Sunday, February 12, 2012
Feb. 12, 2002, former communist dictator of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, goes on trial before the United Nation’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)—becoming the first head of state to face an international war-crimes court. The charges relate to crimes committed during the Bosnian War, 1992 and 1995, during which approximately 200,000 people are killed. In Sept. 2000, Milosevic loses the presidential election but refuses to relinquish power until massive nonviolent protests against him in the streets of Serbia finally force him out. In 2001, the former president is arrested, then extradited to The Netherlands to face trial. In 2006, before the conclusion of the case, Milosevic dies in his cell of a heart attack.
Recently, Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu compared embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to Milosevic, highlighting the similarities between both dictator’s defiant decisions to cling to power even as their regimes crumbled around them. Turkey, formally an ally of Syria’s, is part of the growing international chorus calling for al-Assad to step down amid the ongoing violence in Syria. In a statement at George Washington University in D.C., Davutoglu said, “Yes, we had good relations with Syria for nine years, but Assad was not fighting with his own people then. Last year, we wanted Assad to be Syria’s Gorbachev, but he preferred to be like Milosevic of Syria. That’s the problem.” The U.N. estimates that since 2011, when protests by the opposition began in Syria, about 6,000 people have been killed by al-Assad’s brutal clampdown.