EU Parliament Delivers On Srebrenica Genocide

EU Parliament

EU Parliament delivered where United Nations Security Council failed due to Russian Veto, even though 10 member nations of the UNSC voted Wednesday 8 July “yes” for the resolution to call Srebrenica genocide a genocide and 4 abstained from voting.

European Parliament has a couple of hours ago released these statements that follow:

European Parliament condemned in the strongest possible terms the genocide in Srebrenica of 11 July 1995 and said that “such horrendous crimes must never happen again”, in a vote on Thursday, 11 July. MEPs regret that the UN Security Council failed to pass a resolution commemorating the genocide and call for acceleration of war crimes prosecution at international and domestic level.
MEPs commemorated and honoured all the victims of the massacre and “all the atrocities during the wars in the former Yugoslavia” and expressed their solidarity with their families, many of which are still left without final confirmation of the fate of their relatives. Out of more than 8 000 Muslim men and boys executed by Bosnian Serb forces and paramilitary units, the bodies of nearly 1 200 have not yet been located and identified.

Overcome hatred and divisions

MEPs reject “any denial, relativisation or misinterpretation of the genocide” and say its 20th anniversary should be “a fresh reminder of the dangers of extreme forms of nationalism and intolerance in society, further exacerbated in the framework of war.” They also stress that regional cooperation and the European integration process “are the best way to promote conciliation and to overcome hatred and divisions.”

Failure of UNSC to pass resolution on Srebrenica genocide

The text also regrets that the UN Security Council, which has the primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security, failed to pass a resolution commemorating the Srebrenica genocide. This is especially regrettable, as the International Court of Justice, the UN’s primary judicial body, has determined that the crimes committed in Srebrenica were genocide, MEPs say.

End trials, promote understanding

MEPs invite the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to accelerate and bring to an end the trials and appeals without undue delay. More needs to be done do prosecute war crimes at domestic level, too, they stress. They also urge the development of education and cultural programmes promoting understanding the causes of atrocities and raise awareness about the need to nurture peace and to promote human rights and inter-religious tolerance.
MEPs urge the political representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina to “acknowledge the past” and to “work successfully together towards a better future” and welcome the decision of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, taken unanimously, to proclaim the 11th of July as Day of Mourning in the country.
The massacre of Srebrenica was recognized as genocide both by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice. The act of genocide and ethnic cleansing was the biggest war crime in Europe since the end of the Second World War.

Europe demands justice for victims of Communism – Croatia must follow

Seeing crimes of communism for what they are and getting them prosecuted legally – this was the topic discussed at the conference on the legal settlement of crimes of communism at the EU parliament in Brussels, 5 June.

At the conference, Sandra Kalniete, Chairwoman, Reconcilliation of European Histories Group said:

Today every school child knows that Nazi was an evil regime. There’s a confusion about communist crimes. We have to raise this issue and deprive it of all the ambiguity. Because if not, then these crimes will be perpetrated again and again.”

Egils  Levits, Judge, European Court of Justice, said: “Victims should have experience of not only injustice, now they should experience justice and especially for this reason   I think a legal settlement of communist crimes is necessary”.

At the conclusion of the conference an announcement was made that “The Platform of European Memory and Conscience is calling for the creation of a supranational judicial body for the gravest crimes committed by the Communist dictatorships.

The Platform of European Memory and Conscience is founding an international legal expert group to work on a road map for establishing a supranational institution of justice.

The Platform endorses the initiative of the Reconciliation of European Histories group in the European Parliament to give the national archives which harbour information on the crimes of totalitarianism a status of European importance and is calling upon institutions of the European Union and national governments worldwide to support this work”.

The moves within European Union to finally deal with communist crimes, in the way that truly and loudly counts – legally – and not just talk about them, record them or condemn them are, I believe, of crucial benefit for Croatia when it becomes a member of the EU.

Within EU, the bravest sector of Croatian establishment that has for years been obstructed, ridiculed and criticized for attempting to prosecute communist crimes, will gain allies in pursuit of justice for victims of communist crimes.

The situation in Croatia with former communists (the Social Democrats led government and the president of the Republic) is outrageous.

Even at the celebration of Croatian Statehood Day (25 June/ day of independence) this leftist lot had the nerve to lay a wreath at the grave of late Ivica Racan (Chairman League of Communists of Croatia 1989/1990; President Social Democratic Party 1990/2007) who actually protested in Croatian parliament in June 1991 against the proclamation of independence (he and his leftist colleague didn’t want Croatia to become independent but advocated for a new kind of union between seceding Yugoslav republics).

By this act they attempt to equate Racan with dr Franjo Tudjman when it comes to giving credit and worth for the achievement of Croatian independence and sovereignty.

Absolutely and alarmingly disrespectful of the achievements that must be attributed to dr Franjo Tudjman, for if things panned out the way Racan advocated we wouldn’t be celebrating the 21st birthday of Independent Croatia – of the greatest achievement of the majority of Croatian people in history.

But that’s not all, Croatia’s former communists, while celebrating the WWII antifascists did that in the spirit of equating them with the priceless value of Croatian defenders from the Homeland War of 1991-1995; at the same time justifying murders and massacres perpetrated by the antifascists/Partisans.

This is how Croatia’s well known journalist Mario Profaca commented on Facebook on the events in Croatia on Friday 22 June 2012 – and I could not agree more:

Not to mention by name the horrendous pit Jazovka, near Sosica on Zumberak, at which tribute and honour to the soldiers and civilians killed by the Partisans during World War II and after it dumped into the pit was bestowed with a commemorative Mass. Laying of wreaths and lighting of candles, in his speech for celebrating the public holiday Day of antifascist battle, 22 June 2012, speaking about the crimes committed also by Tito’s Partisans, Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic inaugurated a new ‘antifascist’ concept – ‘the right to revenge’.

President Ivo Josipovic (who ‘himself is a son of Partisan’) liked that, as well as Milanovic’s opportunistic meditation on how, during World War II, the ‘member countries of anti-Hitler coalition also murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, women and children, and this was justified then’.

In the live TV broadcast from Brezovica, Milanovic uttered that sentence exactly at 11.59 a.m., and at that moment the live broadcast was cut due to regular News broadcast on HTV 1 at 12.00 noon, and so we couldn’t hear whether there were more of such big thoughts from a small mind.

We also must not neglect the bad in the events of 1940’s. But Croatia was on the right side, we know that it was just to participate in antifascist battle. What Partisans were then, our war veterans from 1990’s are now’, Josipovic said with inspiration.  

In accordance with Milanovic’s and Josipovic’s inspired emphases of the analogy between antifascist battle and our Homeland War some idiot from Milanovic’s government could come up with the idea of inserting ‘the right to revenge’ into the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia as a Constitutional category. Only, in that case criminal prosecutions against Croatian defenders (war veterans) would need to be stopped. 

That’s why it’s understandable that Milanovic’s  ‘antifascist’ Cock-a-doodle-doo coalition has not yet forwarded to the parliament its proposal for the introduction into the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia the antifascist ‘right to revenge’, and when it will – we don’t know.”   

The men, women and children Tito’s antifascist regime (including Partisans) murdered during and after WWII form multitudes; the bones of most are in over 1200 mass graves. All of them – symbols of love for Croatia.

These were not random slayings.

It was genocide.

It came from the top of the communist echelon. It was systematic and planned; so planned that even decades after the war the Yugoslav secret police UDBA ravaged the Croatian diaspora, intent on murdering the strongest human links to the love for Croatia.

The time has come when strong positive and decisive actions need to be put into place in Croatia so that prosecuting and dealing with communist crimes reaches a nationally supported level – for justice for victims. I have no doubt that gladness  for increased efforts in justice for the victims of the communist regime would land into overwhelmingly supportive hands of both Croatia and diaspora – just like the movement for independence and sovereignty did in late 1980’s and 1990’s. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Communist crimes: carving out real justice for victims

Vlatko Markovic, president of Croatian football team Photo: Damir Krajac/CROPIX

While justice for victims of the Holocaust came rather easily as it gathered loudly decisive support and focus in the international community (including the current and former communist countries), the victims of World War II (and after) communist crimes overwhelmingly got left behind, ignored, denied justice, suppressed by the same international community. And yet, the number of communist crime victims was much larger; the communist crimes although different in modus operandi were equally brutal and inhumane as exterminating the Jews were!

Honouring the victims of communist crimes has been an arduous, painstaking road for the relatively few individual groups who had kept the candle burning for these victims over the past decades, hoping for justice. In simple terms, the arduousness of this road had undoubtedly been made so because communism thrived in many countries while major Allied powers (Britain, United States of America) had sins of collaborating with the mass murderer, Russia’s Joseph Stalin (and thus other communist powers such as Yugoslavia), to suppress.

While declarations condemning communist crimes had gathered pace in recent past in the European Union parliament as well as the former communist countries of Europe (Croatia was one of them), justice for victims of these crimes continues to feel like arduous carving out of that part of human morality that should, in normal circumstances, simply pop out naturally. Stumbling blocks obstructing the path to justice for victims of these crimes have included a strong lobby that keeps vigilant in emphasising (often insistently) that victims of the Holocaust are the most important victims of human history that must never be repeated.

Justice can indeed be selfish, and this is wrong – the human heart must be open to embrace justice for all.

But, one cannot it seems, embark on pursuing justice for communist crimes without that process being meddled with by memories of victims of the Holocaust – never the other way around.

The time has come when someone needs to thrust justice for victims of communist crimes to the forefront if 20th Century human history, that divides nations to bitter degrees, will at all be reconciled; give it “unpolluted” moments of attention it needs and deserves.

The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, Euro 2012, is currently on track -the final tournament is being hosted by Poland and Ukraine 6 June – 1 July.

Unlike the representative teams from England, Germany, Italy and Netherlands the Croatian team has announced that it will not be visiting Auschwitz to pay respects to the victims of the Holocaust, but instead, Croatia’s football president Vlatko Markovic said that Croatian team will visit and pay respect to the memorial of victims of communist crimes.

We won’t be visiting Auschwitz, but it’s almost 90% certain that we will visit some memorial centre and pay respects to those Polish officers killed in Katyn forest,” Markovic said, June 8.

Katyn forest massacre occurred in April/May1940 under the command of the Soviet ministry of internal affairs when about 22,000 Polish nationals were murdered, among them thousands of Polish Army officers, police, lawyers, landowners…

The government of Nazi Germany announced the discovery of mass graves in the Katyn Forest in 1943. London-based Polish government in exile at the time asked for an investigation by the International Red Cross. Russia’s Joseph Stalin wasn’t going to have any of that; he blamed the mass murders on the Nazis. The Soviet Union continued denying responsibility for the Katyn massacres until 1990, and it distanced itself from them by claiming massacres were perpetrated by the “then” ministry of internal affairs.

Markovic’s announcement that Croatia’s football representation would visit memorial for communist crimes, instead of memorial for victims of the Holocaust, brought about some comments and criticisms by historians Ivo Goldstein and Tvrtko Jakovina who say that the Croatian football team should also visit the memorial of victims of the Holocaust.

Markovic did say that he had visited memorial centres of Holocaust victims many times in the past and, certainly, his decision to give memorial centres of communist crimes a priority at this time can only be seen as a positive move for the path to sincere justice for the victims of communism.

A second world stage that will elevate and dedicate justice for victims of communist crimes must be raised and this is one potent way of doing it. The stage for justice for the victims of the Holocaust had been raised and built a long time ago; it’s time to raise a second stage – this time for victims of communist crimes.

The UK Telegraph reports that the UK football team had visited Auschwitz Museum.

Everyone should come here to understand what happened,” said Roy Hodgson, manager of England team.

The world would be a much better and just place if such statements of worldwide impact were also expressed about the thousands of memorial places for victims of communist crimes, for thousands of mass graves left by the communists.

“According to the Black Book of Communism, a study of repression authored by European academics, over 100 million people have died from persecution by communist regimes.

While there’s political consensus in the European Parliament on the issue, there is still a need for an international legal framework, like the kind used in trials against Nazi perpetrators”.

The victims of communist crimes deserve the dignity afforded to victims of other political regimes such as the Nazi.  Croatia has been one of the countries that have bowed deeply, honouring the victims of Fascism and Nazism, almost exhaustingly and it must do the same for victims of communist crimes. It must perhaps be a leader in this and, in this context the brave move by Markovic can only be applauded. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Upcoming or recent events honouring victims of communist crimes:

June 12, Washington DC – Wreath laying ceremony to honour the victims of communism worldwide; tribute to Donald Rumsfeld and Gulag exhibit preview

June 5 – Brussels, EU Parliament – conference “Legal settlement of communist crimes”

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