The Soul Is Indestructible – Interview With Julienne Busic

Julienne Busic with statue
of her late husband Zvonko Busic
in Rovanjska, Croatia
Photo: Private collection

 

You’ve been operating a foundation (Zaklada Zvonko Bušić Taik) in Zvonko’s name for several years now. Tell me about the Foundation’s work

– The Foundation was initiated by former Premier of Croatia Nikica Valentic, who became friends with Zvonko (Busic) and admired him very much. He offered space in his office building and that’s how it all began. Among the founding members are Drazen Budisa (past president of the Social-Liberal Party, former political prisoner during the Tito dictatorship, and also a friend from student days), and many others who have a place in Croatian history. We have been involved in many humanitarian activities; for example, delivering Christmas gifts to impoverished families with many children in Slavonia, and collecting canned goods and other groceries for families who suffered in the floods several years ago. Lidija Bajuk, one of Croatia’s best singer-songwriters of ethno-music in the world, donated a concert on behalf of the effort. We’ve also organised musical evenings with the children of war veterans as the performers. Many of them are extremely talented musicians and opera singers! And not to forget our Valentine’s Day party for very special couples, war invalids and their spouses, who have remained by their side and been their most important support and comfort! Our translation project – English translations of books about the Croatian war of independence – is among our most important ongoing projects. So far we have translated and offered on Amazon and the Internet two such books, In the Eye of the Storm, by Ante Gugo, and The Croatian War of Independence by Ante Nazor. A third is coming up soon, about the siege of Vukovar and the human aspect of the aggression against the city. This project was possible in large part thanks to a radiothon organised by the Croatian radio program in Australia (Pero Maric is the director). So once more, thanks to the Australian Croats for their unending support for valuable projects. We even had the pleasure and honour of meeting with the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, and presenting her personally with our first book!

Julienne Busic (Second from L) with
former Premier of Croatia, Nikica Valentic (third from L)
Photo: Private collection

Now that the Vukovar Day of Remembrance is approaching, can you talk about your third book, Living Cells, which deals with the subject of rape as a war crime through the eyes of a survivor during the siege of Vukovar?

– I just taped a long documentary program for Croatian radio on this subject, which will be broadcast next week prior to the Day of Remembrance. As some might know, Living Cells (for which I was honoured to receive the prestigious A.B. Simic literary award several years ago) is based on the true story of a friend of mine who was held for months as a sex slave in Vukovar during the siege. Her story was particularly disturbing because she was forced to choose between three soldiers; in other words, they forced her to choose her rapist or else threatened that she would be raped by all of them and others as well. This was an evil psychological twist that was almost as bad as the rape itself, at least in my opinion. Later, many friends and neighbours accused her of willingly “cooperating”. Otherwise, why would someone “choose” her rapist? Not only was she branded as a rape victim, as though it were her fault, but also accused of having done it voluntarily, even received benefits from it. So this issue is a complex one, and needs to be addressed by several ministries. First, the Ministry of Health and Social Services needs to provide therapy for the victims, and the Ministry of Defenders must ensure the women receive some kind of compensation. Many are destitute still today. And of course, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must take action to get the perpetrators back to Croatia to serve their sentences. The two rapists in my friend’s case both fled to Serbia and therefore never paid the price for the horrific acts. And without justice being served, it is difficult to forgive. The women want to forgive, but until the perpetrators address their crimes and pay their debt, express remorse, it is difficult for the wounds to heal. This isn’t a pleasant topic, I know, but we need to inform women’s groups and human rights groups outside Croatia about our victims, create a network, raise our voices. My book is the only one I’m aware of that addresses rape as a war crime against Croatian victims, so I hope people will read it and perhaps donate a copy for their local university, a school, a group dealing with this issue.

Nino Raspudic (L) Julienne Busic (C)
Drazen Budisa (R)
Photo: Private collection

How are you coping with the loss of your husband? It’s been four years now.

– It might sound strange, but I don’t feel that I’ve “lost” him. He is always with me, guiding me, sending me messages only I can understand. Philosophically speaking, the physical body is just a collection of atoms and degradable materials that are reabsorbed into the earth. The natural process of birth, death, and regeneration. But the soul is something else and it’s indestructible. I take great comfort in that. In the end, he paid in full his debt to society, he never intended to harm anybody, and the fact that he served 32 years in prison, two years longer than the law allowed, didn’t bother him in the end. He often commented that he was grateful for the last two years because he discovered two philosophers, Pierre Hadot and John Cottingham, who provided explanations for many issues he’d been grappling with all those years. Unfortunately, he didn’t recognise the world into which he was finally released, and couldn’t find his place in it, couldn’t find a way to be useful. He was also deeply disheartened by the materialism, the Ego that seemingly ruled everything, the lack of idealism, the placement of party over homeland, and the vindictiveness of petty, superficial souls, so he went on to discover the ultimate Truth that can only be found in Death. He gave everything he had for his people and country, for their freedom, for his greatest love, Croatia.

Julienne Busic and
President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovuc (C)
Photo: Private collection

—————————————

Julienne (Julie) Busic (maiden name Julienne Eden Schultz) is a successful American writer and a worldwide well known political activist (alongside her late husband Zvonko Busic) for the freedom of Croatia at the time (1970’s) when Croatia was still a part of the oppressive communist totalitarian regime of Yugoslavia. Julie lives in Croatia and dedicates her life to book writing, promoting and actively taking part in translating into the English books by Croatian authors on the topics of the Croatian War of Independence and painful destinies of victims of crimes committed against Croats during that war. She remains a devoted humanitarian, concerned and seeks to promote human welfare of Croatian victims of war crimes. Interview conducted by Ina Vukic

 

LIVING CELLS at Amazon

 

Comments

  1. The epic story of Julie and Zvonko is an amazing modern day Croatian version of Penelope and Odysseus. Our community needs to recognize that and give their foundation the necessary support. No Croatian household nor any public library abroad should be without the books that their foundation has generously taken the time to translate into English.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An inspiring person.

    Like

  3. thank you for revealing
    her caring efforts 🙂

    Like

  4. Like

  5. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    VERY HOPEFUL! THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! 🙂

    Like

  6. Master Robert says:

    Zvonko and Julie Busic with their group of freedom fighters were something to look up to. Courage above all. And still are although Zvonko is passed away now but, as Julie says, in this interview – soul is indestructible! Those seventies were the era of bold attempts to topple communism, crushed brutally – regretfully. Had Croatia become free of it sooner life today would be much easier, I’m certain. Good luck from the heart and mind

    Like

  7. therealamericro says:

    Croatian communities in the English speaking world need to crowdsource and organize the donation of those translated books to every local high school, community college, university and public library near them.

    Like

  8. A very interesting interview. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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