April 26, 2012
writing to request that you reconsider hosting Michael Parenti at your
fundraiser on May 31. Why?
I think that Parentiís writings and activities* in support of Slobodan Milosevic
should put him outside the bounds of the progressive community. Note that
Milosevic, former President of Serbia and Yugoslavia, was charged with
war crimes and
crimes against humanity in connection
with the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo by the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
(He died of a heart attack during the trial.)
should not be considered a suitable speaker for a
Peace & Justice
you will remember that Parenti was hosted in
on several occasions by
South Bay Mobilization (SBM) and a few years ago by the
San Jose Peace and Justice Center (SJPJC). So why am I bringing this up
visited Bosnia last year. I had already read a lot about the war since following
it from India in the mid 1990s. The most poignant part of my trip was
Srebrenica, a remote town in Eastern Bosnia. It was a UN protected enclave or a
safe haven for Bosnian Muslims who had been ethnically cleansed from the rest of
Eastern Bosnia. In July 1995, the Bosnian Serb soldiers overran the enclave
right in front of the Dutch UN troops. In the following days, over 7,000 Bosnian
men and boys were murdered in detention camps around the town in arguably the
worst tragedy in Europe since WW2. The bodies of 5,500 of these victims have
been identified through DNA testing by a group called ICMP in what has been a 15
year effort. Parenti
denies the extent of this massacre and blames the town Muslims for provoking
it. If this massacre didn't happen as Parenti claims, I wonder what lies under
the graves over 7,000 men and boys that I saw at the graveyard at the edge of
pointed out Parentís past writings in support of Milosevic when SBM and SJPJC
sponsored those past events with him. Perhaps we were too overwhelmed by the
Iraq war to look at an even worse war that took place only 7 years earlier?
many people know Parenti in the Muslim community and hence the event on May 31
could go unnoticed but then some people, particularly in the Afghan community,
have noticed his views in support of the Soviet
occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Note that other than
there is no issue which affected Muslims as much as
Bosnia, not even Iraq. It
wasn't just the extent of the war crimes, but the nature of the crimes:
rape camps among other things. You can
see Parenti minimizing these crimes
here and you can read WILPF's article on
the mass rape of Bosnian women
Parenti, an apologist for these crimes, should put the peace center at odds with
Muslim, women, and progressive groups.
about Parenti - the
preface for one of his books was written by Milosevic himself from his cell
in Hague. Parenti subsequently headed the US chapter of the
International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic.
April 29, 2012
Dear members of SJPJC board:
I totally understand the reasons for not having faith in the mainstream American
media. Itís precisely for that reason I have dug up UN reports and ICJ rulings
on the Bosnian genocide to prove that the "peace and justice" guest Michael
Parenti has cooked up a vile conspiracy theory against Bosnian Muslims and whose
presence will be offensive to Muslims, Bosnian and women organizations.
I would request you to read
the following testimony from Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian
international United Nations war crimes expert, often called "the Father of
International Criminal Law:"
Scroll to the section: TESTIMONY OF PROFESSOR M. CHERIF BASSIOUNI
As a part of his testimony,
he has said:
We interviewed directly 223
victims and witnesses. We have over 575 affidavits in which the victim is not
only identified, but the victim identified the perpetrator as well.
Of the 1,600 cases alleged
and brought to our attention, a number of them indicate others who have been
raped in their presence. The number of cases exceeds 4,500. Consequently, we are
able to make a reasonable projection of four times the number of alleged cases
which brings the total to well over 20,000. This number is no longer a
figure picked from thin air. It is now based on verifiable facts from which
we can make this reasonable projection.
In the same link, you will
also find testimonies by Andras Riedlmayer. He is a bibliographer in Islamic art
and architecture, Aga Khan Program, Fine Arts Library, at Harvard University.
So, as I mentioned earlier, the source for the mass rape of Bosnian women
(20,000) is not CNN or the US government, but these independent international
experts. When Parenti minimized these figures from 20,000 to 100, he essentially
denies their existence.
Don't get me wrong, but it
is demeaning to Muslims and others when someone alludes that they believe that a
genocide has occurred because CNN told them. I think you have worked long enough
with the community to know that Muslims have the ability to research and find
credible sources - like I have done here! Perhaps it is the "peace" community
that should learn instead? :-)
I will also remind you of this article by Parenti called
The Demonization of Slobodan Milosevic.
Parenti writes in this article:
"The media-hyped story of how the Serbs allegedly killed 7,000 Muslims in
Srebrenica was declared a genocide of Bosnian Muslims by International Court of
Justice in 2007. I can send you a copy of that ruling if you wish. I have also
been to Srebrenica.
So once again, the source for Bosnians and Muslims isn't American media as
Parenti claims (and people on the extreme right as well as extreme left accept
without questioning), but international courts.
On the others, I don't find credible sources in your letter or Parenti's
articles even though you say so. Parenti has cited no
source for this:
"During the Bosnian war in 1993, the Serbs were accused of pursuing an
official policy of rape. ďGo forth and rapeĒ a Bosnian Serb commander supposedly
publicly instructed his troops."
His source for "Muslims bombed themselves in
is Lord Owen, the former British foreign secretary. This in the same article
where he claims that NATO was conspiring against Serbs.
Why do you call that a
The incident Parenti mentions (using Lord Owens as a source) has since been
investigated by a UN backed tribunal (ICTY) which judged that the Bosnian Serb
army had fired that shell. Don't you think that is a better source? The ICTY
So, the Bosnian and my source here is international war crimes expert. I wish
you had made an attempt to find this yourself before believing a very
stereotypes accusation that Muslims bomb themselves (to provoke wars).
To conclude, I repeat that Michael Parenti is an
apologist for war crimes and mass rapes. I have cited credible sources above.
Parenti might still have a fan following in the old fashioned American "left,"
but naturally, to Muslims and Bosnians, such a writer is very offensive. Please
consider their feelings when you host speakers for peace and justice fundraising