About Melbourne’s The Age Newspaper Picking On Croats In Australia 

Screenshot of Image in The Age, Melbourne Australia, 11 June 2023 – a politically twisted comparison and innuendo

Perusing the pages of the Australian “The Age” on 11 June 2023 an unsuspecting, politically naïve, or historically ignorant reader may get the idea that Croatia’s War of Independence/Homeland War (secession from communist Yugoslavia), fought in defence from brutal and bestial Serb aggression, during 1990’s, was a war led by the Nazi ideology. Why the article’s authors placed an image of the renowned (cleared of mounted war crimes charges at the Hague International Criminal Tribunal in 2012) Croatia’s 1990’s general Ante Gotovina next to the image of Ante Pavelic, Ustasha leader of World War Two Croatian independence fight, can easily be seen as an act of mean spirit, prostitution of history, and provocation for hatred. Definitely insulting to many. It also seems like a last-ditch attempt to give credence to falsified history when the article’s authors write: “… That state, ruled by a movement called the Ustasha, on conservative estimates killed 500,000 Serbs, Jews and Romani people during the war…” Wow! To what journalistic substandard and dark underground has The Age come to? Why regurgitate victim estimates (evidently constructed upon nothing but political pursuits) when there are credible research findings in Croatia (e.g. Blanka Matkovic, Stipo Pilic, Igor Vukic…) that for years have debunked these lies about World War Two Croatia victims, including the Jasenovac camp referred to in this article? Some, maybe even the authors of the article in The Age, guided by some political interests, might say that this latest research is all about attempts to minimise or undermine the Holocaust concept when in fact such research intends to shed a light on facts as they occurred, using historical documents as such w available in various state archives. 

Given WWII Serbia’s pursuits of a Jew-Free state (achieved by May 1942) it is most insulting to read this in the article after referring to celebration of what authors claim was a Nazi state of Croatia (instead of Nazi occupied) in parts of Croatian community: “The open celebration of that past is a source of tension with Serbian and Jewish Australians.” This kind of denial of Serbia’s extermination of 94% of its Jews by May 1942 we find in this The Age article is enough to drive any informed human being to despair! 

According to yesterday’s article in the Australian The Age newspaper, written by Ben Schneiders and Simone Fox Koob, titled “Symbols of hate: The lingering afterlife of Croatian fascism in Australia” it would seem that only World War Two Croatian fight for independence (from the oppressive and dictatorial Serb Monarchy in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, from any kind of Yugoslavia including the Post-WWII communist one) cannot justify the victims of this humanly acclaimed just pursuit! I have not read anything from these two journalists that would label as symbol of hatred anything to do with the terrible victims of British colonisation or imperialistic regime, of pain that preceded the American War of Independence, of the victims of Belgian King Leopold II in Congo, of “successful” WWII Serbia “Jew Free” (Judenfrei) pursuits which, by the way, WWII Croatia never had despite its regretful racial laws (by the by, Serbia also like Croatia was occupied by Nazi Germany but Croatia’s then leadership did not like Serbia lead 94% of its Jews to slaughter), of Joseph Stalin, of Mao Zetong …and all will agree these were the result of genocide, of obvious or written racial and/or politically coloured laws. The First Nations’ Voice in the Australian Parliament may yet give these two journalists plenty of fodder to feed their pens with. I am yet to see these two journalists writing about symbols of WWII Serbia as symbols of hate, and there would be plenty of those in Australia!

The above said is not to justify any crimes or horrors perpetrated by any totalitarian, dictatorial regime but it is an expression of loathing for the practiced double standards when it comes to victims in general. The 21st century should not be a carbon copy of the 20th when crimes of one regime were justified and crimes of another condemned.

One may think that the authors of this article are trying to justify the move to legislate the banning of Nazi symbols as symbols of hatred. But one cannot accept as well-meaning the singling out of one part of one community in such an endeavour. A biased one at that. The article waffles on about some bombings in Australia allegedly perpetrated by Croats but it gives no direction as to where a reader could find confirmation of those. What a reader could find, though, is a plethora of unsubstantiated finger-pointing at Croats during 1960’s and 1970’s terrorist activities in Australia. Undoubtedly all part of the communist Yugoslavia agenda to blacken the Croatian name in Australia. The article gives almost no due attention to the fact that a judicial review of 1981 criminal convictions for attempted terrorism against the Croatian Six men is currently afoot in Australia.

The authors of this article attempt to pin further credibility to their obviously biased claims about Nazi extremists in the Australian Croatian community by quoting the Croatian Ambassador in Canberra, Betty Pavelich: “there is no place for glorification of totalitarian regimes, extremism, or intolerance. We firmly believe that it behoves us all to ensure that disinformation, glorification and the mainstreaming of criminal, totalitarian ideologies, their symbols, and movements, do not take root in modern societies.” The authors, though, fail to dig into Croatian reality further, which would present and confront them with about 1700 mass graves, remains of more than 500,000 murdered innocents, so far unearthed (since independence from Yugoslavia in 1991) in Croatia and Slovenia – an undeniable horror of communist crimes and communist regime. Whose symbols would also amount to symbols of hate. And yet, no mention of that in the article!

The article’s authors further fail to comment or acknowledge that it was Croatian patriotic members of the Australian Croatian community, that included those they now, evidently tendentiously, implicate as Nazi extremists, who backed the fight against communism in 1990’s to achieve democracy and independence of Croatia. In January 1992 Australia recognised the sovereignty and independence of Croatia that was engulfed in war of defence against communist and Serb onslaught. It was the parts of Australian Croatian community that pride themselves in the true meaning of “For Home Ready” (Za dom spremni) chant, that for them had absolutely nothing to do with Nazism or Ustasheism, who lobbied and fought for this freedom. That should tell us a great deal about the bravery for freedom and democracy the chant had and has as its underlying force. It is now banned by law in Croatia but, then again, there is still a great deal of sacrifice to be had to rid Croatia of communist heritage and its oppressive ways.  The authors of this article in The Age evidently stay blind to the fact that the Croatia which spilled rivers of blood defending itself from Serb aggression in 1990’s is still fighting against the usurpation (via rigged elections) of power by the “camp” of former communist operatives.

Furthermore, the article talks of “For Home Ready” (Za dom spremni) chant heard at soccer games in Australia as the Ustashe or Nazi catchcry! The Ustashes had used that salute in World War Two but it stems from centuries back and Croatian fight for freedom. If one was to pay heed to statements like those found in this article in The Age regarding the chant, it comes to mind that World War Two “For Home and Country” slogans often seen in Britain may also have stemmed from Nazism as well! It needs to be said that any young person of Croatian descent using that chant at soccer games or in public it is above all a symbol of love for one’s ancestors who suffered greatly for freedom. They chanted it in the 17th century against the Habsburg absolute rule, they chanted it even in Australia during 19th century to First World War when Croatia was under the control Austro-Hungarian Empire, they chanted it during and post-World War One when Croatia was controlled by Serbian Monarchy, they chanted it during World War Two when Croatia fought to be free of Serb Monarchy and free of Josip Broz Tito’s communism, they chanted it in 1990’s while fighting off Serb and communist Yugoslavia. They always chanted “For Home Ready” to be free and sovereign people as they once were and were entitled to under self-preservation principles.    

As per a clearly palpable political agenda The Age has with this article coloured the entire Croatian immigration (community) to Australia with the same stroke of what tends to feel like harassment and vilification. The authors here unequivocally state that “Srecko Rover, (was) a man who would play a pivotal role in the emerging Croatian community in Australia.” This is an unforgivable lie and hateful innuendo! Have these journalists taken a good look at the fact and profile of Croatian community in Australia? Obviously not! The purpose of this article seems to me like many from the past in Australian media: serving a political agenda that has nothing to do with the truth or facts when it comes to Croats. For what reason I do not know but I guess many could take a gander and conclude there is an attempt to purposefully paint an ugly picture.

This article of mine, of course, is not to justify any actual crimes ever committed in pursuit of independence even though the world has upheld the right to self-determination of any people as a nation while individual crimes perpetrated in the process are detestable and abhorrent. The above said article in The Age does not itself present a clear reason as to why, seemingly out of nowhere, a part of the Croatian community is attacked for its WWII symbols and all others, like the Serbian community, are spared the abuse. I assume, that is, that the reason for writing this article may lie in the Australian recent legislature on banning Nazi memorabilia. Indeed, that is a good move by the government in my book but unless other totalitarian regimes’ symbols are also banned that legislation will not stop intolerance for unfairness and double standards.  I hope that the symbols of all totalitarian regimes, including the communist will be banned. After all, the latter has murdered more than a hundred million innocent people, who also deserve justice, not just the Holocaust victims. But then again, will various trade deals with communist regimes not “permit” such due justice? I, for one, would like to read an article in The Age on communist symbols of hate and how they affect members of Australian communities. There is certainly plenty of Australians who have fled the horrors of communism from various countries, not just Croatia.

The intended banning of the swastika begs the question: why is there no banning of the communist five-pointed red star or the ISIS flag? Both also symbolise hateful ideologies that led to genocide of politically undesirable millions or as in ISIS case the attempted genocide of minority communities – Yazidis and Christians. If we apply the same rationale behind the calls to ban Nazi symbols, then we should apply it to expressions of all violent so-called extremist movements.

Rather than banning only Nazi symbols and salutes, it seems to me that instead of just that, there is a dire need for a strong focus on education about Nazi, fascist and communist movements equally, and their horrible consequences. The generations of victims who lived through these horrors are slowly disappearing, dying, and their lived history is slipping from the grasp of younger generations. If we continue in a biased way, where, mildly said the pot is calling the kettle black, it is having and will have very real consequences for the future generations; this calling one evil – evil, and not the other (evil), will undoubtedly shape future generations into believing that evil can be acceptable. And it is not, no matter who perpetrates it. Ina Vukic

Australian-Croatian Bianca Crvelin (born Vidaic) Succeeds in Local Government Elections in Sydney

Bianca Crvelin (née Vidaic) Photo: Private collection

Stretching from Sydney’s Palm Beach to Manly the Local government area of Northern Beaches Council houses over 266,000 people and an Australia born lady of Croatian descent, Bianca Crvelin (born Vidaic) has at the 4 December 2021 as Australian Liberal Party candidate secured a seat as Councillor, thus entering into a very important  hands on role in making a difference to the Australian community living in this vast area. It is clear to me that this young woman, Bianca Crvelin, has approached this journey of public life from citizen to councillor with energy, enthusiasm and a clear view of what she wants to achieve for the community. These are the hallmarks of someone who sees their tasks in life in advocacy and effective representation of the community around them. I wanted to know more and so I interviewed her and this is what she had to say to the questions I asked:

First of all permit me to congratulate you on your victory at the recent Local Government elections in NSW. You have been elected as councillor on Northern Beaches Council in Sydney. How did the electoral success make you feel and why?

Electoral success is unlike anything I have experienced. It is such a great feeling to have the support of my local community. To be the trusted voice for them and their families. I feel very humbled and privileged to have been elected into this position. I am looking forward to learning the ins and outs of Council and how to best represent my community.

Have you ever run for political office before this year?

This is my second time running as a candidate for local government. On my first occasion I ran as a number 2 in the Forest Ward. I knew I had no chance of success, but the experience was great. On this occasion I ran as the lead candidate for my ward, and the odds where slightly better for me to get elected. We ran a good campaign, and I would have loved for my number 2 to get up. Perhaps we can work on this for the next election.

You were a successful candidate at 4 December local government elections for the Australian Liberal Party, how long have you been an active member of that Party?

I have been an active member of the Liberal party for some 12 years. As you can see, I joined the party much later in life. It has been a wonderful experience, and I have made some great friends.

Bianca Crvelin and her husband Ante (back row), their two sons (front row) Photo: Family album

What specifically drew you to lead a life of politics or government? How did you decide to pursue such involvement in life and what attracted you to the Australian Liberal Party?

I joined the party to get active and to be heard. I realised that I wanted to be part of the solution and not simply stay on the sidelines and see issues. I wanted to get involved. I felt that I was not represented in politics at that time (being a young mother) and so by joining I was able to get involved.

I have been a Liberal voter since I was 18 years of age. My values are very much aligned to the party. I reached out to my local State Member (MP Jonathan O’Dea) and he connected me with my then branch president. I started attending meetings and became very active in the branch, helping out on election days and eventually holding numerous positions in the various Conferences within the Party. Over the years I gained the trust of many supporters within the party which gave me the confidence to run for local government.

Can you tell us about your electoral platform for the last local government elections please.

Main concerns for Narrabeen Ward:

  1. Rates – There was a promise upon amalgamation (of Councils) that rates would drop. I am yet to see this occur. I would hope that we would see these promises achieved. Accountability is very important, and when a promise is made it must be delivered.
  2. Waste – Council has to-date spent funds on unnecessary changes to bins and approved funds for a COVID memorial (I like many, do not want to walk along our fore-shore a remember the events which transpired in 2020/21 where families and business were put under huge stresses and the world as we know it changed, not for the better).
  3. Narrabeen Lagoon Entrance Management – I would like to see the lagoon entrance managed in a more future proof fashion. We have had several weather occurrences which have made it difficult for residents of Narrabeen Ward, Council needs to stop talking about solutions and start delivering. 
  4. Flood proofing the Wakehurst Parkway – Being a mum of two who utilised the Oxford Falls Early Learning Centre for some 4 years I was heavily affected by the flooding when it occurred on Wakehurst Parkway. I would like to see the road flood proofed, so that others do not suffer as I did.
  5. Narrabeen State Park needs to be maintained and kept in pristine conditions. I and my family have been to the park on many occasions, as have many (especially during lockdown), we need to make sure we look after the area so all can enjoy it now and in the future.

How do those main concerns or needs for improvement or strengthening on the Northern Beaches compare to those of Sydney as a whole and then the State of New South Wales?

Councils on the whole need to be focused on efficiency, accountability and community involvement. As elected officials our constituents have trusted us to be their voice.

Councils need to reduce the amount of waste be it in their processes and their profit and losses.

I believe that these concerns resonate throughout all councils. This is why we need active representation from the community. Locals need to get involved. I will be seeking community engagement within Narrabeen with the hope that we can make some real differences in our area. 

In your local government community, are there any specific projects or needs that you are particularly passionate about and would like to highlight and advocate for?

I have grown up in the Northern Beaches and I feel that I am so lucky to have had this experience. I would like to see all our parks upgraded. I would like to see clean areas for families and friends to connect. I want to see our beaches and parks in pristine conditions.

I want to ensure that we protect our area so that future generations can enjoy our area as much as we have.

Perhaps I am reaching to far, but I have much work ahead and I want to make an impact in our area.

Your local government area attracts a large number of tourists but this industry has suffered significantly due to Covid-19 pandemic restriction measures and lockdowns. Do you see a light at the end of this business downturn tunnel and what do you think, in general terms, needs to be done to help business recovery at a greater pace than what is already occurring? How can local governments help?

Small businesses have been hit the hardest by the COVID events. In the short-term Councils need to help out as much as possible. We need to have engagement with them to understand their specific pain points. During my time out and about so far in the community the biggest issue many are facing is the lack of staff. Many cafés simply do not have staff to be able to open their doors to full capacity. Council needs to be the voice so that State and Federal Governments are aware of this issue.

Council can offer some discounts to use of open areas (it is my understanding we are already doing this).

In your opinion, what sort of role should local councils be playing in terms of assisting new migrants, refugees and asylum seekers?

Local Council can help ensure any new migrants, refugees, asylum seekers are well assimilated to the local area. Council can reach out to the new residents and make sure they feel welcome and know about the events in their local community, so they feel connected to their new home.

Your local government area is often described as paradise, with its beaches, coastal spreads, green areas. What about Climate Change and carbon emissions reductions program, what sort of things do you think the local government could influence? What changes or reforms to environmental protection would you like to see?

It is my understanding that overall concerns on climate are considered by Federal Government. However Local Council can ensure that local projects take into account the latest guidance by the Federal Government.

Council has the ability to try to ensure that the local take up Federal Initiatives is achieved.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Northern Beaches born and bred. The beaches have been my home for over 40 years. I am a wife, and mother of two boys, I have a career in Financial Services which spans over 20 years. Being a qualified accountant, I bring with me a wealth of knowledge from the corporate sector. Over the years I have been active in both my son’s schools and sports activities. I am a Rotarian and I am excited about the opportunity to be a voice for my community and represent them and their families on Northern Beaches Council.

Bianca Crvelin (back row R) and her sister Simone Magas Front row: Mile and Jenny Vidaic (Bianca’s parents) Photo: Family album

Both of your parents are of Croatian origins (your father Mile from Zrnovo on the Island of Korcula and your mother Jenny from Nin near the northern coast city of Zadar). What does your Croatian heritage mean to you personally in terms of your bringing up as an Australian in a multicultural society? How do you think your Croatian cultural heritage may have contributed to developing awareness of needs of others and living as active member of the community?

Being a daughter to two wonderful Croatian parents I am very privileged to have had this cultural upbringing. My parents have instilled in me a strong sense of family, community and work. I believe I have a unique ability to understand many groups of people because of this. Australia is full of people from varying backgrounds and being able to connect with them is a wonderful feeling. Whilst I was campaigning, I had the opportunity to speak to many different people and I was overjoyed to tell people of my Croatian heritage and speak to them in Croatian. Some people of ethnic decent told me they felt that I am a great representation of them, and that I would get their vote. Croatians by our nature are very welcoming and kind-hearted, I believe this is what carried me through my campaign, and will allow me to work well with my fellow Councillors.

Ina Vukic

Part of Northern Beaches Council Area Sydney Australia PHOTO: northernbeaches.gov.nsw.au
Zrnovo Beach Island of Korcula Croatia
Zrnovo Island of Korcula Croatia
Nin Croatia

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.