March 22, 1993 – “Welcome To Radio 21” – Death As Matter-Of-Fact – Ethnic Cleansing as Matter-Of-Outrage.
The war consuming the former Yugoslavia. Following the Slovenian and Croatian secessions from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991, the multi-ethnic Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina – which was inhabited by mainly Muslim Bosniaks (44 percent), as well as Orthodox Serbs (32.5 percent) and Catholic Croats (17 percent) – passed a referendum for independence on 29 February 1992.
This was rejected by the political representatives of the Bosnian Serbs, who had boycotted the referendum. Following Bosnia and Herzegovina’s declaration of independence (which gained international recognition), the Bosnian Serbs, led by Radovan Karadžić and supported by the Serbian government of Slobodan Milošević and the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), mobilised their forces inside Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to secure ethnic Serb territory, then war soon spread across the country, accompanied by ethnic cleansing. The conflict was initially between the Yugoslav Army units in Bosnia which later transformed into the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) on the one side, and the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) which was largely composed of Bosniaks, and the Croat forces in the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) on the other side. Tensions between Croats and Bosniaks increased throughout late 1992, resulting in the Croat–Bosniak War that escalated in early 1993.The Bosnian War was characterised by bitter fighting, indiscriminate shelling of cities and towns, ethnic cleansing and systematic mass rape, mainly perpetrated by Serb, and to a lesser extent, Croat and Bosniak forces. Events such as the Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre later became iconic of the conflict.
To give some idea of the horror of the conflict and the seeming matter-of-fact reading of casualties taking place during the course of an otherwise normal day, here is a 15 minute excerpt of news from Radio 21 in Kosovo as it was read on March 22, 1993. Interesting to note that Radio 21 wasn’t officially launched until 1998, there is some speculation this may have been a clandestine station. There is however, nothing clandestine about the casualty reports.