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)

Human Rights Easy Street in the UK

Mass grave Vukovar – unearthed 1998

Milan Sarcevic, a Serbian, is accused of taking part in the 1991 Vukovar massacre, one of the worst atrocities of the Balkans war, when up to 300 wounded Croats were beaten, executed and buried in a mass grave.

The 60-year-old first came to Britain more than a decade ago and, when refused asylum, returned to Croatia in September 2002.

Having put in another asylum claim, he returned to Britain in 2003 and his case was neglected for nearly eight years, during which time his family had settled in the United Kingdom.

He initially admitted being a Serb fighter in Croatia, later claiming he was unaware of the massacre.

But now, Daily Mail reports, Milan Sarcevic has been allowed to stay in Britain because throwing him out would violate his human rights; i.e. right to family life.

The Home Office refused his application in February last year and accused him of taking a ‘direct role in massacre of the Croatian prisoners’.

Before an immigration appeal judge he ditched his earlier story and claimed he did not know about the massacre until ten years later and that he ‘didn’t fire his gun’ during the battle for Vukovar.

The judge ruled evidence of his involvement was ‘not conclusive’ and did not warrant breaching his family rights under Article 8, saying there was evidence of his ‘strong family life’.

The judge added: ‘At best, there is a possibility that the appellant may have participated but that is not enough  to ... permit the serious interference that would result in the appellant being removed to his family life and that of those around him.’

Sarcevic’s wife has also been given the right to stay in Britain, because she has depression and is seen as a ‘suicide risk’ if returned to Croatia.

Tory MP Andrew Percy said: ‘It’s totally wrong that this man has had the opportunity to have two goes at the asylum system.

‘It’s inexplicable. It’s nonsense to use this Article 8 right to family life. He can easily go back to Serbia and enjoy a family life there.’

Article 8 of the relevant Human Rights Act:

Right to respect for private and family life

  1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
  2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The learned Judge in this case, in London, seems to have ruled on Sarcevic’s rights to a family life with bias and the ruling is unsafe, in my opinion. Clearly he disregarded the point from above Cl.2. which refers to “the protection of morals”, at least. That is, given that the Judge himself admitted to the possibility of Sarcevic having participated in the heinous war crime of massacre at Ovcara, Vukovar, the minimum standard expected from a court is that its ruling does not simply and easily erase even the possibility of Sarcevic having committed war crimes. There is no protection of morality here when the possibility of Sarcevic having participated in massacres exists. Sarcevic had reportedly told the court that he had “no blood on his hands …”.  Instead of relying seemingly overwhemingly on Sarcevic’s testimony, the Judge should have called for further investigations into the matter before making his ruling on Sarcevic’s right to family life in Britain. This more so as the Home Office in UK was the authority that accused Sarcevic of taking a direct role in the Ovcara massacre in 1991. One would expect that the Home Office would not have trumped up the accusations just for fun or political games.

Certainly, there is absolutely no good morality protected by the Judge’s ruling, here. It’s more the case of shaky or suspect morality being protected.

If Sarcevic participated in Vukovar massacre 1991 he is one lucky man on Human Rights Easy Street: The UK court believed his words 100% even though it had no 100% backing for that out of his factual personal history.

This truly brings home how very vulnerable this shallow and wrong Human Rights ruling leaves the British citizens (and those of any other ‘Western’ country) amidst the torrents of asylum seekers they’re faced with every day. No one would want to deny human rights to anyone but there must be a standard of acceptable proof that an individual’s application for asylum is genuine and not an escape from prosecution for possible war crime of massacre, and the like. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Government attempting to belittle WWII Communist Crimes

Section of Tezno mass grave - 15,000 victims - Photo: Ben Freeman

While the Croatian Social Democrat led government has declined to continue sponsoring the WWII Bleiburg Tragedy commemorations, its leaders have decided to pay respects to victims at the Tezno mass grave (about 15,000 murdered there).

The only problem is that Tezno mass grave is only one of many places of WWII, and after, where communist crimes against innocent people occurred and commemoration at Bleiburg honours all the victims, everywhere along the locations of the so-called Way of the Cross (death marches), after World War II ended.

It would seem clear that the government’s move to pinpoint Tezno as THE place to pay respects is a move to belittle and degrade the symbol that Bleiburg has become and to ensure that Jasenovac is seen as the place of terrible and widespread WWII war crimes in former Yugoslavia.

This way, they attempt to reduced in importance and severity of the communist crimes committed at Bleiburg and along the Way of the Cross.

Even though the government will not sponsor the Bleiburg Tragedy commemoration it is still to be held on Saturday 12 May. Its sponsors include Western Herzegovina county, Osijek-Baranja county and émigrés from California. It is announced that Tomislav Karamarko, candidate for president of Croatian Democratic Union (largest political party in Opposition) elections to be held in May, will deliver a keynote speech at Bleiburg.

In an interview by Croatian HRT TV News (28 April 2012) Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that he would not attend the commemoration of the World War II tragedy (massacres) but that instead, he, Boris Sprem the Speaker of the Parliament and President Ivo Josipovic will attend a commemoration at Tezno, Slovenia, on May 15. Milanovic said that “the real victims of the execution” fell there and not at Bleiburg. Tezno was where the scaffold was, not Bleiburg, he added.

Well that is not the truth and Milanovic knows it. Real victims fell in many places.

His use of the word “scaffold” – the platform from which victims are executed – should not have been used for Tezno only as mass graves of innocent thousands of Croatians antifascist Partisans murdered in 1945, after World War II, have been discovered in multitudes.

As the prime minister of Croatia, I feel the obligation to pay my respects to the people who were killed there in their thousands. We are going to Tezno because the execution site there carries both actual and symbolic weight. Bleiburg may carry symbolic weight for some people, I can accept that, but that’s not the place to commemorate the victims”, Milanovic said for Croatian TV.

Mile Prpa, Portal HR.Svijet, in his article 22 April Bleiburg Tragedy – the Hypocrisy of Politics: “Imagine, to date there have been more than 1,600 mass graves (in some there are several tens of thousands of victims) strewn across Slovenia, Croatia (equally in parts where there were and where there were no Ustadshi), then across Bosnia and Herzegovina, but numerous also across Serbia to Macedonia. Out of the multitude of victims the names of the majority were not known, there was killings of people that were not acceptable to the government, among them about 80% Croatian”.

Bleiburg is the concept covering the destruction of almost the whole of the Croatian youth of the time, among whom there was a very, very high percentage of innocent or not even couple of percent of guilty, it’s also the concept for mass destruction of the large part of Croatian intelligence of all possible professions from journalists to priests. Bleiburg symbolizes an attack against entire people, everything that was vital had to be destroyed, when it was armed and unarmed and when they posed not even a minute threat. Rarely have people in the newer era, mainly during peace era, experienced so much and such tragedy. And those who have experienced it, have done so under the communist authorities”.

If Milanovic, Sprem and Josipovic are serious about paying respects to places where the “scaffolds” were then they must visit every pit, every mass grave of innocent lives taken by their antifascist predecessors, not just Tezno. Milanovic has been to Tezno as leader of the Opposition (Social Democratic Party) in 2009, he could have chosen another mass grave this year if he doesn’t want to go to Bleiburg. Saying that Tezno is the places where actual executions took place is wrong because Tezno is only one among many.

That is why Bleiburg commemoration is so very important – it is the place where all victims of the WWII and post-WWII communist purges are remembered. Death marches back to communist Yugoslavia started at Bleiburg. In “Bleiburg Massacres” by Count Nikolai Tolstoy one can see the very significance of Bleiburg and why that is the place to commemorate the victims without politics that Croatian current government is playing upon this terrible, sad, sad chapter of Croatian history. Ina Vukic, Prof.(Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

VIDEOS: WW2 Massacre Made by Partisans in Bleiburg:

PART 1:

PART 2:

PART 3:

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