Croatia – Freedom’s Triumph Yet To Rise!

Croatia’s Homeland War Memorial Cemetery in Vukovar
Photo: Damir Plavsic

This weekend of 5th August 2018, like the same date days of past 23 years – as Croatia commemorates the 23rd Anniversary of military operation Storm, Victory Day, War Veterans’ Day and Homeland Gratitude Day – is sure to ruffle up many media pro-Serbian and pro-communist Yugoslavia feathers, dredging up persistently false Serb claims that 200,000 Serbs were forcefully deported from Croatia immediately after the successful military operation Storm, which liberated a large portion of Croatia from Serb occupation (self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Krajina). The truth is that the leadership of the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Krajina had on 4th August 1995, as Croatian Operation Storm began, officially issued an evacuation order to Serbs in Croatia! Their own guilty conscience was behind it all, no doubt about that.

During this skilful military operation, Storm, protective of all civilian life including Serb, the Serb-occupied Croatian territory was brought back into the Croatian legal order, except for Eastern Slavonija, which was peacefully re-integrated later, in 1998. ‘Operacija Oluja’ (Storm) and ‘Operacija Bljesak’ (Flash), which was carried out in May 1995, were the critical military operations leading to the end of the bloody and brutal war of Serb aggression against Croatia.

Depending on the political spectrum people are in, the Official celebration of this Croatian national holiday, which happens every year in the Dalmatian hinterland town of Knin (the main site of events that occurred during ‘Operation Storm’) provokes passionate reactions from and has various meanings for different people, while Serbia mounts at the same time a day of mourning! The official memory of this military operation refers, as it should, primarily to the victory of the Croatian Army and its success in bringing back the occupied territories under Croatian rule. The narrative adopted by Serbs for their day of mourning rests upon false claims that Serbs were evicted from Croatia! Not even the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia finding (2012 in the case of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac) that there was no forceful deportation of Serbs from Croatia at the time has made any difference to this preposterous, scandalous claim.

Serbs order their own evacuation from Croatia, 4 August 1995

On Wednesday 1 August 2018 Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic said to media that “unlike the hysteria that occurs in Croatia during the anniversary of Operation Storm, Serbs will mark our sorrow and tragedy and the calamity of our people in dignity…” Notwithstanding regretful cases of true civilian casualties in war (and in Srebian aggression against Croatia not all Serb civilians were true civilians, for it was the local civilians that often engaged in the killing, in the persecution and torture of Croat neighbours even before military aggression started), what kind of “dignity” can be attached to attempts to murder a nation, aggression, ethnic cleansing, rape, plunder…is only known to Serbs it seems. Those that support their deranged logic and narrative certainly, to my knowledge, have never questioned this!

In Croatia, commemorative culture regarding the 1990’s Homeland War has proved to be a platform for politicians to continue nation-building narratives and strengthen national identity. The associated and real sacrifice, real suffering, the real struggles against the mighty military of former Yugoslavia coupled with rebel Serb civilians who eventually formed military might of their own in order to stop Croatia seceding from communist Yugoslavia make Operation Storm all the more heroic for the independence of Croatia.

However, the former communist destructive forces, the so-called antifascists, persist as main barriers to and killjoys of true independence, which, if given a thorough chance, should have by now lustrated active communist heritage out of Croatian democracy. Hence, in Croatia, there also exist oppositional counter-narratives that challenge the truth narrative and are expressed through counter-commemorations and aggression-denial memorialisation organised by Serbia and the local Serb population in Croatia, and supported by a number of pro-communist Yugoslavia Croats! This year a youth association who pursued the line that Croatia should apologise for its Operation Storm mounted one of such deranged initiatives. In other words, the misguided, but politically maliciously wired youth thinks that one should apologise for defending ones home and life from peril and brutal onslaught! Regretfully, the need to preserve own life and pursue freedom from communist oppression that forced Croatia to defend itself seems to have been forgotten by such sections with the Croatian society.

Croatians have nothing to apologise for when it comes to Operation Storm and every other military operation carried out in defence of the country! And on celebrating the liberation from local Serb separatists and their brutal allies from Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia, one can with objective confidence say that Serbs are bitter and sorry that Operation Storm was a success, and for the failure of their plans for ‘Greater Serbia’.

Looking back at least since year 2000, when the former communists won government in Croatia, annual commemoration of Operation Storm victory have consistently been contaminated with implants of alleged war crimes by Croats during and after the military operation, with attempts and confabulations to criminalise Croatia’s Homeland War, with the agenda to equate the aggressor with the victim! During the period of Ivica Racan’s coalition government, from 2000 until 2003 (with Stjepan Mesic as the country’s president), the prime minister and most ministers avoided Knin commemorations, from fear of pro-West (democracy) policies gaining increasingly firmer ground in the development of Croatia as a free nation; free from communist Yugoslavia. Their main weapon, it would seem, was the fact that “antifascism” was, undeservingly, built into the Croatian Constitution as one of the foundations of the modern Croatian state, ignoring the Homeland War (the War of Independence) as its true and greatest foundation. The “antifascism” weaved into the Constitution was and is, in fact, the murderous and oppressive communism of Yugoslavia, not the antifascism the West has known in its midst! In 2004, the new HDZ government set the precedent that all of the top Croatian politicians (president, prime minister, and speaker of the parliament) should attend the commemoration in Knin, emphasising the importance of this date and place in the national consciousness. Even though the HDZ under Ivo Sanader had taken notable steps at reaching out to Croatian Serbs, including coalitions with the Independent Democratic Serbian Party (SDSS – Samostalna demokratska srpska stranka), the victorious tone of the Victory Day commemorations invariably antagonised the country’s ethnic Serbs. By 2005 commemorations, it was clear that the pursuits to criminalise Croatia’s Homeland War via sending Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac to ICTY had indeed, in eyes of many, albeit unjustified, diminished the value of Operation Storm victory and several contested versions of that past had gained prominence as did antagonism within the Croatian society itself; part of which society are Serbs in whose interest it is to downplay the Serb aggression against Croats. The scenario continues to today, in one way or another someone somewhere attempts to inject the glorious and well-deserved victory of the Croatian military forces with poison – for political gain, undoubtedly!

In all that rather long while more than 1,700 mass graves of Croatian victims of communist WWII and post-WWI crimes in Croatia have been uncovered. The antagonism created around Operation Storm and Croatian Homeland War in general has helped and continues to aid the agenda that opposes prosecution, condemnation of communist crimes. If because of nothing else then because of that communist agenda the commemorations of Croatia’s 1990’s Homeland War need to escalate in their brilliance and shine – this freedom’s triumph must be complete. The completeness of freedom lies in determined pursuits to deliver justice to victims of communist Yugoslavia crimes.

New communist crimes mass grave site in Zagreb – July/August 2018

On Wednesday 1 August 2018 more mass graves of victims of communist crimes were unearthed, this time right in the middle of Zagreb, Savska Street! The human remains of at least 25 victims of criminal communist purges were found in two mass graves and one individual grave, located in a park in the Zagreb neighbourhood of Vrbik. Initial screening of the ground, using specially-trained dogs and geo radars, began after officials received information from the public that victims from World War II or the post-war period could be found there. Due to the large size of the area, the complexity and volume of work needed several phases of the investigation are planned.

This repeated horrific finding hasn’t been reported much in the mainstream media that seeks to cover-up or justify communist crimes. This latest mass grave finding occurred at the same time when former communists and Serbs are busy throwing vitriol at Operation Storm, still doing their corrupt utmost to deny the Croatian nation a deserved basking in the glory of Homeland War victory.

Croatia, indeed, must re-examine the nature of its commitment to freedom achieved with Homeland War. It must conclude that commitment to the freedom is, in fact, the strengthening of its national conscience and morality. In the context of Croatia’s peoples overwhelming resolve in 1990 to secede from communist Yugoslavia it is utterly immoral to protect any part of that Yugoslavia and especially its crimes against humanity.

Deliberate murder of innocent people and the oppression were wrong and remain wrong. Croatia must refuse to ignore or in any way appease the Serb aggression and the brutality of evil men and former communist regime. It must escalate condemnation and prosecution of communist crimes. It must clear these dark remnants of history that stifle freedom and progress.

To that end, happy Victory Day – Croatia! Ina Vukic.

Cruel Irony Afflicts Unveiling Of Monument To Croatian Freedom Fighter

Defending “For Home Ready” greeting
Zagreb, Croatia, 11 November 2017
Photo: Screenshot

It is a cruel insult and cruel irony that on Armistice Day, 11th November, when World War I allies mark with respect and piety those who gave their lives for freedom and their emblems, police authorities in Zagreb, Croatia, go about disrupting remembrance gathering organised for the unveiling of the monument to the legendary Zarko Manjkas – Crvenkapa, who lost his life defending Vukovar and freedom for Croatia in November 1991, and attempt to seize the HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) flag under which Crvenkapa fought and died. The monument itself does not have the HOS emblem under which Crvenkapa lost his life fighting, which is a sad and utterly unjust consequence of current push in Croatia to declare the “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) illegal. The HOS emblem itself and the flag carrying it are protected under the Croatian law. On it, the salute “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) is written and the process to render this salute illegal is already in train as the left-leaning lot carrying political and power clout wrongfully place its origins in WWII fight for Croatian independence.

Just imagine a Britain, or any Allied country, today where the salute and greeting “For Home and Country”, or similar WWI or WWII salutes across the Allied world, were threatened with bastardisation and extinction! The protests would be as fierce as defending freedom from aggression were.

It was such an uplifting feeling to watch Croatia’s brave young, many of whom are children or grandchildren of those who gave their lives for Croatia’s independence, fiercely and determinately hold their stead, refusing to budge to the police pressure to remove the HOS with “Za Dom Spremni” salute from sight at the unveiling of monument to Crvenkapa.

The words exchanged between a young lady holding the HOS flag, other young people there, and police as recorded on the video taken in Zagreb on Saturday 11 November at the unveiling of monument to the fallen HOS fighter for freedom are as follows:

Young man: “It’s a mistake for the man who got killed for Croatia as member of HOS … everyone here is bothered by the fact that the monument is missing the HOS emblem, because he died for that, in that unit.”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “Why we are here? To give honour to our killed Crvenkapa, keeping in mind that we are very saddened by the fact that there is no HOS emblem on the monument nor ‘For Home Ready’ sign that he proudly carried and under which insignia he was killed … What impression will the future generations have looking at this monument…that Croats respect their patriots, their defenders who gave their lives for Croatia …for the freedom of Croatia.”

Policeman: “Close the flag … you have breached the law”

Police try to remove legal Croatian army banner
Photo: Screenshot

Young lady holding HOS flag: “We have breached no law, this is a legal Croatian army flag…Manjkas died under this emblem on his cap and you did not put it on the monument … who is bothered by the emblem I don’t know…you cannot move a flag at the opening of a park dedicated to a HOS fighter …”

Jounalist to the young lady holding the HOS flag: “What do you say about being chased out from here?”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “What’s there to say! Do we live in a free a free Croatia, or is this still Yugoslavia? Do Chetniks (Serbs) rule over Croatia or, perhaps, Croats …let’s take authority into our own hands and free ourselves from the pests …” – “No, not a chance, no…this flag is legal Croatian army flag that created our State,” she replies as another policeman’s insistence that she takes the HOS flag down.

Second policeman: “Please, everything is alright, the flag is O.K., move the banner…”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “Why, why should the banner be taken down. We are trying to show a big mistake, a big injustice …”

Second young man: “This is persecution of Croatian defenders … this is not right… my father was in the 204th Vukovar brigade, he fought together with HOS, HOS carried its own insignia ‘Za Dom Spremni’ and HSP (Croatian Party of Rights) was written there …”

Policeman: “Move the banner! …” ( The banner had writing on it: “Who is bothered by the ‘For Home Ready’ greeting on Crvenkapa’s monument?”

Third policeman: “Young lady, let’s have a talk, come with me…come here…” Young lady holding HOS flag: “But why!? … OK…”

Journalist: “Why are you forbidding them…” he asks the policeman

Third policeman: “We are not forbidding anything …” he says as he lead the young lady holding the HOS flag to the side.

Zarko Manjkas Crvenkapa Monument
Zagreb, Croatia
Photo: afp

The police, despite trying very hard, did not manage to intimidate these young people insisting on showing the flag and banner under which members of HOS fought and died for independent Croatia. So proud! Make no mistake here – Croatian authorities and their pervasive communist mindset are attempting to kill the love for independent Croatia that carried its defenders into the bloody battles of Serb aggression during early 1990s. No different to oppression that was in communist Yugoslavia. How else could one interpret the intimidating police surges against the holding up of a legal banner!? Ina Vukic

Croatia: Project Velebit Joins Battle To Drive Out Ghost Of Communism From Constitution

projekt-velebit

 

For the survival and well being of a nation it is essential that all and each generation understand the meaning of the nation’s Constitution. As Aristotle wrote long ago: “It is useless to have the most beneficial laws, fully agreed upon by all who are members of the constitution, if they are not going to be trained and have their habits formed in the spirit of that constitution.” (Aristotle, The Politics (New York: Penguin, 1986), 331; 1310a12).

 

Troubles persist, though, when facets of a nation’s Constitution collide against each other and are, due to their inherent nature, irreconcilable on the fundamental grounds of the Constitution’s own existence. This creates a multi-faceted quagmire within which the abandoned old values (in this case communist values) interfere with the establishment of new ones (freedom and democracy). Old communist values in the case of Croatia seriously interfere with the democratic ones, which should be tagged as the only and the essential values for the survival of the modern independent Croatia.

 

General Zeljko Glasnovic, MP Photo: Marko Prpic/Pixsell

General Zeljko Glasnovic, MP
Photo: Marko Prpic/Pixsell

This brings to mind a most pertinent issue, which has been brought to the public’s attention by the currently most active politician on the issue with a seat in Parliament, the independent Member, General Zeljko Glasnovic, and an impressive set of leading scholars, politicians, political analysts, constitutional experts, and people of all walks of life in Croatia (e.g. Zdravko Tomac, Admiral Davor Domazet Loso, Milan Kujundzic, Tomislav Karamarko, Branimir Luksic, to name but a handful) at one time or another in recent couple of years or so.

The issue is that a ghost of communism, in effect, resides within the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, suffocating progress to full democracy by keeping alive destructive communist mentality, habits and practices brought over from communist Yugoslavia. The latter – evidently and in general terms condoned as permissible simply because an element of the former Yugoslav communist regime is embedded in the Constitution as a valid historical pursuit to Croatian independence when in fact that Yugoslav communist regime never pursued the establishment of a completely independent state of Croatia.

 

 

At the time of the creation of its constitution Croatia was still charged and overloaded with communism and the passage of transition out of that oppressive scourge was doomed to contamination with it – the ghost of communism was inserted into the Croatian Constitution adopted in December 1990, months before, in an almost ambush-like manner, came the Serb/Yugoslav-led bloody, brutal and genocidal aggression that sought to obliterate even the very idea of independence and freedom from Croatian life.

 

That ghost of communism within the Constitution sits under the Constitution’s “Historical foundations” (for independence). “The millennial national identity of the Croatian nation and the continuity of its statehood, confirmed by the course of its entire historical experience in various political forms and by the perpetuation and growth of state-building ideas based on the historical right to full sovereignty of the Croatian nation, manifested itself:…“- in laying the foundations of state sovereignty during World War Two, through decisions of the Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia (1943), to oppose the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia (1941), and subsequently in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Croatia (1947), and several subsequent constitutions of the Socialist Republic of Croatia (1963-1990), on the threshold of the historical changes, marked by the collapse of the communist system and changes in the European international order, the Croatian nation by its freely expressed will at the first democratic elections (1990) reaffirmed its millennial statehood.”

project-velebit

The absolute fact remains that Croatian independence and all its voices and propagators were quashed, many  assassinated, multitudes murdered, exiled, imprisoned, tortured…by the Yugoslav communist regime after WWII. No independence of Croatia as a state there. Operatives of the communist regime evidently got to contribute to the writing of the current Croatian Constitution, dressing-up the controlled and oppressed Socialist State of Croatia within the Yugoslav federation as independence. One could say that this blasphemy about independence could have survived, had the war of aggression against Croatia, because of its pursuits towards independence, not ensued from 1991. But the war did ensue and Croatia earned its independence at terrible costs to human lives because of it.

 

The War of Independence/Homeland War is the true foundation of independent Croatia and as such it must be reflected and embedded in the Constitution without being constantly undermined by the ghost of communism residing in there. While in recent years the War of Independence/Homeland War did finally make it into the Constitution as one of its historical foundations, its importance is significantly diminished within the constellation of historic foundations that include the false allocation of independence of Croatian state under the communist Yugoslavia federation.

 

The new Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (1990) and the victory of the Croatian nation and Croatia’s defenders in the just, legitimate and defensive war of liberation, the Homeland War (1991-1995), wherein the Croatian nation demonstrated its resolve and readiness to establish and preserve the Republic of Croatia as an independent and autonomous, sovereign and democratic state,” is the wording in the Constitution subsequently added to include the value of the Homeland War to independence.

 

The battle to decommunise Croatia continues and a significant battleground rests within the Constitution itself. It is imperative for the achievement of what Croatian independence intended to achieve in the first place – get away from communism/totalitarian regime as far as possible – to up the ante on getting the Constitution right.

 

Marko JUric Project Velebit Photo: Screenshot

Marko Juric
Project Velebit
Photo: Screenshot

And this is where the newly established organisation “Project Velebit”, with its centre in Zagreb, could successfully contribute. Certainly, its acumen expressed through its wide and current and relevant range of principles does point to clarity and determination in advocating for the complete ban on everything pertaining to Yugoslavianism, including seeking revision of the Constitution along the lines written about above, and the implementation of lustration.

 

Project Velebit is a civil organisation recently founded by a number of Croatian patriots “who consider themselves members of the Croatian national being, regardless of where they at this point in time may be living, regardless of their current social, political, religious, age or gender status, who as interested in the promotion of sincere humanistic, national and civilised attainments and needs of the Croatian people and all Croatian citizens, with the aim of promoting the national, the cultural, the ideological and the economic safety and freedom.”

 

Project Velebit as civil organisation could well compliment the work of politicians and members of parliament whose agenda has been and still follows pursuits to decommunise Croatia. Plucking communism and all its relevant aspects out of daily lives is absolutely essential if true independence as intended in 1990 is to be had.

 

On 9 November 2016, Marko Juric, a journalist, publicist and active member of the Project Velebit group, presented Project Velebit in Zagreb at the “Media aggression and political culture in Croatia” forum:

Marko Franovic Photo: Project Velebit

Marko Franovic
Photo: Project Velebit

Many ask us what is ‘Project Velebit’. It is a consequence of this situation that’s occurring, the paralysis of the system in answering to a series of absurd situations,” Juric said. “About maybe a year ago a group of people got together here in Croatia. They concluded that all that paralysis, all the enormous frustrations arising in people, an endless string of different stories of injustice and hardships happening in Croatia, have in reality exceeded all the limits to the end. There is no sense in talking any more… A group of people from outside Croatia (one being Mr Marko Franovic from Australia) linked itself to us and we decided to join forces and change some things. I would describe Project Velebit with one word and that is – action… To move from words to actions, within the framework of the possible and, believe me, there are a great number of things possible, we just need to start…If we make the first move we can do a great deal…” According to Juric Project Velebit wants to start a revolution, an intellectual one for now. In the circumstance where much is not functioning in the country, where communists or former communists still hold key decision-making and power, if threats to Croatian independence are not dealt with in reasonable time and adequate manner then, Juric said: “we retain the natural right of all people including the Croatian people to organise ourselves…and we have already organised ourselves into this group.”

While civil groups and organisations are not a new concept as they often arise in reaction to things gone wrong from governments as perceived in society or things needed and not being attended to by the governments, Project Velebit, however, is quite unique in Croatia as its main concern is to see former Yugoslav communism finally driven out of Croatia rather than to mollycoddle communist structures still existing as many civil organisations have been doing in Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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