The morning of 11 July was unusually quiet until about 11:15 a.m., when four shells were fired from the Budak area north of the enclave towards Srebrenica town. DutchBat submitted several requests for close-air support but nothing happened. By that time, thousands of Bosnian Muslims had gathered in front of the Bravo Company compound, asking to be let in because they thought the compound would be safe. Eventually, around 11 a.m., the group broke through the Bravo Company’s defences and entered the compound. Around noon, a mortar shell landed between two APCs in the compound, wounding several people. Meanwhile, many Bosnian Muslims from throughout the town had begun to move towards Potočari. After the Bravo Company compound was shelled, DutchBat soldiers began to accompany those inside the compound as they walked the four kilometres towards the UN Compound. The Bosnian Muslims started as a disorganised mass and later formed a column which parted to make way for DutchBat vehicles transporting the sick and injured. By 1 or 2 p.m., Bosnian Serb units were on the eastern heights overlooking the enclave. In an apparent attempt to frighten the fleeing Bosnian Muslims and steer them towards Potočari, Bosnian Serb Forces shot at and shelled the group of Bosnian Muslims moving northward. Just then, NATO air strikes on Bosnian Serb positions began, and lasted approximately 30 minutes. Franken soon received a message from the Bosnian Serb Forces that the UN Compound, including an area where refugees had gathered, would be shelled and the DutchBat soldiers being held by the Bosnian Serb Forces killed if the air strikes did not cease immediately. The shelling soon resumed and the area around the bus station in Srebrenica town came under mortar fire. Franken instructed Bravo Company to withdraw from Srebrenica town and to move towards Potočari at the tail end of the group of Bosnian Muslims, staying between them and the Bosnian Serb Forces. During the course of the day, the remaining OPs—with the exception of OP Papa—either withdrew or were overrun by the Bosnian Serb Forces. VRS units involved in the approach to Srebrenica included members of the 10th Sabotage Detachment, the Drina Wolves, and parts of the Bratunac and Milići Brigades.
Generally, the Bosnian Serb units encountered little resistance as they approached and then entered Srebrenica town. Upon their arrival, members of the 10th Sabotage Detachment called on the few people who remained in the town to leave their houses. As the units neared the centre of town, an able-bodied man appeared, and although he declared that he was not a member of the ABiH and had no problems with Bosnian Serbs, 10th Sabotage Detachment Commander Milorad Pelemiš ordered another Bosnian Serb soldier to slit the man’s throat, which the soldier did. By 5 p.m., the Bosnian Serb Forces had stopped shelling the town. Around that time, Pandurević reported to Mladić, who had remained with Živanović and Krstić at the Pribićevac IKM throughout the day, that part of his tactical group had entered the town. Mladić then ordered Krstić and Živanović to accompany him, and immediately set out for Srebrenica. As they walked through town, the group encountered Pandurević, Trivić, as well as other VRS officers. In the centre of Srebrenica, Mladić stated into a television camera:
Here we are, on 11 July 1995, in Serb Srebrenica. On the eve of yet another great Serb holiday, we give this town to the Serb people as a gift. Finally, after the Rebellion against the Dahis the time has come to take revenge on the Turks in this region.
He then ordered the members of the Bosnian Serb Forces to proceed to Potočari. Gvero spoke to Nicolai and to Gobilliard in the late afternoon and early evening. When speaking to Nicolai, Gvero denied that the Bosnian Serb Forces were attacking UN positions or targeting the civilian population. When speaking to Gobilliard, Gvero repeated what he had said to Nicolai and suggested that DutchBat had been shot at by Bosnian Muslims. Gobilliard informed Gvero that DutchBat had been ordered to meet the local Bosnian Serb commander in order to obtain a cease-fire, and reminded Gvero that aircraft still remained available to UNPROFOR to defend DutchBat and the civilian population. After most of the population of Srebrenica had moved north to Potočari, however, some Bosnian Muslims who lived in the vicinity of OP Papa remained in their homes, but they were eventually cleared by members of Borovčanin’s units.The soldiers threw grenades into the houses and entered, accompanied by dogs; after this, shootings and screams were heard and the soldiers exited and set the houses on fire.The process continued for a few hours on 11 July as well as on the following day. Formation and departure of the column of Bosnian Muslim men. As the women, children, and elderly men departed for Potočari, able-bodied men set out on foot through the woods, afraid that they would be killed if they went with their families. Word spread that the men should head towards Šušnjari and Jaglići. During the night between 11 and 12 July, the group which had assembled in Šušnjari began to depart in a northwesterly direction towards Tuzla. At the entrance of Buljim forest, the group, which was comprised of 10,000 to 15,000 people, most of whom were men and boys between the ages of 16 and 65, formed a column. The last of the group departed Šušnjari on the afternoon of 12 July. The column stretched for approximately ten kilometres. ABiH soldiers, not all of whom were armed, led the front third of the column. Others were interspersed among the unarmed civilians following behind. The members of the column walked in a single file line towards Tuzla.
Hotel Fontana Meetings
On 11 July 1995, upon receiving information about the upcoming meeting between Mladić and DutchBat officers, Momir Nikolić went to Hotel Fontana with Mirko Janković to provide security. Then, 10 to 15 members of the Bratunac Brigade MP were also sent in for this mission. At about 8 p.m., Karremans, Boering, and Rave arrived at the hotel. On entering the premises, they saw several DutchBat soldiers who had been taken prisoner from their OPs on 8 and 9 July 1995. Shortly after, a meeting commenced between the VRS and the DutchBat officers. On the VRS side, Mladić, Živanović, Colonel Radoslav Janković of the Main Staff, and Svetozar Kosorić, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the Drina Corps, attended the meeting. Also present was Petar Ušćumlić, acting as an interpreter for DutchBat. A large camera crew videotaped part of the meeting. Mladić dictated the terms of the meeting. The first ten minutes were very tense and the DutchBat representatives felt threatened. Mladić angrily blamed Karremans for having armed Bosnian Muslims and for the NATO air strikes against VRS positions. Mladić also accused DutchBat of having fired at VRS soldiers in Srebrenica. Then Mladić asked Karremans what he wanted since he had asked for a meeting. Karremans told Mladić that the UNPROFOR BiH Command had ordered Karremans to “negotiate or ask for” the transportation of the Bosnian Muslim population—about 10,000 women and children who were in the UN Compound—and that of DutchBat soldiers. According to Karremans, these women and children were sick, tired, and very scared. Karremans also asked for humanitarian assistance, such as food and medicine. At one point during the meeting, Mladić offered cigarettes to Karremans and the other DutchBat officers, saying “this is not your last cigarette in life”. When Karremans thanked Mladić for having treated the detained DutchBat soldiers properly, Mladić stated that DutchBat soldiers were in the hotel but they would not be hosted for a long time “if you keep bombing. We know how to bomb too”. Mladić also said that neither the DutchBat soldiers nor the Bosnian Muslim population were the objective of VRS operations. He then told Karremans to bring the “representatives of the civilian population”. Mladić added that Karremans could also bring an ABiH representative should the ABiH wish to talk. According to Rave, Mladić told the DutchBat officers to get in contact with the ABiH as ABiH soldiers needed to surrender their weapons and that, if they complied with this demand, they would be taken as POWs and detained.
Mladić told Karremans to return at 11 p.m. and asked him to request some buses, to which Karremans responded that he believed it could be arranged. Mladić offered drinks to all the participants and gave a toast. After the meeting, which lasted between 30 minutes and one hour, the DutchBat officers were escorted back to the Yellow Bridge by Momir Nikolić; they then tried to find a representative of the Bosnian Muslim population or the ABiH. Nesib Mandžić, a former school teacher, agreed to act as spokesperson for the population.
At around 10:30 p.m., Karremans, Boering, and Rave again left Potočari for Hotel Fontana, together with Mandžić, and arrived there at 11 p.m. Thereafter, a second meeting commenced. Mladić, Radoslav Janković, Kosorić, and Krstić were present, together with Ušćumlić and the video crew. Deronjić and Ljubisav Simić, the president of the Bratunac Municipal Assembly, were also present. Karremans introduced Mandžić as a representative of the Bosnian Muslim population.Reiterating the desperate situation in Potočari, Karremans stated that there were now 15,000 to 20,000 people—amongst whom 88 were wounded—at the UN Compound and the factories around it, and more people—about 95% women, children, and elderly—were arriving. While Karremans was making these remarks, the screaming of a pig being killed was heard. Karremans further stated that DutchBat was asking the Bosnian Muslims in Potočari where they wished to be transported, and that an evacuation could be planned depending on their age and health condition. According to Karremans, the UNHCR in Belgrade had 30 vehicles available which could be brought in if agreed.Mladić then ordered a broken sign from the Srebrenica town hall to be brought in, and explained that he took it from “there” and passed through the town on foot; for the DutchBat members in attendance, this was a message that the VRS was now in charge.
Mladić then asked Mandžić what he wanted, to which Mandžić responded that he was not an official representative of the “refugees” and he was “completely unprepared”. Mladić then told Mandžić as follows:
Please write down the following: Number one, you need to lay down your weapons and I guarantee that all those who lay down their weapons will live. I give you my word, as a man and a General that I will use my influence to help the innocent Muslim population which is not the target of the combat operations carried out by the VRS. Nor are international humanitarian organisations and UNPROFOR forces the targets of our operations. Although NATO forces, as well as UNPROFOR forces, fired today at UNPROFOR’s request not only at the positions of the VRS, but also at the civilian population. In order to make a decision as a man and a Commander, I need to have a clear position of the representatives of your people on whether you want to survive […] stay or vanish. I am prepared to receive here tomorrow at 10 am a delegation of officials from the Muslim side with whom I can discuss the salvation of your people from the enclave, the former enclave of Srebrenica. I shall order a cessation of operations until 10 am tomorrow. If your fighters […] lay down their arms we shall treat [them] in accordance with international conventions and we guarantee that everybody will live, even those who committed crimes against our people. Have I made myself clear? Nesib, the future of your people is in your hands, not only in this territory.
Mandžić again said that he had been chosen as a representative “by chance”, but Mladić instructed him to bring “the people who can secure the surrender of weapons and save your people from destruction”. According to Rave, Mladić also told Mandžić that the civilian population was free to go, adding that he could arrange buses to transport people wherever they wanted to go.
After this meeting, the DutchBat officers and Mandžić returned to the UN Compound, escorted again by Momir Nikolić. Mandžić appeared frightened, anxious, and “almost panicking”. He then went to look for additional representatives and eventually found two other civilians, Ćamila Purković and Ibro Nuhanović, who were willing to support Mandžić.