Croatia: government’s deafening silence for victims of totalitarian regimes

August 23rd was/is the European Day for the Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes (Nazi, Communist and Fascist regimes alike).

The silence from the Croatian government and Croatian president (all of whom are from the former Yugoslav communists breed) on that day was so painfully deafening that it took me days to recover.

No official State ceremonies occurred and president Ivo Josipovic might think he has done a great job in diverting media attention from victims of communist regime by keeping the flame alit on his public row with the president of the Independent Democratic Serb Party/SDSS in Croatia Milorad Pupovac. While a small number of representatives of some Croatian Serbian organisations have visited Josipovic during the past few days, theatrically patting him on the shoulder “for standing up against Pupovac” it is more than obvious that such a scenario has been staged in an effort to give Josipovic’s latest antics on integration of Croatian Serbs into Croatian citizenship some label of credibility.

I mean, where was Josipovic before this week on the issue? Why did he not invite the other Croatian Serb leaders to his office before?

So the Croatian Serb position, the mud-slinging match between Josipovic and Pupovac, maintained its annoying impetus with a deluge during the day when pivotal attention to victims of Communist, Nazi and Fascist crimes should have been the primary outpour from the government and from the office of the president.

But then, like Josipovic, Pupovac comes from staunch communist echelons of former Yugoslavia and neither cared much for taking pause and bowing to all victims of totalitarian regimes.

One cannot but conclude that were they able to pay tribute to victims of just the Fascist and Nazi regimes, without the need to pay tribute to victims of the Communist regime, then Croatia would have seen a good share of official ceremonies and “fanfare”.

Josipovic posted a press release, or should I say cold lip-service, on his presidential website:

“…In the 20th Century, Europe had, unfortunately, been the cradle for some of these totalitarian ideologies: Nazism, Fascism and Communism, especially in its Stalinist form… From the beginning of my mandate I advocate for the politics of full and unreserved respect for all victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, regardless of the circumstance under which someone had become an innocent victim of extremism. Every victim deserves full dignity, and the families of the victims deserve our care and help. The victims of past wars, the Holocaust, of extremism against minorities, the victimisation during post-war period, the victimisation during the Homeland war, as well as other victims of intolerance and aggression remain a permanent reminder that we must always and incessantly work towards preserving peace and democracy, as well as in stopping aggression and totalitarian tendencies. Let there be eternal glory for innocent victims, whom we shall remember always.

Needless to say, the government of Croatia led by Social Democrat Zoran Milanovic has completely ignored the European Day for the Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes and had not even bothered to publish a single word on the matter.

The Croatian Parliament had in April 2012, when it voted to remove government sponsorship over the commemoration of Bleiburg victims, carried the motion to more actively mark the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes. But they’ve done absolutely nothing in organising events that would pay tribute to the innocent victims of all the the totalitarian regimes Croatia had suffered.

In these circumstances,” says journalist Vjekoslav Krsnik of , “commemorating today’s day (23 August) has fallen upon opposition political parties … as well as upon various citizens’ organisations which, of course, means that indeed the conscience about the need to commemorate this European Day of Remembrance exists in Croatia. However, until that becomes a part of national politics at official levels, when it comes to the question of communist crimes, given that the other (crimes) have already been well marked, (communist crimes) will continue to be the black spot of Europe, especially with this neo-Communist lot in government.”

Given that victims of Fascist and Nazi crimes have, justly, been remembered with dignity victims deserve it is sadly still on us, as human beings or ordinary citizens, not to forget the victims of Communist crimes. If governments of the day ignore omit organising official commemorations to all victims of all totalitarian regimes then such governments have absolutely no place in the 21st Century of the world which calls itself democratic and free.

While several places in Croatia held August 23 commemorations in respect of the European Day for the Remembrance of Victims of Totalitarian Regimes (without the presence of government’s representatives), the laying of wreaths on the island of Daksa (near Dubrovnik) as tribute to victims of communist crimes serves as a reminder of the cruel ways communist Partisans murdered those who were not for communist Yugoslavia but for independent Croatia. The priest, Don Petar Perica was among dozens of innocent Croatians murdered or dumped alive from Daksa’s high cliffs into their death by Communist Partisans. Don Perica’s worst “crime” as far as the communists were concerned was the fact that he wrote the Church Hymn “Heavenly Virgin, the Queen of Croats”.

Video: Tudor Singers Choir from Cardiff, Wales, singing “Heavenly Virgin, the queen of Croats” at St Eusebius and Pollio church in Vinkovci, Croatia, 19 July 2008

Translation of the lyrics: Hello, Virgin, full of all graces, the shine of eternal sun drapes you. A starry crown around your forehead, under your feet moans the dragon of hell. Heavenly Virgin, the queen of Croats, our Mother, our sunrise of gold, receive the gift of your devoted hearts, receive the pure flame of love of our hearts. Blessed are you, because you’re all pure, the breath of the snake does not surround your chest! The star of joy may shine upon us too, nights of sin darkness will disperse! Heavenly Virgin, the queen of Croats, our Mother, our sunrise of gold, receive the gift of your devoted hearts, receive the pure flame of love of our hearts.  

Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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