Croatia Must Not Permit Defending The Most Murderous Regime Of Communist Yugoslavia

Former Yugoslavia's Josip Broz Tito  among the worst mass murderers of the 20th century Photo:Screenshot Daily Mail.co.uk

Former Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito
among the worst mass murderers
of the 20th century
Photo:Screenshot Daily Mail.co.uk

 

Nigel Jones of the UK Daily Mail wrote in October 2014 that “the 20th century witnessed death and slaughter on an unprecedented scale. It was the century of the Holocaust and two World Wars; of communist, Nazi, fascist and military dictators who between them killed more than 100 million people”. He compiled a list of the mass murderers that shaped the political maps placing communist Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito on the list as having caused the murder of 570,000 political opponents.
In an open letter by Andrija Hebrang, a Croatian prominent politician, supporting the removal of Josip Broz Tito’s bust from the Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia, published 25 February 2015 on Croatian Cultural Council portal we are reminded that “R. J. Rummel and prof. G. Heissohn claim that Tito’s place is among the top ten murderers in the history of humanity because he was directly responsible for the death of 1,170,000 people. As Tito got rid of witnesses to his own crimes the estimates of the numbers of his victims. And so, prof. P. Scaruffi publishes a number of 570,000 of Tito’s victims while the German Bild placed Tito among the world’s top ten of mass murderers, citing in 2007 the number of 1 Million victims…
The highest barrier to moving into the ideal future of reconciled past, unity and optimal economic harmony that includes job creation, stripping off of corruption and nepotism in the work force, is, for Croatia, the still thriving divisions from World War II that keep supplying ink to the stamp of collective guilt, and that ink comes in the form of the Croatian left-wing politics holding onto their role as the heir to or successor of their communist past.
The Croatian Left-wing political milieu is not ready to condemn Communist crimes despite the fact that the European Union, of which Croatia is a member – has. The Croatian Left-wing political milieu persists in equating communist antifascism with democratic antifascism despite the fact that the two are very different as the former is severely marked by mass crimes that helped its survival over four decades after WWII.
When the Croatian Left-wing political milieu gathers enough strength to condemn Communist crimes, Croatia will have a chance of moving forward into a better future it’s citizens deserve. The cramp of defending communist crimes, either directly as in wrongly insisting that they were “necessary” to thwart what they call fascism or, indirectly, by omitting to actively condemn communist crimes, is still holding progress in Croatia hostage.

 

 

Croatian Constitution calls upon antifascism but also upon the condemnation of the communist totalitarian regime (of former Yugoslavia).

There are no advocates of fascist heritage in today’s Croatia but there are stalwarts of communist heritage,” said recently dr. Miroslav Tudjman, member of Croatian Parliament and son of the late president Franjo Tudjman, adding that in the absence of condemnation of communist crimes and the communist regime, the place for the sculpture of Tito’s bust will remain a political question. “The conflict that arises from the place of Tito’s bust, wherever it is kept, will continue to be a point of disunity all until the history textbooks also reflect that the Constitution calls upon antifascism but also upon the condemnation of the communist totalitarian system.”

 

An example of maintaining the false superiority of communist followers, which distresses any human being bar the one defending communist crimes, could clearly be seen in the capital of Croatia, Zagreb, on Saturday 28 February. A couple of hundred anti-fascist protesters rallied in Zagreb’s central square to oppose a plan by the far-right Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (A-HSP) to hold a public presentation of its own army and an oath-taking ceremony in the same location, which was banned by the Ministry of the Interior with the explanation that it might disturb the public. Well, what disturbs the public more than a peaceful public display of a political party’s army is the fact that the same minister omitted to send the Tito-loving anti-fascist protesters packing, as well.

Even though the A-HSP party army did not show up in the main square because the party gathering was banned, anti-fascist protesters arrived there around noon, displaying a banner that read “United against fascism” and shouting anti-fascist messages.
Police were present in the square, securing a buffer zone between the “anti-fascist” protesters and members of the public. Several members of the public shouted insults at the protesters. Police, or the authorities, made no moves to remove the anti-fascist protesters from the main square. Such behaviour is designed to promote lies that Croatia promotes fascism and stall moves towards condemnation of communist crimes. Such behaviour must be quashed otherwise Croatia has no chance of thriving as a country founded on historical truth and justice.
Given the deep divisions that stem from WWII and post-WWII communist Yugoslavia era in Croatia, the new president of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s call for unity and togetherness, reconciliation of history… can, in essence, be interpreted as a call to “nation building” as a pre-requisite to achieving economic reforms that would benefit all and lift the standard of living of all in Croatia. The “nation building” can only be successfully achieved if it rests primarily on the values for freedom and democracy expressed through the endurance and bravery of Croatia’s 1990’s Homeland War while condemning most strongly all totalitaria regimes that ravaged Croatia until 1990. There is no doubt that through the post-WWII communist era members of the communist elite and members of the pro-communist elite after Croatia’s independence of the 1990’s made a great deal of money at the expense of the state and society in transition. Streets of Croatia are densely populated by individuals with amassed wealth that was impossible to amass – within the earning capacity of former Yugoslavia and independent Croatia economic circumstances – without the presence of corruption, theft, insider-dealings and favouritism. Widespread economic distortions created many conflicting vested interests and this makes carrying out economic reforms difficult across Croatia. Corrupt individuals thriving in each other’s pockets, harbouring each other’s ‘trade’ secrets of past and present is the padding around the spine of a politically resistant system that will continue thwarting economic progress and economic fairness to ordinary citizens unless the political marrow of former-communism is eradicated or, at least, watered down to impotence. And that means the condemnation of communist crimes in Croatia and their propeller – Josip Broz Tito. So, the sooner the authorities make it their business to remove the former communist regime (even by force if need be) as the epitomiser of democratic antifascism, the better. The sooner the totalitarian regimes of Croatia’s past are put on equal footing of irrelevance for today’s and future Croatia the better. This though, cannot be done without condemning Tito for his crimes and condemning his communist regime. As painful as it may come to many Croats, this is absolutely necessary otherwise, living by double standards (condemning crimes of WWII Independent Croatia while upholding as just, even worse in many ways, the crimes of communist Yugoslavia/Croatia) condemns Croatia to a life in perpetual tatters and perpetual political finger pointing while the ordinary citizens suffer insufferably. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian National Ethics Tribunal In The Making

dr. Zvonimir Separovic

dr. Zvonimir Separovic

In this era we live in, it has become more and more unsettling in a democracy to watch politicians in government or power turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to the plights of their constituents (citizens) to protect and improve the interests of the people, the nation. Cries of helplessness ring at every corner, in every crevice of the developed as well as of the undeveloped nations. The ethics in activities of those in power that affect the citizens’ and the nation’s very lives and livelihood have become to resemble a kind of a “fly-by-night” phenomenon and, yet, they are crucial to the preservation or destruction, if unchecked, of humanity and prosperity.

It goes without saying that the government and society can no longer promote and enforce ethical behaviour solely through the utilisation of ethical codes of conduct or through the promulgation of a plethora of legislation. Something new is required – a measure that will at least serve as a deterrent for unethical behaviour which imposes irreparable or profound damage to national interests.

A group of citizens of Croatia has decided to establish the Croatian National Ethics Tribunal, which will not have behind it the force of the police or the State court system. It will, though, have the force of ethical arguments and public “finger pointing” at those who have inflicted damage upon Croatian interests and who have worked against Croatian independence and have betrayed Croatia in relation to its fight against Serb aggression.

As dr. Zvonimir Separovic, recently said at the launch of his book “The Croatian Claim” (Hrvatska Tužba) – pertaining to Croatian lawsuit against Serbia for genocide that was recently heard at the ICJ in The Hague – “Pantovcak (The Office of the President of Croatia) is a larger Serbian branch than the Embassy of Serbia in Zagreb, itself!” This statement needs no explanation, no corroboration – for it is the political truth that is bringing multitudes to their knees.

And so we are at the dawn of a new era in Croatia. A new era that will see a public Tribunal (Croatian National Ethics Tribunal) pave the way of standing firmly and loudly against the betrayers of Croatian national interests.

Proposal for the establishment of the Croatian National Ethics Tribunal

POSTULATES:

Croatia is in a deep political, moral and general crisis. The group of politicians in government does not manage the country with Croatian national interests at the helm. Betrayal of national interests is at work. It is time to establish a national ethical court that would bring judgments against individuals for betrayal of the country (treason).

We can find examples in Ancient Rome where individual citizens could raise a national claim (Actio popularis) against those who had acted contrary to public interests. In the last century we come across the Russell, and later the Sartre’s international tribunal that brought judgments against the U.S.A. for the war in Vietnam and later against Israel for the discrimination against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. At the instigation of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela formed Commissions for Truth and Reconciliation at which informal judgments were delivered in South Africa – this was a form of lustration and a small number of individuals did consequently end up in official courts.

Different to the examples above, the Croatian case would mount a national ethics tribunal that would judge upon the responsibility for public actions when it’s assessed that the same constitute a betrayal of national interests.

National interest is defined as the aim a State has in the areas of economy, military or culture, but it can apply to wider areas as every interest that is of vital importance for the survival and prosperity of the people and the State.

Members of the Tribunal would be prominent individuals of moral integrity, professionalism and reputation, prominent personalities from public life. Judgments would be based on known ethical principles. The judgment is only moral in nature. Judgments would only be made in cases of severe breaches of ethical principles in public activities.

THE FIRST PREPARATORY MEETING

The Preparatory meeting with view to founding the Tribunal was held on 24 April 2014 and initiated by the Croatian Victimology Society. Those present included Prof. dr. Andrija Hebrang, Zeljko Olujic – prominent lawyer, dr. Nikola Debelic, prof.dr. Danko Milosevic, dr.Srecko Sladoljev, prof. Nevenka Nekic. Ante Beljo, Miljenko Romic – academic artist, Zdravko Vladanovic – lawyer, Rozalija Bartolic – the Association of Homeland Widows, Negzana Pavicic from Skabrnje, dr.med. Aleksandar Soltysik, and the meeting was chaired by dr. Zvonimir Separovic – the President of the Croatian Victimology Society. Apologies with support for the Tribunal were recorded from prof. dr. Zeljko Horvatic, Marko Franovic – Sydney, Australija, Ante Glibota – Paris, France , prof. dr. Josip Faricic – Zadar, prof. dr. Hrvoje Mazija, Zvonimir Hodak – lawyer, prof. dr. Branimir Luksic – Split, Vlado Iljkic – Headquarters for the Defence of Croatian Vukovar, Croatian Army general Tomo Medved, academic Slobodan Novak, prof. Josip Jurcevic – historian and politician, Mate Kovacevic – publicist.

The meeting accepted and delivered the following conclusions:

1. The establishment of the Croatian National Ethics Tribunal (HNES) is justified, current and socially beneficial;
2. The Tribunal in its activities is independent of the State and Political parties, objective, legitimate and it does not deliver executive decisions;
3. Research for the Tribunal’s use is undertaken by committees or by individuals appointed by the Tribunal;
4. The Tribunal proceedings are open to the public, Tribunal’s decisions are published to the public;
5. The person who is the subject of an investigation or a claim will be notified about the sitting of the Tribunal at which the hearing will take place, and they have the right of presence at the hearing;
6. The Tribunal’s Founding Assembly to be held by the end of May 2014 and other potential members of the Tribunal shall be invited to it;
7. The Organising Committee – Zvonimir Separović, Zeljko Olujic and Zdravko Vladanovic will prepare the draft of the Program Declaration and other essential documents for the Founding Assembly. ( Source of details regarding the founding process of the Tribunal: Dr. Zvonimir Separovic)
Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia vs. Serbia ICJ Genocide Case – A Door To Future Success Or Failure Of Genocide Claims?

Vukovar cemetery - Photo politikaplus.com

Vukovar cemetery – Photo politikaplus.com

By Vesna Skare-Ozbolt

First published in Politikaplus.com
Translated into English by Ina Vukic

When a respectable British Weekly such as The Economist in its article from 11 March regarding the ICJ genocide trial between Croatia and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) pronounces (promotes)  that case as “utterly idiotic” in advance, that, in the least, must cause a decent reader to raise his or her eyebrows.

That is, this trial opens up several controversial questions upon which the international and the domestic professional circles are bound to debate; from the standards of proof of genocide, questions associated with the continuity and succession in the dissolution of a state, questions of state responsibility as well as the retroactive application of the Convention on Genocide. Court practice – even the one associate with genocide – has developed significantly during the past several years and this court could perhaps offer new interpretations, at least for some of these questions.

The Croatian legal team submitted its presentation properly and it’s worth emphasising the submissions made by James Crawford, Professor of International Law at Cambridge University, Philippe Sands, Professor of Law at London University and Davorin Lapas, Professor of International Law at the Law Faculty of University of Zagreb.

It’s difficult to give a serious assessment of Serbia’s legal team’s strategy because the extraction of evidence contained in the ICTY Trial Chamber judgments when it’s favourable for Serbia, bargaining with ICTY Appeal Chamber judgments when they are in favour of Croatia, appealing to the judges to study the ICTY Trial and Appeal judgments in an individual case and then to decide which one of these they like best, etc., does not constitute a serious strategy.

The biggest surprise from the trial is the British professional and professor of International Law, William Schabas. Although it was known in advance that Serbia had weak arguments one expected that he would, nevertheless, pluck something strong out of that material. The fact that even he was not successful at that speaks volumes of the quality of Serbia’s counter-claim in the proceedings. Regardless, Professor Schabas has appeared as a master in evading matters that did not benefit Serbia and, hence, when he rejects the key point Serbia relies on – that FRY did not exist as a state before 27 April 1992 and that in accordance with the Convention on Prevention of Genocide it is not responsible for events that occurred before that date – he omits to mention the fact that the very wording of the Convention does not seek nor exclude retroactive application or UN Convention regarding the application of statute of limitations for war crimes and crimes against humanity from 1968, where, it says in Article 1 that “statute of limitations will not be applied for crimes … regardless of the date of their perpetration … and for the crime of genocide under the definition in the 1948 Convention”. Also, even though this is a matter of a trial against a state it is worth reminding ourselves of the judgment in the Eichmann case where it says: “… that the crime with which he is charged has always carried the stamp of an international crime” and this adds to the weight favouring the retrospective application of the Convention. Or, as the renowned Serbian lawyer, the late Srdja Popovic, said in relation to the genocide lawsuit Bosnia and Herzegovina Vs. Serbia: “ … no one can call upon the dissolution and anarchy, because it is exactly in such situations when genocides occur …” (interview in BH Dani, 2006)

The charming Professor Schabas suggests to the court “not to enter into some new areas” but to keep firmly to the restrictive standard for proof of genocide contained in article 373 in the Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Serbia 2007 judgment and not the lower one from the Karadzic case. While on the one hand he is right, because the Kardazic judgment has not passed the Appeal stage, I think that this trial is the moment when the court must and should “enter into some new areas”, that is, open the debate around the question as to whether the standard from article 373 is the best standard for the finding of responsibility of some state for genocide? If it is, that would mean that future proof of genocide will become an impossible mission.

Schabas claims that there was no genocide anywhere in the former Yugoslavia (except in Srebrenica which he characterised as a mini-genocide) because “ … there was no uniform pattern nor plan nor defined state politics on implementing genocide …” and, as an example of the existence of such a plan he gave Adolf Hitler’s stay at the Landsberg prison in 1924 where he began writing Mein Kampf. On the other hand, he does not mention the existence of the mid-19th century onwards plans for the formation of Greater Serbia to Croatia’s detriment (Nacertanije by Ilija Garasanin, as the first Greater Serbia political Memorandum SANU, etc.). (SANU – Serbian Academy of Science and Arts)

The fact that the Serbian academics Dobrica Cosic and Antonije Isakovic had as early as 1989 offered Istria and Dalmatia to the Italian neo-fascists (Alleanza nazionale Gianfranca Finija) serves as one more example of the Serbia’s leadership’s plans directed at the “annulment” of the Croatian state, not as a whole but within the frame of the rattling Virovitica-Karlovac-Ogulin border against which the HDZ of the day had protested publicly on 29 September 1989, labeling the “academic matters” of these two Serbian academics as “Greater Serbian customisation of Croatia”.

Also, the data from dr Andrija Hebrang’s book “Crimes in the Serb-Montenegrin aggression against the Republic of Croatia” which shows that more civilians than solders were killed on battlefields on the Croatian side contributes to genocidal intentions. The killing of 400 children, all of whom were not “collateral victims” of say bombing but were intentionally murdered, often in the most cruel of manners in front of or together with the whole of their families, needs to be emphasised.

Serbia’s legal team, in fact, did not attempt to deny the crimes perpetrated on Croatia’s territory in the 1991-1995 period, but it kept exhausting itself in the attempts to accomplish a win-win situation, according to which Milosevic was guilty for 1991 and Tudjman for 1995, that is, maintaining an eternal balance of responsibility for the war. The introduction of events from NDH (WWII Independent State of Croatia) into the whole story, as supposedly the exclusive reason for the rebellion of the Krajina Serbs in 1991 against the independent Croatia and the attempts to prove the so-called genocidal character of the Operation Storm had the placing of a connection Jasenovac 1941 – Storm 1995 as their aim in order to continue ad nauseam perpetuation of the concocted genocidal stigma of Croatia.

This court will mainly rely on ICTY judgments – confirmation of this can be found in the separate deliberation by the presiding judge Peter Tomka from 2008 when decisions were being made regarding the court’s jurisdiction in the case of Croatia’s genocide lawsuit against Serbia: “…it remains to be seen how Croatia will succeed in proving that the crime of genocide has been committed and that FRY is responsible for it …” although ICTY “…has not passed its judgment against the persons who carry the greatest responsibility for genocide in Croatia” – and one could conclude that a judgment of genocide has no chance.

Regretfully the court does not have a fact-finding mission capacity and it’s difficult to expect that the judges will “comb” through all the documents (from the Croatian as well as from the Serbian sources), which are archived in the Croatian Homeland War Memorial-Documentary Centre and which were collected by dr. Ante Nazor and his team through to this year, or that they will read every book written by Serbian academics or war leaders of the day that could significantly contribute to a judgment about the intent to commit genocide within a limited time span and within specific areas, especially in Eastern Slavonia.

One also should not exclude the option to dismiss both claims. If it comes to that, this court case will nevertheless represent a victory for Croatia – or, a useful defeat – as the renowned professor Mirijan Damaska said (interview, Nacional, 2007) because it will, once again, remind the international public that the ICTY has not convicted a single Croat, that Croatia is not responsible for the War and that its defence was legitimate. On the other hand, Serbia has come out from the ICTY with 13 final convictions so far, and with a conviction from this court for failing to prevent genocide in Srebrenica.

One thing is for certain: this court has a very difficult task before it and it’s distasteful to enter into prognoses because, as Luka Misetic, a member of Croatia’s legal team said: “all options are on the table”.

Vesna Skare-Ozbolt Photo: Politikaplus.com

Vesna Skare-Ozbolt
Photo: Politikaplus.com

 

 

 

About the author: Vesna Skare-Ozbolt is a Lawyer with post-graduate studies in Criminal law. She served as legal advisor to the late President Franjo Tudjman for ten years. She led the process of Peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia in the late 1990’s. She was Minister of Justice of the Republic of Croatia (2003-2006) and author and initiator of many legislative proposals in Croatia. She served as elected member of Croatian Parliament over three mandates from year 2000. She is also President of Democratic Centre party. Honorary citizen of Vukovar, Ilok and Brela. 1998 Woman of the Year. Decorated with the Order of Croatian Interlace, Order of Croatian Trefoil and Order of Katarina Zrinski and Vukovar Medal. Source: http://www.vesna.com.hr

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