Gen. John Sheehan
A US general has apologised for blaming the inclusion of gay soldiers in the Dutch army for the infamous Srebrenica massacre in 1995.
Retired NATO Commander Gen. John Sheehan made the comments while speaking at Senate hearings on the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ban on LGBT personnel in the US military earlier this month.
He said that he has been told by Dutch military leaders – including retired Dutch Gen. Henk van den Breemen – that the fall of Srebrenica in 1995 was due in part because Dutch forces included openly gay soldiers.
The failure of the Dutch to hold the city on behalf of the UN led to a massacre of Muslims by Bosnian Serbs. Van den Breemen and Dutch military officials have denied Sheehan’s claims. “The remarks were outrageous, wrong and beneath contempt,” said Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende during a news conference.
Now, in a letter to Van den Breemen, Sheehan wrote: “I am sorry that my recent public recollection of those discussions of 15 years ago inaccurately reflected your thinking on some specific social issues in the military.”
He added: “It is also regrettable that I allowed you to be pulled into a public debate.”
The US is in the midst of a debate on its ban on openly gay and lesbian military personnel, which President Obama has committed to repealing this year.