Women Of Croatia’s Homeland War

Today, 8 March, marks the International Women’s Day! May it be a happy one to all the women of the world and as far as Croatian women are concerned my mind is turned to those who endured and survived with dignity the most horrendous of fates a woman (a human being) can endure. I turn to and bow the women that stood out and stand out as heroines of a nation (independent Croatia) created despite the brutal aggression, rape, ethnic cleansing, genocide … that swept across Croatia in the early 1990’s with only one intent: eradicate Croat lives, humiliate Croat lives … just because they are Croat and want freedom from communist totalitarian regime!

I also turn to the many Croatian women who left their stamp of truth, freedom and dedication to independence in many ways during the years of Croatia’s Homeland War and beyond.

These women of modern-day Croatia are truly inspiring!

Mothers of those who gave their lives for Croatia’s freedom

Kata Soljic (Vukovar, 1922 – 2008): Fondly called as the mother of courage.

Kata Soljic

Kata Soljic (click on photo to enlarge)

I am Kata Soljic, a Croat, a mother from Vukovar. I am 79 years old, I gave birth to and reared six children, four sons and two daughters. My four sons and my son-in-law lost their lives in 1991 for freedom and for the defense of the Croatian Homeland from the Serb aggressor in this Homeland War. My four innocent brothers perished by the hands of the same enemy during World War II, and my husband survived by a miracle. I have not completed any schooling. I can barely sign my own name. Life has not caressed me. And, hence, I have learned and am still learning the highest of life’s lessons and that is the lesson of love and sacrifice for those close to me and for my family,”  (Kata Soljic, 2001)

Women who were at the forefront of caring for the wounded

Dr Vesna Bosanac, a paediatrician and the legendary medical director of Vukovar hospital during the Croatian Homeland War.

dr Vesna Bosanac

dr Vesna Bosanac (click on photo to enlarge)

A witness to Serb atrocities in Vukovar, a witness who invested all her human strength to save as many lives as humanly possible amidst the genocidal madness of Serb aggression (including by Serb-led Yugoslav People’s Army) in Vukovar 1991 that saw incessant artillery attacks, the destruction of ambulances, the killing of hospital staff and patients, and the wounding of doctors and nurses who were helping people wounded in the shelling and the massacre of more than 200 people that took place in November 1991 at nearby Ovcara farm.

According to data from the Vukovar Hospital, 3,470 wounded people were treated in the Vukovar Hospital during the Serbian military aggression on the town, and more than 2,500 operations were performed in the hospital at the time.

Women – Victims of war crime of rape

During the Serb aggression in 1990’s Croatia violating women became an open and widespread weapon of war of aggression. Sadly this war crime of rape had been ignored for many years, perpetrators walked the streets freely and victims suffered, dying a bit day in and day out. According to a Council of Europe, more than 20,000 women were raped during the Balkan conflict, and many of these occurred in Croatia, while others to the majority occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the victims being Bosniak (Muslim) and Croat women. Unfortunately, the horrors did not stop at rape. Of these women, most were gang-raped by Serb rebels or Serbs belonging to the Serb-led Yugoslav People’s Army, some were forced into sexual slavery and forced impregnated often by armies and paramilitary groups.

The silence regarding the widespread rape of Croat women during the war in Croatia lasted too long and some organisations claimed that rape did not occur. Marija Sliskovic has in the past few years courageously begun to point to the problem of war rape with her book “Women of Vukovar” (Žene Vukovara) and in her latest “Sunny” (Sunčica) in which she published testimonies of 14 raped women from Vukovar and one man. These efforts have received support from the Parliament, the President’s Office, and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and other UN organisations. A rise in social compassion for the victims is evident, alongside a growing frustration that so much time that has passed without tangible remedies. The war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina brought the issue of rape to the forefront forcing international recognition of rape as a weapon of war and a violation on a multitude of levels. Despite this awareness and support the practice of ignoring rape or treating it as a last priority for prosecutors of war crimes still continues. The victims are still forced into fighting for justice at all levels and my admiration goes to them in endless bounds.
And so I pay tribute here to Marija Sliskovic, a tireless activist for the rights of rape victims in Croatia and some of the women who have had the courage to finally speak out about the horror of rape, that war crime perpetrated against them in the concentration camp during the war by Serbs:

Marija Sliskovic

Marija Sliskovic (click on photo to enlarge)

Ruzica Erdelji

Ruzica Erdelji (click on photo to enlarge)

Snjezana Maljak

Snjezana Maljak (click on photo to enlarge)

Durdica Pankas

Women who cared about the well-being of war-orphaned children

Ankica Tudjman

Ankica Tudjman (click on photo to enlarge)

Ankica Tudjman. The wife of Croatia’s first president, dr Franjo Tudjman, who from December 1991 championed the worldwide charitable action under the organisation “Save the Children of Croatia” (later re-named into Humanitarian Foundation for Children of Croatia) that sought sponsors for Croatian war-orphaned children. By December 1992 the action secured sponsorship (annual/monthly financial support via individual bank accounts set up for each orphan) for 2,160 children of killed Croatian Homeland War veterans. By 1996 the action had 4,319 children of killed veterans under its sponsorship program in addition to hundreds of children of 100% war-invalids. Her charity still goes strong today as she in her advanced age holds tight to her determination to help children in need for as long as she lives. I wish Ankica a very special day on this day of March the 8th!

23,080 Croat women who actively participated in the Homeland War, assisting in the defence against aggression

Croat women in Homeland War

Croat women in Homeland War (click photo to enlarge)

Many Croat women who worked tirelessly from the diaspora on humanitarian aid to Croatia and lobbying the world for Croatia’s independence

Croatian women rally against aggression  in Croatia - Sydney, Australia January 1993

Croatian women rally against aggression
in Croatia – Sydney, Australia January 1993 (click photo to enlarge)

Many women who worked as humanitarian aid workers caring for over 800,000 (Croat and Muslim) refugees in Croatia during the war under often dire, always treacherous and difficult circumstances.

1992 Croatia - Croat and Muslim refugees

1992 Croatia – Croat and Muslim refugees (click photo to enlarge)

November 1991 Croat refugees

November 1991 Croat refugees (click photo to enlarge)

Women who followed a career path that would enhance the path to Croatia’s democracy of tomorrow

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (click photo to enlarge)

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic commenced her career for Croatia in wartime 1993 at the ministry of science and technology, then moved to foreign affairs office and was deputy minister then head of North America unit from where she went to Canada at the Croatian Embassy as adviser and minster adviser. In 2003 she was elected into the Croatian Parliament when she became Croatia’s minister of foreign affairs and European integration until 2008. From then until 2011 she was the Croatian Ambassador in Washington and from July 2011 the assistant secretary general of NATO for public diplomacy – I trust that Kolinda will be the first woman president of Croatia very soon, Certainly her career path and world diplomacy experience has provided just the right background to lead the modern Croatia into a full democracy. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Related Posts on rape as war crime:

http://inavukic.com/2012/03/07/international-womens-day-a-tribute-to-the-courage-of-croatian-women-victims-of-mass-rapes/

http://inavukic.com/2013/08/21/croatia-howling-for-rape-war-crimes-justice/

http://inavukic.com/2012/09/08/convicted-serb-rapists-from-vukovar-1991-flee-croatia/

http://inavukic.com/2013/05/03/croatia-stop-listening-to-serbia-listen-to-the-victims-of-her-aggression/

Croatia: One (Two) Serbs Too Many

From left: Milorad Pupovac and Savo Strbac   Photo: braniteljski-portal.hr

From left: Milorad Pupovac and Savo Strbac
Photo: braniteljski-portal.hr

Croatia’s Homeland Thanksgiving Day (Victory Day) is coming up on 5th August. It’ll be the 18th anniversary of the day the horrible war of Serb aggression ended; Military operation Storm had within a matter of days liberated the Croatian territory that was occupied by Serbs, ethnically cleansed of non-Serbs, thousands lost their lives… It’ll also be the 18th anniversary of Serb denial of their horrid aggression and crimes – their denial almost succeeded in its wicked plan to equate the aggressor with the victim had the ICTY Appeal tribunal not acquitted in November 2012 Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac (and indeed the Croatian leadership) of joint criminal enterprise against Serbs/i.e. forced deportation.

Regretfully, some loud Serbs from within and from outside Croatia still cannot face the guilt of Serb aggression. One of these is Savo Strbac – a Croatian Serb nationalist living in Serbia who even though heavily involved in the set-up and pursuit of Serb aggression in Croatia in early 1990’s “assisted” the ICTY prosecutor to formulate the failed indictment of joint criminal enterprise against Croatian generals. Even though Strbac had publicly stated many times that Serb leadership evacuated Serbs from Croatia – mind you he said that was because Croats would have committed genocide over the Serbs then had Serbs not been evacuated! – the ICTY prosecutor (Carla del Ponte) pressed on with trying to make it as if all those Serbs fled Croatia under the conditions of Croatian illegal or excessive shelling of its Serb-occupied territory (which was disproved by the court).

Here is a record of how Savo Strbac promoted Serb aggression in Croatia: He calls Croatian defence efforts an aggression; he says that Croats never wanted to live with Serbs in Croatia and YET when 94% Croatians voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia it was the 6% of Croatian Serbs (with the help of Serrb led Yugoslav Army) who rebelled and started the aggression, ethnic cleansing and murder because they wanted to live in Yugoslavia and not Croatia…

Dnevno.hr news portal reports that yesterday, 3 August, Strbac had announced in Banja Luka (!) that new evidence has come to light and that it is expected that the judgment, which acquitted Croatian generals of joint criminal enterprise in 2012, will be reviewed.  Banja Luka, to remind readers, was the second largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was ethnically cleansed of non-Serbs during the 1990’s Serb aggression and untold horrid crimes were committed by the Serb forces there; and now stands as administrative capital of Serbian Republic entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (And the world tolerates this!)

Strbac said that these new facts were not known to ICTY when the acquitting verdict was delivered against the Croatian Generals regarding Operation Storm. He refers to the remains of 110 recently  exhumed bodies around Sibenik and Zadar and concludes that these are the remains of Serbs killed during military operation Storm!

A renowned Croatian lawyer, Zvonimir Hodak, while commenting on Strbac’s latest outburst said that Strbac should go and seek medical treatment.  Then Hodak explained some things that are clear to everyone except Strbac:

Firstly, Sibenik and Zadar have no connection with the military actions in operation Storm, it’s known precisely over which territory the military operations were carried out. Savo Strbac could have dug out some remains near Krapina and said that these were the victims of operation Storm. Furthermore, Savo Strbac and his traitors from Croatia are saying that there were 971 civilians killed, but the Hague tribunal had identified and confirmed 44 killed civilians and that is the valid number that cannot be changed…the new evidence has nothing to do with the territory over which operation Storm occurred”.
Hodak says that this latest outburst by Savo Strbac is “shooting at sparrows with cannons and obvious disinformation of the public from which anger and despair arise”.

Another Croatian Serb Croatia could do without is Milorad Pupovac. One the Serb National Council website he states: “ … Serb national council also remembers destructive consequences of the war upon relationships between people and nations, upon social values and economy. The majority of Croatian citizens have not recovered from these in almost two decades. We condemn the continuance of political use of the war because the way it is interpreted and celebrated rejuvenates and prolongs the war atmosphere and war rhetoric, deepens the ethnic and social divides and stops the public to face itself with its dark side and its destructive consequences”.

Croatian Serb national Milorad Pupovac would like Croatia to:
•    Stop remembering its war dead
•    Stop remembering that it was attacked brutally when its 94% of voters opted to secede from communist Yugoslavia and build an independent democratic state;
•    Forget that it was the Croatian Serbs (aided by Serbia) who did not want to live in Croatia and therefore decided to steal its territory and cleanse it of non-Serbs;
•    Stop celebrating the victory of self-determination

Indeed, Strbac and Pupovac are two too many Serbs in Croatia; in the world. Their political rot is the reason why Croatia must never forget the price it paid for freedom and celebrate victory even more. No one must forget its victims in order to appease the criminal. And, one must take seriously Strbac’s words from the above video where he says that they (Serbs) needed to organise the exodus of Serbs from Croatia (in 1995) in order to preserve their people for a future that is yet to come – Greater Serbia at all costs. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia must not yield to Serbia’s intimidation

ICJ Trial Chamber 2008

Croatian online news portal Vjesnik reports Friday 27 April that Slobodan Homen from Serbia’s ministry of Justice gave a statement to Serbia’s Evening News in which he said:

We are very interested in achieving an agreement on relinquishing the cases for war crimes. Croatia has 1500 such cases against Serbs, and we only have 40 against Croatians. We are close to completing the final version of the text, and when elections are over, talks on withdrawing the lawsuit for genocide will commence”.

Talks on withdrawing reciprocal international lawsuits between Croatia and Serbia for genocide will commence as soon as elections are over in Serbia, said Homen, the secretary of Serbian ministry of justice.

The Serbian Evening News reported that Croatian and Serbian departments of Justice are currently conciliating the text of a bilateral agreement regarding relinquishment of war crimes lawsuits that are currently before the courts in Serbia and Croatia.

Homen said that initialing of such a document is the main prerequisite for agreement to end the reciprocal proceedings before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for genocide.

The main hearing for genocide in Croatia is expected to commence at the ICJ during the first half of 2013.

In July 1999 Croatia filed a case for genocide against Serbia. The genocide as it occurred during the Serb aggression in Croatia 1991 – 1995, Croatian War of Independence. In 2008 ICJ ruled it has jurisdiction to hear the case.

In 2010 Serbia filed a countersuit against Croatia. Croatia must file its additional reply to Serbia’s counter suit by 30 August 2012.

Serbia’s countersuit contains material on Serbian-Croatian relations with accent on World War II and the killing of Serbs in the Jasenovac camp during that war.

By extending the timeline addressed in this ICJ case to WWII Serbia seems to be looking at justifying or mitigating its main role in genocide in Croatia during 1991 – 1995. That is, telling the world: look what Croatians did to our people in 1941 – 1945!

How abhorrent!

If Serbia’s countersuit is anything to go by, then it is plainly clear that Serbia has no intentions of admitting any wrongdoing, any genocidal rampage against Croatia, ever.

Let’s hope that Croatia’s current government and the Opposition see this and that Croatia does not withdraw its genocide claim against Serbia in the ICJ. By withdrawing Croatia would give into Serbian intimidation when there is absolutely no reason for Croatia to feel guilty.

Today’s Croatia, Croatia of 1991 – 1995, cannot be answerable for events that occurred in 1941, if not for any other reason then for the fact that 1941 Croatia was not a united political entity, but split into three major opposing and antagonistic factions: pro-Fascist, pro-Communist and neutral. Serbia’s unrelenting ways of painting the whole of Croatian nation as being anti-Serb are abominable, and inherent in its countersuit at the ICJ.

This is one of the main reasons why Croatia must pursue with the genocide case against Serbia at the ICJ – to clear its name and do justice for the individual victims and to do justice to the nation of Croatia once and for all. Croatia must never forget that, as opposed to WWII events, the 1991-1995 years were about 94% of Croatian people voting to secede from communist Yugoslavia and Serbia employing genocidal aggression in order to try and stop Croatia from achieving independence. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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.
%d bloggers like this: