by Radio Netherlands Security and Defense editor Hans de Vreij
11 July 2005
Ten years after the fall of Srebrenica, a former Dutch defense minister has accused ‘at least two’ of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council of withholding vital information about an imminent Serbian attack on the enclave.
According to a program broadcast on Dutch television at the weekend, the two countries were the United States and the United Kingdom. Joris Voorhoeve was the Netherlands’ minister of defense in July 1995, when Bosnian Serb forces overran Srebrenica, which was under the protection of Dutch UN troops. Subsequently, thousands of Muslim men were massacred in the worst war crime to occur since the end of the Second World War.
At the time, official Dutch and United Nations reports said the attack had come as a surprise. This view was repeated in a Dutch government report about the events of July 1995, as well as during a subsequent parliamentary inquiry in the Netherlands. In 2002, the outcome of that inquiry led to the fall of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Wim Kok.
However, last Saturday, Mr Voorhoeve spoke to IKON television about a 1996 report he had commissioned from the military intelligence service MID (‘Militaire Inlichtingen Dienst’). “What shocked me most at the time (…) was the fact that at least two large members of the Security Council knew about the Serbian plans”, the former defense minister said. “By early June 1995, they knew that the Bosnian Serbs intended to overrun the Eastern (Bosnian) enclaves of Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde. We did not get that information until after Srebrenica had fallen”.
The former minister declined to identify the two countries involved, citing secrecy laws by which he is still bound. However, IKON television said ‘several sources’ have confirmed the two countries were the US and the UK.
The whole truth?
The revelations by Joris Voorhoeve could imply that he, and possibly other key government officials, may not have told the whole truth when interviewed years after the fall of Srebrenica by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD), which compiled the official report into the events of July 1995. More seriously, he and others may have breached their oaths when questioned in 2002 by a Dutch parliamentary commission of inquiry.
In Saturday’s television interview, Mr Voorhoeve said he had told the commission of inquiry that he was aware of at last one permanent Security Council member having withheld information. But this information is not mentioned at all in the public report on the hearing.
(Radio Netherlands, 11 July 2005)
Orginal audio of IKON TV: http://www.ikonrtv.nl/uploadedDocs/voorhoeve.mp3
Zie ook ‘US and UK withheld vital information about Srebrenica’ (2005)