9 Apr, UK: John Major as Prime Minister
ethnic cleansing (n): the extermination of an ethnic group, used for the genocide committed by the Serb against Croats and Bosnian Muslims
12 Oct, Egypt, Cairo: by earthquake; 540 die
|The Siege of Sarajevo|
Related: Kosovo Crisis
1999 (Serbs vs Albanians)
In April, after Bosnia and Herzegovina's independence was formally recognised by the international community, the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army and Bosnian Serb militias proceeded to grab as much of the republic's territory as possible for "Greater Serbia".
For 500 years previously, ethnically diverse Bosnia had been blessed with remarkable racial harmony, interrupted occasionally by the nationalist fervour which started World War I. Bosnia was a patchwork of ethnic and religious groups -- 44 percent Muslim, 31 percent Serb, 17 percent Croat. The elegant and richly historically city of Sarajevo was its spiritual and political centre. However, the capital now withered under a relentless siege, its people plagued by constant shelling and sniping as well as shortages of food, medicine and fuel.
Other Bosnian communities were also subjected to Serbian "ethnic cleansing", where whole communities of ethnic or religious groups would be exterminated. Sometimes Serb soldiers massacred civilians outright. Sometimes civilians were subjected to a routine of rape, torture and slow starvation in concentration camps. Bosnian Croat and Muslim paramilitary groups also committed similar atrocities, but on a smaller scale. By year's end, there were more than a million refugees and tens of thousands of people had been killed.
Sanctions were imposed on Serbia by the European Community, the United States and the United Nations while also attempting failed relief missions. However, neither negotiators nor UN peacekeeping troops were able to stop the fighting. Meanwhile, Croatia also began to grab pieces of Bosnia. The Muslim-dominated Bosnian government forces could only fight back in vain.
|An "annus horribilis" for Britain's monarchy|
At the end of the year, Queen Elizabeth announced that it had been an "annus horribilis" of the monarchy. And indeed it had been.
1992 was supposed to be a celebratory year for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, the 40th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Instead, the House of Windsor was continually embarrassed by a series of soap-operatic marital troubles amongst the younger generation, hounded by public attacks on the Queen's tax-exempt status and burdened by a disastrous fire at the 900-year old Windsor Castle.
The first of three royal couples to disintegrate was Prince Andrew and his wife, the former Sarah Ferguson who separated in March after photographers caught "Fergie" cavorting topless on the Riviera with her "financial advisor". The pictures of a fleshy Duchess of York having her toes sucked by balding American millionaire John Bryan which were splashed all over the Daily Mirror clearly signalled the end of the marriage.
Then in April Princess Anne, the Queen's only daughter, divorced her rakish husband. But both these marital mishaps paled in comparison to those of Charles and Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales. In June, a semi-authorised biography of Diana (she allowed the author to speak to her friends) accused Charles of infidelity and Diana of several suicide attempts. Meanwhile, tapes of two risqué phone conversations got into the press's hands: one was between Charles and his reputed lover (to whom he proclaimed his desire to be her tampon, among other things) while the other was of Diana and her supposed paramour. The story was confirmed. Apparently 19-year-old Diana had been chosen by Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles, Charles' long-term mistress. After Diana dutifully produced an heir, Charles returned to his lover, leaving an isolated and devastated Diana to develop eating disorders and attempt suicide five times. In December, Buckingham Palace formally announced the ill-matched couple's separation.
Long before then, most Britons had completely run out of sympathy for the tarnished monarchy. So, when a fire ripped through Windsor Palace, instead of sympathy there was a disagreement over who was to pay for the repairs. Despite the Queen's multi-billion-pound fortune (she was the richest woman in the world) the public was still expected to foot the bill for repairs to the 1000-room retreat. This on top of some 100 millions pounds spent annually on royal maintenance. Disgruntled subjects called for the Queen to begin paying income taxes. Days after her speech, the Queen capitulated.