Croatia: Derelict Democracy – War Veterans Need Sheltering From Harm

Croatian war veterans seek refuge inside church from police brutality Photo: Zeljko Lukunic/Pixsell

Croatian war veterans
seek refuge inside church
from police brutality
Photo: Zeljko Lukunic/Pixsell


Horrified, my heart skipped beats when I saw on TV news Thursday 28 May 2015 armed Croatian police, in a frenzy, chasing after protesting 100% war invalid veterans into the church of St Marks (where the war veterans sought refuge) pushing and shoving through the narrow doorway, threatening the physically weaker and defenceless veterans harm! The last time such utterly depraved aggression by authorities against citizens caught my eyes was way back in 1971, during the so-called Croatian Spring protests that sought more autonomy for Croatia within the communist Yugoslavia – when in a frenzy armed police beat with batons and pistol handles old women and men going about their private business, anyone found in the main city square in Zagreb.

This incident on Thursday at the door of St Mark’s church and in front of the church caused a great deal of distress and tension within Croatia.

For over 200 days now the war veterans have held continuous protests against the government, seeking the removal of Predrag Matic, the minister for veterans affairs and his two assistants, protesting against the removal of some veterans’ entitlements/rights and seeking government protection of the same.

On Thursday 28 May 2015, the disabled war veterans’ protest moved away from their protest tent, erected several months ago in front of the veterans’ affairs ministry at 66 Savska street in Zagreb, to St Mark’s square in front of the parliament house and government house. The dramatic two-day protest by Croatian war veterans ended Friday after Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic promised he would meet with them and hear their demands for more rights on Monday 1 June 2015.

Supporters of Croatian war veterans guard the entry to St Mark's church Zagreb from armed riot police Photo: Darko Bandic/ AP Photo

Supporters of Croatian war veterans
guard the entry to
St Mark’s church Zagreb
from armed riot police
Photo: Darko Bandic/ AP Photo

The protest became heated when large groups of veteran supporters broke through police cordons, joining the protest at St Mark’s square. Veterans from other cities and towns across Croatia organised impromptu protest gatherings in support of the protest being held in the capital. The police insisted the gathering was illegal and moved to disperse the group late Thursday. The veterans — many in wheelchairs — barricaded themselves inside St. Mark’s church where they spent the night. The police that chased after them were stopped at the church’s doorway.
This incident and tensions around it triggered a political crisis and it seems Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic had no choice but to agree to a meeting with the war veterans; he has been refusing to meet with the protesting war veterans ever since their protest began months ago.

What kind of government sends police against those who have fought for independence of our homeland?” asked Djuro Glogoski, one of the war veterans’ protest leaders.

It is indeed sad and sickening the way the Croatian Social Democrat-led government treats its war veterans. All that the war veterans have wanted was a dialogue with the Prime Minister and the government but have had to resort to such protests to achieve it! Months ago the same government, or its parliament, declined to permit the war veterans to speak in the parliament on issues behind their protest.

The Social Democrat led government had through its minister for veterans’ affairs and other government representatives of the issue of war veterans’ protest at all times tried to make the protest a political agenda led by the opposition, Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ instead of truly addressing the legitimacy of the war veterans’ demands or rights. To these former communists and communist Yugoslavia sympathisers that lead the current government of Croatia the thought of democratic rights to protest has not even entered into their public rhetoric.

Tomislav Karamarko, president of HDZ, had said to HRT news this weekend that he has and always will “support the citizens in their legal and legitimate pursuits for their legitimate rights,” hence, his party supports the protesting war veterans. But of course, the government representatives are blind to this, they try and pass it off as political “agitation” rather than pursuit of democratic right to protest and seek realisation of legitimate rights!

Furthermore, the governing reds accused the Catholic Church in Croatia that it protects and shields the war veterans whose protests were illegal! As to the legality or illegality of the protest that has yet to be determined but in no case can a desperate call for dialogue with the government in itself be illegal – and certainly no one as yet has said that the war veterans have broken any law by organising the protest.

Mons. Zelimir Puljic, archbishop of Zadar and president of Croatian Bishops’ Conference has stated for HRT news on Saturday 30 May 2015 that “the church supports those who cry and who seek legitimate rights.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and veterans’ affairs minister Predrag Matic remain hostile and intolerant towards the protesting war veterans and that is evident in every public statement they make. There is evident animosity and hatred towards the war veterans coming from the government quarters that is deeply painful to watch and one cannot but wonder whether the former communists actually still loath the idea of an independent and democratic Croatia even though they govern it and espouse democracy – rhetorically at least.

We often hear from the government, including the veterans’ affairs minister, how they respect the war veterans, that the protesting veterans are only a small part of all veteran population. We often have seen the government officials or supporters bring our attention to the war veterans who are not protesting or seeking any rights. What is this but a denial of democracy and democratic rights by communist-mentality stealth? The government has been busy in creating divisions among war veterans; creating the perception that there are “good” and there are “bad” war veterans!

All war veterans were and are good! Those who actually lost their life and limbs on the frontlines and battlefields do deserve our highest regard and respectful attention. They placed their life and limb at the frontlines for the defence of the Croatian people’s right to democracy and freedom from communist Yugoslavia. Those who did not want an independent Croatia then (in 1990’s) govern Croatia at present and still do not seem comfortable with the idea of Croatian identity! Ending their protest, the war veterans said on Friday 29 May 2015 they hoped the Prime Minister will live up to his promise. To live up to that promise there would need to be a turnaround or a shift in Zoran Milanovic’s reasoning – it would truly need to become democratic and fair; move well away and convincingly from the spiteful intolerance it has so far been. It’s election year and Milanovic is likely to attend the meeting with the war veterans on Monday but the outcome of that meeting will be something that will interest all Croatians. Should there be no outcome that seems fair there is likely to be more tension and more incidents that will increasingly take the shape of toppling the government with citizen power, hopefully without violence. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. Shameful treatment of veterans!

  2. Wilkinson says:

    That sorry excuse for veterans affairs minister said yesterday in Croatia “This is a country where order must prevail. This is not a bar, this is the Croatian government. One does not talk with state in this way!” Well, that’s what Yugoslav communists used to say – there was no concept of the right to ask for legitimate rights. That nut of minister has been so hateful and spiteful towards the veterans – yes, they want him out – but still as minister he should get the boot for being so hateful towards them. He likes his cushy job, and cares less for the disabled war veterans

    • Exactly, Wilkinson – I was reminded of that too, the oppressive and threatening ways of communists in Yugoslavia. No conspiracy theory in that, it’s all in black and white

  3. Don Marr says:

    Not to meet with the war veterans is and was maltreatment of the war veterans by the government – let’s hope there will finally be a meeting with the Prime Minister on Monday and that the PM won’t try and avoid it. Just awful way to treat the disabled who actually feared for their lives as they ran or wheeled themselves into the church on Thursday. Zoran Milanovic – SHAME ON YOU AND YOUR GOVERNMENT FOR ALLOWING SUCH TERRIBLE THINGS TO DEVELOP

  4. Observer says:

    In a true democracy and respect of democratic rights IT DOES NOT MATTER IF ANYONE STANDS BEHIND A PROTEST OR NOT what matters is: is the protest legitimate? Do the protesters have a legitimate point? And it’s up to those in power to ascertain that and it looks as those that the Croatian government had made up its mind that the war veterans have no legitimate case without talking to them! How simply awful! How oppressive! How sad! Democracy has little if any chance of thriving there without the resolve such as the one the veterans are showing just to get a meeting with the PM!

    • I respect the war veterans’ persistence in this as it’s not just about their rights but also about democracy and its processes.

  5. Out of all this I’m a little angry that the Veterans have used the Church to gain there political points. Its a place of peace and worship not anger and violence.. As for gatherings in public places when has that become illegal….And why has the Police Department placed Croat-Serbs on the front line to deal with the Veterans….The last thing we need is harm against one of the Veterans….. ill be there in 26 days and hope to stand side by side with them…..

    • Yes, Steve – it certainly made me feel uneasy when the veterans went into the church but it seems it was the only large enough place in the vicinity open to public. Hopefully the protest will soon be over with positive results and your presence can benefit elsewhere

    • I agree. The choice of location feels wrong to me, too. I’m pleased to read Ina’s explanation for this.

  6. I’m saddened to hear this. Not only about the way such valuable people are treated but also about the re-percussions this could have on basic democratic rights in Croatia.

    • Me too Christopher, I see erosion of rights to protest and attempts to politicise protests rather than look at what they seek and that is concerning

  7. Marija T says:

    From Facebook: “What kind of government sends police against those who have fought for independence of our homeland?” asked Djuro Glogoski, one of the war veterans’ protest leaders. “The Croatian Social Democrat-led government” is a government of the “innocent children” of ex communist leaders, with a majority of ministers who are serbs and HATE CROATIA. The bloody war was the result of great serbian aggression and hate, and our war veterans, the 100% invalids in wheelchairs, were healthy young men who put the defense of their Homeland above all. This government HATES our heroes, the war veterans, because they have freed Croatia in the nineties. All they want is to restore A COMMUNIST TOTALITARIANISM again. No pasarán, komunističkosrpska gamadi!

    • Say it as it is, Marija – the hatred coming out of some of the government ministers is so painful to watch – war veterans certainly did not deserve that nor does anyone for that matter

  8. David B says:

    From Facebook: That armed police would even consider entering St Mark’s uninvited is an inexcusable outrage. It may be that some old men who do not claim the status of veteran need now to return to kick some ass -again. If Zoran the red starred maggot does not quickly resolve these simple requests that is not out of the question.

  9. This is just devastating. I cannot believe how these people are being treated. The croatian govt should be ashamed of themselves!

    • It’s just so awful, Anna. But aren’t we lucky to have the war veterans that are despite their injuries and severe disabilities capable of holding their heads up high despite the government “offensive”

      • They are strong people that’s for sure Ina. To keep protesting for their rights when they have already suffered a lot. They are true Croatian heroes.

      • Indeed, Anna

      • Dragovoljac says:

        Welcome to the kingdom of the EUSSR. Croatia is just enacting the cultural marxism of the rest of Europe sadly. I am over 50 now but I dont forget 1991/92. I would fight again to put things right in Croatia.

      • Perhaps the biggest fight for democracy and freedom is unfolding before our very own eyes – communism is a hard beast to kill, Dragovoljac

  10. Hi Ina…Heart breaks! Thank you for sharing your posts with us…

    • Thank YOU, Philip – it’s so heartbreaking but the war veterans’ strength for and pride in what is right keeps the warmth – still

  11. Rosa Globan says:

    From Facebook: Absolutely horrified at the treatment of the war veterans. These men and women deserve respect and support. The authorities should hang their heads in shame – disgraceful. Not in the Croatian DNA to give up!!! I hope they know they have the support of Croatians all over the world!!! I am hoping and praying for a peaceful resolution.

  12. Michelle M says:

    From Facebook: i was real shocked too as it was unraveling, Milanovic has taken Croatia backwards 100 years in one night!

    • Let’s trust Milanovic won’t have the chance to keep it there, Michelle – there’s lots of fight for justice left in Croats, especially those who had lost so much in the war

  13. Good news for veterans Croatian war

  14. Christina says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful analyses Ina and always keeping us intelligently informed. I hope the Prime Minister’s meeting with these deserving veterans is fruitful.

    • Thank you so very much for your feedback, Christina – much appreciated. And as to THE meeting, I hope it turns out to be a start of decent dialogue at least

  15. The treatment of the veterans is indeed shameful – worse than here in the Us, where they have also been treated badly by the VA. I do hope the bureaucrats wake up and at least begin a dialog.

    • The wrong people are in power in lots of places, Noelle, but veterans don’t deserve such treatment anywhere. So I am hopeful they’ll get to start a dialogue in Croatia – at least

  16. Veterans everywhere are treated like that. Here (US) they just slipped a Bill through that cut benefits for widows, orphans, and disabled vets. It went totally unreported in the news. But we do get the latest news on the Kardashians.

    • Oh, Robert – I am sooooooooooooo very glad we don’t have the Kardashians but who knows perhaps similar lesson will be taken in Croatia that diverts attention. That is disgusting to pass laws like that withou much of public discussion or knowledge…oh boy, I do hope things don’t hot up in the streets because of incompetent governments

      • I filled out my paperwork to see a VA doctor, seven years later they got back to me–asking me to resubmit my paperwork. LOL

      • I say, Robert – isn’t it just cosy sharing the minefield of bureaucratic incompetence and “screening” – oh dear, shaking my head in disbelief

      • We have 22 veterans a day committing suicide now.

      • That is devastating, Robert. Thousands have committed suicide in Croatia too and they occur still, very distressing

  17. And the Veteran’s Administration is still giving bonuses to their top officers.

  18. Ina, the Church and many people are on the side of the war veterans. The sad irony is that people who do not support them would still be living in the jail known as Yugoslavia, getting their one kilo of meat a week, they’d be in breadlines, and wearing bell bottoms! Were it not for these brave, many handicapped veterans, thousands of dead men and women too, there would be no democratic Croatia!
    See this great story on the Jesuit Father Manduric who came to the ‘front line’ at St Mark’s Church with his fellow Jesuits and Franciscan priests!

  19. On another note….folks this is a great movie to see. “Neprijatelj Naroda” – “Enemy of the People”….a new film about how the Commis executed thousands of innocent people in Tito’s Yugoslavia. This should be translated into as many languages as possible and played globally!!!!

  20. After reading this article I came upon another article written by a guest writer on your site – Ante Horvat – April 2014. It revealed the NGO instability agenda of Soros in Croatia. Take heed and be careful!

    • Regretfully, some greedy reds in Croatia get pulled in by Soros and his money, Helena – they are transparent though so hopefully will not survive long enough to kill the zest for justice and fredom

  21. After reading this article I found another written on your site by a guest writer, Ante Horvat – April 2014. It revealed the Soros agenda in Croatia, the NGO’s, and the instigation toward instability. Take heed and be careful!

  22. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  23. Sends me cold when I think about this Ina.. What sort of a world are we becoming!

  24. Ina sorry… One more, if you have not seen it yet.
    Film: In Odium Fidei – Iz mržnje prema vjeri – Out of the Hatred of Faith.
    A new documentary on the Franciscans of Siroki Brijeg, Bosnia-Hercegovina, who were murdered – martyred by Tito’s Communist Partisans.
    This is not the whole film, but a trailer with English subtitles.

  25. How terribly sad.

  26. Good article, wrong photo. I don’t think the initial photo is the right choice, if you’ll forgive me for saying so. To me, it looks like the policeman is the victim, what with someone having his hand at the man’s throat like that.
    I’ve mentioned it several times before, so at the risk of appearing to brag about the US having the most psychotic police force on the planet, hah-hah, I’ve seen the US’s police in action — and all-too-many are brutal. When I saw those photos a while back of the police in Ukraine being pelted with firebombs and not taking severe counter-action, I was surprised. The US police, it doesn’t seem to be much of an overstatement to say that they would have killed most of the protestors and half of their own folks in their own crossfire.
    Anyway, just stopping by to say “Hey.”

    • Well Donald, when the police plays dirty then defending oneself gets dirty too, how do you stop a threatening armed policeman intent on causing you harm? Grab him by the throat if you get a chance – before he grabs his weapon? It was really nasty there, shamefully nasty

      • Just intended as constructive advice. Obviously, I was unaware of the full story, and my initial impression relied upon that photo, which had the aforementioned effect on me.
        In the US, the police can touch you, but you can’t touch them. There are two salient videos on YouTube about that. One is where an 84 year old man went to touch a cop on the shoulder, and the policeman body-slammed the old man, breaking his back. The other is of America’s largest and most violent gang: two cops and two brothers, black guys, went into a night cafe at about the same time. . . . Well, to save time, I’ll just place the video on here. There are videos _all_ over YouTube of US police executing citizens. Usually, they get away with it.

      • All OK Donald, I too had an uneasy feeling with the photo at first but then though no, this is a normal instinctive reaction to being threatened…your video demonstrates partly what can occur in moments when police wield their power rightly or wrongly.

      • I’m working on a mini-doc right now about a horrific police killing. Hopefully, it will be ready tomorrow. It’s very rough stuff, but you’re familiar with that from your anti-war crimes activities.

      • Look forward to watching it, Donald

      • Well, I just finished making it, and now it’s processing. Then I’ll upload it. I did not see the entire video when I began to make it. I trimmed it (the surveillance camera of the killing) from 27 minutes down to about fifteen. I knew it was bad, but it was worse than I expected. To me, it seems like a Nazi style torture killing. Really rough stuff. Quite heartbreaking. Thought I’d warn you about that. It’s the worse nonfiction torture/murder I’ve ever witnessed. You might want to reconsider watching it.
        I think that Americans who can stomach it, ought to watch it because it shows the horrors that are probably going to occur down the road when the economy collapses.

      • More and more such scenes are emerging as poverty and hunger drive people despair and police etc get out of hand, Donald

  27. It’s disgusting… Where’s the respect?

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