Right of Self-Defence


The following is the address delivered by the President of Bosnia at the Muslim foreign Minister's Conference held in Jeddah on the 1st and 2nd December, 1992.


If the tragedy of my people has a positive implication, any semblance of good - and all tragedies do - it is the fact that this suffering has deepened the sense of solidarity of the Muslim World. We have long awaited this day!

My address to you will be short. I will not cite statistics or facts. Everything or almost all has been said. Resolutions and commitments have largely remained empty words. The time has come for conclusive actions.

Our advisors have prepared small display of documents, tapes and videos which speak of the untold suffering of the civilian population of the Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially women and children.

Please, review this display which represents only a fraction of the evidence against the criminal oppressors of my people.

One of these tapes prove that this aggression was well planned. On this tape we hear the words of one of the ideologues sentencing the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in particular the Muslims, to death for expressing their right to freedom and sovereignty.

This was on October 15 of last year, during a legislative session of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In other words this is 'premeditated murder'.

One nationality of to million people that had lived at the cross-roads of two worlds, belonging to both, to the East by faith and tradition - and to the West by reasoning and education, almost without recorded precedent and cultural implications, has been sentenced to death by ethnic cleansing.

We have alerted the world to the fact that this is not only a matter of Bosnia, nor the Balkans, nor even Europe. This is an issue that has global considerations. Ethnic cleansing and concentration camps, which have sprouted in the middle of Europe like black mushrooms, foresahdow the moral decline of civilization and are a concern for all of mankind.

That civilization has not heard us. We have largely remained alone in a battle for sheer survival caught between an unrelated and well armed enemy on one side and dual faced friends on th other.

Why is this so and why does today's world, or more accurately it's leadership, largely not see what is abundantly clear? Is it because this is not Belgrade that is besieged and razed - but Sarajevo? Is it because this is not half of Serbia that is occupied but Bosnia? Is it because the column of one million refugees across Europe are Muslims - who is persecuting them and why are they fleeing? And why, instead of real protection consistent with justice and international law, do they send us lunch packs?

Is this a matter of moral weakness of today's civilization or the fact that the victims are Muslims?

I am concerned that once history is written and archives are uncovered both of the above suspicions will be proven.

That is why I call upon your help.

You do not have the right to neutrality and to indifference, even more so.

Utilise your influence so that the international community fulfils its responsibility towards a small country, and internationally recognised republic, a member of the United Nations, a victim of aggression. Our case morally and legally, is abundantly clear. Under the United Nations Charter, a victim of aggression has the right to two forms of self-defence: collectively (with the help of other United Nations States) and unilateral. We have been deprived of both, while the aggression against our country, and the murder of our people continues.

That is why we exclaim, Please choose! Either defend us or allow us to defend ourselves.

Will the international community defend us? Well that is their prerogative or more accurately stated, their collective consideration of their conscience and honour.

However, self defence is our right.

Those that bind our hands while we are being beaten or murdered become accomplices of the guilty.

We simply ask that the arms embargo with respect to Bosnia and Herzegovina be declared innaplicable. We are not seeking weapons for revenge but for self-defence. Therefore, I will be even more precise. We are seeking a limited quantity of defensive weapons.

For us, this is a question of life and death. Do we ask for too much?


Transcribed from:

The Review of Religions
March 1993
Vol. LXXXVIII No. 3