The League of Communists that changed its name to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and had held government in Croatia a couple of times since 2000, including 2011-2015, is at this current election campaigning time ahead of September 11 poll pushing down harder on the tail of pursuits for the prosecution of communist crimes committed by Yugoslav communists and Partisans during and after WWII. It was expected, one could say, that strong pressure to stop any further prosecutions of communist crimes after the German court convicted August 2016 to 40 years imprisonment former Yugoslav communist secret police (UDBA) operatives Zdravko Mustac and Josip Perkovic for their role in murder of Croatian national Stjepan Djurekovic.
But what Croatia’s Social Democrats and the leftist coalition are serving to the nation at this moment is a downright filthy betrayal of human justice and painfully reminiscent of the former totalitarian regime practices.
On Friday 19 August 2016, only a couple of weeks after the German court’s findings against former communist secret police operatives SDP’s president Zoran Milanovic called at an election rally of his National Coalition in Slavonski Brod for the termination of division within the Croatian society, and said that “the story of 1941, the UDBA – is over“.
“We must finally realise that the story of ’41, of UDBA is over, we had enough. What’s done is done. Let’s all look at ourselves in the mirror. But with that we will not move a single step, that only stops us. And our competitors, I emphasise competitors, not enemies in the business, earnings or in wealth look at each other as we ‘spit’ and gnaw at each other. They laugh at us and say ‘these people do not know what to do with themselves’. There is a coalition that knows what to do with itself, and which is not haunted by ghosts past and that does not indulge in the healing of personal and other complexes of a political opponent but wants an impact of ideas, ” Milanovic said in Slavonski Brod, Vecernji List reports.
These words come from a hard-core former communist who did not move a little finger in the fight for Croatia’s independence in 1990’s and from the man who desperately tried to avoid or delay the extradition to Germany of the two convicted in Germany UDBA operatives; he had succeeded at this briefly by rushing in a law in Croatia that would prevent extradition from Croatia for any crime committed prior to 2000. Thankfully his ugly deed was overturned.
These words rudely remind us of standards of thought and memory imposed by the former Yugoslav communist regime and here we are, in 2016, having to listen to Milanovic calling the shots as to whether the nation should pursue justice for communist crimes of the past pr not. Utterly deplorable!
When the conviction and the findings against Mustac and Perkovic by the German court were published Milanovic did his utmost to pin Perkovic as a person of 1990’s HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union and Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman and attempted to cast aspersions against them.
As the successor of the Communist Party, SDP keeps the remaining UDBA archives, and Milanovic finds himself in an awkward position if the murderous and oppressive UDBA past becomes a loud trend in current general elections campaigns. He was associated with the criminal and totalitarian communist regime and its UDBA archives undoubtedly contain much much more about individuals who had committed, or participated in communist crimes and ruthlessly cruel communist purges. Furthermore. Today’s Croatian society is made up of numerous immediate family members of the former UDBA operatives and this very fact would surely be a potent factor for Milanovic and his echelons to try and stop any further steps in the prosecution or unearthing of communist crimes. Further prosecutions and “pokings” into the archives is likely to unearth that not only did individual communists commit crimes of murder or participation in murder, false imprisonment and forced people of different political persuasion to flee abroad but it may well unearth the fact that these communists were also the ones who robbed Croatia and its assets blind.
This is surely the reason why Zoran Milanovic had decided to resurrect from political retirement the biggest and the most oppressive communist crimes apologist Croatia had ever had the misfortune of having to deal with – the retired former President of Croatia Stjepan Mesic. Stjepan Mesic has been placed as candidate for Croatian Parliament on SDP’s National coalition list. Resurrecting Stejepan Mesic from political retirement is a statement that strongly suggests that these communists will employ every weapon and tool possible in making sure there is no further court findings like those from the German court against Mustac and Perkovic.
These communists must be stopped in their tracks to prevent justice for the victims of communist crimes just as anyone must be stopped in trying to prevent justice for victims of crimes committed under other totalitarian regimes during and after WWII.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former chairman of the South African TRC/Truth and Reconciliation Commission, successfully argued that in reckoning with the crimes and injustices of the past regimes, truth telling and the reformations of the people’s moral and political values are indispensable to national reconciliation. He particularly argued that forgiveness can play an important role in the moral and political reconstruction of society characterised by division, distrust and enmity… “the process of forgiveness also requires acknowledgement on the part of the perpetrator that they have committed an offence,” Archbishop Tutu said.
Sadly, Croatia’s Zoran Milanovic at the helm of the renewed push to forget about past communist crimes also indicates that there is absolutely no will from the former communists to seek forgiveness for communist crimes; such a brave move would inevitably mean that former communists were indeed, and as historical facts hold, accountable and responsible for perhaps worse crimes than those they’re happy accusing the WWII Ustashe regime in Croatia under Ante Pavelic for.
So, the psychology behind Zoran Milanovic’s and People’s Coalition election campaigning when it comes to communist crimes and communist totalitarian regime of former Yugoslavia is blatantly primitive, most difficult to metabolise but rather very transparent. But as such it must not be accepted as “OK”. This psychology may indeed be a useful sign for positive progress with truth only if picked up on by other major political parties such as HDZ or other coalitions currently in the play for a win of government. What Milanovic proposes is continued darkness for Croatia, which follows the lack of light directed at the truth and justice. The darkness affects not only political life but also economic prospects because, contrary to what Milanovic promotes, continued lack of reckoning with the truth of the past feeds continued political and moral divisions in the society and, hence, discourages investments and economic developments. One cannot simply shut the door on the terrible past and move on as Milanovic and former communists insist – the pain of victims will remain loud as long as the truth of the crimes remains covered up. The whole world except Croatia’s former communists seems to know that. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)