In Memory Of Croatian Civilians Massacred In Uzdol

Child victim of Uzdol, Bosnia and Herzegovina Photo:

Child victim of Uzdol, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Associated press 16 Sept 1993 (reporter George Jahn)
The United Nations issued an unusually direct and detailed statement condemning Muslim-led government troops for the massacre, which it called a ”cowardly atrocity.”
The killings took place Tuesday in Kriz, near the village of Uzdol in central Bosnia. Lt. Col. Bill Aikman, a spokesman for U.N. peacekeepers, said a British commander reported seeing at least 35 bodies, mostly of elderly people and including one young girl.
The U.N. statement said 70 to 100 Bosnian government soldiers launched an early morning attack on the hamlet, luring out Croat villagers. Government forces then crept around the Croat positions and attacked the Croat command in the village, killing two Croat soldiers, it said.
”This group then retreated, murdering the remaining population with firearms, knives and axes, and setting fire to some houses,” it said.
The United Nation’s Bosnian command will investigate the slayings, the statement said. Cedric Thornberry, the most senior U.N. civilian in the region, demanded ”speedy and exemplary punishment” for the perpetrators”.
September 14th 1993, Muslim led Bosnia and Herzegovina Army soldiers attacked the Croat villagers of Uzdol. Upon their arrival in the village the infantry killed everybody in sight, and only 100 women, children and elderly people remained in the village. On the following day, the Croatian HVO soldiers entered the village and found 29 mutilated bodies of murdered Croat civilians.
Majority of residential and farm buildings in the district area were destroyed during the shelling of Serbian artillery, and in the clashes between Muslim led Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and HVO (Croatian Defence Council) soldiers.
The following is the list of massacred civilians (with dates
of their birth) from the village of Uzdol:
1. Domin Raic (September 21, 1936);
2. Ivka Raic (April 16, 1934);
3. Zorka Glibo (October 10, 1938);
4. Mato Ljubic (October 6, 1923);
5. Kata Ljubic (September 10, 1948);
6. Kata Perkovic (September 24, 1922);
7. Luca Zelenika (April 25, 1906);
8. Janja Zelenika (August 28, 1931);
9. Dragica Zelenika (April 25, 1934);
10. Ivan Zelenika (June 1, 1930);
11. Ruza Zelenika (April 14, 1931);
12. Jadranka Zelenika (January 8, 1981);
13. Ruza Zelic (December 25, 1943);
14. Marija Zelic (September 12, 1980);
15. Stjepan Zelic (January 2, 1983);
16. Ante Stojanovic (March 5, 1920);
17. Anica Stojanovic (November 4, 1949);
18. Franjo Stojanovic (January 6, 1916);
19. Stanko Raic (May 20, 1927);
20. Lucija Raic (September 26, 1933);
21. Sima Raic (July 6, 1914);
22. Mara Raic (November 26, 1938);
23. Mijo Raic (September 12, 1924);
24. Ivka Raic (April 29, 1921);
25. Serafina Stojanovic (February 12, 1922);
26. Mara Grubesa (elderly, birth date unknown);
27. Martin Ratkic (elderly, birth date unknown);
28. Kata Ratkic (elderly, birth date unknown);
29. Jela Dzalto (elderly, birth date unknown).

May they rest in peace and our love and memory for them never die.

Justice has yet to see all those individuals responsible for these massacres brought to account and punishment.  It represents one of many crimes committed by Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) that have somehow eluded the wrath of justice – hopefully not forever.  Ina Vukic, Prof (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

ICTY isn’t coming to Vuk Jeremic’s UN General Assembly debate

Theodor Meron, President of International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Theodor Meron, President of International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

According to HINA Croatian news agency, “All three Hague war crimes tribunals have turned down the invitation to attend a discussion on their work convened for April 10 in New York by UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Theodor Meron, has said.
Not only the ICTY but all three war crimes tribunals turned down Jeremic’s invitation, Meron said at a panel on the role of the Hague tribunals in the protection of human rights held at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Thursday.
Jeremic convened the discussion in response to certain rulings, which raises questions about the basic rules on respect for the rule of law, Meron said, adding that his participation would not make any important contribution to the condemnation of something he cared about very much.
US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp told Al Jazeera on the fringes of the panel he would not attend the discussion and that, as far as he knew, the US would present a statement together with several other countries in support of international justice and the importance of fair trials.
Rapp warned about attempts to ascribe to international war crimes tribunals bias at the expense of a people or collective.
Terms under which entire peoples, ethnic groups or political movements are responsible for a crime should never be included at war crimes tribunals, he said, stressing that in prosecuting war crimes it was always about individualising guilt.
In war crimes it is about individual responsibility and those individuals should be held to account under the law and based on evidence, and if someone is convicted, it is a signal to the rest of the community that it is not about the community but about the individual, said Rapp.
He said the two panels convened after the General Assembly session were composed so as to be entirely unilateral in criticising the work of international war crimes tribunals. He said Jeremic should have invited both supporters and opponents of the Hague tribunals.
Asked by the press whether the date of the session, April 10, was appropriate given that on that day in 1941 the Nazi-styled Independent State of Croatia (1941-45) was declared, Rapp said Jeremic’s choice of that date was cause for concern.
The horrors of World War Two, the Ustasha government in Croatia against which we fought until all were defeated… Those involved in the persecution of Serbs, Jews and others at that time are not people we should remember that day. Every day on the calendar has some implication, but we think Jeremic could have chosen a better day. We don’t want what happened recently to be linked with those events from World War Two, said Rapp”.

Indeed not only is Jeremic’s choice of the date for the UN General Assembly debate on International tribunals justice and reconciliation a cause for concern, but the fact that several Jeremic’s outrageous public statements, which seemed to belittle and twist the weight of the ICTY rulings of acquittals of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, have definitely left a taste of Jeremic’s misguided attempts to impute politics into criminal justice.
Serbian politics in justifying the horrors of 1990’s aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have often seen references to the horrors perpetrated against Serbs during World War II – a kind of justified revenge type of viewpoint. Surely, this cannot be permitted anywhere. The fact that many Croatians during World War II did not participate in these horrors, but fought against them is all the more reason why Serbia must not be permitted to promote the politics of World War II is such an abominable way.

Since it refers to WWII so much, Serbia would do the truth a great service if, instead of peddling coverups, it turned to its own WWII truth: Nazi occupation, Nazi puppet state led by Milan Nedic, keen collaboration with the Nazi regime by many Serbs loyal to Nedic’s government and in this enabling and facilitating the extermination of 94% of Serbian Jews by May 1942, instead of blaming it all on the German occupying forces.

Let’s trust that all the countries affected by war crimes, to be covered by the UN debate on 10 April (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Cambodia, Rwanda…), will get a fair hearing on that day and that the debate will not be consumed by Jeremic’s agenda of batting for Serbia. As I said in my previous post, when you have an obviously biased person with a narrow political agenda leading a debate, it is almost impossible to have full objectiveness of the debate process and content. Furthermore, reconciliation between people, which is on the agenda of this debate, does not depend on criminal court rulings for or against individuals, it depends on the people themselves and the resolution of issues and disputes among those peoples. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Related post

Croatian Six – suffer yet another disgraceful hit from the justice system

The Croatian Six Photo:ABC

The Croatian Six Photo:ABC

In his announced book on Balkan intelligence intrigue (Agents Provocateurs: Terrorism, Espionage and the Secret Struggle for Yugoslavia 1945 – 1990), the former US National Security Agency expert, John R Schindler, now a professor at the US Naval War College, said former top UDBA (Yugoslav Secret Police) officials cited the Croatian Six case as their most successful example of agent provocateur operations.

A year ago it seemed that Ellis Peters’ words from The Potter’s Field, “… But God’s justice, if it makes no haste, makes no mistakes”, would finally apply to decades old criminal verdicts for the Australian Croatia Six, in that the verdicts would be investigated in light of new revelations about corrupt police at the time and the very likely scenario that evidence in their case was fabricated and/or tampered with.

But this it seems is not yet to be as far as exonerating the Croatian Six might be concerned. For now it seems that “justice” smiles upon unwillingness to delve officially into the history of Secret Services laundry, especially any dirty one.

In August 2012, Australia’s Attorney-General (now ex-Attorney-General) Nicola Roxon had decided not to start an inquiry into allegations by a former senior federal government lawyer that Canberra intelligence and police officials suppressed information that would have resulted in a not guilty verdict in what became known as the Croatian Six case.

Three of the five surviving men from Croatian Six had also applied to the NSW Chief Justice, Tom Bathurst, for a judicial review of their convictions in 1982 (a judicial review of the same case was refused in 1994!), which resulted in 15-year jail terms that all served, with remissions for good behaviour. They lodged this application as the Sydney Morning Herald (Hamish McDonald) investigation turned up new material supporting long-held suspicions that the former Yugoslav intelligence agency UDBA set up the six Croatian-Australian activists in a faked plot to plant bombs around Sydney in February 1979. Tom Bathurst then appointed Acting Justice Graham Barr of NSW Supreme Court to advise him on whether a judicial review should go ahead.

This week in NSW Supreme Court – the curtain has been shut, once again to a judicial review – to justice!

“… Like the appeal court in 1982, Barr thus comes back to the police evidence. But he sees only the same partial view as did the jury, complaining that the transcripts of the trial and arguments over admissibility of evidence are ‘presumably now lost’. They are not. The Supreme Court registry can get them out for him, and they are illuminating”, writes Hamish McDonald in his article – an absolute MUST READ!

What is most frightening in this case, where Justice Barr acted as a court, is that he actually went ahead and gave Roger Rogerson’s words unquestionable “credibility”.  Yes, you read right: it’s the same Roger Rogerson who had led one of the Sydney raids and arrested three of the Croatian Six. It’s the same Roger Rogerson who was dismissed from the police force. The same Roger Rogerson who is also known for his association with other NSW detectives who are reputed to have been corrupt. The same Roger Rogerson heavily present as a subject in the 1996 Wood royal commission (in Australia), which found ”systemic” corruption in the NSW Police and led to disbandment of the squads involved in the Croatian Six raids. The same Roger Rogerson who was convicted of perverting the course of justice and lying to the 1999 NSW Police Integrity Commission.

So, where are we now with any prospect for the testing independently (and meaningfully) of the new discoveries that strongly suggest Croatian Six were set up by the Yugoslav Secret Police (UDBA), working in concert with individuals from the Australian Secret Service (ASIO) and police?  Justice Barr’s decision to shut that door remains a final administrative decision on the matter.  But given that the new discoveries include a statement by a former senior legal officer in the Department of Australia’s Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ian Cunliffe, that intelligence material which would have led to ”not guilty” verdicts had been withheld by Canberra officials in a virtual ”conspiracy to pervert the course of justice”, an inquiry could certainly be initiated by Australia’s Attorney-General or the head of ASIO.

A political pressure from Croatia (acting in the interests of its ex-patriots on issues that affect not only justice but also the reputation of Croatians) and the Croatian community for a review the Croatian Six legal case could perhaps bring positive results – at least for the world to see that when there are grave, objective, concerns for a miscarriage of justice, there are also those in power willing to investigate the matter in a deserved and fair fashion rather than raising more suspicion and disgrace of the justice system by leaning heavily on what a convicted criminal, involved with the case originally, has to say.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals”.

Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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