Had the ICTY Appeal Chamber on 16 November 2012 not acquitted Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac of war crimes they were charged with in relation to August 1995, all the atrocities committed in Croatia prior to August 1995 would fade into forgetfulness and insignificance. The world would always refer to August 1995 as the most significant marker for Croatia’s Homeland War.
When in 2001 the ICTY Prosecutors prepared their initial indictments in relation to Croatian “Operation Storm” they focused their attention on ensuring that this military operation – which liberated Serb-occupied Croatian territory – stands as symbol which would equate the victim with the aggressor. Croatian army was to be found to have been as brutal as the Serb aggressor. No doubt in my mind about that. The Prosecutors pranced around appearing to know everything there was to know about crimes supposedly perpetrated by Croatia’s war-leadership and army. Such atrocious turn of events would surely not have captured as an enormous media and other mileage throughout the world as it had, had the ICTY Prosecution not had “helping hands” from both Croatian and Serbian politicians, most of whom held high positions in the former communist Yugoslavia.
The “Chinese whispers” thus started and spread by ICTY Prosecution failed to cement the intended vilification and criminalisation of Croatia’s defense efforts in the face of Serb aggressor. Nevertheless, a great deal of damage to Croatia’s reputation has been done and misinformation circulates; it will take a long time to clear them. Perhaps the lies and misinformation will never be cleared given that the game of “Chinese whispers” has the capacity of creating myths that stick around for ages despite the fact that the game actually fails to reap the desired result.
That being the case it is now the time to pick up on the truth and deal with what really happened in Croatia before August 1995. A small but potent example of some of those happenings can be found in an article published in Hrvatski List on 27 December 2012, written by Ivica Marijacic.
The article claims that a long-time member of Croatian Parliament representing Serb minority, Milorad Pupovac, secretly supported the Serb armed rebellion against Croatia during 1990’s.
“ The leader of Serbian minority Milorad Pupovac used to go to his village Ceranje Donje near Benkovci, which the Chetniks held under control and expelled all Croatians from it during the war years. It’s not clear how he was able to do that but it’s assumed that he had help from members of UNPROFOR forces who were there and kept the line of separation (A photograph, reportedly taken in 1993, has been discovered that evidences his visits to his village during the war)… Pupovac supported, or had nothing against, armed rebellion of the local Serbs against the Republic of Croatia in which his two brothers actively participated. Serbs were the ethnic majority in the village of Ceranje Donje but some Croatian families also lived there; their houses were and still are next door to Milorad Pupovac family home. The Croatian families suffered abuse by the local Serbs and Milorad Pupovac’s family did not lift a finger to protect them…”
Indeed, the article in Hrvatski List goes on to say that Milorad Pupovac’s brothers Vojislav and Mladen were very active as members of the armed Serb rebel forces. Mladen was reportedly the extreme one and served as First Class Corporal under the notorious Captain Dragan (Dragan Vasiljkovic a.k.a. Daniel Snedden). While Milorad Pupovac cannot be held responsible for his brothers’ actions he did nothing to stop the abuse and expulsions of Croatians from his village nor did he stop the destruction through bombings of their homes. The article goes on to say that witnesses have stated that Milorad Pupovac did encourage Serb rebels not to give up their armed rebellion.
A question, or two, must be asked: How can such a deeply compromised person serve in any Parliament? What chance of proper reconciliation between Serbs and Croatians can there be when such a deeply compromised person serves in Croatian Parliament?
This article sent shivers down my spine. I remembered helping as a Croatian speaking Psychologist the Australian ABC TV crew film the documentary “A Coward’s War” (1995) which interviewed the utterly traumatised and abused survivors of genocidal Serb brutality in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The issue that stuck to my mind like superglue was the fact that most of the survivors were brutalised, tortured, sent to Serb concentration camps (initially in 1991 into concentration camps within Serbia, e.g. Begejci) by their neighbours/Serb civilians (who had armed themselves later). It is these and similar bestialities which occurred between 1991 and August 1995 that should take a prominent place in the documenting of history of that war, not Operation Storm. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)