Part Two of Jasmina Tesanovic's three part dispatch on the Serbian war crimes trials:
Less than Human
(The Cunt, the Gun, The State)
22 February 2006
I refuse to speak the name of the Bad Guy Who Became
the Good Guy. When Milosevic was in power, for years
on end, his words and face everywhere, his and his
alone, while those of us, the political idiots, the
victims, were so baffled and mute, I gave a vow to
myself: the Word is power. I will never mention his
name, privately or publicly.
This Bad Guy who became a good guy, because he
pleads guilty in front of his God: he wants attention.
He gives long speeches, speeches full of himself and
his new way out of prison: out of himself. He pleads
for our sympathy, for compassion as though this
lessens his guilt, and the victims' relatives feel
disgusted. So does his boss, the number one indicted,
who gave the order, who conveyed those orders from
somebody else... He, who plays the game of the big
Serbian hero from past centuries, and displays his
grandeur saying literally:
I care for only three things in life: the Cunt,
the Gun and the State.
God knows how many women he raped, whispered a
relative sitting next to me...
His wife is sitting in the audience too... Today
they are loud and laughing. While the Bad guy who
became Good is describing how he executed his first
victim by asking the "Poor Thing" to step out of the
row and then shooting him, the sister of the shot man
sobs aloud in court. The Good guy chose his first
victim at random, and he does not know if his hasty
shot actually murdered the man. He claims: I wanted
to do it fast and clean -- for their sake. Answering
the question of his own lawyer, he continues, yes,
they had military elements in their clothing, they
wore short trousers, thick socks. They were banging
metal cooking pans to make noise and irritate us. He
still despises them for this. An unrestrainable moan
is coming from the audience. I believe even his women
could not stop it.
We are not gypsies, he adds: we are telling the
truth here and facing each other. We are not
proletarians, says his superior, whom he fights for
not facing the truth and admitting he gave the orders.
He says: We have still our people outside the courts
and prisons, we are doing this for our country, our
children. I am a Serb and this is my nation.
As we are silently sobbing, fighting the urge to
scream, one of hero's supporters turns around
nervously and proudly shouts: stop whimpering, you
The Scorpions are named for the guns they carried,
the second major value they killed for. They carried
the guns out of their homes, and used them on any
land they felt it was their country: that third
I am in a judgmental mood. I find it incredible
that they believe such bullshit for even a second.
Their relatives swagger in overpriced finery, from
head to foot: ugly and fantastically vulgar, but
preening with self-esteem.
The Bad Guy who became Good is not whimpering: in
his haughty manner, he is claiming that, for ten
years, he slept badly: not because of their atrocity,
but BECAUSE of the film. If it hadn't been for the
film, he could have forgotten the episode of executing
six bound young men, face-down in a ditch, but the
fact that the film existed made him come out. The
others claim they too have come out: to be arrested
for various noble reasons. Are we all dreaming? Not
one of these indicted criminals gave themselves in:
they were all caught and nailed. Just as the ghost of
their true hero and leader is still hanging in the
courtroom... Today, when the press hysteria about his
alleged capture once again has sunk into passive
So you feel guilty because of the film? asks
The Good guy who claims God will condemn him,
fails to deny this; the film is God's stick of
chastisment, come out of heaven.
The director of the atrocity film -- tomorrow, he
testifies himself -- apparently asked for stage help
from both victims and killers. He required to arrange
themselves in a convenient way before he himself
started shooting the video sequence. An assistant
director had to charge the camera's batteries...
The Bad guy turned good, who was the first one
to pull a trigger, claims that his commander wanted
this video made to endear himself to somebody
important. That was the purpose of this artistic
endeavor. But in his rage and for all his broken
illusions about the grandeur of his leader, he still
is not spilling the beans...
The women in the audience are cat-fighting the
women of the victim's families, and us the Women in
Black. A mother just breaks in tears: to Hague, to
Hague with all of you...this is too much... We are
hushed by the policeman in the courtroom, I am hissing
at the hysterical laughter of their women. We should
not really sit together. We are repeating the primal
scene from ten years ago, only with lawyers rather
The Good guy is speaking of the humorous slang
they used, of the "packages" that were human beings,
of the "petrol order," meant not for their cars but
for cremating corpses. They referred to prisoners as
"jale", cattle, the less-than-human. Jale, I've never
heard of it. I am sitting with the mothers just like
myself, women who gave birth to "jale," children
executed for being less than human.
The Good guy says: we were trained to kill, but
not to bear the consequences of going through with
it: I never expected a clear order, I never got a
clear order before: "kill these guys."
Hard to believe: in those days 8000 people were
killed through hints and insinuations: the Divine Eye
never registered it.
Nobody wanted to be a cunt, repeats the Good
guy, meaning a coward who refused to kill.
Meaning...what? He is explaining genocide. Nobody
acted normally, he is adding, we were nervous, tight
and laughing, but we faked it...
A lawyer points out that if the war criminal
didn’t know he could refuse the orders, then he is
treated as somebody fighting for his own life.
Our hero claims he never heard of the Geneva
convention, how to treat prisoners or civilians... and
yet he speaks so much of military pride and honor...
It goes on. Two men, godfathers to each other's
children, start insulting each other in a
confrontation. They are almost in tears with each
other, falling out of love... I wonder why the judge
is letting this indecent family scene go on forever.
This morning, one of our young punk-styled Women in
Black was not allowed to enter the courtroom, because
she was dressed "indecently." The lawyers are
lamenting that they are not allowed to use the local
restaurants, by law, even though, thanks to their
profession, they are spending entire days inside the
Did you say, or not, that I ratted us out as a
Yes I did say that, says proudly the Other.
Did you say that one of the Scorpions didn’t
shoot because he was a CUNT?
Yes, I did.
That is my philosophy, says the commander.
This tape is of an incident I didn’t know about --
but even if I did give the orders to kill, and killed,
I would never say sorry afterwards. Destiny was on my
side at that time, and someday it will be again. I
have nothing to regret and no need to apologize.
Maybe it is a good thing to hear a bad guy turn
good. Then you can see what it means when the Other
remains bad and claims that destiny will redeem him.
That God, that destiny, they shared more than a bed,
more than a love, those words that we Women in Black
hear, record, compare in our notes, whisper over in
the court, and promise to each other, trembling, as if
raped by their intact criminal ethic, that we will
never pronounce. Because the word is power, but power
is in words, too.
That is why we write this.