by Felix Quigley
July 10, 2008
In this article on Roy Gutman I would like to start with this
“On this day Gutman joined the women’s programme “Mona Lisa” of the Second German Television (ZDF) presented by Maria von Welser for a discussion of alleged mass rapes in Bosnian prison camps.”
German. Women’s programme, Maria von Welser…you could not make any of that up. Visions of television soaps flash across the mind. And in a German studio!!!
This told me more than anything what was happening. The means of turning and controlling world opinion was being pervasively employed, even on women’s programmes, which are usually in this crass bourgeois culture associated with cooking and the latest in beauty aids. What chance did Milosevic and the Serbs have when that power was turned on against them! We go back to examine that cynical reply of Kamm friend Nick Cohen of the British Media anti-Serb Journalistic pack.
It’s in chapter 5 if you’ve got the book taken from Roy Gutman’s account
of the decaptiation of Mulsim civil society in Prejidor — going for the
judges, teachers etc The Hague hearings backed him up.
All the best,Nick
One thing leads to another and so Peter Robert North writing in to Neil Craig’s blog in Scotland explored this Gutman fellow whom Nick Cohen so relied upon. He concentrates on the important book by Peter Brock:
[start quote from Peter Robert North here]
So take of that as you will. Perhaps i annoyed him with my reference to obscene Nazis but, since Gutman has acknowledged that he never saw atrocities he said he saw, not having visited Republika Srpska at the time he wrote of seeing atrocities there I submit that his testimony is worthless. If so has Cohen any actual evidence or was my initial assessment spot on? There is no 3rd choice.
// posted by neil craig @ 5:01 PM
No that’s right, Dearieme, but it does indicate that the individual in question is either excruciatingly LAZY for not engaging in basic fact checking, or just a plain ordinary incorrigible LIAR in the specific particular case he/she is claiming is truthful and accurate whilst not providing any positive PROOF to back up his/her claims (shades of the ITN/Guardian Trnopolje death camp hoax).
Exposing the incessant LIES of Roy Gutman
Brock’s analysis of the work of Roy Gutman is equally devastating. He shows compellingly that Gutman was not A Witness to Genocide (the title of Gutman 1993 book based on his dispatches from Bosnia), but rather an agent of propaganda provided, directly or indirectly, by parties with an axe to grind. Many of his sources were not witnesses but purveyors of hearsay evidence from alleged witnesses. Gutman treated his sources uncritically; even speaking at one point of “reliable rumors.” He rarely demanded–and even more rarely obtained and supplied–any corroboration to allegations of Serb abuse. If the Bosnian Muslims and Croats claimed 100,000 prisoners in Serb prison camps that was enough for Gutman; the fact that the Red Cross estimated that there were only some 10,000 prisoners in the camps of the Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims taken together was of no interest to him; their finding meant that his preferred larger number was “unconfirmed.” His business was making the case against the bad guys, and he didn’t just cut corners in making that case, with the help of his badly compromised sources he wrote works of fiction that had some “unconfirmed” elements of reality.
Gutman located most of his sources with the help of Croatian, Bosnian Muslim and U.S. Embassy intermediaries, most extensively from the Croatian Information Center (CIC), a government propaganda agency whose work Gutman found to be “more or less scholarly.” Gutman claimed to have met a major propaganda agent of the CIC, and Gutman source, Jadranka Cigelj, “by chance,” but he admits to having gotten a number of witnesses (or purveyors of witness hearsay) from Croatian “charitable foundations” and the U.S. embassy. As one critical journalist (Joan Phillips) put it, his death camp stories “are based on very few accounts from alleged survivors. They rely on hearsay and double hearsay. They are given the stamp of authority by speculation and surmise from officials.”
Gutman was very free in using analogies to Belsen, Auschwitz and references to “death camps” and “concentration camps,” “deportations,” and estimates of Serb death camp killings running up to 5,000, although his word usage and numbers varied based on probable audience knowledge and receptivity. The lack of scruple here was marked, and misstatements were frequent. “It was like Jews being deported to Auschwitz” was a lie, as there was no evidence whatsoever that Bosnian Muslims moved around by the Serbs were going to gas chambers. Phillips notes that the 350 journalists who rushed into Bosnia looking for death camps “didn’t find them, nor did they find any evidence that they existed.” There was in fact never any evidence that treatment in the Bosnian Serb camps was any worse than that in the Croatian and Bosnian Muslim camps, that were of no interest to Gutman.
Brock’s detailed analysis of Gutman’s work (pp. 87-116) is a compelling study in journalistic malpractice that should by read by every student of the media, especially given the fact that the outrageous performance that Brock describes here resulted in a Pulitzer prize, shared by Gutman’s rival in disinformation John F. Burns! Gutman didn’t relish any analysis by Brock, warning him by e-mail that his Witness to Genocide could “not be quoted under any circumstances.” He didn’t even relish exposure at the Hague, refusing to testify there, where he would have had to deal with cross-examination.
War Stories, Roy Gutman and Western perceptions of the Balkans War
Novo, No. 12, September/October 1994.
The following text is a translated extract from a larger review of new books on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia entitled “Augenzeugen oder Propagandisten? Zur Rolle der Medien im Krieg auf dem Balkan”, which appeared in Novo, No.12, September/October 1994, pp. 46-50
After his first reports on “death camps” in Omarska, which appeared in Newsday in August 1992, Roy Gutman soon became well known in Germany. From November 15, 1992, onwards anyone dealing with the war in ex-Yugoslavia could not fail to take note of him. On this day Gutman joined the women’s programme “Mona Lisa” of the Second German Television (ZDF) presented by Maria von Welser for a discussion of alleged mass rapes in Bosnian prison camps.
Many of Gutman’s articles of that period are now reassembled in German translation in his book Augenzeuge des Voelkermords (Witness to Genocide), undoubtedly an impressive publication, based on exceptionally extensive research in ex-Yugoslavia. The Pulitzer Prize winner Gutman interviewed refugees and victims of rape and other atrocities and lets them speak of their experiences in almost 40 separate articles. The book therefore appears highly authentic. It generates empathy and concern, since the gruesome reality of the war is described in great detail.
Nonetheless, the credibility of some of Gutman’s reports is open to question. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that elementary principles of rigour and balance were not always observed. For example, it appears doubtful whether the frequent reliance on official pronouncements of one party to the conflict and its political representatives reflected in Augenzeuge des Voelkermords constitutes an acceptable journalistic approach. Every journalist knows that the warring parties in any conflict will always seek to promote their own cause, draw exclusive attention to the suffering of the civilian population on their side of the war and portray their enemy as the sole aggressor. This does not prevent Gutman from citing representatives of the SDA – the Bosnian Muslim party of Izetbegovic – to substantiate Serbian atrocities. Gutman deserves commendation for never failing to cite his sources. But, on the other hand, he never offers any comment as to whether the statements made by such sources might deserve being viewed with a degree of suspicion or not. In general, Gutman lets his sources speak for themselves, without offering the reader any indication of a possible political bias.
One article in Augenzeuge des Voelkermords which is definitely based on questionable sources is “Eine nach der anderen” (One after another) dated February 21, 1993, which deals with the Omarska prison camp in Bosnia and specifically with the suffering of the women imprisoned there.
Gutman tells the story of Jadranka Cigelj, a 45-year old Croatian lawyer from Prijedor who says she spent several months in Omarska and was raped by camp commander Zeljko Mejahic and other Serb men.
In a telephone interview in summer 1994 Roy Gutman affirmed that he still regards his rape witness, Jadranka Cigelj, as a reliable source. In his book he acknowledges that she was a “political activist” and “vice chairperson” of Tudjman’s ruling party, the Croatian Democratic Society HDZ, and that she worked for the Croatian Information Centre (CIC). Nonetheless, Gutman maintains that he never saw cause to doubt her credibility. Upon closer inspection, however, Cigelj’s political activities raise many questions which shed a different light on her person and on the quality of Gutman’s story.
It is not difficult to come across information suggesting that Jadranka Cigelj may well be a paid propagandist of the Croatian government, who therefore deserves as much or as little credulity as Serb camp commander Zeljko Mejahic who – as Gutman acknowledges in the article – repeatedly denied having committed the alleged rape of Cigelj and other women. The Croatian Information Centre (CIC), for which Cigelj works, is a publicity organisation which was formed out of the former Croatian Ministry of Information with exile Croatian funds. The main role of the centre is to provide Western journalists, governments, academics and intellectuals with pro-Croatian information. Its publications are on display in many Croatian book shops, despite the fact that war and economic crisis have severely constrained most other publishing activity. One of the centre’s most recent publications, “Genocide – Ethnic Cleansing in North-Western Bosnia” edited by CIC director Ante Beljo appeared in English, German and French. Apart from eyewitness reports of Serb atrocities in the current conflict it also contains reports of Croatian suffering during World War II. The centre’s objective evidently is not just to portray present-day Serbs as cruel beasts, but to rewrite Croatian history, which was intimately associated with German fascism, as well.
The CIC is located in the former History Department of Zagreb University in Opaticka 10, in the immediate vicinity of the Croatian government building “Sabor” and other state institutions. Opaticka 8, which used to house the former Croatian Ministry of Information under Branco Salaj, now is the seat of the press office of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Few Western journalists are aware of the fact that all the “Foreign Press Centres” in Croatia – the main ones being located in Zagreb and Split – are also run by the supposedly non-governmental CIC, the successor of the Ministry of Information. This whole publicity machine is a highly professional operation. A large staff is available to deal with the enquiries of visiting Western journalists and to assist them by providing interview contacts. Almost all the staff speak fluent English, since most came from Canada and the USA, where exile information centres bearing the same name are in operation. In addition to the press accreditations of UNPROFOR, the CIC still issues its own press cards bearing the name and photo of visiting journalists.
Before Croatian independence, CIC-director Ante Beljo already formed exile HDZ sections in Canada and the USA. He returned to Croatia after independence, was general secretary of the HDZ under Tudjman in 1990-91, later joined the Ministry of Information under Salaj and then formed the CIC, whose staff includes Jadranka Cigelj. Beljo is also chairman of the Croatian Homeland Foundation which looks after exiles returning to Croatia. The present Croatian Minister of Defence Gojko Susak – also a former Canadian exile – was Croatian Immigration Minister in 1990-91 and already had close contact with Beljo in Canada. In Croatia it is no secret that exile funds were used to finance Tudjman’s election campaigns, form a major source of the wealth of the new Croatian elite and help fund its publicity machine and armed forces. The Croatian writer Zvonco Ivankovic Vonta, who repeatedly pointed to this – in his view undemocratic – set-up in recent years, is convinced that Ante Beljo is also involved in illicit arms deals. There are further links between the CIC and the presidential office and emigre groups, some of whom openly co-operate with pro-fascist Ustasha supporters. 
Gutman’s key witness, Jadranka Cigelj, forms part of this circuit. Since December 10, 1993 she has been the vice-chair of the Croatian section of the international Society for Human Rights (ISHR), whose headquarters are situated in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The ISHR, whose historic links with the Nazi authorities in World War II and later with the CIA and German secret service BND are well documented, already developed close contact with exiled Croatian nationalists in the 1980s – e.g. with Dobroslav Paraga. Former “human rights” activist Paraga returned from the USA to Croatia after independence and became chairman of the Croatian Party of Law (HSP). Together with a further associate of the ISHR, Ante Paradjik, Paraga organised the formation, arming and paramilitary activities of the notorious neofascist HOS-troops, who perpetrated anti-Serb violence in Croatia in the wake of Croatian independence and were later integrated into the Croatian army. The HSP, which claims adherence to the tradition of Ustasha-leader and Hitler- collaborator Ante Pavelic, still sits in the Croatian parliament. The ISHR Zagreb office and personnel double as the CIC. In Opaticka 10 one of Cigelj’s colleagues, Albert Bing, variously operates as chairman of the ISHR or as a member of Ante Beljo’s CIC.
These articles made Jadranka Cigelj known among Western journalists. Cigelj not only figures in Gutman’s war coverage, but in numerous publications of the ISHR – as Jadranka C., Jadranka Cigelj, Jadranka Cigev, Jadranka Cigay or simply Mrs. Jadranka. She is sometimes described as a 46 year old Croatian from Prijedor, sometimes as a Croatian in her early 40s from Vukovar.
When asked about how he came into contact with Cigelj, Gutman recently stated that he first met her by chance in Zagreb in January 1993 and verified that she was a credible witness. Since the Serb authorities had refused to permit him to visit Omarska he had asked the publicity officer of the Bosnian Serb army in Banja Luka to procure a response of Omarska prison camp commander, Zeljko Mejahic, to the accusation that he had raped Jadranka. Mejahic’s arrogant, albeit negative response had confirmed his impression that Jadranka could be trusted. Gutman resolutely affirms that he procured sufficient information about the identity of his witness. He regards the fact that he referred to Jadranka “Siget” in his letter to Banja Luka and to “Cigelj” in his article written only 10 days later as a mere oversight.
The ISHR-brochure “God’s Forgotten Children” includes an eyewitness account of a Jadranka C.  Without doubt the witness in question is Jadranka Cigelj, since her statements about the length of her imprisonment in Omarska and other details are identical with those in Gutman’s story. But there are also some perplexing contradictions. For example, in Gutman’s report she says that she was “released” on August 3, 1992 when the prison camp in Omarska was closed down. In the brochure of the ISHR we learn that she still had to spend four days in the “concentration camp Trnopolje” after leaving Omarska. But perhaps the fact that this episode of her suffering was not mentioned in Gutman’s extensive interview is of no particular significance.
What is rather more puzzling is that Cigelj accuses different Serbs of having raped her in her two accounts. In the ISHR-story she only charged the reserve officer Nedeljko Grabovac with this crime: “Grabovac not only insulted me on account of my nationality, but also threatened me. Suddenly the lights went out, he took my hand and pushed me in the hall. Then he forced me into the bathroom… Then he raped me.” She also reported that “the same happened” in the following nights, but mentioned no other names. At the end of this eyewitness account she underlines the impression that she was raped by only one person in Omarska: She states that the camp commander – Zeljko Mejahic, whose name she never mentions in the lSHR-brochure – had asked her five days after these incidents whether she had received any maltreatment. She expressed her outrage at this question, since he had been present in the first night when Grabovac had grabbed her hand and then raped her. She supplemented her account of the commander’s role, stating: “He acted as if he had not been present during that night. But he was the one who had brought this man in. I later found out that the man (the rapist, Note of the ISHR-editor) was a member of the Serb territorial defence forces”. In this account Zeljko Mejahic appears merely as the camp commander – not as a rapist. He is not even mentioned by name. In Gutman’s article, however, Jadranka Cigelj claims that she was raped by commander Zeljko Mejahic, the guards Mladen Radic and Kos Milojica, in addition to Nedeljlro Grabovac. Maybe there is an explanation for this divergence too. Jadranka Cigelj may have forgotten the names, or there may have been sloppy editing on the part of the ISHR editors. Roy Gutman says the explanation may be that Cigelj only overcame her trauma in stages, until she was finally able to articulate al the details of her horrific experience. This seems unlikely since the ISHR-brochure was published in the same month as Gutman’s article, in February 1993. An earlier ISHR publication sheds some light on Jadranka Cigelj’s links with the former Croatian Ministry of Information. It reports that a human rights activist of the ISHR in Frankfurt, had been introduced to “Mrs. Jadranka” by Marika Riser, a member of the ministry staff. A photograph in this brochure shows Jadranka Cigelj in a fur coat and hat, smoking a cigarette and looking rather untraumatised and well. In the brochure “Gods Forgotten Children” Marika Riser is listed as Maritza Risek alongside Jadranka Cigey, not Cigelj, in the information section “Contact addresses in Zagreb” as contacts in Opaticka 10. The same page also features the “Centre for the Investigation of War Crimes” in Zenica, which co-operates with the German anti-Serbian activist and leader of the Society for Threatened People (Gesellschaft fur Bedrohte Voelker) Tilman Zulch, as a contact address for concerned readers. In other ISHR publications Jadranka Cigelj figures in other functions, for example as chairperson of the “Women’s Group Omarska”.
Cigelj is better known abroad than in Croatia. Rarely has a single war victim become so famous. This appears to be due to the fact that she was introduced to Western journalists by Croatian publicity-makers, sent abroad and invited to participate in meetings in other countries. For example, she appeared at the annual conference of the ISHR in Koenigstein near Frankfurt in March 1993 as Jadranka Cigev. But Cigelj had already visited Germany on several occasions before then. She spoke at the public hearing of the German parliament about “systematic rape in Bosnia-Hercegovina” in December 1992. The hearing was held in response to the revelations about mass rape in Bosnia in the “Mona Lisa” programme mentioned above. Amelija Janovic of the Croatian CulturaI Association Rhein-Main acted as Cigelj’s translator.
In January 1993 Jadranka Cigelj twice featured as a studio guest on the Programme “Einspruch” of the Berlin TV station SAT3. Later she worked on a documentary about her home town Prijedor with a TV team of the SWF Baden Baden, which was broadcast in two parts in October 1993. The CIC has also confirmed that Cigelj assisted another SWF team in research which resulted not just in a TV feature, but in the arrest of the alleged war criminal Dusan Tadic in Munich on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the German Federal Prosecutor. Tadic has repeatedly been discussed as a potential key defendant in the prospective International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Cigelj has also been a studio guest of the Bayerischer Rundfunk and has appeared on French, British and US television.
Due to her influential connections, Cigelj recently also won official recognition in the US and France. She was honoured by the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (MAHR) in Minneapolis “For outstanding contributions to international women’s rights” in June 1993, alongside Dr. Shana Swiss of the organisation Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), Boston, who herself in fact nominated Cigelj. The US paper Star Tribune of June 3, 1993 featured an article on the ceremony along with a photograph of Swiss and Cigelj, in which Cigelj was however referred to not as a Croatian, but as a “Bosnian Muslim victim”.
The French non-governmental barristers’ association Institut des Droits de I’Homme du Barreau de Bordeax awarded Cigelj the “Ludovic Trarieux Prize” with FF 30.000. The Institut is said to be associated with French intellectuals around Bernard Henry Levy, a forceful proponent of Western military action against the Serbs. Amelija Janovic of the Croatian Cultural Association Rhein-Main explained to the author that this and other “humanitarian” organisations want to act as prosecutors in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Jadranka Cigelj, of course, is already billed as a major witness at the Tribunal. She is to put forward her charges against the Omarska camp commander and extend the lawsuit to Karadzic and Milosevic. According to Amelija Janovic, representatives of the French banisters’ association accompanied by Austrian colleagues even visited Zagreb in August 1994 to discuss the proceedings with Cigelj.
[This is an insert from Peter Robert North to Neil Craig. Deichmann is now a familiar figure to us on 4international…Felix Quigley]
[Neil, Here below we can see Thomas Deichmann trying to be apologetic and pulling his punches as regards the credibility of Jadranka Cigelj by saying she was “probably” really raped “by the Omarska commander and his guards”- just like Deichmann pulled his punches and was apologetic in his stated reasons for the ITN-LM case being won by ITN and not LM.]
The uninitiated reader will perceive Jadranka Cigelj in Gutman’s Augenzeuge des Voelkermords as an ordinary victim of terrible crimes. Cigelj was probably really raped by the Omarska commander and his guards. Maybe she can offer some explanation for all the murky links and relationships detailed here or has been an innocent object of political instrumentalisation by the Zagreb authorities. But grave doubt as to her credibility as an unbiased source appears at least advisable.
Amelija Janovic, wife of the president of the Croatian World Congress in Germany and leading member of the Croatian Cultural Association Rhein-Main, presently acts as Jadranka Cigelj’s contact in Germany. In a telephone interview she claimed that Cigelj and Gutman had remained in close contact ever since their first meeting and that she herself had arranged several meetings between them in Bonn. The fact that Gutman introduced the Croatian edition of Augenzeuge des Voelkermords to the Croatian public in the Zagreb Culture and Information Centre together with Cigelj in June 1994 also suggests that the author and his witness have not lost contact. The CIC has also stated that Cigelj had helped Gutman with his research in Bosnia and that it had always passed all “valuable information” to him.
Gutman himself recently stated that, apart from a very brief and insignificant contact this summer, he had never heard of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) and that he did not know that Jadranka Cigelj has been the vice-chair of its Croatian section in Zagreb since December 1993. This appears incomprehensible in view of Gutman’s long experience as a journalist and the fact that the ISHR is an international organisation which is well known to the press.
When he wrote his article about Jadranka Cigelj in February 1993, Gutman was aware of her connections with the governing Croatian party and the CIC. It seems perplexing that, until this day, he has never had doubts about the credibility of this institution. Gutman certainly does not lie in Augenzeuge des Voelkermords. But his sources, particularly Jadranka Cigelj, appear suspect. In June 1994 Gutman, who had run the Bonn office of Newsday since 1990, returned to the United States. His next war assignment and a further book on the Balkans are keenly anticipated.
Notes and references:
1 Thomas Deichmann: “IGFM – Menschenrechte im Visier”, in: Novo, No.12, Sept./Oct. 1994.
2 Internationale Gesellschaf fur Menschenrechte e.V.: Bosnien-Herzegowina: Gottes vergessene Kinder. Das Drama der vergewaltigen Frauen und deren Kinder – Dokumentation, Feb. 1993, FranMurt/Main
3 Menrchenrechte, 1/1993.
4 The “Centre for the Investigation of War Crimes” in Zenica, Bosnia, is a state sponsored publicity institution as well. See Thomas Fischer: “Frontenwechsel in Bosnien”, in: Novo, No.11, July/Aug. 1994.
5 Fiir die Memschenrechte, 4/1993 & 6/1993.
6 Fiir die Menschenrechte, 3/1993; Menschenrechte, 23/1993.