Hope Needs Your Help – Fundraising To Prevent Croatian Veteran Suicides

Croatian movie director and producer Jakov Sedlar has for several months now been on the trail of securing funds for the production of feature movie “2761” – a movie about Croatian Homeland War veteran suicides. It’s a tragic story that emerged from 2761 personal stories and the movie aims to influence prevention of suicides especially among those experiencing the personal dilemma whether to commit suicide or not, not to kill themselves. It’s a tragic story not only because of the number of veterans who have committed suicide but also because of 156 veteran wives and 52 children who have also taken their own lives. That is a dreadful story. On reflecting upon the plans for the movie Sedlar said on Croatian TV in March 2017:

I think we have a responsibility towards our country and towards our people to undertake certain things about which we must talk … if we won’t who else will talk about these things.

Jakov Sedlar
Croatian movie director and producer

Valentin Perkovic, a member of the leadership team of “Croatian Diasporan Voice” (Glas hrvatske diaspore), to which I myself proudly belong, has started a “Gofundme” online fundraising campaign with view to raise funds that would make up the shortfall needed to complete the movie project. I look forward to seeing as many as possible people, especially those of Croatian heritage, across the world joining this worthy cause with their donations.

The link to the fundraising page is:

https://www.gofundme.com/jakov-sedlars-2761

That’s the number of Croatian war veterans – branitelji – that have taken their own lives since the Homeland war. This tragedy has come about mainly due to the consequences of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A lot of them have felt marginalised in society very similar to the Vietnam War vets of the seventies.

Croatian movie director and producer Jakov Sedlar famous for brilliant films like “Gospa”, “Četverored” and documentaries on people like Croatia’s own football legend Joe Simunic.

We understand that one film cannot stop this completely but even if it stops one person from taking their own life it will be worth all the money and effort. This feature film will be made up of 45 of the best Croatian actors and filming will start in January 2018. The whole project comes at a cost of $900,000 and there is a shortfall of $190,000. The donators’ names will be shown in the credits at the end of the film. Please give what you can as every dollar counts.” Quotes from Gofundme fundraising page.

 

 

Amidst soaring concern about veteran suicide, lack of coordination, rising dissatisfaction and criticism about the inadequate government-backed and government organised supports for veterans suffering PTSD communities of veterans in Croatia and their supporters are self-organising, and Croatian Diasporan Voice as an organisation outside Croatia is a supporter as are numbers of others.

While helping a suicidal person can be a difficult process, remember that the assistance we all provide could save someone’s life. The movie “2761” is one of many ways of helping prevent suicide and this manner of help via donating funds towards the production of the movie is a role many of us can play.

Scientific research looking specifically at combat-related PTSD in Vietnam era Veterans suggests that the most significant predictor of both suicide attempts and preoccupation with suicide are combat-related emotions that creep into the mind and heart. Many Veterans experience highly intrusive thoughts and extreme emotions about acts seen committed during times of war. These thoughts can often overpower the emotional coping capacities of Veterans. The same applies to the veterans of Croatian Homeland War as its course and foundations have often been interpreted, especially by former communists in Croatia who did not want an independent Croatia, in the same ways as those of the Vietnam War; all the more reason for us to stand behind and support with donations the making of “2761” movie. Thank you – all! Ina Vukic

Zeljko Glasnovic – On Erasing Of Collective Memory Of Communist Crimes

CLICK PICTURE TO ENLARGE

Let them eat cake…or…chocolate

 

The background to this article is related to the unacceptable and utterly disappointing practices in the handling of complaints that arrive at the Office of the President of Croatia. It is to be noted that due process in Complaints handling by a public office is taken seriously in a developed democracy, not in Croatia it seems.
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Let them eat cake…or…chocolate
The President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic’s Marie Antoinette response to Croatian Diasporan Voice (Glas hrvatske dijaspore).

“Let them eat cake” probably the most famous quote attributed to Marie-Antoinette queen of France during the French Revolution, and as the story goes, it was the queen’s response upon being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread.

Because cake is more expensive than bread, the anecdote has been cited as an example of Marie-Antoinette’s obliviousness to the conditions and daily lives of ordinary people.

Eventually however, both Marie and husband Louis XVI of France found that the peasants had tired of the couple’s obliviousness towards them and accordingly Marie and Louis lost their heads to Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s new invention during a bloody revolution.

Yes, I know, I am confusing you all, bear with me it always comes out the other end proportionately shaped and monotone, even though it starts off as very colourful Galati cake, digest with me!

In December 2016 during the celebrations for the “Day of Defenders of Dubrovnik” Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic met with a group of children in Dubrovnik and gave them gift packages containing numerous goodies, however there was a problem, a sample of chocolate included in the packages was produced in Serbia and one parent took offense and forwarded a photo of the chocolate bar with attached signed photograph of the President to news outlets stating:

“I had to post this on social networks so that you could see what kind of country we live in. My child’s kindergarten went to see the President, and the children received from her hands a chocolate from Serbia. That is really sad – and it all happened on the Day of Defenders of Dubrovnik. Bravo!”

The chocolate bar named “Mony” which is produced by “Pionir” (a company based in Subotica in Serbia) became the focus of the President who decided that she should apologise for the “mistake” and accordingly announced an investigation into who was responsible for the monumental screw up.

The eventual explanation offered by the “Office of the President” was that they had purchased them from a Croatian company based in Vukovar, and luckily, they only contained “One disputed chocolate per package”. They went on to add that “The package was full of Croatian products, but as it happened, amongst three hundred products, several of them were questionable”.

I guess we should feel a lot better about that, don’t you think? Imagine visiting a Middle Eastern country and presenting a peer head of State with a gift package containing a copy of “Israel, the six-day war, and how they kicked Middle Eastern butts”?

(Ummmmmmmmmmmm, no I don’t think so, same same though)

Subsequently, the President herself also gave a statement to reporters about the case exclaiming her astonishment regarding the “mistake” and adding that she did not personally check the contents of the packages.

(Guess that puts her in the clear then.)

She went on to state “I am extremely disappointed because I personally support the Let’s Buy Croatian campaign. The packages contained products which were not produced in Croatia, but which can be bought on the Croatian market.

(Ok, good come back I guess, justify the mistake and all that.)

“The Croatian President must promote Croatian products, and this will not happen again. We will apologise to the parents who have received these chocolates and we will send them Croatian products”

(And so, you should! Well done……………… President material our Kolinda)

The owner of the Pionir company, Serbian businessman Miroljub Aleksic, advised that he did not understand what the problem was and that he himself sometimes gives away sweets made in Croatia.

(Because you don’t like made in Croatia goods and would rather give them away Miroljub?)

While Serbia’s Minister for Trade and Tourism, Mr Rasim Ljajic, stated that
“Serbian products were obviously not welcome in Croatia, the statement by the Croatian President is non-democratic and non-European”
and posing the question

“What kind of normalisation of relations in the region can we talk about if such a level of ethnic intolerance can be caused by a single chocolate just because it was produced in Serbia?”

(We didn’t like you commie Tractors either and thank God you took them with you when you left)

I could have coined this editorial “Choko-Linda” or “Kolinda Surprise” or even “That chocolate impacted my Kolinda!” but in the end “Let them eat cake, or chocolate” made more sense which I’m sure you will all appreciate as you read on.

The President was very sensitive to this error (Obviously her staff should have checked the contents that would constitute the gift packs, clearly not her) and hence the investigation and subsequent apology, all because of “1” parent complaining about “1” chocolate bar, however, it seems that when her staff stray from their responsibilities, different reactions are called for in response to different concerns conveyed to her by her constituents, and it seems depending if you are a citizen within Croatia’s borders, or one or many in the Diaspora, this also has an effect as to what level, or at what speed, concerns are addressed and dealt with, if at all.

This editorial is a follow-on from the one which was tabled regarding the letter which we as a group, and organisation (Croatian Diasporan Voice), sent to the President prior to her departure from Croatia for her State visit to Australia.

Our organisation’s president Darko Orec has gone into some detail regarding the contents, which were questioned and speculated over internationally (Appearing in Croatian portals) and which we as a group were attacked, criticised, and condemned over, so this editorial won’t be addressing the finer points of those letters.
What this editorial attempts to highlight is this:

“What level of importance do our homeland’s elected officials bestow upon their constituents in the Diaspora? and, what level of sensitivity do they apply to these concerns based on either their ongoing general commentary or actual response when one is raised?”

When we consider the first letter we sent (PDF) we were mindful of conveying a level of diplomacy and respect while also raising our concerns as concisely as we could, there was no disdain towards the President as many wrote blindly, and we wrote to her as a representative group, which we are in two respects. We are both as an internationally dispersed group of Patriots, and secondly an emerging lobby group who hold the concerns of the Diaspora and the Homeland as our immediate focus.

Those that attacked us and our rights to contact the President, should seriously review the level of success associated with having had their “Red Chips” removed, it seems they still prescribe to totalitarian ideals of the state and not the individuals rights to question or approach within a true Democratic environment.

The first letter was ignored, and concerns were raised as to the workings of the Government procedural protocols when it appeared again in Australia in the hands of our detractors as she was on route. We should keep in mind it was only ever sent to the President via a single email to her Presidential office.

Ok, so a chocolate bar on the scale of things outweighs a Croatian Diasporan Voice letter?

After the President’s departure, a second letter (PDF) was issued (this time raising our concerns regarding what I have just described above) and suggesting that because of the previous circumstances of no response, we felt it may never have reached her and she might wish to investigate as a matter of internal protocol, the reason for this (Similar to “Which one of you put the Mony chocolate bars in the show bags?)

If we received no response we would assume the worst and make both letters public for all the reasons we raised concerns over as I have mentioned throughout.
Yes, we received a response (PDF), “Ohhhhh Joy” but neither was it signed by the President, nor did it address a single issue we raised in either the first or subsequent second letter, therefore, we can only assume one of two things.

#1 She once again, didn’t receive it but someone panicked, loaned a sheet of Presidential letter head and the Presidential seal and responded on her behalf or

#2 As per the letters post-card like theme throughout of “It was a wonderful trip, met many interesting people, saw many interesting places, I love you all” would suggest, it was a case of Marie Antionette syndrome and quietly whispering between the lines in here response “Have a slice of cake……or…… chocolate”

The Presidential theme for this state visit to her constituents was one of building bridges, dialogue, welcoming us to return (either us and our bank accounts or preferably the latter I would think) and wanting to hear our concerns.

“We tried Madam President, we honestly did, and the bad news is, we are going to try a lot harder, we promise”

As I mentioned at the start, both Marie and husband Louis XVI of France found that the peasants had tired of the couple’s obliviousness towards them and accordingly Marie and Louis lost their heads to Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s new invention during the French Revolution.

And the coined phrase “Let them eat cake” be it true or invented nevertheless concisely described the attitude of those times and in particular Marie’s attitude towards her own people.

Be it a chocolate bar, a letter from a bunch of nobodies in the Diaspora, the term “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) a Plaque to commemorate our troops that gave their lives to make the role of President of a Democratic Croatia a reality, these are all concerns belonging to the many and all should deserve equal consideration dignity and respect.

Perhaps next time, we should send a chocolate bar, or maybe even a chocolate cake?

By John Davor Ovcaric

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