US Congresswoman Calls For Equality For Croats In Bosnia And Herzegovina



US. Representative Janice Hahn

US. Representative Janice Hahn

US Congresswoman Janice Hahn submitted July 31 to the House of Representatives a resolution demanding that President Barack Obama appoint a special representative for the Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) because of the country’s delays in its Euro-Atlantic path and drew attention to the consistent reduction and erosion of rights of Croats in BiH because of which there’s blockades and a political deadlock.

Janice Hahn’s Resolution 705 Recommends “the designation of a Presidential Special Envoy to the Balkans to evaluate the successes and shortcomings of the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to provide policy recommendations, and to report back to Congress within one year”. (Resolution 705 PDF)

Whereas only the full protection of equal political, economic, legal and religious rights of all the constituent peoples (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) and others throughout the territory of BiH, including the inalienable right to return, will guarantee the future stability, functionality, and effectiveness of the country…”

In the Resolution Congresswoman Hahn has noted that the number of Croats in Bosnia has halved from 820,000 to about 460,000. “It is unacceptable that this negative demographic trend is reflected in the reduction of constitutional rights of Croats in BiH, as that reduction directly causes political and administrative dysfunctionality of the country,” Hahn stated in the resolution.

Hahn recognises the poor functionality of the Federation of BiH entity in which Bosniaks (Muslims) are seen as oppressors of Croats and their constitutional rights and that this dis-functionality only fuels the separatist tendency of Serbs within the Srbian Republic entity, which of course threatens, as she says, the very integrity of the country (BiH) as a whole.

“Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives –
1. reiterates its support for the sovereignty,territorial integrity, and legal continuity of BiH within its internationally recognized borders, as well as the equality of its three constituent peoples and others within an integrated multiethnic country;

10. reiterates that a fully functional Federation of BiH entity is essential for the future of BiH as a functional and stable state and therefore any envisaged reform should take into account protection of the constitutional rights of all, including Bosnian Croats—demographically smallest of the three Dayton Peace Accords recognized constituent peoples in BiH—and prevent further weakening of their position.”

Press Release dated 12 August and released through The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) Public Affairs Director Joe Foley in Washington states that NFCA highly commends US Representative Janice Hahn of California for her introduction in the US House of Representatives of legislation to appoint a Special Envoy for the Balkans, in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Indeed, I would think that there is no Croat nor a fair-minded person of any ethnicity anywhere in the world that would not support and agree with what Congresswoman Hahn has set her mind on achieving in BiH: equality for all ethnic groups in a country where constituency is constitutionally defined by specific ethnic groups, taking an initiative to bring to a stop the deplorable treatment of Croats in BiH while Bosniaks (Muslims) and Serbs compete vigorously for separatist superiority based on their own ethnicity.

Keeping BiH as a sovereign country but organised into three ethnic entities (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) each of which would have certain powers that ensure equality is not only a necessary “re-shuffle” of administration and political clouts that would catalyse greater stability and economic progress in BiH but such power-bases would, I believe, be conducive to ensuring that victims of all war crimes finally receive their deserved justice. One cannot avoid the unsettling reality in which war crimes committed by Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) during the 1990’s war, in comparison to those committed by Serbs and Croats, seem to have mysteriously fallen by the wayside of justice. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Report of interest:
“During the 1992-1995 war, a large number of Islamic fighters traveled to BIH to aid the Bosnian Muslim war effort. Several hundred of those fighters remained, a significant number of whom are active in Islamic fundamentalist congregations and organizations. These foreign elements have contributed to the gradual radicalization of certain segments of the Bosnian Muslim community. In October 2005, a small group of individuals with extremist affiliations was arrested on suspicion of planning terrorist acts. In April 2010, members of a radical Wahhabist movement detonated a bomb, killing one police officer and injuring six, at a police station in Bugojno, located 70 kilometers southwest of Sarajevo. The most recent terrorist attack took place in October 2011, when a gunman affiliated with a local Wahhabist movement shot over 100 high-velocity rounds at the U.S. Embassy, damaging the building and injuring one police officer, says in the US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, 2013 Report on Crime and Safety in BiH.

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  1. Dayton Agreement only rewarded the aggressor. The RS is an illegitimate entity founded on genocide and terrorism. Based on demographics before the war the Serbs would never have achieved any sizeable territory or separate entity. The RS only exists because it either killed or “ethnically cleansed” large areas of Bosnia to create a Greater Serbia. Everyone know this, but still they rewarded Serbia for it’s genocide. It seems that the only morality in the world is power.

  2. I am sad to read that 360,000 people have had to leave their homes. Is it possible that some have gone to Croatia because EU membership gives Croatia advantages over BiH?

    • Me too, Clare, in the war of early 1990’s and ethnic cleansing some 500,000 Croats and Muslims/Bosniaks (over 300,00 Croats) fled into Croatia from Bosnia (there were that many in addition from within Croatia while parts of Croatia were being attacked and ethnically cleansed). While Germany took some 180,000 refugees to assist, Croatia had to find a way of dealing with this humanitarian crisis – most were housed across Dalmatian coast in hotels, houses etc. Many were given refugee status abroad and live abroad, some returned to Bosnia after the war and some continued to live in Croatia; return of Croats into the so-called Serbian Republic within Bosnia has been very sporadic and slow. Many of those that stayed in Croatia did in large numbers receive Croatian citizenship. Croatia’s EU membership came in 2013 and citizens of BiH would be treated as any other foreign citizens. Prior to that, in the past 10 years or so several thousand have left Bosnia for Croatia/and other EU or overseas countries for economic reasons/looking for a better life

  3. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    This is a very important post. Why don’t Croatians for their own country. They could live in peace by their own principles.

    • Thank you for the reblog, Barbara – at the very least Croatian in Bosnia should have their own entity which provides for better freedom and equality with others (Bosniaks and Serbs)

      • Has the UN gotten behind the concept? I hope they do because if people want to be separate, then they should be able to be. Ukraine needs to be free of Russia. Texas keeps threatening to secede from the Union. I figure let them go. They don’t though. Hugs, Barbara

      • The 1995 Dayton Agreement is certainly on its last legs, Barbara, and UN would be involved. They must bring equality to all ethnic groups otherwise conflict is on the books as oppressed people must find a way into peace and the best way though is without war – Croats in Bosnia must get to feel ownership and power to solve their living in that territory just as Bosniaks and Serbs have taken the same right for themselves.

      • Yes, I agree. My husband died that year. I wasn’t in good shape. Don’t remember much of that time. I had a breakdown. They deserve to be free. Is there anyone like myself can do? I will be praying for Croatia every day. Hugs, Barbara

      • Blessings, Barbara

  4. equality for all ethnic groups…Best wishes for Congresswoman Hahn in achieving this! She has a tough fight ahead.

    • A tough fight, indeed, Carol but it’s a start and an important contribution in the world’s realisation that Croats in Bosnia are being denied many rights; it puts the issue “on the table” and from that better things will surely follow.

      • Thanks for this Ina. It is very positive to see this finally happening outside of BiH and the Croatian community. I can only suspect that this a result of the hard work of Croats lobbying in the U.S. I am sure that men like Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka and Cardinal Puljic of Sarajevo, along with the Croatian Catholic Church in Bosnia, are pleased that someone has not forgotten them. The statistics are staggering. The shift in demographics means pressure on Croatia proper and her sometimes perilous and pervious border.
        People also need to remember that BiH Croats defended Croatia proper. If you look at names in eastern Slavonia, for example, men like Blago Zadro who died defending Vukovar, all these people have roots in BiH. Some families came recently, while others came between the world wars when the Croats of BiH, especially in Herzegovina were suffering a great famine. (See: (Franciscan Friar) Fra. Didak Buntic. He sent upwards of 15,000 starving Herzegovinian Croat kids to the bread basket of Croatia, Slavonia. Many of these kids remained and this is why you see Croat names from BiH in Slavonia.) In Croatia now you meet Croatians who were cleansed in the 1990s wars living in places like Knin, Zagreb, Split…because they have no home to go to. They are not welcome in BiH, a country divided between Muslims and Serbs.
        In the Homeland War, places like Dubrovnik were defended by soldiers from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sadly people forget this. As a Croat, it doesn’t matter where you were born…. Chicago, Sydney, Zagreb, Odzak, Sarajevo, Delhi, Buenos Aires, Pristina, Budapest, Oslo, Cape Town……… We are all Croatian.

      • Yes Veronika, I understand there was lobbying etc by Croats in US and Hahn was receptive. Well put too regarding Croats of BiH and war efforts

  5. US Congresswoman Janice Hahn is not only beautifuuulll, but also can speak out for JUSTICE, unlike most of those birocrats in the Congress and Senat

  6. United Nation is an absent body ,only name .The west is busy with it’s problems. Great subject..Hope peace and common living will prevail.

  7. Just an encouragement to keep up the good work. You’re one of the best writers around and I’m surely not the only one to recognize that.

  8. The Bosnian Croats can thank them self, they betrayed the Sarajevo government in 1993 and were allies with the Serbs but I guess their old allies were just using them and hates them. And they lost the trust and friendship with Bosniaks. That is what happens when you betray a friend nobody trust you.

    • In brief terms Muhamed: 1992 – Croat and Muslim nationalists form tactical alliance and outvote Serbs at independence referendum; 1993 – Muslims and Serbs form an alliance against Croats in Herzegovina, rival Muslim forces fight each other in north-west Bosnia, Croats and Serbs fight against Muslims in central Bosnia. You may then take out of this what you like as to “friendship” but Croats, if one is to go on your train of thoughts, just as Serbs or Muslims in Bosnia deserve their freedom and are utterly justified in seeking it.

      • If the Bosnian croats had not betrayed the Bosniaks in 1993 there will had been much more sympathy towards Croats among Bosniaks and the international community, Yeah I think it will had been impossible to oppress them. But since the Bosniaks were the only ones defending the Bosnian state its much more easy to feel they only have the right to exist in it. I want justice to happen and everyone to feel they have rigths. But at the end of the day the Croatia government signed the peace agreement and thereby cheated the Bosnian Croats. Bosniaks took advantage of the chance and took as much of the map they could and the Serbs took the rest. This will not had happen if the Bosnian croats had remained loyal to the Sarajevo government since it will had been impossible for Bosniaks to cheat a government ally.

      • Oh, Muhamed, I don’t think anybody is asking for sympathy, only Bosniaks could think that. Rights do not include sympathy – rights are rights and you either have them or they get taken away from you.

      • Ina the Americans refused to stop a genocide in Bosnia they are not cable of giving Croats equality inside the Federation. They only know how to talk regarding Bosnia just like how there were talking in the genocide years. The Croats should negotiate with Sarejevo if they want their own state inside Bosnia which is fair.

      • Why should they negotiate with anyone for what is theirs by right. The significance regarding the Americans is that the Croat plight is recognised beyond borders and that counts

      • Ina in a ideal World it will not had been necessary but we are not living in a Ideal World. We are living in a Brutal World where rights are something you take by gunpoint just like how Bosnia/Bosniaks took their rights by an armed liberation.

      • Yes, regretfully that is the case, Muhamed

  9. I hope this finds you healthy and well. I am better. Hugs and light, Barbara

  10. oh wow. I missed this news here. interesting to see that discussion happening

  11. The partitioning in Bosnia Herzogovina is a joke! These three groups have been going at it for centuries based on ethnicity and religion. Unless the UN smartens up and forcibly separates these people in a short amount of time they will go at it again.

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