1995 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security

US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Washington, DC
Wednesday, DECEMBER 6, 1995


Mr. HOYER. Thank you very much, Chairman Smith. I want to thank you for having these hearings. They are very important and they are very timely. It is a sad task before us today, but one that must be undertaken: the examination of testimony about genocide, mass graves, rape, executions- unspeakable and unacceptable atrocities.

The past 4 years in Bosnia have seen the recurrence of a European nightmare that we all thought had ended 50 years ago. We have before us a distinguished panel of witnesses, all who have seen firsthand the results of unbridled ethnic hatred. Mr. Rohde himself was captured by the Bosnian Serb militants for daring to bare to the world the gruesome killing fields of Srebrenica, where as many as possibly 8,000 Muslim men were summarily executed following the overrunning of that safe haven.

Those killing fields were not limited, of course, to Srebrenica and Zepa, but are found throughout Croatian and Bosnian territory overrun by the militants. On October 16, 1995, a USA Today article detailed the exhumation of a mass grave in the recently liberated Krajina region of Croatia-a site of much of Dr. Wolf's work, as we will hear shortly from her testimony.

According to that article, dozens of family members gathered in the morgue of Split Clinical Hospital to try to identify remains of loved ones, including watches, crucifixes, and pieces of clothing found with the bodies. The article reveals, and I quote, "A BMW car key found on Body Number 28 was given to a woman who claims her husband, hotel manager Mate Steko, age 33, had a similar car. The woman, who was Bozana Steko, 32 years of age, races home to see if the car starts. It does."

Mr. Chairman, this tragic story and hundreds like it will be retold in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead. We must listen to the painful testimony. We must record with the utmost care and attention. We must continue to investigate, and we must bring to justice those responsible for these crimes.

Fifty years after the cry, "Never again," rang out from the death camps of Europe, we are again exhuming bodies from mass graves in Europe and recording atrocities committed against innocent people simply because of their ethnic or national background.

Mr. Chairman, we as members of the international community, not just as Americans, not just as members of Congress who are this Commission, but as members of the international community, must recommit ourselves to that haunting phrase. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that the goal of justice before vengeance enshrined in Nuremberg is, in fact, achieved.

Justice before vengeance. Now, many of us traveled throughout Europe and heard about things that needed to be redressed that occurred 50 years ago, 100 years ago, and 200, 300, 400years and centuries ago. But those who feel aggrieved saw their grievances never redressed. Therefore, the cycle of vengeance and terror and atrocities and killings go on.

We have witnessed the conclusion of the long-awaited and strenuously-achieved peace agreement among the parties to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Plans to implement that agreement are underway. However, Mr. Chairman, I'm convinced that a lasting resolution of this conflict requires breaking the cycle of violence and vengeance that has racked this region, not just in this century, but as I said, in centuries past.

This goal can only be achieved through the administration of justice by an impartial International Tribunal, which is already moving forward with its work. The United States, Mr. Chairman- and I hope our Commission is in the forefront of urging it to do so- must continue to take the lead in strongly supporting the efforts of the War Crimes Tribunal. We must undertake this effort because where there is not justice, vengeance will most certainly reside and flourish and continue.

The people of the former Yugoslavia must have both the satisfaction and the deterring example of justice now. If not, we can be virtually assured that there will be more violence, more killings, and more atrocities. Mr. Chairman, we cannot allow this to happen. This hearing, I think, is an important element in continuing to educate us as members of Congress, the American public, and the international community on what, in fact, has happened.

I want to congratulate all three witnesses for the work that they have undertaken; in some cases, the risks that they have taken as well, for a better understanding of what's going on, and as to what has happened in the region, and hopefully a heightening of the consciousness of the world that we will never again stand idly by while hundreds of thousands of people are killed and millions of people are displaced from their homes.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.