Remember The Month of September – For Croatia!

 

While Australian Croatians eagerly await in September the visit from Croatia of several outstanding people in the long-drawn and painful battles for free and democratic Croatia it is to be noted, with profound sadness but also with pride for the courage of Croatian people, that the month of September is marked by fierce battles against the Serb and Yugoslav Army aggressors for freedom and democracy. The aptly named tour of Australia “Croatia Uncensored” is organised by the Association “Croatian Diasporan Voice” and with the collaboration of various Croatian Community Organisations across Australia the tour has all the hallmarks of leaving a decisive footprint on the stage of toilsome efforts still in need of unwavering Croatian people’s dedication, both in Croatia and in the diaspora, if Croatia is to become a just, successful and free of communist heritage country for which rivers of Croatian blood were spilled during the 1990’s war.

Visiting Australia from Croatia in September will be Croatia and worldwide acclaimed Croatian patriots and tireless advocates for a free and truly democratic Croatia from the word “go”. They are retired Croatian Army and Croatian Defence Council general Zeljko Glasnovic, Member of the Croatian Parliament for the Croatian Diaspora, Dr. Tomislav Sunic, author, political commentator, former California State University professor and former diplomat of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Josip Jurcevic, acclaimed historian, University Professor in Croatia and author, Igor Vukic, political scientist and scientific researcher into the factual truth of WWII Jasenovac camp and Jakov Sedlar, acclaimed film director who will, during this visit to Australia, hold a World Pre-premiere of his new movie “1918-2018: Hundred Years of Serbian Terror in Croatia (From Karadjordjevic and Pribcevic to Vucic and Pupovac)”.

As significant for the life of progress in achieving a truly functional, free of communist mindset, democracy in Croatia this Australian tour is, it is also a moment that calls upon us all who are of Croatian heritage, especially, to remember the month of September that was when Croatia was burning, ethnically cleansed of Croats and non-Serbs, pillaged and raped – was being murdered and massacred!

It is important to remember the aggressor’s bloody threats and deeds but especially it is important to remember the extraordinary courage and dedication to freedom demonstrated by Croats in the Homeland and in the Diaspora at the time. Here are some of the events that ensued during the month of September as the war of aggression forced Croats into self-preservation captivity.

On 14th September 1991 Marko Babic destroyed 5 Yugoslav Army tanks on Trpinjska Street in Vukovar. During that same month this Croatian veteran lost his parents, who were taken from Vukovar by the Serb aggressor to Bobota village and murdered.

At the same time, as Babic was destroying the aggressor’s tanks and armoured vehicles 150,000 Croats from Vukovar were lined up on Trpinjska Street for forced deportation. In shock, the world watched this tragedy unfolding in the heart of Europe.

The 16th and the 23rd of September 1991 saw an eight-day battle (called the September War) for the town of Sibenik. This was an exceptionally important battle because had the aggressor taken the Sibenik bridge or any other spot along the Adriatic Highway, South Croatia would have ended up torn into several smaller or larger pockets. The public had already got to know the evil Serb leader Ratko Mladic (currently serving ICTY life sentence for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes…) who at that time led the 9th Yugoslav Army Corpus. The September War is particularly remembered by the downing of two Jugoslav Army aircraft, which was accompanied by the well-known cry from Croatian forces “Both, both, both have fallen!” (“Obadva, obadva, oba su pala!”). The courage of the Croatian defenders in Sibenik was so enormous and strong that the Serb aggressors were forced to withdraw after eight days of their aggression. This was the first of the great Croatian victories recorded in the Homeland War.

11 Croats killed and 50 wounded in Nova Gradiska in September 1991. The 21st of September 1991 was the saddest day of the war for people of Nova Gradiska. Yugoslav Army airplanes first attacked the toll booths at the highway and then destroyed the town, aiming at vital objects, attempting to break and intimidate all Croatian patriots, civilians and defenders but also to murder all the love and loyalty of the Croatian people for Croatia. They did not succeed.

End of September 1991 saw the evacuation of the hospital in Pakrac – threat to life was immense, Croatian efforts to save lives were remarkable, yet another tragedy – prevented; in the face of so much destruction and civilian lives that had already been lost in Pakrac.

September 1991 saw the beautiful town on Dubrovnik surrounded from the sea by enemy blockades that ended up in the siege of Dubrovnik and the later attempts to destroy it. The siege resulted in the deaths of 194 Croatian military personnel, as well as 88 Croatian civilians.

The town of Drnis and many other Croatian towns saw Croats leaving their towns and villages, being displaced and banished from their homes in September 1991. On 14th September 1991 Yugoslav Army attacked the town of Drnis. On the 16th the Croatian authorities released danger warnings to all Drnis and its surrounding villages and areas. Under that terrible attack and its consequent fear for life the Croatian people of Drnis – the elderly, women, children, the sick… left their homes in search for safer places that could be found in Croatia at that time. There weren’t many!

September 1991 also saw the so-called “Battle for Army Barracks” (Yugoslav Army barracks) when for the first time Croatian forces finally got their hands on some heavy weaponry.

Defending Croatia and its ideals and pursuits for democracy from the communist Yugoslavia might and mindset is far from over. Much work and dedication is still needed to complete the task set during the 1990’s Homeland War.

If you are in Australia between the 14th and the 24th of September 2018 you may wish to join the “Croatian Uncensored” tour and contribute to unity and support. Please visit the http://www.glashrvatske.com.au for tour details. Ina Vukic

Hope Needs Your Help – Fundraising To Prevent Croatian Veteran Suicides

Croatian movie director and producer Jakov Sedlar has for several months now been on the trail of securing funds for the production of feature movie “2761” – a movie about Croatian Homeland War veteran suicides. It’s a tragic story that emerged from 2761 personal stories and the movie aims to influence prevention of suicides especially among those experiencing the personal dilemma whether to commit suicide or not, not to kill themselves. It’s a tragic story not only because of the number of veterans who have committed suicide but also because of 156 veteran wives and 52 children who have also taken their own lives. That is a dreadful story. On reflecting upon the plans for the movie Sedlar said on Croatian TV in March 2017:

I think we have a responsibility towards our country and towards our people to undertake certain things about which we must talk … if we won’t who else will talk about these things.

Jakov Sedlar
Croatian movie director and producer

Valentin Perkovic, a member of the leadership team of “Croatian Diasporan Voice” (Glas hrvatske diaspore), to which I myself proudly belong, has started a “Gofundme” online fundraising campaign with view to raise funds that would make up the shortfall needed to complete the movie project. I look forward to seeing as many as possible people, especially those of Croatian heritage, across the world joining this worthy cause with their donations.

The link to the fundraising page is:

https://www.gofundme.com/jakov-sedlars-2761

That’s the number of Croatian war veterans – branitelji – that have taken their own lives since the Homeland war. This tragedy has come about mainly due to the consequences of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A lot of them have felt marginalised in society very similar to the Vietnam War vets of the seventies.

Croatian movie director and producer Jakov Sedlar famous for brilliant films like “Gospa”, “Četverored” and documentaries on people like Croatia’s own football legend Joe Simunic.

We understand that one film cannot stop this completely but even if it stops one person from taking their own life it will be worth all the money and effort. This feature film will be made up of 45 of the best Croatian actors and filming will start in January 2018. The whole project comes at a cost of $900,000 and there is a shortfall of $190,000. The donators’ names will be shown in the credits at the end of the film. Please give what you can as every dollar counts.” Quotes from Gofundme fundraising page.

 

 

Amidst soaring concern about veteran suicide, lack of coordination, rising dissatisfaction and criticism about the inadequate government-backed and government organised supports for veterans suffering PTSD communities of veterans in Croatia and their supporters are self-organising, and Croatian Diasporan Voice as an organisation outside Croatia is a supporter as are numbers of others.

While helping a suicidal person can be a difficult process, remember that the assistance we all provide could save someone’s life. The movie “2761” is one of many ways of helping prevent suicide and this manner of help via donating funds towards the production of the movie is a role many of us can play.

Scientific research looking specifically at combat-related PTSD in Vietnam era Veterans suggests that the most significant predictor of both suicide attempts and preoccupation with suicide are combat-related emotions that creep into the mind and heart. Many Veterans experience highly intrusive thoughts and extreme emotions about acts seen committed during times of war. These thoughts can often overpower the emotional coping capacities of Veterans. The same applies to the veterans of Croatian Homeland War as its course and foundations have often been interpreted, especially by former communists in Croatia who did not want an independent Croatia, in the same ways as those of the Vietnam War; all the more reason for us to stand behind and support with donations the making of “2761” movie. Thank you – all! Ina Vukic

Efraim Zuroff Has No Moral Right To Be Arbiter Of Croatian Politics Says Croatia’s Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic

 

Croatia's Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic On Al Jazeera TV Photo: Screenshot: balka.aljazeera.net 8 May 2016

Croatia’s Culture Minister
Zlatko Hasanbegovic
On Al Jazeera TV
Photo: Screenshot: balka.aljazeera.net 8 May 2016

In an interview with Al Jazeera television on 4 May 2016 Croatia’s culture minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic was asked for his thoughts on attacks against him in recent months that have accused him of being a fascist, an ultra-nationalist, a historical revisionist attempting to diminish the meaning of the Holocaust, including attacks from Efraim Zuroff, the head of Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem. Minister Hasanbegovic replied that it is not easy, that it is uncomfortable to work in such a political environment surrounded by false accusations and attacks that are not founded on truth but that every politician must be ready to face negative attacks. As to attacks against him made by Efraim Zuroff minister Hasanbegovic replied:

“…a person who has through utterance negated the genocide in Srebrenica has no moral right to be an arbiter of Croatian politics or relations within Croatian politics or public life.”

As far as I am concerned, truer and more just words have never been said about Zuroff’s vitriolic meddling in Croatian politics that, as a rule, justify horrific communist crimes as acceptable, which, by the way, means that communists exterminated more innocent people on political beliefs grounds than by the Holocaust on racial grounds. Truer and more just words have never been said about a person who not only negates the genocide in Srebrenica, perpetrated by Serbs, but also negates Serbia’s WWII government’s active role in the Holocaust and extermination of Jews in Serbia.

I am so proud of minister Hasanbegovic for having the courage to direct the world to the truth, most likely knowing he would be a target of even more hatred because of it.
Minister Hasanbegovic did not need to wait too long before renewed attacks against him started on an international level, filled with untruths, vitriol and pure hatred. The US Foreign Policy portal’s Berlin-based Paul Hockenos, who appears to have chosen as his bread and butter or who appears to have made a career of peddling his biased, imaginary and vilifying stories about so-called far-right nationalism rising in former communist countries of Easter Europe has swiftly spread what feels like burning vitriol against minister Hasanbegovic and Croats. He calls minister Hasanbegovic a fascist and uses references to anti-Croatian propaganda for it instead of more objective takes on Hasanbegovic’s true political direction that has nothing to do with fascism but everything to do with justice and truth for victims of communist crimes. Hockenos seems to have made a career out of using mean-spirited wicked tactics to turn Eastern Europe’s plight in exposing the truth of communist crimes perpetrated under former communist regimes into innuendos and allegations of attempts to revise history and diminish the Holocaust. Some call-to-arms to attack Hasanbegovic and Croatia by those who fight hard and dirty in preventing the truth of communist crimes surfacing could have prompted the appalling article of pure unprovoked hatred Hockenos wrote.

Hockenos wrote an article on 6 May 2016 – “Croatia’s Far Right Weaponizes the Past” – that not only brutally vilifies minister Hasanbegovic but also the Croatian nation. Of course, in his article Hockenos provides a link to Zuroff’s statement on Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s website where Zuroff calls Hasanbegovic a Fascist and Hockenos’ article praises Simon Wiesenthal Centre “as a prominent Jewish human rights organization” – so to perhaps suggest that Zuroff is pure and without blemish and how dare Hasanbegovic criticise him…(?) Well, the centre may be prominent for Jewish human rights – and good for them and especially victims of the Holocaust – but its Head certainly isn’t for Croatians’ human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its Article 12 does state “No one shall be subjected to … attacks upon his honour and reputation …” (Everyone has a right to legal protection against such attacks). Hockenos and Zuroff and others in the camp that attacks Hasanbegovic on such unfounded grounds may think human rights only apply to some.

 

It did not surprise me that Croatia’s left-leaning media when writing about Paul Hockenos’ article did not question possible motives for such expressed hatred and false accusations against minister Hasanbegovic nor noticed, it seems, the link between attempting to defend Zuroff by attacking Hasanbegovic.

 

Hockenos, like Zuroff, evidently use the killings by WWII Ustashi regime in Croatia as a reason why today’s world should not be presented with the factual truth of WWII and the period after it, which was riddled with communist crimes. Why else would Hockenos insult minister Hasanbegovic and the Croatian people because people, including minister Hasanbegovic, are interested in what the new Jakov Sedlar documentary “Jasenovac – the Truth” has to say about the research into the actual numbers of Holocaust victims in Jasenovac!? Looks like Hockenos might have been on Serbs’ side when in 1990’s they went on a murderous rampage and ethnic cleansing against Croats and Mislims/Bosniaks under the “excuse” that they (Serbs) feared Croatia would in its independence from communist Yugoslavia do the same as the WWII Ustashi regime did when it comes to killing Serbs etc! Preposterous and outrageous!

Hockenos in his article goes on to say that Hasanbegovic was during the 1990’s war one of those nationalists who wanted whole Bosnia for Croatia (just like it was during WWII)… Oh dear, what a pity Hockenos omitted to say that even if Hasanbegovic may have as an individual wanted such a thing way back in 1990’s it was the Serbs, not Croats, who actually and swiftly cleared much of Bosnia for themselves – using ethnic cleansing and genocide against Croats and Muslims/Bosniaks.

 

One can, in a way, understand Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s repeated statements that she will not engage in politics that concentrate on historical issues in order to create and maintain divisions among the Croatian people, but given that it is in fact the historical matters that are used to attack and vilify Croatian people and government officials of today any Croatian president does not, to my view, have the right to choose to exclude herself/himself from defending the pride and honour of the people when these are brutally attacked – using matters from the history. Such as the utterly unfair attack by Paul Hockenos’ article, which has caused terrible pain to multitudes of Croatians. The inaction in responding to such attacks, the apparent lack of demands from Croatia’s top echelons for apologies by the author of the article, Paul Hockenos, and the Foreign Policy portal are conspicuous and lead one to conclude with regret that there may indeed be a political protection racket afoot, even from within Croatia, for those who contribute to keeping the world and victims in the dark from the facts of communist crimes.
It is blindingly clear that Croatia is in dire need of condemning communism to the same extent as it did with condemning the Ustashi regime’s symbols. This means banning, forbidding, preventing the symbols of the communist regime from being displayed, shouted, used in public by law. Get to it – Croatia! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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