You Go Girls – Croatia’s First Women Run Brewery

From Left: Ana Teskera and Maja Sepetavec

From Left: Ana Teskera
and Maja Sepetavec

 

I choose this story to mark the 2016 International Women’s Day – 8 March 2016.
It’s a story of courage, determination and enthusiasm to achieve in a country where the economy yields large unemployment figures that point to a bleak personal and community future, young people leaving the country in search for jobs elsewhere… Well I think Ana and Maja from the beautiful Zadar in Croatia are just fantastic!

Zadar, Croatia Europe's best destination 2016

Zadar, Croatia
Europe’s best destination 2016

These two brewers in Croatia have created Croatia’s first women-run co-operative brewery, aiming to produce delicious, natural beer (“Blond”/reportedly comparable to American Pale Ale however its secret ingredient makes it so much tastier) while supporting their local community – in the coastal Zadar area! And what a hit it promises to be – it’s in this area that lots beer gets drunk in summer with great music festivals and famous dance parties that attract hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world. So can’t go wrong – right? Well almost! They just need a little more money to help set up fully so they have decided to raise Start-up funding through the well tested and tried Crowdfunding online. After perfecting their recipe and recruiting new members, the next step was to make a deal with another local brewer to create the mutual brewery itself. They launched a crowdfunding appeal, story raising the target of US$8,000 in just seven days and have extended that target to US13,000, which is making solid headway to achievement. The money will be used to buy two 1000 litre fermenters, bottles, labels and cases.

Ana and Maja thank the donors of startup funds through crowdfunding "this much" as 40% goal reached PHOTO: Facebook

Ana and Maja
thank the donors of startup funds
through crowdfunding
“this much” as 40% goal reached
PHOTO: Facebook

They’ve now almost reached 80% mark of their extended fundraising goal so your help is appreciated I am sure if you are so kindly inclined and I trust many are.

BRLOG Beer cooperative timeline "Plavusa means Blond :) Photo: Facebook

BRLOG Beer
cooperative timeline
“Plavusa means Blond 🙂
Photo: Facebook

Ana Teskera and Maja Sepetavec, from Zadar on the Dalmatian coast, run BRLOG: a craft beer brewery that started off in their garages and balconies, and is expanding rapidly.
Their online crowdfunding promotion says that they chose to start the business as a cooperative because “a cooperative is a way to transform the talents of two women with brewing skills into an inclusive, organic group of people who can construct, program, book-keep, write business plans, and create..
This is how we want to change the world. Individually we are little, working together in cohesion, we are a force of varied and crafty skills. If a group of people from Zadar can do it, the world can too.”

Ana and Maja of BRLOG beer Croatia give talks on cooperatives Photo: Facebook

Ana and Maja of BRLOG beer Croatia
give talks on cooperatives
Photo: Facebook

Zadar, like all Croatian coast, thrives through summer months but as the weather cools and tourists return to their home countries, Zadar needs its own enterprises to keep it vibrant and strong. And their cooperative will certainly contribute to that with new jobs and a tasty beer to boot. As well as producing the beer, Ana Teskera and Maja Sepetavec believe the BRLOG helps the town.
Ana and Maja consider that the cooperative will enrich the local community in the way they know best – through production. They are a beer brewery startup and a social enterprise. Indeed, community funding via crowdfunding is likely to give to that society a boost in courage and will to keep creating new jobs in other industries right there where they live, not just startup funds for one cooperative.

Ana and Maja and BRLOG beer fridge

Ana and Maja and
BRLOG beer fridge

We are two women who brew our own beer. Not only for the taste, but for the sheer pleasure of making it,” they say. “From our brewing hobby came an idea, and from that idea – Croatia’s first co-operative craft brewery.”
The pair say working co-operatively has allowed them to be greater than the sum of their parts, and build “an organic group of people who can construct […] book-keep, write business plans, and create”.
Beginning as a pair, there are now ten other members involved in the co-operative.
Individually we are little, working together in cohesion, we are a force of varied and crafts skills. If a group of people from Zadar can do it, the world can too,” reports James Sullivan of Cooperative News.

The humble beginnings of BRLOG beer brewing Photo: Facebook

The humble beginnings
of BRLOG beer brewing
Photo: Facebook

The blond ale they produce is free from preservatives, unpasteurised, and made up of four different hops and three varieties of malt.
To help tempt more backers for the project, the two women also offer a service known as ‘kegerator’ – transforming old fridges into beer taps, providing a case of their beer and installing the newly kitted-out fridge in people’s houses.

And now that special ingredient that goes into BRLOG beer and only known to Ana and Maja Photo:Facebook

And now that
special ingredient that goes
into BRLOG beer and only
known to Ana and Maja
Photo:Facebook

The two women say that until recent times, the process of brewing beer has been considered divinely guided, and the domain of women. Only more recently, since brewing became commercialised, did it become male-dominated. They’re aiming to redress that balance.
Craft beer is a product somebody personally stands behind, a product that can only be made when the makers show persistence, hard work, diligence, courage and friendship,” they say. “In a word: BRLOG!” Things that happen in a DEN (BRLOG in Croatian)!
And I say congratulations young ladies and happy International Women’s Day! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Women Of Croatia’s Homeland War

Today, 8 March, marks the International Women’s Day! May it be a happy one to all the women of the world and as far as Croatian women are concerned my mind is turned to those who endured and survived with dignity the most horrendous of fates a woman (a human being) can endure. I turn to and bow the women that stood out and stand out as heroines of a nation (independent Croatia) created despite the brutal aggression, rape, ethnic cleansing, genocide … that swept across Croatia in the early 1990’s with only one intent: eradicate Croat lives, humiliate Croat lives … just because they are Croat and want freedom from communist totalitarian regime!

I also turn to the many Croatian women who left their stamp of truth, freedom and dedication to independence in many ways during the years of Croatia’s Homeland War and beyond.

These women of modern-day Croatia are truly inspiring!

Mothers of those who gave their lives for Croatia’s freedom

Kata Soljic (Vukovar, 1922 – 2008): Fondly called as the mother of courage.

Kata Soljic

Kata Soljic (click on photo to enlarge)

I am Kata Soljic, a Croat, a mother from Vukovar. I am 79 years old, I gave birth to and reared six children, four sons and two daughters. My four sons and my son-in-law lost their lives in 1991 for freedom and for the defense of the Croatian Homeland from the Serb aggressor in this Homeland War. My four innocent brothers perished by the hands of the same enemy during World War II, and my husband survived by a miracle. I have not completed any schooling. I can barely sign my own name. Life has not caressed me. And, hence, I have learned and am still learning the highest of life’s lessons and that is the lesson of love and sacrifice for those close to me and for my family,”  (Kata Soljic, 2001)

Women who were at the forefront of caring for the wounded

Dr Vesna Bosanac, a paediatrician and the legendary medical director of Vukovar hospital during the Croatian Homeland War.

dr Vesna Bosanac

dr Vesna Bosanac (click on photo to enlarge)

A witness to Serb atrocities in Vukovar, a witness who invested all her human strength to save as many lives as humanly possible amidst the genocidal madness of Serb aggression (including by Serb-led Yugoslav People’s Army) in Vukovar 1991 that saw incessant artillery attacks, the destruction of ambulances, the killing of hospital staff and patients, and the wounding of doctors and nurses who were helping people wounded in the shelling and the massacre of more than 200 people that took place in November 1991 at nearby Ovcara farm.

According to data from the Vukovar Hospital, 3,470 wounded people were treated in the Vukovar Hospital during the Serbian military aggression on the town, and more than 2,500 operations were performed in the hospital at the time.

Women – Victims of war crime of rape

During the Serb aggression in 1990’s Croatia violating women became an open and widespread weapon of war of aggression. Sadly this war crime of rape had been ignored for many years, perpetrators walked the streets freely and victims suffered, dying a bit day in and day out. According to a Council of Europe, more than 20,000 women were raped during the Balkan conflict, and many of these occurred in Croatia, while others to the majority occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the victims being Bosniak (Muslim) and Croat women. Unfortunately, the horrors did not stop at rape. Of these women, most were gang-raped by Serb rebels or Serbs belonging to the Serb-led Yugoslav People’s Army, some were forced into sexual slavery and forced impregnated often by armies and paramilitary groups.

The silence regarding the widespread rape of Croat women during the war in Croatia lasted too long and some organisations claimed that rape did not occur. Marija Sliskovic has in the past few years courageously begun to point to the problem of war rape with her book “Women of Vukovar” (Žene Vukovara) and in her latest “Sunny” (Sunčica) in which she published testimonies of 14 raped women from Vukovar and one man. These efforts have received support from the Parliament, the President’s Office, and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and other UN organisations. A rise in social compassion for the victims is evident, alongside a growing frustration that so much time that has passed without tangible remedies. The war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina brought the issue of rape to the forefront forcing international recognition of rape as a weapon of war and a violation on a multitude of levels. Despite this awareness and support the practice of ignoring rape or treating it as a last priority for prosecutors of war crimes still continues. The victims are still forced into fighting for justice at all levels and my admiration goes to them in endless bounds.
And so I pay tribute here to Marija Sliskovic, a tireless activist for the rights of rape victims in Croatia and some of the women who have had the courage to finally speak out about the horror of rape, that war crime perpetrated against them in the concentration camp during the war by Serbs:

Marija Sliskovic

Marija Sliskovic (click on photo to enlarge)

Ruzica Erdelji

Ruzica Erdelji (click on photo to enlarge)

Snjezana Maljak

Snjezana Maljak (click on photo to enlarge)

Durdica Pankas

Women who cared about the well-being of war-orphaned children

Ankica Tudjman

Ankica Tudjman (click on photo to enlarge)

Ankica Tudjman. The wife of Croatia’s first president, dr Franjo Tudjman, who from December 1991 championed the worldwide charitable action under the organisation “Save the Children of Croatia” (later re-named into Humanitarian Foundation for Children of Croatia) that sought sponsors for Croatian war-orphaned children. By December 1992 the action secured sponsorship (annual/monthly financial support via individual bank accounts set up for each orphan) for 2,160 children of killed Croatian Homeland War veterans. By 1996 the action had 4,319 children of killed veterans under its sponsorship program in addition to hundreds of children of 100% war-invalids. Her charity still goes strong today as she in her advanced age holds tight to her determination to help children in need for as long as she lives. I wish Ankica a very special day on this day of March the 8th!

23,080 Croat women who actively participated in the Homeland War, assisting in the defence against aggression

Croat women in Homeland War

Croat women in Homeland War (click photo to enlarge)

Many Croat women who worked tirelessly from the diaspora on humanitarian aid to Croatia and lobbying the world for Croatia’s independence

Croatian women rally against aggression  in Croatia - Sydney, Australia January 1993

Croatian women rally against aggression
in Croatia – Sydney, Australia January 1993 (click photo to enlarge)

Many women who worked as humanitarian aid workers caring for over 800,000 (Croat and Muslim) refugees in Croatia during the war under often dire, always treacherous and difficult circumstances.

1992 Croatia - Croat and Muslim refugees

1992 Croatia – Croat and Muslim refugees (click photo to enlarge)

November 1991 Croat refugees

November 1991 Croat refugees (click photo to enlarge)

Women who followed a career path that would enhance the path to Croatia’s democracy of tomorrow

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (click photo to enlarge)

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic commenced her career for Croatia in wartime 1993 at the ministry of science and technology, then moved to foreign affairs office and was deputy minister then head of North America unit from where she went to Canada at the Croatian Embassy as adviser and minster adviser. In 2003 she was elected into the Croatian Parliament when she became Croatia’s minister of foreign affairs and European integration until 2008. From then until 2011 she was the Croatian Ambassador in Washington and from July 2011 the assistant secretary general of NATO for public diplomacy – I trust that Kolinda will be the first woman president of Croatia very soon, Certainly her career path and world diplomacy experience has provided just the right background to lead the modern Croatia into a full democracy. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Related Posts on rape as war crime:

http://inavukic.com/2012/03/07/international-womens-day-a-tribute-to-the-courage-of-croatian-women-victims-of-mass-rapes/

http://inavukic.com/2013/08/21/croatia-howling-for-rape-war-crimes-justice/

http://inavukic.com/2012/09/08/convicted-serb-rapists-from-vukovar-1991-flee-croatia/

http://inavukic.com/2013/05/03/croatia-stop-listening-to-serbia-listen-to-the-victims-of-her-aggression/

International Women’s Day: A Tribute to the courage of Croatian women victims of mass rapes

“SUNČICA/ SUNNY” – is a recently published book in Croatia, edited by Marija Sliskovic, that contains testimonies of interned (imprisoned) women against whom the war crimes of rape were committed, covered up, and to this day not brought before the criminal courts. It’s about the crime that was part of the war strategy of Serbian and Yugoslav Army aggression against Croatia in the 1990’s.

Sunny was only eight months old when she was taken with her mother in occupied Vukovar (1991). Her mother was locked in a flat like a slave for rape. Sunny did not know what they were doing to her mother, she cried because she needed her mother for herself. Serbian soldiers raping her mother were annoyed by Sunny’s cries so they threw heavy army coats over her. By some miracle Sunny did not suffocate under the heavy coats, she survived. Sunny is strong, she survived the occupiers’ heavy attire and survives the cover-up of crimes against her and her mother today. Croatia is woven from the strength of many Sunnys.”

Victim of war crimes Ružica Erdelji:

Transcript from video testimony September 2011 above (Ruzica’s testimony starts at 0.31 sec on video:

“I am Ruzica Erdelji, maiden name Barbaric, Croatian – Herzegovinian. I was born 11 January 1951 in Grabovo near Vukovar.

I spent the war in Vukovar, at Olajnica, building 15, in the corridor of third floor, without any living conditions, without water, food, in fear. Hungry in 21st Century. We waited for freedom. With the arrival Chetnik occupator, for me and many Croatians the Way of the Cross commenced, and many have never returned from that Way of the Cross.

We had to surrender to the Chetniks, they led us through the city, on the bridge Jelica Jankovic was kissing with the Chetniks, she tells them by name and surname who needs to be killed. Those people are no longer alive, and she proudly strolls through Vukovar.

They transport us on buses to Velepromet.  As soon as I got out of the bus, they separated Serbs to one and Croatians to the other side. Branka Janjetovic comes and writes me in under number 477. My neighbor comes soon, Pero Krtinic, points to me as a Croatian and hands me over to the Chetniks, while I hoped he would help me. They take me into the carpentry building. Sladjana Korda is at the door, takes by force everything I had, and I had about 30,000 German Marks and gold jewelery. She ripped my leather jacket looking for money, she took everything and pushed me into the carpentry room.

There Hell, at nine thirty at night a Chetnik nicknamed Topola from Velepromet takes me out and drags me through streets of Vukovar. He says he’s taking me to interrogation. It’s night, I don’t know where I am, he forces me into a house and then into a room, Chetnik headquarters are in that house. He, armed, ripped everything off my body and raped me all night while gunfire went on outside. A man was crying in the next room.

In the morning he takes me to another room, several of them there, rape again. Then a Chetnik comes and he takes me upstairs, to a children’s room. Rape again, torment. After he had finished tormenting me, he takes me to the ground floor, where another Chetnik named Zmigo awaits. Holding batons and rifle he takes me to the next room, Arkan’s men are there. Again rape, one after the other, I felt humiliation, I felt repulsed at myself, dirty, unkempt. They chased me out, and there Zmigo waited, takes me away as war trophy, me as if a little Ustashe. Along the way we meet Ilija Macura, I thought he’ll help me, but he pretended he did not know me. He was in army uniform, today he works as delivery man for the police.

Zmigo takes me to the cellar of a house across the street from Textile school, he too rapes me all night. In the morning he takes me to a Chetnik leader, Lancizanin from Vukovar, nicknamed Kameni. He sends me to Velepromet, to judge me there. And again carpentry building with Sladjana Korda. She kicked me into a room, it was the room of death. I, the only woman among men. Vukovar men dressed in Chetnik uniforms came there all the time, they beat us and dragged people out who never returned. Next night they take us out in buses to army barracks. They beat us there and force us to sleep on concrete.

If we needed to go to the toilet there had to be 10 of us. When we finally reach the toilet, you cannot relax from fear, as armed Chetnik stands beside us. One day we had to clean the army barracks, we were humiliated, shamed, dirty. Come Stanimirovic, Dokmanovic and Hadzic, spit on us and ask what we are doing on holy Serbian ground. Stanimirovic now receives a parliamentary wage, while I live on 1, 775 Kunas pension after 35 years of work.

After all those tortures and torments, 29th November 1991 we are transported to Sremska Mitrovica, and on 12th December we were exchanged. Never had anyone asked how I am, do I need help. I’ve been treated at psychiatric wards in Cakovec, Zagreb and Vukovar. Noone lent me a hand of consolation.

Thank you to everyone who supports us in this painful journey of truth, because the truth must be known. “

“Sunny” has become a strong movement in Croatia during recent months with courageous women finally breaking the social and intimate barriers that occur in cases of rape, and have come out: speaking of their suffering, pointing their fingers at and naming the Serb war criminals, perpetrators of mass rapes over Croatian women during Croatia’s war of Independence. To take their courage further they have begun arriving at the office of the State Prosecutor, giving their testimonies, providing evidence of war crimes – with great expectations that the perpetrators be finally brought to justice.

Marija Sliskovic

Marija Sliskovic, also the president of the “Women in Homeland War” Association said last month in Croatia: “Those who had perpetrated those crimes must face their evi deeds,” adding that in the opposite case the criminals will think they’ve done something that’s not punishable”.

It’s a known fact that there were even camps for the implementation of mass rapes into which fertile women of non-Serbian origins were broughtvand raped. They would be released only when they were highly pregnant, too risky for termination of pregnancy. There is no doubt that this approach to women contributed to ethnic cleansing of the areas as women who experienced this most often did not want to remain in these areas in order to avoid seeing their rapists (and these were often their first neighbours) and to be constantly reminded of the horrible memories.

Women of Vukovar also experienced hell on earth when in 1991 Chetnik paramilitary units together with Yugoslav Peoples Army occupied the city. In that they kept many non-Serb women in Vukovar, imprisoned them in houses and committed over them pathological perversions that only sick minds can imagine. It’s enough to mention that the youngest female person whom these maniacs tormented was six, and the oldest eighty years old.”

The courageous women of Croatia are pursuing war criminals that have escaped justice up until now. Their plights for justice had in the past fell on deaf ears; rapes were covered up, rapists set free, some fled Croatia after the war only to be returned to Croatia under the EU push to repatriate Serb “refugees” back into Vukovar/Croatia.

No more cover-ups if these women, victims, get their way. Besides approaching the State Prosecutor’s office they are spreading their intention to reap justice to the Croatian foreign minister, EU Ambassador to Croatia, Members of Croatian Parliament for Serb Minorities…

As a woman, I stand in awe and admiration before such courage.

There is no doubt in my mind that many these heinous rape crimes have been covered-up and “overlooked” for political reasons that point to external pressures against Croatia not to “ruffle too many feathers against Serbs” if it wants to be in EU! Well, it’s about time that Croatian government and institutions step up and shout out loudly in securing justice for it’s women victims of mass rapes. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A,Ps.(Syd)

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