Eighty-eight former inmates of Serb-run concentration camps from Split-Dalmatia County, during the 1990’s Serb-aggression against Croatia, on Tuesday 14 July 2015 filed a motion at the prosecutor’s office in Split for a peaceful settlement of their claims for damages in which they ask that Croatia request on their behalf that Serbia compensate them as a requirement for its accession to the European Union.
“Through this motion of peaceful settlement, through the institutions of the Croatian state, we wish to achieve a result that either our own country takes care of us or that it, at least, in a future move towards Serbia implements a condition that Serbia must satisfy our compensation claims before it can become a member of the European Union,” said Ivan Turudic, the Croatian Association Of The Inmates Of Serb Concentration Camps In The Split-Dalmatia County.
The 88 former inmates spent a total of 8,668 days in Serb-run camps, each losing about 99 days of their lives to torture and deprivation in these camps.
In 2006, over 30,000 former inmates, including 500 children and over 2,500 women, filed a class action in Serbia claiming damages from Serbia, but the action involving Croatian veterans’ claims was not even considered and the one involving children, the elderly and women was rejected by the court in Serbia.
Turudic said there were few final rulings in the towns of Knin and Sibenik. “Recently, the problem has arisen that when a final ruling is passed, we cannot be compensated because those who were tried for war crimes have no property in Croatia.”
Furthermore, Turudic says that it looks like the victims of the Serb-run concentration camps will not be able to extract any money as compensation from Dragan Vasiljkovic (a.k.a. Captain Dragan and Daniel Snedden) who had been extradited to Croatia from Australia last week to face war crimes charges (including torture in the Serb-run concentration camps) as he has been reported to be bankrupt after having to pay out damages for defamation in Australian courts.
Serbia must be held accountable and responsible for any damages suffered under its brutal aggression.
Members of the Croatian Association Of The Inmates Of Serb Concentration Camps In The Split-Dalmatia County say that while believing in the Croatian institutions they have been forced into an insufferable situation of hopelessness and left at the margins even though they comprise one of the groups that suffered most during the 1990’s Homeland War under Serb aggression.
Due to the suffering, many of them, because they were so brutally and violently tortured, will not live to see a final court ruling, let alone compensation – there is a high death rate among them, said Ivan Turudic.
He said damages were paid to “those who destroyed Croatia’s constitutional and legal order, while the victims are still waiting for the right to compensation.”
“We are justified in asking whether we, the veterans who were also incarcerated in concentration camps, have been forgotten in our own country, do we belong to a second order and have no right to justice, while the other side gets any of its cases or claims attended to promptly and we then ask by what right does that minority, which had committed the crimes in the name of Greater Serbia politics, continues to terrorise and impose its will upon the majority,” said Turudic.
Indeed, there is no way that the current government will even try helping the Croatian veterans along the way to justice and dignity through some deserved compensation. The communists and former communists within this government seem to be intentionally walking on egg-shells so as not to “offend” the Serb minority, from whose circles the 1990’s war criminals against Croatia and Croats arise, despite the blatant need for true justice.
No wonder, war veterans have been protesting non-stop in Zagreb for the past 270 days or so! New cases of veteran neglect and disregard arise all the time and this case of those who suffered terribly in the Serb-run concentration camps in Split-Dalmatia country is just another example of hopelessness and sadness that has gripped Croatia. Serbs will always deny guilt for any crimes – we are witnesses to that infuriating fact. Such being the case I would have thought that the Croatian government and its institutions would have put in extra effort to assist its veterans receive justice. The current foreign affairs minister Vesna Pusic would have surely been the one from Croatia who did not lift a finger in trying to keep these Croatian claims in Serbian courts afloat. While she cannot as minister interfere in court cases these though were rejected on political reasons, hence room to give firm diplomacy a go. But no. She has had a strong role in helping Serbia maintain its war crimes denial and injustice towards victims. So, the positive side is that Croatia has war veterans and victims of Serb aggression, ethnic cleansing, genocide, torture, rape… who will not permit they are forgotten! Any politician who picks up on that fighting for justice energy from the war veterans will, according to many indications of political psyche, be the winner of tomorrow as far as true leadership goes for Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)