This is truly amazing! Vukovar makes history again! This time with firm determination and assertion of its rights as a maimed, tortured, murdered, raped victim of Serb aggression during early 1990’s!
At it’s Council meeting the city of Vukovar has yesterday 4 November voted to amend its Constitution/Statute and declare the city a place of special piety for its suffering and being a victim of the Homeland War and declare the Croatian language and its Latin script as its official language.
All the protests and all the deeply painful cries against introducing the Cyrillic script (Serbian language) in the past year, led by the Committee for the defense of Croatian Vukovar (about which I have written several posts) have not fallen on deaf ears when it comes to Local government authorities. The Local government decision will now need to be presented to the State government for further deliberation/ratification by the Parliament and, hence, Vukovar’s special piety status remains only a declaration at this stage.
Whether the imminent deliberations by the State Parliament on this matter of Local Council declaration will evolve into a “David and Goliath” battle remains to be seen. Certainly, the Social Democrat led government has not shown much inclination towards listening to reasoning and the plights of victims of war and their need to heal in peace without being exposed to the language of their executioner on daily bases. However, miracles have been known to happen and we can only trust at this stage that the government will make an effort into assessing how this historic move by Vukovar’s council could be fitted into the country’s relevant constitutional laws.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way! I truly believe in the veracity of that old saying – no matter what issue is at stake.
The immediate meaning of Vukovar city declaration is that there will be no bilingual signs on buildings and places under Local Government control. The bilingual signage will however, for the time being, apply to buildings under State government jurisdiction.
According to Croatian HRT TV, president Ivo Josipovic, commented that it is justified for Vukovar to declare itself a place of special piety, but of course not in the parts where that would be in opposition with constitutional law and that this needs to be clear to everyone.
Regretfully, this looks like a signal of appallingly low or non-existent creativity. On the other hand, his comment could have well been strategically placed in order to embolden the government to keep digging its heels in against what Croats of Vukovar (the victims) want. After all, the president of the country should be the first to encourage innovative ways of appeasing unrest among the people and embracing initiatives that have at their root respect for victims’ needs to heal without harsh irritants such as Cyrillic script presents at this stage.
The largest parliamentary opposition party (Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ) led by Tomislav Karamarko have stood their ground all the while, considering that erecting bilingual signs in Vukovar has been illegal, i.e. that not all relevant parts of the constitutional law on ethnic minority rights have been considered by the government.
But even if Vukovar’s declaration and amendment of its Statute does not pass in Parliament one thing is set in stone, it seems: Croats of Vukovar will not give up their fight against Cyrillic in Vukovar. Their other trump card is in their claim that the 2011 census, which showed 34% Serbs living in Vukovar, is not a true reflection of Vukovar’s population. E.g. Vukovar has a population of 27,000 and yet 42,000 are registered with local police authority as living in Vukovar! Hence, along with the Committee for the defense of Croatian Vukovar the HDZ is seeking urgent implementation of the so-called Residency Act, by which anyone not found to be living in the place registered would be struck off the register. Of course, the Independent Democratic Serb Party/SDSS in Vukovar has issues with this!
If it turns out to resemble a sort of “David and Goliath” battle then “David” – the Vukovar Croats, the victims – will win this battle in the end. This is a most respectful prospect for all victims everywhere for, to my knowledge, there has not yet been a whole town, a whole city or a whole village declared a place of special piety, a mass monument honouring mass suffering. How wonderful for humanity this prospect is! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)
And if anyone doubts the righteousness of installing Vukovar as a place of special piety here are some images that tell us: surely, no one can deny such respect for the victims!