in our group concluded that it was poison and that we should put a cloth over our mouths....Those who didnt put something over their mouths in one to three minutes began to panic and scream. Some committed suicide, after five to ten minutes.89
A number of people also experienced hallucinations after they reached Udrc, where the column regrouped. At around 4 p.m. on July 13, Serb forces located the marchers and began to shell them. According to Lt. Ibrahim Ibrahimovic, one smoke-producing shell landed very near a number of the marchers (see above): We set off immediately. We formed a column and left....I began to see changes and hallucinations in people twenty minutes after the detonation. People were talking and saying: Look at this town. Look at this flock of sheep. They also started singing when we told them to be quiet. They also complained of stomach cramps and needed to relieve themselves. Some had diarrhea.90
Maj. Ramiz Becirovic reports that there were people who were foaming at the mouth at Udrc in the night from July 12 and 13, one of whom he saw with his own eyes, though he did not know his name.91 Salih Mulalic says he saw two people with foam in their mouths shortly after the attack on Kamenica Hill on July 12.92
A number of marchers apparently suffered repeated hallucinations over a number of days. In one case, on July 12, Ibro Huseinovic, a primary school teacher who had been a soldier during the two years before the Srebrenica events, was struck by the shrapnel of a shell. He says he experienced a smell like that of rotten eggs shortly after he had been hit. The shrapnel wounded him in the thigh, penetrating to a depth of between two and three centimeters. His wounds bled freely, but he managed to stop the bleeding with his clothing: I felt exhausted after this. We had to continue. If you stayed in the same spot for a while, you were shot. I had to move. I was exhausted. I was hungry, thirsty and exhausted. We were drinking water from streams. We had no food. I would hallucinate. The hallucinations occurred on the second, third, and fourth day, mostly at night. This lasted about three days.
According to Huseinovic, he wandered about in the Kamenica area for a period of perhaps seven days. During this time, he did not act in a directed fashion. He was exhausted but remained conscious. He suffered from nausea but was never physically ill. He was unable to recognize people or to hear well. His breathing and heartbeat, he said, were both accelerated at the time.93
Another survivor who suffered from hallucinations during the march was Nijaz Masic, a high school history teacher, who had witnessed shells that produced smoke near Udrc on the second day (see above). He was sweating profusely during the march, he said, and was drinking copiously. He was unable to sleep and eventually slept only with the help of a sedative.
His first hallucinations occurred at Kamenica on the first day, July 12, and he had a second bout of hallucinations on the second day, after the column had passed Udrc. He attributed these hallucinations to thepossibility that he might have drunk poisoned water. According to his account, I was drinking water constantly, but I drank water from [only] two wells, and I think these were poisoned. Others also drank from the wells, but not everyone drank. People would sometimes stop walking and refill their bottles. I filled up mine with two liters. Everyone who carried water hid it from the others. Then, he continued, everyone was in Joanica until 5 a.m. [on July 14]. Around midnight on July 13-14, the poison started to affect some. I mixed up one of our soldiers with the Chetniks, and started to strangle him. There were guys called Meholjic Hakija and Dzemail [Becirovic] present. They took me away and it took them half an hour to convince me that this wasnt a Chetnik.
On the following morning, July 14, he said, he was given a sedative and he then fell asleep. Upon waking, he felt much better. Later that day, the column was ambushed by Serb forces, but the marchers managed to break through. From this point onwards, Mr. Masic required help from others, as he was unable to walk. Early in the morning of July 15, the column crossed a road. Mr. Masic reports:
We were ordered to run across the road. The guys carrying me were frightened and dropped me in the road. I lost consciousness. I felt as though I was dreamingthat I was in a museum with small statues that had water coming out of them. There were vineyards above the statues and these had water in them. I tried to drink the water. I woke at 10 a.m. and I was in Krizevacke Livade. I presumed that I had been carried there.
I woke up and was given another tablet, which helped me to sleep for a further three hours. It was the same kind of pill. That time I was dreaming about a lot of blood and the Chetniks beating us.
Mr. Masic then reports that on the evening which followed the hailstorm on July 15:
We were traveling the whole night and arrived at a point two kilometers from where there was fighting, and at 4 a.m. I lost consciousness again. I dont remember but people said I was jumping around and yelling at people. I was spitting at them, yelling that they were Chetniks. People didnt know what to do with me. I was asking for help.94
This witness was hospitalized in Tuzla for a period of four days, after the column had managed to break through the Serb lines. He was diagnosed as suffering from nervousness and from minor physical injuries.95
Other witnesses also described having experienced hallucinations. Maj. Ramiz Becirovic reports that there were inadequate supplies of water for the marchers, so they filled their water bottles whenever they came across a stream. The hot weather contributed to what he describes as his great thirst. Then, at one time, possibly on July 14, I saw water. I tried to drink it, but it wasnt there. On the night of July 14-15, I saw castles and towns. Major Becirovic claims that he had never hallucinated before. When he told others that he had seen water, they in turn told him that there was none present. He describes the castles which he saw as, like those in a horror movie, lonely and dark.96
Another soldier who took part in the march, Ekrem Salihovic, reports that: On the second day [July 13], I saw an unarmed Chetnik two meters away from mebut he wasnt there. At one time I had a buzzing in my ears. When I tried to clear my head, it disappeared.97
Yet a third soldier, Fadil Hotic, reports being trapped in an area which was patrolled by Bosnian Serb forces. He was trying to avoid detection. On the second day of the march, July 13, he began to hallucinate: I saw the Serbs. We saw only their feet. We couldnt see their uniforms. They were shouting: This is the Serb lineget out! We didnt see their equipment. Here I started hallucinating. At one point I saw a Serb graveyard with flowers. [I had these hallucinations] only from time to time. It happened to others as well. They were also hallucinating. One of them was Bajro Mehmedovic, who kept calling me by the name of his brother. Every time he talked to someone, he mistook him for his brother. This was on July 13. We had had no sleep.98
Others began to hallucinate toward the end of the march. Lieutenant Becirovic, for example, reports that at that point he started having hallucinations every time he closed his eyes. He did not mention this to others, he said, because people around him were saying that they would be caught by the Serbs and would die. According to Lieutenant Becirovic, On the road, I lay down and closed my eyes. I was seeing a town, not woods. I couldnt speak about this as I was an officerin charge of morale. I was seeing towers and buildings in front of me. Because of this I didnt want to close my eyes.99 Mensur Memic, who had observed people with hallucinations on the first day of the march, reports that toward the end of the journey the hallucinating he witnessed got worse: At Krizevacke Njive [during the heavy storm], the biggest problems occurred. People were going crazy. There were a few cases of suicides and murders.100
Lt. Kadrija Softic escaped from Kamenica Hill with about thirty others in the direction of Zepa. He says that one person in his group, Radzo Muminovic, complained that he was suffering from hallucinations and from a sensation of pressure in his chest. He appeared to think that every tree or bush was a Chetnik. Muminovic had these hallucinations for a number of days, during which period he was occasionally lucid but ate or drank very little. He would vomit immediately after taking in food. According to Lieutenant Softic, the man recovered after about three or four days.101
The Doctors Experiences
Three of the five medical doctors who were on the march to Tuzla, all of whom were in the front section of the column, also report having experienced hallucinations, and observing hallucinations in others.102 One of them, Dr. Fatima Dautbaic, recalled that people, some of whom she had known in Srebrenica, were acting strangely and in an unrecognizable way on the first day of the march:
Until we reached Kamenica Hill, my part of the column was not fired on. I was hearing loud detonations behind me. On Kamenica Hill I noticed that people were acting strangely when the first wounded arrived. I explained this as panic symptoms. People were very restless. It was impossible to calm them down. They had the characteristic face of someone in a state of panic, with scared eyes. Most people had protuberant eyes. People were pale.
These conditions, she said, were occurring with greater frequency as the march continued. There are a lot of cases where I saw people commit suicidein my vicinity at least four or five people:
The husband of the head nurse of our hospital, who was in the column, killed himself by activating a hand grenade. He wounded about ten others. It surprised me very much because he had been walking with his brother. Early in the morning I passed by him when they were resting. His brother was exhausted and he was helping him wash his face.
At about 6 oclock that evening I heard the detonation, and when we jumped up they said that Kemo had been killed. When they said it was him, I said it was impossible, it must be his brother. But it was true, it was him. It could happen in a flash, like that.103
A second doctor, Dr. Ilijaz Pilav, was also near the front of the column that had already left Kamenica Hill by the time Serb forces ambushed the marchers still assembled there. He reports that the [noise of the] firing on Kamenica Hill was terrifying. His section of the column was also fired on, but the principal firing was directed at Kamenica Hill behind him. Total panic ensued.104 Night was falling, and in the situation of general chaos, hallucinations started to occur. Dr. Pilav described some of those in his vicinity as being in a normal state at one moment, and then suddenly losing their self-control. He states that, those who had weapons were firing without control. There was a general feeling of no way out.
According to Dr. Pilav, some of the people who were acting strangely had probably marched with him from Kamenica: At Kamenica some people joined me who had not been with me from the beginning [at Jaglici]. They arrived on the hill after I had already arrived there. Until Kamenica, everything was happening so fast. Every time Serbs called out to us on the megaphone there was an eruption of hallucinations.
It was at such moments that suicides occurred. Dr. Pilav witnessed some of these: Three friends hugging each other, and one pulling the [pin from the hand] grenade and killing them all is a horrible sight, one you cannot ever forget.
Dr. Pilav also described some persons who had been wounded in the shelling at Kamenica behind him and were brought to him for treatment:
They brought me two men who had no wounds at all. They looked like psychiatric cases. They were young boys between twenty and twenty-five years of age. They couldnt tell me their names. Their faces were deformed. They couldnt walk. I knew both personally.
One has survived. He stayed with me [after Kamenica], and after two days with me he regained his senses. Until then, his main thought was how to kill himself. He didnt faint, but he wasnt connected with reality. He was saying: Please call my wife, shes in the next room, and I want to go to the bathroom, and Bring me a bed, I want to sleep here. These were examples.
Dr. Pilav says he could not remember whether these two men were physically ill. The one who survived, he reports, was at first unable to walk, but after a day he could walk with help, and another day later he was able to walk unaided.
Dr. Pilav also reports that, after the attack on Kamenica Hill and the days which ensued, hallucinations occurred on a mass scale: Most hallucinations occurred at night, but as time passed they occurred with increasing regularity during both day and night. Later on I cant recall how many people had hallucinations.105
A third doctor, Dr. Avdo Hasanovic, also reports having experienced hallucinations during the march. (See chapter 4).41 The military leader of the enclave, Naser Oric, and a number of high-ranking officers had been ordered to travel to the main part of Bosnia and Hercegovina under government control in April. They never returned to Srebrenica. 42 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 19, 1996. 43 In 1994, the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) had attempted to disarm the soldiers in the Srebrenica enclave. According to Major Becirovic, this was the reason why so few of the men had weapons. He put the number of armed men at only about 500. Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 19, 1996. According to Lt. Dzemail Becirovic, the Dutch U.N. contingent returned the light weapons to the men of Srebrenica on July 11, as it became clear that the enclave would fall to Serb forces: [That day] the Dutch returned our light weapons to us, but not our tanks and artillery. It was too late because the Serbs were already in town. When we saw that the air strikes were ineffective, we decided to withdraw to Jaglici. Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996. 44 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996. Lieutenant Becirovic had been a judge in Srebrenica, and was the officer in charge of morale during the march.
45 In the words of Lieutenant Becirovic: We planned who would cross first, who would break through the Serb lines and who would hold the rear. Since my commander and I knew the terrain well, we had the honor of breaking through the front lines....When the Serbs saw us, they opened the lines, perhaps because there were so few of them. We had to walk in single file because we went through a mine field. Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996.
46 Human Rights Watch interview, Seona, July 21, 1996.
47 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 22, 1996.
48 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 19, 1996.
49 This is according to Nedzib Budovic, Capt. Zulfo Salihovic, and Nijaz Masic. Human Rights Watch interviews, Bosnia and Hercegovina, July 20-24, 1996. From Mount Rogac, where they had artillery and mortar emplacements, Bosnian Serb forces had a commanding view of the whole area. According to Mr. Masic, At 10 a.m. they started shelling us with mortars, and the first shell fell in a clearing under Kamenica Hill. The place is two or three kilometers from the hill. A few people were killed and wounded in the clearing. This mortar attack stopped the progress of the column for about two hours. No one passed. Because they were constantly shelling the hill, the rest of the column had to make a detour and took longer to reach us.
50 This is the reported experience of Zulfo Salihovic, Nedzib Budovic, Ibro Huseinovic, and Mensur Memic. Human Rights Watch interviews, Bosnia and Hercegovina, July 20-24, 1996.
51 Human Rights Watch interviews with Dr. Ilijaz Pilav, Vogoca, July 24, 1996, and with Nijaz Masic, Tuzla, July 20, 1996.
52 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 24, 1996.
53 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 24, 1996.
54 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 3, 1996.
55 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 24, 1996. Other people apparently died from rifle fire.
56 Human Rights Watch interview, Gornji Tuzla, July 19, 1996.
57 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 20, 1996. Most marchers who had heard the crashing sound were unable to say what had caused the tree to fall down. According to Nijaz Masic, the tree was struck by a shell. Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996.
58 This was described in great detail by both Samir Delic and Zulfo Salihovic. Human Rights Watch interviews, Seona, July 21, 1996, and Tuzla, July 24, 1996.
59 According to Samir Delic, the Bosnian soldiers were shooting in all directions. Human Rights Watch interview, Seona, July 21, 1996.
60 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 24, 1996. The Zolja is a Belgrade-manufactured 64mm RBR-M80 light anti-armor weapon (LAW) that fires high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds in an operational range of 250 meters. Ian V. Hogg, editor, Infantry Weapons 1994-95, 20th edition (London: Janes Information Group, 1994), p. 354. Ekrem Salihovic, who was in the middle part of the column that reached Kamenica Hill, reports that the column was very long, and the Chetniks tried to cut off its rear, the last third. Then they allowed the first group to go on, the intention probably being to catch that group later on. When we tried to stop and help the last third of the column, we were unable to do this, as the Serbs were attacking us with infantry weapons. Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 19, 1996.
61 Human Rights Watch interview with Dzevad Sinanovic, Srebrenik, July 21, 1996. Ibro Huseinovic says that it took him a full five days to get from Jaglici to Kamenica Hill, and that he spent most of the time wandering about, trying not to be detected. He then spent another two days near Kamenica Hill, finally finding a way across the Jadar river and on to Tuzla. Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 23, 1996. Clearly, not all of those who successfully completed the march to Bosnian government controlled territory managed to reach it on July 16, 1995. For some, like Mohamed Matkic, the ordeal lasted almost three weeks, while Capt. Zulho Salihovic reached Tuzla only after thirty-two days; for others, who decided to walk to Zepa, the journey took nearly two months.
62 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996. Another survivor, Mujo Tuzlic, walked directly to Zepa from Srebrenica. He reports that some 500 marchers who had tried to walk to Tuzla went to Zepa instead after they failed to cross the road between Kamenica Hill and Udrc, some arriving after wandering about for ten or fifteen days. When all were forced to leave Zepa after that enclaves collapse, they all had to return to the Kamenica Hill area before proceeding to Tuzla. Human Rights Watch interview, Vousa, July 23, 1996.
63 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Ramiz Becirovic, Zivinice, July 19, 1996.
64 Human Rights Watch interview with Nijaz Masic, Tuzla, July 20, 1996. For the reported nature of these shells, see below.
65 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Ramiz Becirovic, Zivinice, July 19, 1996.
66 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996. Nijaz Masic names the officer as Zoran Jankovic. Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996. Human Rights Watch was told by several sources that the officer was subsequently executed by the Bosniaks.
67 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 22, 1996.
68 This is according to Lieutenant Becirovic. Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 19, 1996.
69 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 19, 1996.
70 Human Rights Watch interview, Vogoca, July 24, 1996.
71 Human Rights Watch interview, Banovice, July 23, 1996.
72 Human Rights Watch interview, Tinja, July 23, 1996.
73 Human Rights Watch interview, Seona, July 21, 1996.
74 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996.
75 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 24, 1996.
76 Human Rights Watch interview, Gornji Tuzla, July 19, 1996.
77 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996.
78 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 24, 1996. This was the only account Human Rights Watch was able to obtain of the possible use of an unusual munition causing strange phenomena in the Kamenica Hill area on the second day of the march, July 13. The account could not be corroborated.
79 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996. According to Mr. Masic, Some people later picked up pieces [of the shell]. Some said that this was a shell made to contain chemicals. On the shell was written Kruevac, which is the name of a town in Serbia. Kruevac has been identified as a town in Serbia where chemical weapons were produced by the JNAbefore the war but apparently continuing during the war. According to a U.S. intelligence document, the production of chemical weapons is done at the factory Miloje Zakic in Kruevac, south-east of Belgrade. The factory is said to produce four different types of chemical weapons: nerve gas (tabun, soman and sarin), plikavci, zaguljivci, and nadrazljivci. (Untitled and undated document excerpts provided by the Defense Intelligence Agency to Granada Television, London, under the Freedom of Information Act, May 14, 1997. Similar information is contained in Gen. Zlatko Binenfeld, Chemical Weapons Development Program, a paper distributed at a seminar on National Authority and National Implementation Measures for the Chemical Weapons Convention in Warsaw, Poland, December 7-8, 1993). This information was widely known within the intelligence communities on all sides in the Bosnian war in July 1995, and a number of marchers can be presumed to have known about this as well. Human Rights Watch was unable to verify whether Mr. Masic was aware of this information during the march, and has no corroborating testimonies.
80 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 22, 1996.
81 This is according to Samir Delic and Fahrudin Omerovic, among others. Human Rights Watch interviews, Bosnia and Hercegovina, July 20-24, 1996.
82 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 19, 1996.
83 Human Rights Watch interview, Crveno Brdo (Red Hill, above Lukavac), July 22, 1996.
84 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 24, 1996.
85 Human Rights Watch interview, Vousa, July 23, 1996.
86 Human Rights Watch interview, Tinja, July 23, 1996.
87 Human Rights Watch interview, Vogoca, July 24, 1996.
88 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, March 18, 1996.
89 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 24. He added: But there were also Chetniks who infiltrated us and created panic.
90 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 22, 1996. Asim Omerovic also reported strange behavior among the marchers after shells fell in the Udrc area, but he did not see any unusual shells there. Human Rights Watch interview, Crveno Brdo, July 22, 1996.
91 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 19, 1996.
92 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 19, 1996.
93 Human Rights Watch interview, Banovice, July 23, 1996.
94 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996.
95 His account was corroborated by Lt. Dzemail Becirovic, who witnessed the events Mr. Masic described. Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996.
96 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 19, 1996.
97 Human Rights Watch interview, Zivinice, July 19, 1996.
98 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 21, 1996.
99 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 20, 1996.
100 Human Rights Watch interview, Tinja, July 23, 1996.
101 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuzla, July 29, 1996.
102 Srebrenicas five doctors all decided to join the march, fearing that Serb forces would treat them as soldiers if they decided to join the civilian evacuees at Potocari, and realizing that the marchers might be in great need of medical expertise. Human Rights Watch was able to interview three of the five doctors: Dr. Fatima Dautbaic, Dr. Ilijaz Pilav, and Dr. Avdo Hasanovic.
103 Human Rights Watch interview, Zenica, July 24, 1996.
104 Dr. Pilav described the scene as follows: We were escorting the wounded in the front of the column, and had to take care of them. As we were also being fired at, some people were wounded twice, and some of those transporting them were wounded as well. Some of these we had to leave behind. Even today it is hard to say what we should have done at the time. In those momentsas a human beingthere is an urge to save ones own life. Brother would leave brother. Father would leave son, and son would leave father. Everything was broken up. No one knew what was going on or where to go.
105 Human Rights Watch interview, Vogoca, July 24, 1996.