On Monday 30 December 2013, in Tupale near Sinac in Otocac area a seemingly very significant event occurred: the first monument dedicated to the civilian victims of Communist regime in Croatia (while it was part of former communist Yugoslavia). The miserably meager grey concrete cube slabs are a far cry from the impressively grandiose monuments erected in many places across former communist Yugoslavia for victims of fascism. Furthermore, the extreme lack of respect for the remains of the butchered civilians 1945/1946 in Tupale is evidenced by the fact that the mass grave was unearthed – dredged – in October/November 2013 using earth-moving machinery such as “bobcat”, loaded unto trucks and driven away to be deposited onto the Otocac cemetery as some unworthy, worthless rubble.
“Skeletons in Croatia” news-reel from TV Otocac demonstrating the insensitive dredging of mass grave:
No wonder the surviving family members of the victims and church representatives did not attend the ceremony of the unveiling of the monument to victims of totalitarian communist regime on 30 December in Tupale! They actually boycotted it. The rushed erection of this monument and the controversial and disrespectful exhumation of victim remains that preceded, certainly do not fall within the category of the duly heartfelt and remorseful gesture towards the victims, they should have been. It all seems to be a measure designed to prove to the EU that the current Croatian government (pro and/or ex-communists) are serious about condemning all totalitarian regimes!
Croatia’s minister for veterans affairs, Predrag Matic, said at the unveiling of Tupale monument on 30 December: “We have done that which all in the democratic Croatia have tried to do as well as intended to do during the last seventy years or so. That what we have promised to the people, we have done, regardless of suspicions of many. This is a human and civilisation question. Every victim deserves a place of special piety. Just as black shafts are monuments to victims of the Homeland War so will these cubes be the monuments to victims of totalitarian regimes. We will not stop until all places of peril of the innocent are marked.”
Indeed, the place of brutal civilian extermination has been marked in Tupale, one out of many hundreds of places where communists in Croatia committed mass murders of innocent people during and after WWII. To my view, this event should have been a major event in a nation still desperately seeking justice for innocent victims of the communist regime. But, it was suffocated as much as possible, starting with the horrible and inhumane ways of exhuming the remains; a quick action to cover-up as much as possible the utterly horrid crimes committed by the communists.
One really cannot but conclude that the manner in which this mass grave in Tupale was exhumed and contents “dumped” like worthless rubble (soil, rocks and human bones mixed) into the cemetery had no intention of pursuing respectful forensic protocol that would tell us how exactly the victims perished for whom it is said were shot for no reason!
The saddest and the most telling fact here is that if the mass grave at Tupale contained the remains of innocent victims killed by the hands of WWII Nazi-collaborators, or even innocent victims of Serb-nationals of the 1990’s war of Serb-aggression against Croatia, then the leading world media outlets would have had “a field day” – telling the world how brutal “Croat fascists” were! But the same media fails miserably at bringing to the world’s attention the large-scale genocides, during and after WWII, of hundreds of thousands of Croatian and German civilians by the Yugoslav communist strongman Josip Broz Tito and his men/women. As usual, the communist killing fields are sadly and humanly regrettably still largely consigned to historical oblivion.
The Tupale monument will perhaps unscrew the first screw of the “door” which has for decades served as a barricade preventing full communist crimes prosecution, condemnation and justice for the victims. The fact that Josip Perkovic, former communist secret police operative and sought by Germany in relation to 1980’s murder of Croatian émigrés, has finally been arrested in Croatia pending extradition to Germany, will also assist in the efforts to finally hold former communists to account. Similarly the arrest of 93-year-old Josip Boljkovac on allegations of mass murder of innocent civilians – as a matter of communist policy and practice after WWII – will undoubtedly sharpen the world’s awareness about the genocidal communist crimes and hopefully turn the tides towards settling the accounts for all victims, not just the victims of the so-called fascism, but communism as well. I have this uneasy feeling that achieving justice and proper regard for the victims of communist crimes will still need the dedication and fighting assertiveness from the people, rather than from the pro-communist government, in Croatia, despite the government’s announcement that it will duly pursue the rights of victims of all totalitarian regimes: communist and “Ustashe”. The victims of the WWII Ustashe regime have held centre-stage since WWII where justice and condemnation are concerned; the victims of the communist regime (who are recorded to be in much greater numbers in Croatia than the victims of the pro-Nazi Ustashi regime) have barely captured the attention of authorities and institutions that have as their reason for existence justice for all innocent victims. In Croatia, the authorities dealing with the Tupale mass grave of communist crimes have acted shamefully and utterly disrespectfully even though they have, evidently half-heartedly, erected a monument to the victims. This leads me to believe that the Croatian government still harbours discrimination between victims of different totalitarian regimes and still hold that communism was not a criminal organisation. It was! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)
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