Croatian Community Of Diaspora Has With Its Ideology of Freedom Built Itself and Enormously Helped Create Today’s Free Croatia – No Interference Please!

Screenshot Sydney Morning Herald/Ambassador Betty Pavelich (L) Croats fleeing communist Yugoslavia 1945 Bleiburg Massacre (R)

Is it only the Australian Croats who are experiencing diplomats from Croatia dishing out to them patronising lectures and uninvited advice reminiscent of those from the failed communist Yugoslavia era, or is the Croatian diaspora of other countries experiencing the same interference? As we have been able to see from Australia in the last month or so, it has become evident that there is a significant reversal in the politics of the Republic of Croatia towards and against the ideals of the NDH/Independent State of Croatia of the Second World War, which ideals were, in essence, those of the aspirations and struggles for the independence of Croatia from any Yugoslavia, and that trend is being imposed on Australian soil, on its Croatian community, by Croatian government representatives. The Croatian community of Australia has always acted in accordance with the laws of Australia and has always been faithful to the ideal of an independent Croatia. Such interference and meddling by today’s evidently pro-communist authorities of Republic of Croatia through its Embassy with a community of a foreign, legally regulated country (in this case Australia) could be classified as undesirable, politically tendentious, and even legally inappropriate.

Namely, many of us have noticed from the Croatian media that in the last few months the Croatian state has changed its attitude and tolerance towards football fans’ outbursts that are associated with the NDH ideology. We read and heard how about twenty Croatian national team fans were detained and prosecuted for misdemeanours for singing an old Croatian marching cadence at a soccer match in Osijek (for the qualification of the Euro 2024 competition) which the Croatian police, the state, claimed was a marching cadence from the regime of the WWII Independent State of Croatia/NDH. The fact that this marching cadence has its origin in the 19th century in honour of the Croatian national hero Josip ban Jelačić, and not in the NDH, does not bear any significance for the Croatian state of today on its route of these new political persecutions of patriotic Croats. Croatian authorities pin this marching cadence to the WWII Independent Croatia just as they pin the historic salute For Home Ready (Za dom spremni) without regard to facts and truth that show different.

Then, several members of the Bad Blue Boys fan group, otherwise known as the “ultras” of Zagreb’s first division football club Dinamo, were treated in the same way. They also sang a similar song at the national championship match in Velika Gorica near Zagreb, probably as a sign of solidarity with those fans from Osijek, writes Igor Lasić of Deutsche Welle on October 30, 2023, and Zadarski list on October 31, 2023.

Then, before this, we all remember with profound unease the events from August 2023, when, according to reports from some Croatian media, the Croatian police informed the Greek state in advance and obviously with dishonourable intent, that dozens of Croatian fans of the Bad Blue Boys/BBB ultras group were on their way to Greece at the time when a soccer match was supposed to be held there and they were allegedly banned from attending matches, but not from visiting Greece. On the streets of Athens near the football stadium, a young Greek man was killed in a street crowd and the Greek police arrested everyone alive who was there, including dozens of Croatian Bad Blue Boys who were there and detained them on suspicion of participating in that murder. The police in Croatia arrested those who managed to escape from Greece and handed them over to Greece. Weeks passed in Greek prison until they were released home, cleared of all suspicions of participating in that murder. No doubt, Croatian politics are, because of the targeting football players and football fans to force upon the world the false image that WWII ideologies, i.e., neo-Nazism or Neo-Ustashism exist in Croatia today!

In Australia, too, the Croatian Community is experiencing similar finger-pointing and insinuations about some neo-Ustashism, or neo-Nazism, of Croatian football clubs that have always respected the political past and ideology of Croatia’s independence on Australian soil. Namely, in one of the major Australian newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald, which is otherwise widely reputed in the wider Australian community as an ultra-leftist orientated newspaper that promotes such ideology, an article appeared on October 30, 2023 by journalists Simone Fox Koob and Ben Schneiders under the title “Celebrate players, not politics: Croatian ambassador wants soccer clubs to kick out ideology”. 

 Namely, that article referred to the speech by the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Australia, Betty Pavelich, she gave some five or six weeks ago at the Croatian Football Tournament in Australia in Adelaide, after which, justifiably, numerous protests and criticisms appeared within the Croatian community in Australia. Many people asked: with what right does the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia, who is in fact a temporary guest in Australia and who is not part of the Croatian Community, interfere in the community and gives advice that no one asked for? As usual, The Sydney Morning Herald, as anyone smart and familiar with that newspaper could have expected, used the content of her speech to paint the Croatian community in neo-Ustasha and neo-Nazi colours! The Australian Croatian Community has not experienced something like this, I was told, since the 1960s and 1970s, when the UDBA Secret Services of communist Yugoslavia operated on Australian soil tasked with denigrating and destroying the Croatian Community, that is, Croatian patriotism, with untruths and fabrications.

The fact is that Australian Croats do not have to do anything for their life in Australia that the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia or any other country tells them to do. Australian Croats created social and football clubs, Catholic centres, and nursing homes for the sick and elderly, with their own efforts and money, guided by their ideology of an independent and free Croatia they carried from WWII era. With this ideology, the majority also fled from the communist-Yugoslavian ideology and everything they did as a community, they did and do in accordance with the laws of Australia. They certainly do not tolerate well when leftist politics impute against them an ideology they never held, i.e., Nazism. It is also a fact that these same Croatian men and women in Australia gave Croatia the freedom that the Ambassador is talking about, because they played a key role in the creation of the modern Croatian state in various ways and by making sacrifices. And the Croatian Ambassador to Australia omitted to acknowledge that in her speech. No mention in her speech of the fact that the Croatian palatial Embassy building and residence in Canberra she sits in was built with charitable donations and volunteer labour from Australian-Croatians that may well include several of those she now says are not welcome or are acting in undesirable ways to Croatia’s reputation! But I am not surprised because Croatian diplomacy for many years, since the death of Dr. Franjo Tuđman in late 1999, mostly ignores and belittles most of these freedom-building Croatian men and women in Australia (and elsewhere around the world). When did anyone experience in Australia that the diplomatic establishment organised ceremonies to explicitly thank all those Croatian men and women who gave their all so that Croatia could be free of communism and Yugoslav totalitarianism? Nobody has as far as I can see. But some may have come across a reception where the invited guests were mostly those who were nowhere near when Croatia needed help from its diaspora! I have nothing against the “new” people in the community, in fact I’m glad to see them, but I’m against it when those who are responsible for freedom of Croatia are ignored in the same process.

“The Croatian ambassador to Australia has told the community its soccer clubs need to take politics out of the game to protect the country’s reputation,” writes The Sydney Morning Herald. “Let us celebrate Croatia and let us focus on those who gave Croatia its freedom, as well as those who make us proud on the international soccer stage … We must take politics and ideology out of the game. We must work together to protect the reputation of our clubs, of our players, and of our homeland,” Sydney Morning Herald said that Ambassador Betty Pavelich among other things told the Croats of Australia about a month ago at a football tournament!

It seems to me that today’s authorities of the Croatian state are washing away their own sins, that is, the sins of communist crimes against Croats committed by the family ancestors of many, on the shoulders of that part of the Croatian people who, even in the Second World War and after it, only wanted a free and independent Croatia. The fact that loved ones of many from the Croatian community in Australia to whom ambassador Betty Pavelich now gives unsavoury and tendentious advice lie in mass graves and pits full of victims of communist crimes throughout Croatia and Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina has it seems eluded her. To forget that, to forget the ideology with which many were saved by fleeing brutal communist Yugoslavia, would mean breathing another breath of life into the failed communist ideology that even the European Union condemned but Croatia, the official state of today, does not. It is utterly unacceptable not to fight against the attempts by Croatian diplomacy to interfere with the lives and beliefs of its freedom-loving diaspora on the soil of its host country. Particularly so knowing that the heart of that patriotic diaspora was grown into human success stories through fleeing from communism and its crimes.

“Those of us who love the game (football) and who love Croatia must do everything in our power to protect the brand and the image,” The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Ambassador Betty Pavelich.

Oh, my goodness!

Where was she and where were her superiors in Croatia (Yugoslavia) when for decades upon decades after the World War Two despite persecution and vilification by communist Yugoslavia authorities – Australian Croatian Community did just that! Maintained its Croatian identity, built soccer and other clubs! Held love of Croatia close to their hearts always!

Heavy-hearted, because Croatia suffered enormously during 1990’s War of Independence from communist Yugoslavia, and because cruel history appears to be repeating itself with the aim to run down Croatia patriotism and colour it as neo-Nazism or neo-Ustashism, this seems like the right time to quote from Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, speech from August 1964 in the Australian Parliament:

“…It is difficult for people coming to Australia easily to forget their historical backgrounds. Since the war a number of organisations opposed to the present Government of Yugoslavia have developed throughout the world amongst refugees and migrants from that country. It is understandable that some Yugoslav migrants of Croatian origin should continue to hope for the establishment of an independent Croatia and within a democracy like Australia they have a right to advocate their views so long as they do so by legitimate means. I wish to make it perfectly clear that the vast majority of the migrants from all parts of Yugoslavia who have settled in Australia have proved to be law-abiding, hard-working citizens and a real asset to this country…”

While the Sydney Morning Herald has not, it seems, asked Ambassador Pavelich what Croatia is doing to condemn the former communist totalitarian regime of Yugoslavia let it be known to Sydney Morning Herald, to the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Australia, to all who care to note: the Australian Croatian Community together with its soccer clubs has always acted in accordance with Australian laws and its many members have contributed towards a better life for all in Australia and in Croatia. That is a fact recorded by history and no political ideals or pursuits can erase it! Ina Vukic

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