Articles on the Bosnia Conflict:
General Lewis MacKenzie




Originally published at

General Lewis MacKenzieGen. Lewis MacKenzie, the former commander of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia is an outspoken Srebrenica genocide denier.

On July 14, 2005 edition of Canada’s The Globe and Mail, under “The Real Story Behind Srebrenica“, he stated:

Evidence given at The Hague war crimes tribunal casts serious doubt on the figure of “up to” 8,000 Bosnian Muslims massacred. That figure includes “up to” 5,000 who have been classified as missing. More than 2,000 bodies have been recovered in and around Srebrenica, and they include victims of the three years of intense fighting in the area. The math just doesn't support the scale of 8,000 killed…. It’s a distasteful point, but it has to be said that, if you’re committing genocide, you don’t let the women go since they are key to perpetuating the very group you are trying to eliminate. Many of the men and boys were executed and buried in mass graves.

As an alternative to Lewis MacKenzie’s make-believe denials, read Facts: 8,106 killed in Srebrenica Genocide.

While it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much has been directed towards payment for speakers and journalists, the SUC [Serbian Unity Congress] and Serbnet have set up a special fund for this purpose. Based on former UN General Lewis MacKenzie’s own admission which was later corroborated by Serbnet — that he was receiving over $15,000 per speaking engagement — the amount spent on MacKenzie represents more than what the SUC is paying to PR firms such as Manatos and Manatos, Inc. (source).

The Serbian propaganda campaign employs methods similar to Holocaust denial and revisionism. Their first line of action is to create an atmosphere of relativism. The second line of action is then to deny the totality of the destruction in order to downplay the purpose and systematic nature of the aggression. The third line of action is then to create their own ‘facts’ and ‘references’ and it is here where they have been most successful. The SUC [Serbian Unity Congress] has used public relations firms (Manatos and Manatos, McDermott O’Neill and Associates, David Keene and Associates), in order to grant their leaders and paid representatives access to television and radio interviews, congressional sub-committee hearings and U.N. sponsored commissions. These congressional hearings, interviews and official reports are then used as references, which lend legitimacy to their position. For example, the Serbnet speeches made by former UN General Lewis MacKenzie on his speaker-tour are frequently advertised, as are the articles of Sir Alfred Sherman which appeared in the British press.

But just, who is Gen. Lewis MacKenzie? To answer that question, one must go back to 1992. In December - same year - the chief Bosnian military prosecutor in Sarajevo, Mustafa Bisic, formally charged Gen. Lewis MacKenzie with sexual misconduct against civilians while on duty in Bosnia, and requested that the UN revoke his diplomatic immunity. MacKenzie was accused of raping several Bosnian women being held captive in a Serbian prison camp, as a “gift” from Serbian officials. The victims were later executed by Serbian soldiers, allegedly to ‘erase evidence’.

Below is an archived version of investigative article published on June 4th, 1993 by Pacific News Services.

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For half a year charges of sexual misconduct filed by a Sarajevo prosecutor against a high UN official have been circulating widely in Arab, European and Canadian media, and in UN and human rights circles in New York. While the official named denied the charges, to date there has been no formal acknowledgement let alone inquiry into them, raising troubling questions for some about who polices the peacekeepers. PNS associate editor Dennis Bernstein is an award-winning investigative reporter. Bernstein's research was funded in part by the Washington, D.C. based Fund for Investigative Journalism.

June 4, 1993

Last November the chief Bosnian military prosecutor in Sarajevo charged a high UN official with sexual misconduct against civilians while on duty in Bosnia. The prosecutor publicly demanded that the Bosnian president press the United Nations to remove the official's diplomatic immunity.

Although reports of the alleged war crimes have appeared in the Arab, European and Canadian press, have been circulating in UN circles and even surfaced in a briefing for U.S. Congressional aides by a human rights group, there has as yet been no formal response from the UN. While the official has denied the charges, those attempting to investigate them -- journalists, human rights advocates, foreign policy
analysts, and at least one U.S. legislator, not to mention Bosnian officials and Sarajevans themselves -- believe they raise troubling questions about the overall accountability of the UN: just who is policing the peacekeepers?

Some months after he unexpectedly stepped down from his assignment last August, General Lewis MacKenzie, Canadian head of the UN peacekeeping force in Bosnia Herzegovina, was charged in a bill of indictment by chief military prosecutor Mustafa Bisic with sexually molesting four Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) women held by Serbian forces in a prison camp in a Sarajevo suburb.

In a letter to the Bosnian president dated Dec. 3, 1992, Bisic cited the eyewitness testimony of a Serbian guard who had worked at the camp, known as Kod Sonje. The guard claimed he saw MacKenzie and several escorts arrive in a military transport vehicle with the UN insignia. The eyewitness claimed guards were then ordered to release four Bosniak women prisoners to MacKenzie. According to the prosecutor's complaint, the women were later murdered by camp guards under orders to "erase evidence" of this "unusual gift."

The prosecutor's charges, aired over Sarajevo television, were denounced by MacKenzie in several interviews with European and Canadian media as a propaganda tactic by one side in the three-sided civil war to gain international sympathy. "I can understand why they (Bosnian officials) would do something like that," the former UN peacekeeper told the Vancouver Sun in an interview published Feb. 13. "If I had been in their position and found that the peace-keeping force was not what I wanted, I can envision my devious mind working out a story to discredit them."

Nevertheless, in February new information about the possible existence of a videotape placing MacKenzie at the Kod Sonje camp helped refocus attention to the charges. In an interview with Pacific News Service, U.S. Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) says she is "very concerned" about the charges and has informed U.S. ambassador to the UN Madeline Albright that her office "is trying to ferret them out as best we can."

Slaughter learned about the videotape from Safeta Ovcina, a Bosnian nurse who testified at a special briefing conducted by Helsinki Watch for Congressional staffers. The briefing was held February 23 amid growing concern in the West over media accounts of mass rapes of Bosniak women by Serbian soldiers.

Ovcina, who spent ten months tending war victims at a frontline hospital before fleeing Sarajevo for the United States, testified she had been shown the videotape by her neighbors whom she described as members of the Bosnian military.

"I looked at the tape and saw General MacKenzie, whom we always saw on TV news, with Serb chetniks. There were three or four girls on both sides of him...MacKenzie was hugging them."

In a telephone interview with Pacific News Service at her home in St. Louis, Ovcina says she recognized some of the young women as formerly involved in a hair cutting business. "They didn't laugh, they didn't cry, they just sat there...The feeling I had is that they were surrounded by a bunch of drunken people, and they were very unhappy," she recalled.

Ovcina says her neighbors told her the women were later killed and buried in a grave on the outskirts of Sarajevo. In her testimony at the Helsinki Watch briefing, she also described witnessing other abuses and indiscretions by UN personnel, including the selling of protection, food, cigarettes.

Bosnian officials in the United States interviewed by Pacific News Service say they do not know the whereabouts of the videotape nor do they have any verification that it exists. Although the allegations are now widely accepted as truth in Sarajevo, according to Bosnian Ambassador to the UN Muhamed Sacirbey, at this point "there is no proof to justify them." Interviewed by phone from New York, Sacirbey said his government had not formally challenged General MacKenzie's diplomatic immunity at the UN.

Another eyewitness to the alleged Kod Sonje incident is Borislav Herak, a Serbian soldier captured by Bosnian forces in early November and now awaiting execution for war crimes. Herak was interviewed on film by award winning Bosnian film maker and TV producer Ademir Kenovic several days after his arrest.

According to a transcript of the interview provided by Kenovic, Herak said he was at the camp when MacKenzie arrived in a white UN vehicle and met with the camp warden Miro Vukovic. He was then taken to a room "for big shots" where he was served whiskey and food.

Later, Herak said he saw MacKenzie and several other UN soldiers "taking four or five girls in this vehicle to have fun." Asked if he were certain it was General MacKenzie, Herak replied, "Yes, I am sure. I saw him on television."

To date, General MacKenzie has not been questioned by U.S. media about the charges and repeated phone calls to him by Pacific News Service in Washington DC were not returned.

Congresswoman Slaughter says while she doesn't want to spread "what could be a smear campaign," she considers the allegations serious enough to warrant investigation. If proven true, they could undermine the UN's entire peacekeeping mandate. "But I don't know who is authorized to handle such an investigation," she added. Slaughter was especially troubled to learn that twice when he visited Washington last May, General MacKenzie was represented by the public relations firm of Craig Shirley and Associates which is closely identified with the Serbian government. The firm also represents Serb-Net Inc., a Chicago-based association of Serbian American organizations which a spokesperson says "works to counter the negative press images about Serbia."

(06041993) **** END **** COPYRIGHT PNS

Related reading material suggested by our readers: I Begged Them to Kill Me - published by the Center for Investigation and Documentation of the Association of Former Prison Camp Inmates of Bosnia-Herzegovina; pages 183-189. Chapter: An Officer with a Rose.

Footnote: As of Fall 2009, MacKenzie still downplays the scale of the Srebrenica massacre, saying:

"Probably somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2000 men and boys were slaughtered – the initial figure was 8000 but an awful lot showed up and voted in the next election."
    In Canada’s Army – Post Peacekeeping, Journal of Military and Strategic Studies

MacKenzie made similar claims in a 2005 article in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

MacKenzie admitted that his lecture tour was funded by SerbNet, and an anonymous UN official is quoted as saying "We quite frankly are displeased with his lack of judgment" in relation to accepting money from an advocacy group. Former U.N. Leader MacKenzie Speaks on Behalf of Serb Forces By Dele Olojede and Roy Gutman, Newsday, June 1993

The Lion, The Fox, and The Eagle: A Story of Generals and Justice in Rwanda and Yugoslavia by Carol Off, CBC reporter, 2000. The writer argues that MacKenzie played a leading role in dissuading the world from stopping the slaughter in Bosnia.

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