18 November – Croats Mourn Deeply

Vukovar 18 Nov 2014 six

As I write this post, I watch live streaming Croatian HRT TV coverage from Vukovar – Heroic City, City of Special Piety, City that was on 18 November 1991, after three months of siege under brutal Serb destruction, mass murders, rapes, imprisonments in concentration camps, ethnic cleansing of all non-Serb population, levelled to the ground. As I write this I also think of the village of Skabrnje, which also on the same day suffered massacre and mass murder by the Serb aggressor.

Today is the 23rd anniversary of these horrible war crimes for which no one has as yet been convicted! The grief becomes deeper and deeper. Little if any sight of relief that justice can bring, if it came.

As I watch this commemoration in Vukovar on the TV I notice a Tweet by Martin Schulz, EU Parliament President in which he tweets to the world that Vukovar devastation happened in the name of “ethnic hatred”! Shock and horror overwhelms me, for this is wrong. Ethnic hatred with which Serbs entered Vukovar in 1991 was ushered into Croatia with a song they sang loudly in Vukovar’s streets: “Slobo (Slobodan Milosevic), Slobo, send us some salad, there will be meat, we’ll slaughter the Croats”! Ethnic hatred was a tool to use in Serbia’s attempt to grab one third of Croatian territory – so the devastation was not in the name of ethnic hatred but in the name of land grabbing, of denying democracy to a nation (Croatia) that wanted out of communist Yugoslavia. Now that Croatia is a part of EU I trust there will be a Croatian MP who will educate the European Parliament about the war in Croatia in 1990’s! I’ve replied to Mr Schulz’s tweet – of course I did, I cherish the memory of the many thousands of fallen innocents and all other victims of this terrible time in Croatia’s history.

 

Tweet on Vukovar
Croats mourned today in Vukovar, over 100,000 came, and in Skabrnja and, indeed, there is not a single city, town or village that has not lit candles in its streets and squares in commemoration of the victims.

Following are screenshots (hrt.hr) of the procession through Vukovar today that ended at the War Memorial Cemetery and walked and prayed in silence and dignity.

Vukovar, 18.11.2014 - Obiljezavanje Dana sjecanja na zrtvu Vukovara 1991.

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Forgive - never forget!

Forgive – never forget!

Never forget and never forgive until the last criminal repents, is made to take responsibility for his/her crimes. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Radovan Karadzic Genocide Against Croats And Bosniaks ICTY Trial At Its End

Radovan Karadzic - Photo: AP

Radovan Karadzic – Photo: AP

 

On Monday 29 September 2014 the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague heard the Prosecution’s final arguments in the genocide and war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, charged with some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II, including the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. Initially indicted on 25 July 1995, Karadzic, 69, is facing 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Bosnian Croats between 1992 and 1995 during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced 2.2 million people. Karadzic evaded arrest for many years to be finally found living in Serbia in July 2008, under an assumed name, reportedly practicing as a faith healer. He was arrested on a Belgrade bus and taken to The Hague; his ICTY war crimes trial commenced in October 2009.

Prosecutor says Karadzic along with late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic acted together to “cleanse” Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territories after the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.
Under his command and oversight, Karadzic’s subordinates and those cooperating with them expelled, killed, tortured and otherwise mistreated hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats,” said the prosecutor’s final trial brief (PDF click here), released on Friday 26 September.
The scale and scope of these criminal campaigns is vast,” the brief says.
Karadzic is notably accused of masterminding the July 1995 massacre in the small eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops slaughtered almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys and dumped their bodies into mass graves.
Apart from genocide, Karadzic is also facing charges over the 44-month-long siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which ended in November 1995 with some 10,000 people killed.
During the siege, “fear pervaded daily life — the most mundane acts such as crossing the street or fetching water carried the risk of death,” the prosecutor said.

In their final statements the prosecution stated on Monday that Karadzic was the driving force of genocide against Croats and Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina; that he was responsible, among other war crimes acts, for the killing of 7 to 8 000 men and boys in Srebrenica, and for the shelling of Sarajevo. The prosecution seeks lifelong prison sentence.

The ICTY prosecution has no doubts: Radovan Karadzic is a “Mafia-gangster” and a liar who implemented genocide and ethnic cleansing. After hundreds of witnesses, 8 000 pages of court transcript and 10000 items of evidence the prosecution minced no words, hid no emotion, at the Hague on Monday.

Let me give you the sad picture”, said prosecutor Alan Tieger, “the population was systematically harassed, thousands were taken forcefully from their homes, mutilated and killed, the whole ethnic minorities tens of thousands of people were forcefully deported, hundreds of thousands suffered months long sieges in Bihac, Derventa, Gorazda and Sarajevo. Many ended up in camps in inhumane conditions where hundreds were killed…”

Tieger said Karadzic publicly “bragged at the time about the painstaking steps he was taking” to violently remove non-Serbs from parts of Bosnia to create an “ethnically pure” Serb state within Bosnia.

The court saw many examples of brutality, depravity and sheer criminal activity as evidence  – evidence that showed prisoners in these camps were forced to eat parts of each other’s bodies, women were forced to clean up blood during the day and were raped at night, to thousands of boys and men murdered in Srebrenica. All that and more was done within the joint criminal enterprise that had as its goal a forceful creation of an ethnically clean Serbian state.

Karadzic is expected to close his own defence today (Wednesday) and Thursday of this week. According to legal advisor Peter Robinson, Deutsche Welle reports, “He will demonstrate that he played no part in genocide or the murder of Muslims,” Robinson told the British Broadcasting Corporation, calling the opportunity for Karadzic, who is defending himself, a “milestone.”
At his opening statement in March 2010, Karadzic told judges that the atrocities for which he was being held had been “staged” by his Muslim enemies – and that the Srebrenica massacre was a “myth.” Do not expect remorse or admission from a born and bred criminal.
The verdict is not expected before mid to late 2015. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Goodbye Violeta-Vicky, The Heroine Of Freedom

Tribute to Violeta Antolic - Vicky Original photo collation by Goran D.

Tribute to Violeta Antolic – Vicky
Original photo collation by Goran D.

 

She was barely 21 years old when she left her three-year-old son in the care of others at the bomb shelter in Vukovar, took a rifle into her hands and went shoulder to shoulder to the front-line with her male veterans, the heroes of Croatia’s Homeland War, to defend the city from Serb aggression, beastly destruction of anyone non-Serb, of their homes, infrastructure, community and religious buildings…Violeta Antolic – Vicky defended Vukovar’s Sajmiste to the last minute, until ethnically cleansed and devastated Vukovar fell into Serb occupation (November 1991), only to end up in a Serb concentration camp – as a courageous defender she was the only woman in HOS (1991 Croatian Defence Forces arm of Croatian Party of Rights made up of volunteers from Croatia and abroad) fighting the enemy on equally strong and determined love for freedom as her male veterans. She endured all the imaginable and unimaginable horrors of war; she was a heroine the kind of which one rarely sees in battlefields only to die in a fatal car crash in Zagreb, in her free Croatia, on Tuesday 29 July 2014.
The first line of defence was at Sajmiste, the place where I grew up and where I lived. When I arrived (to HOS local headquarters) I said that I did not want to be someone who is entrusted for First Aid, that I did not want to be nurse or a cook,” said Violeta in an interview two months ago for Oluja (Storm) magazine.
Here is some more of Violeta’s story of courage, suffering and determination for freedom:
When they started shooting at our home from the barracks, we had to run into our neighbour’s cellar. The army started to come out of the barracks and we were not aware of this. They also started to shoot at my son, whom I was carrying in my arms. As we broke through to Olajnica my three-year-old son screamed and cried: mama, mama. The shelter was full of men and women.

 

I felt safer but everything in me burned with rage.

 

I thought: they shot at my son – I’ll strike back.

 

In a coincidence, the boys from HOS formation were passing by. I asked if they had a gun for me, because I had no money to buy one. They gave me a Kalashnikov. Street battles ensued that night. They captured one of ours. Sajmiste echoed from his screams. I froze then, but I decided to remain at Sajmiste. We found clean clothes in houses and brought water from the well. That’s how we kept ourselves clean. A sniper fatally hit our first commander Vladimir Derek-Sokol at that spot. We did not go out for water any more. Things were getting worse and worse. When Vukovar “fell” we withdrew from the front lines.

 

The stench of death was in the air; the city had collapsed under the final defence.

 

The Serb paramilitary and local Serbs took the few people that remained to Velepromet. After that I dressed in civilian clothes and went to get my son, and with my child was taken to Velepromet. They separated us into male and female columns. They pulled out my stepfather and beat him.

 

They separated me from my son; I thought I would go mad. I pleaded with them to return him to me.

 

They laughed and giggled at me saying that they would take him to Belgrade and place him in an orphanage. Luckily a friend of mine took my son. Soon after four men came and took me away and beat me with batons, rifles, sticks and feet. My first neighbour who drove his fist into my face first hit me. He was younger than me. Predrag Marusin-Pedja hit me after the main gendarme Nenad Zigic gave him approval for that. Pedja was a dear young man before the war. I think he was an artist. If the situation were reversed I would never let a hair fall from his scalp. Miki Ikac and another enemy man were there too.

 

The four of them took turns in beating me. They beat me with batons, rifles, sticks and feet. I collapsed, lost consciousness and then they dragged me into the ‘room of death’ in which they had murdered four people on the same evening. They weren’t sure if I was at the front line as I lived in Sajmiste. A Serb woman had previously seen me in uniform near the hospital and it was probably she who revealed my identity.

 

 

A man returned with his face slashed, another was forced to eat bullets, and the hands of many were tied with barbed wire.

 

 

I remember how they ridiculed and giggled when they took a young man. He said: let me just get my tennis shoes. They replied: you won’t need them where you’re going.

 

 

Ljubce Atanasov saved me from certain death. He said I should be as silent as possible. When they started to beat me again, he yelled at them. He set up guard and did not allow anyone near again. One day a real Chetnik arrived, as from a movie, ripped from a mountain, bearded … I stood before him with my face all beaten up and swollen. He took out a knife and said to me – oh, you’re so swollen, I bet your tooth aches. Come on, open your mouth so I can pull it out and it won’t hurt any more. I put my hand to my mouth and kept saying my tooth did not hurt.

 

 

After that they transferred us to a military base in Mitrovica (Serbia, concentration camp) where we waited for a prisoner of war exchange. Luckily I was in the first exchange group and came out at the same time as dr. Vesna Bosanac. My recovery time did not last long. In May, together with the 204th Vukovar Veterans Bridage I went to Suica in Bosnia and Herzegovina. When the air attack occurred I shot at the plane with anti-aircraft weapons, saying to myself that I could finally confront the plane that had shot at me when I was in Vukovar…

Violeta Antolic – Vicky earned the rank of Sergeant Major during the war.

An amazing photo-video tribute: “Violeta Antolic –Vicky: goodbye my friend”

Violeta’s tragic death in a car accident barely attracted a few lines on back pages of mainstream print media in Croatia. No doubt, the culprits for such a shameful display are those who still sit in high positions of power, pining for communist Yugoslavia, making sure Croatia’s heroes and heroines are kept away from widespread national show of pride. Never mind – God is great! For Violeta’s funeral will come in the days of celebrating 19 years since Operation Storm (5 August 1995), which freed much of Croatian territory from Serb aggression and set the path to freedom and democracy.

I will end this post with the words of 1LT Anne (Sosh) Brehm, US Army Nurse Corps/WWII:
Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom. That our resolve was just as great as the brave men who stood among us. And with victory our hearts were just as full and beat just as fast – that the tears fell just as hard for those we left behind”.

 

Screenshot from movie "The Heroes of Vukovar" -  Violeta Antolic - Vicky

Screenshot from movie “The Heroes of Vukovar” –
Violeta Antolic – Vicky

 

Rest in God’s peace, Violeta – Vicky!
Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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