ME and Ophelia

Friday, November 28, 2003

London barrister has offered support to start "The Bosnia -Cradle Network"

Following my recent posts on Mass genocidal rape of 50,000 as a 'weapon of war': many responsible continue to hold public office - even the children have been abandoned by their own country - I have received three emails from Christine Toomey, author of the Sunday Times report A cradle of inhumanity.

Christine has permitted me to blog her latest email and two attachments from London barrister Mr Mohammed Khamisa regarding the forming of a network "The Bosnia - Cradle Network" and a letter to his local MP Andrew Dismore. The following emails explain how you, as a reader of this blog, can help:

From: "Toomey, Christine"
Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2003 1:44 PM
Subject: Bosnian story

Dear Reader,

Further to my last letter, here are some further details which many of you asked to be informed of regarding donations to Medica and Samira and further ways of helping. Please forgive the fact that each letter is not individually addressed. But I am now replying to well over 200 e-mail messages. Many of them were written with a great deal of thought and care, for which I am very grateful. I'm sorry I'm not able to reply to each one on an individual basis.

However, some who wished to make donations specifically for Samira, wanted to know how this money would be handled on her behalf. I have now been informed by the social worker responsible for her welfare, that the orphanage expects her to finally be given a national identity number in the New Year. Once this is done the orphanage will set up a bank account in her name to which the Sunday Times will transfer all money collected on her behalf which she will have access to once she reaches the age of 18.

Some also asked if regular monthly donations could be made to an account for Samira. Since the Sunday Times "Bosnia - Cradle" account in this country will operate only for a few months to allow donations to be collected, I'm afraid I haven't been able to work out how this might be done. Those with better knowledge of charity work might have some suggestions as to how to operate such an account.

Some have suggested that a network of those keen to take this matter further be formed so that those who feel strongly about the matter can remain in touch and organise any further action as a group. Although I do obviously remain very strongly committed to doing what I can to help, my other journalistic commitments do not allow me time to organise and operate such a network myself. However, one London barrister, Mr Mohammed Khamisa, who has already taken up the matter of bringing the plight of Bosnia's rape victims and their children before the British Parliament by raising the issue with his local MP, has kindly offered to co-ordinate this sort of network.

At the end of this letter I have pasted both a recent message from him, which includes several concrete suggestions as to how this might be done,
and a copy of the letter he has sent to his MP.

If those with good organisational skills - not to mention IT capability - are able to help Mr Khamisa please contact him at the following address

If this network can be organised it would be helpful if all those who receive this e-mail could indicate if they do NOT wish their contact details to be passed on to Mr Khamisa so that I can make sure they do not receive any further communications on this matter. A simple way of doing this would be to send a message entitled "No further contact please" to my Sunday Times e-mail address christine.toomey@sunday

As to whether cards and small presents can be forwarded on to Samira as some also asked; I have checked with the orphanage and they feel this would be fine as long as it did not result in other children feeling somehow left out. I understand, if this was the case, that workers at the orphanage - those I met were very caring and dedicated - would share some of these presents out. I would ask, however, that any gifts be small please and that any cards or pictures be mindful of the fact that it is not Christmas Samira will be celebrating, since she is Muslim, but rather New Year. Any cards or gifts can be sent, as quickly as possible please, to the following:

"Bosnia-Cradle" - Samira
c/o Caroline Macdougall
The Sunday Times Magazine
1 Pennington Street
London E1 9XW

For those few who asked if anything could be given directly to Sahela or the two sisters, a small gift sent in the same way could also be forwarded
to them.

In conclusion, for those who asked for direct contact details for Medica in Zenica - Mirijana Senjac can be e-mailed directly at

Thank you once again for all your support for these women and children.

Yours faithfully,

Christine Toomey

E-mail message from Mr Khamisa regarding the forming of a network

on 26/11/03 10:57 am, Mohammed Khamisa at wrote:

Dear Miss Toomey,

Thanks for your note.

I have had an interest expressed in the subject by someone who is fairly well connected with the Church heirachy at national level and feels that the matter should be brought to the attention of the Leaders of the C of E and the Catholic Church.

I agree that we do need to set up a network and, in the first instance, I am happy to help co-ordinate our efforts. What I would like is a strong vibrant team of "doers" who can keep the remainder of the network informed. Do you agree?

In the initial stages I can use my secretary at work but as the project gathers momentum, we will need someone with a bit more time on their hands. I am looking for a retired but active person with the IT skills you speak about - mine are poor too! I am happy to pay for some P/T help but I am confident that we shall find someone in a few days.

In the mean time, I have resolved to write to the Prime Minister and the Leaders of the main Political Parties in the House of Commons and Lords. I have identified the Leaders of the Main religious Groups and will write to them too - including to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Connor of the Catholic Church, Chief Rabbi Sacks, Dr Zaki Badawi of
the British Muslim Council and the Leader of the Hindu community.


1. Can we call ourselves: "The Bosnia - Cradle Network" as a loose network for a multifaith, non-political, non-partisan, mixed race etc etc organisation whose members share our common goals?

2. In the first instance, can those who have expressed an interest write to their MPs/Church leaders in the terms in my letters.

3. Can we create an e-mail directory of the those interested in being a part of the network - they can send their suggestions to me - I will sift through them and produce a list of priorities.

4. Can we make our aims these:

(a) short term - to highlight the issue in the UK by raising the profile in the way described above,

(b) specifically the treatment of the victims on an equal basis where it comes to welfare assistance,

(c) long term - to bring to justice those perpetrators,

(d) set up a fund to assist Samira and other children in her position (this can be both short and long term).

5. Could those who are interested indicate how they feel best able to assist? Fundraising, letter writing, admin, finance, IT etc. Can they serve on a network committee - to make this effective, it is my intention, initially to run the whole thing through the e-mail and if and when the need arises, we can meet - I will make our boardroom available for any meeting.

Mohammed Khamisa

Letter from Mr Khamisa to his local MP:

Andrew Dismore MP
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA

20th November 2003

Dear Mr Dismore,

Bosnian Rape Victims

Further to my telephone conversation we are writing to you ask for your help in raising the issue of the treatment of Bosnian Rape Victims and their children. We also attach an article which appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine written by Christine Toomey, which we, and many others like us, have found very deeply disturbing. May we just summarise the background, as I understand it, in this way.


During the war in Bosnia (circa 1990-1996), it is estimated that between 12,000-50,000 women were subjected to sexual torture, including rape. The majority of rapists were Serb soldiers, policemen and local officials.

You may recall that it was this act of mass rapes, which was one of the key factors, eventually pushing the world to take action to end the war.

Whilst those who were injured in the conflict and suffered physically (amputees and paraplegics) receive modest monthly payments, the rape victims, who are arguably more psychologically and physically scarred, are in the most part entitled to nothing. Some of these women were raped over a period of months, and raped three or four times a day by a group of six or more soldiers. How is their ordeal to be measured?

The children of many of the rape victims were aborted and those who were not, barely receive a mention. Few acknowledge their existence. Other children are taunted and derided as "bastards" by their neighbours. Some have ended up in orphanages. The problems for these unfortunate children are just beginning. There appears to be a complete unwillingness on part of the authorities to deal with these problems.

In the eastern half of the country known as the Republika Srpska-territory ceded to the Serbs for the sake of peace, many responsible for mass murder, ethnic cleaning and mass rape continue to hold public office and work in the police force. Together with the paramilitary groups they fight any attempt to extradite war criminals to The Hague.

Organisations such as Medica and other private charities do what they can to help but more is needed. However, lack of funding next year is forcing Medica into scaling down its counselling and health-support services.


If you agree, that this situation cannot be allowed to continue, then you may be able to help us in the following way:

(i) what is the British Government doing to ensure that the benefits and welfare assistance given to other Bosnian victims of the war are being passed to these rape victims and their children on equal terms?

Further what is the Government doing to ensure that housing needs of these victims is being met?

(ii) is the British Government pressurising the Bosnian government into affording "civilian war victim" status-currently reserved for those with physical disabilities, to these rape victims. This would automatically entitle them to greater financial help then they receive at the moment?

(iii) what is the British Government doing to pressurise the Bosnian authorities in tracking down the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes against these women. As we have said above, we understand that that many of the Serb perpetrators are still holding public office and any attempt to extradite them is being resisted. How can this be allowed to continue?

We wonder whether you can either raise this issue as a question in Parliament, an Early Day Motion or an Adjournment Debate.

There is a danger that the world will forget this silent minority. We must not let that happen, we must raise their plight in parliament and with your help, encourage the government to put pressure on the Serbian authorities to act.

May we make it clear, we are not interested in political point scoring on this very sensitive issue, what we and many of our friends, who have read this article, want to see is some justice for these victims.

We fully appreciate that you must have a considerable amount of work to do as a Member of Parliament, if, because of the burden of your own work you feel unable to help, would you let us know as soon as possible so that we can approach some one else.

We thank you for your assistance and await your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Roumana and Mohammed Khamisa
_ _ _

My recent posts on Bosnia and the mass genocidal rape of 50,000 in the 1990s as a 'weapon on war':

Nov 17, 2003: Mass genocidal rape of 50,000 as a 'weapon of war': Many responsible for mass rape continue to hold public office and the children have even been abandoned by their own country
Nov 19, 2003: Mass genocidal rape: Can you read, listen and try to make it never happen again...?
Nov 21, 2003: Why humans are so beastly to each other: And what, if anything, can be done about it?
Nov 22, 2003: The fines lines of beastliness: Three men say what they think
Nov 25, 2003: Bosnia Army Medic Live Blog: The trials and tales of a lone soldier Medic blogging in the Balkans

Nov 18, 2003: Danah Boyd Zephoria.
Nov 18, 2003: Shelley Powers post Change begins at Home excerpt:

"...This will do little, however, for women such as Sahela, 46, now so frail she looks more like a woman in her late sixties. In the picture that she treasures of her handsome teenage son slouched smiling beside her on a sofa, she is totally unrecognisable.

A few months after the picture was taken in 1992, Sahela's 15-year-old son was beheaded in front of her as he begged Serb soldiers not to drag his mother away.

After ordering Sahela to bury his body on the spot, the soldiers then raped her in her own home and did so again repeatedly after that in a rape camp, where she and other women were kept tied to beds.

Sahela recalls how one young woman she describes as a noted beauty managed to break free from her captors and, crying out for her mother, killed herself by hurling herself through a closed upper-floor window to end the continuing torture..."

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 11/28/2003
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