Croatia Vs Serbia ICJ Genocide Trial Begins

Genocide in Croatia Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

Genocide in Croatia
Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

Finally – it begins! One of the most important international court cases addressing the 1990’s war of aggression against Croatia will today 3rd March 2014 begin with hearing of evidence at the trial in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. The trial is said to end on 1st April 2014 and there is a total ban on publishing any details from the hearing until the trial ends, which include specific evidence and testimonies.

Croatia had filed a suit in 1999 against the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the remnants of former communist Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, which disintegrated into two separate independent states in 2006/ into Serbia and Montenegro ) for genocide at the highest UN court – the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.  As Serbia and Montenegro went their separate ways in 2006, Croatia’s lawsuit at the ICJ stayed as against Serbia, and not Montenegro. In 2010 Serbia filed a counterclaim against Croatia.

Croatia aims to prove that units commanded by Serbia committed genocide in the war between 1991 and 1995.
Croatian Application to the court states, among other matters: “The Genocide Convention prohibits the destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including the elimination or displacement of members of that group from a particular territory. Between 1991 and 1995, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ( read Serbia) repeatedly violated the Genocide Convention. By directly controlling the activity of its armed forces, intelligence agents, and various paramilitary detachments, on the territory of the Republic of Croatia, in the Knin region’, eastern and western Slavonia, and Dalmatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (read Serbia) is liable for the “ethnic cleansing” of Croatian citizens from these areas – a form of genocide which resulted in large numbers of Croatian citizens being displaced, killed, tortured, or illegally detained, as well as extensive property destruction – and is required to provide reparation for the resulting damages. In addition, by directing, encouraging, and urging Croatian citizens of Serb ethnicity in the Knin region to evacuate the area in 1995, as the Republic of Croatia reasserted its legitimate governmental authority (and in the face of clear reassurance emanating from the highest level of the Croatian Government, including the President of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, that the local Serbs had nothing to fear and should stay), the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (read Serbia) engaged in conduct amounting to a second round of “ethnic cleansing”, in violation of the Genocide Convention…

In July 1991, there were already 30,000 registered displaced persons in Croatia. The long list of displaced persons started with the persecution of the Croats from Lika in the spring of 1991, and intensified in the summer with the persecution of the Croats from the territory of Banovina, Kordun, eastern Slavonia, western Slavonia, west Syrmium, Baranja, Dalmatian hinterland, Drnis, and Knin. The peak of the refugee crisis occurred in November 1991, when 600,000 displaced persons were registered in Croatia, including 15,000 survivors of a massacre in Vukovar. The atrocities inflicted by the Serbs on Vukovar’s people were brutal, and the resulting humanitarian crisis among displaced persons was unprecedented. In fact, the city of Vukovar, including countless historic buildings, and cultural and sacral artefacts, was completely destroyed
by the so-called JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army).

By 1999, in the period of time following 1995, Croatia has discovered and registered at least 120 mass graves, mostly in the eastern Slavonia, Banovina, Dalmatia, and Knin regions. To date, the exhumation process has registered 2,989 bodies in both mass and individual graves. For example, in Ovchara,
near Vukovar, a mass grave was discovered, from which some 200 bodies were exhumed. These were the bodies of wounded persons and patients who had been taken from the Vukovar hospital. At the mass grave at the New Grave yard of Vukovar, 938 bodies were found, and in Bakin, 56 bodies, mostly of elderly victims, were discovered in a mass grave. In Skabrnja, near Zadar, another mass grave was recently discovered to contain 27 bodies. Also, in Vila Gavrilovik, near Petrinja, a mass grave was found that contained 17 bodies…

As a result of the aggression waged by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (read Serbia), its agents, officials, and surrogates, Croatia and its citizens suffered the following damages :
In Croatia, there were 20,000 dead and 55,000 wounded, with over 3,000 people still unaccounted for.
Out of the total number of victims, 303 children died, 35 children were taken prisoner and disappeared, and 1,276 children were wounded.1,700 people were killed in Vukovar alone (1,100 of them were civilians), more than 4,000 people were wounded, between 3,000 and 5,000 taken prisoner, and 1,000 people are still unaccounted for.

In 1992, the humanitarian crisis in Croatia was at its peak, with approximately 800,000 displaced persons and refugees, which constituted more than 15 per cent of the total population of Croatia. Several thousand Croat civilians were taken prisoner and forcibly transferred to Serbia and other areas of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Of the 7,000 people later released, 60 per cent had spent time in prisons or detention facilities in Serbia.

According to estimates by the National Commission for the Registration and Assessment of War Damages, 590 towns and villages suffered damage, 35 were razed to the ground, with another 34 suffering significant damage. 1,821 cultural monuments were destroyed or damaged, including about 651 in the area of Dubrovnik-Neretva County and about 356 in the area of Osijek-Baranja County.

Three national parks, five natural parks, 19 special reservations, 10 parks, and 19 park cultural monuments were damaged. 323 historical sites and settlements were destroyed or damaged. 171,000 housing units (constituting approximately 10 per cent of the housing capacity of Croatia) were destroyed, often by arson.
Approximately 450 Croatian Catholic churches were destroyed or severely damaged, with lesser damage to over 250 others. In addition, approximately 151 rectories, 31 monasteries, and 57 cemeteries were destroyed or severely damaged. 210 libraries were destroyed or damaged (from school libraries to such famous libraries as those in Dubrovnik).

22 journalists were killed, many of whom were trying to reveal the truth about the aggression against Croatia.

Estimates indicate that upwards of 3 million various explosive devices were planted within Croatia, mostly anti-personnel and anti-tank devices. These mines are, for the most part, uncharted, and block about 300,000 hectares of arable land. About 25 per cent of Croatia’s total economic capacity, including such large facilities as the Adriatic Pipeline, was damaged or destroyed during 199 1 – 1992. Approximately 10 per cent of Croatia’s tourist facilities were damaged or destroyed by the FRY-backed forces and agents…

In this genocide ICJ case Croatia wants to be clearly identified as the victim of the war and that would surely stop the equating of the victim and aggressor that had been a prolific and evilly twisted political push, clearly originating from Serbia and its supporters.
The suit calls on Serbia to have all Serbian war criminals put on trial, all cultural assets seized during the war to be given back to Croatia, and calls for the payment of reparations to Croatia. Additionally, Croatia wants an explanation of what happened to the more than 1,400 Croatians who have been missing since the war.

The genocide counterclaim against Croatia, Serbia filed in 2010, will see claims of Serbs killed during that war in Croatia, it’s 2010 claim that 200,000 Serbs were expelled from Croatia in 1995 after the Croatian military Operation Storm, which liberated Croatian sovereign territory from Serb occupation, is surely not to hold any water at the ICJ given that the ICTY had in November 2012 in its acquittal of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac found that there had been no forced deportations of Serbs from Croatia.

Serbia, however, seems to introduce into this case WWII killings of Serbs in Croatia!

Well, well, well! If such is permitted then I do hope that Croatia will have the opportunity to insert another claim to its Application – that of murdered Croats under the tyranny and dictatorship of the Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia prior to WWII!

Lately, there has been much thrashing about in the media by legal professionals that neither Croatia nor Serbia have a chance of winning this case. Most refer to the case when in 2007 ICJ judges acquitted Serbia (in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina Vs Serbia) of direct responsibility for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, finding it guilty only of failing to prevent and punish the perpetrators of this crime. However, in the same breath, ICJ ruled that genocide took place in mid-1995 at Srebrenica when almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb troops after they overran a UN-protected enclave.
These legal professionals who thrash about saying that the case of genocide at the ICJ has no prospects are fools for rushing out so, to my view. From many articles I have read in the past couple of weeks none of these legal professionals have mentioned that Bosnia’s lawyers were unable to access transcripts from meetings of Serbia’s Supreme Defence Council, SDC, which they believed were crucial to proving the case.
Although minutes from these meetings are widely believed to contain vital information about Belgrade’s involvement in the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, their most relevant parts had been granted confidential status by the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY and it would be a miserable day for justice if these documents do not appear as evidence in 2014 at ICJ!

So far there have at the ICTY been both charges and convictions of Croatian Serb Krajina individuals for crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing …, e.g. Milan Babic, Milan Martic, Mile Mrksic, Veselin Sljivancanin, Pavle Strugar and cases still on ICTY Trial: Goran Hadzic and Vojislav Seselj. Links to Serbia, Yugoslav People’s Army and Serbia’s government including president Slobodan Milosevic have been established. This, I believe is most significant for Croatia’s claim against Serbia, let alone the mountains of evidence that’s surely to land in the ICJ courtroom during the coming month – aspects of genocide are many and the totality of the various horrors that included mass killings surely equate to genocide in moral and legal sense.

Zvonimir SeparovicThe 1999 lawsuit of Croatia against Serbia for genocide was a major contribution to seeking justice for the victims of Serb aggression under the then minister of justice dr Zvonimir Separovic, a legal scholar and politician. His dedication to justice for victims of war and other mass crimes is a permanent co-traveler in his life – he is a pioneer of victimology and today, despite his advanced age, still heads with great vigour and determination the Croatian Victimology Society, whose goals include justice for victims of communist crimes.

I join the multitudes of Croats and victims of war crimes in wishing the Croatian legal team in the ICJ the victory Croatia truly deserves. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Today’s Croatian Responsibilities – No Cyrillic in Vukovar

Remember Vukovar - No Cyrillic in Vukovar  Photo: demotix.com

Remember Vukovar – No Cyrillic in Vukovar Photo: demotix.com

By Dr. Slobodan Lang (10 February 2013)
Translated into English by Ina Vukic

The most important question for today’s Croatia is, by far, that of its demographic health. A wrong diagnosis is a criminal act in medicine and a right diagnosis without therapy, is immoral. The whole truth must be determined and, on basis of that, the moset effective help needs to be set. Demographic health of today’s Croatia comprises of: maintenance and spacing of population, employment, ageing and ecology.

This is the fundamental responsibility of all citizens, of the academic community, of the economy, of religion and especially of politics. Only those political parties and politicians who offer solutions to these questions are to be supported.

Alongside of this, of course, we also need to attend to safety, to our reputation in the world and to our own dignity.

Emphasising other questions is merely diverting people’s attention, provoking conflicts and avoiding political and professional responsibility.

Satan attempted to provoke Jesus so that he materially overestimates the power and insubstantial politics. Jesus emphasised the importance of the spiritual, God’s power and personal responsibility. However, he did not persecute Satan because he knew that the only way is to find the truth and realisation of the good, and not in battles against lies and evil.

The demand for Cyrillic script in Vukovar is yet another attempt to vilify Croatia throughout the world and to divert the attention to secondary questions.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) judgements on joint criminal enterprise are, today, the most important factors for relations world’s towards Croatia and for the relations between Croats and Serbs in Croatia.

Joint criminal enterprise (JCE) is a legal doctrine introduced by the ICTY in the trials against political and military leaders of former Yugoslavia, for mass war crimes, including genocide, during the wars of 1991 – 1999.

The court had assessed that without certain actions of cooperation and coordination it is practically impossible to carry out the crimes such as genocide or crimes against humanity.

In trials after World War II we find the first indication of JCE under the name of  “joint goal”.

JCE was used by ICTY for the first time at the Dusko Tadic’s judgment, 1999.

During Slobodan Milosevic’s trial the joint criminal enterprise was defined as forceful deportation of non-Serb population from the territories where Serb authorities wanted to establish or maintain Serb control.

With regards to wars in Croatia 1991 – 1995, the Tribunal considered two joint criminal enterprises, that of “Serbian forces” against Croats and that of “Croatian forces” against Serbs.

According to ICTY, “Serbian forces” had, through 1736 days (from 1st April 1991, at the latest, to 31st December 1995, at least), engaged in joint criminal enterprise with the goal that most Croats and other non-Serb population, through criminal acts be removed permanently from a large part of Croatian territory in order to create a Serb ethnic territory, which the Serb leaders called Serbian Republic of Krajina (SRK).

Participants in this joint criminal enterprise personally included: Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Martic, Milan Babic, Goran Hadzic, Jovica Stanisic, Franko Simatovic (Frenki), Vojislav Seselj, Radovan Stojcic (Badza), Veljko Kadijevic, Blagoje Adzic, Radmilo Bogdanovic, Mihalj Kertes and Zeljko Raznjatovic (Arkan).

The participants were also political leaders in the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, Republic of Serbia, leaders of Croatian and Bosnian Serbs, as well as leaders of “Serbian forces”. “Serbian forces” are: Yugoslav People’s Army, Serbian Army of Krajina, Territorial Organisation of Republic of Serbia and special units of ministry of internal affairs/ state security of Republic of Serbia for anti-terrorist activities and special operations, “Red berets”  and/or “Frenkovians”; “Scorpions”, “Arkanovians”, “Martic’s police”, members of Serb para-military groups from Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia (including volunteers from the Serbian Chetnik movement and/or Serb Radical Party – “Chetniks” or “Seseljovians”).

Those convicted for joint criminal enterprise so far are: Milan Babic (12th July 2005), and Milan Martic (8th October 2008), and Goran Hadzic trial is still in process.

With the acquittal of Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, 16th November 2012, the ICTY has forever rejected that joint criminal enterprise with the goal of permanently removing Serb civilian population from “Krajina” was carried out, through the 90 days (from July to 30th September 1995).

After this judgment, it was the duty of the President of Republic of Croatia, of Croatian Government, of Croatian Parliament, of Croatian Academy of Sciences and the Arts, of the universities and of the media to consider in its entirety the joint criminal enterprise in creating Croatia. This is particularly important because Croatian defence, the Generals and President Tudjman had prevented a much greater suffering – which is constantly denied through lies and vilification.

There are only three lines about JCE in the Croatian Wikipedia, and in the English version the indicted Croats are listed, even after they have been acquitted. How is it shown in our history textbooks? Today’s authorities have rewarded the author with the position of Croatian Ambassador in Paris for his shameful and untruthful portrait of Croatian history.

The work of the ICTY is nearing to an end. Only Goran Hadzic and Vojislav Seselj are still on trial for the war in Croatia. Six Croats and Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Vojislac Seselj (Serbs) are still on trial for the war in Bosnia.

To date, 18 Serbs and 2 Croats have expressed their remorse for the acts they had perpetrated. Those from Croatia are Milan Babic – president of the 1991/92 self-proclaimed government of Serbian Republic of Krajina (SRK), and Miodrag Jokic – commander in the Yugoslav War Navy, which was responsible for the attack on Dubrovnik.

Milan Babic has, in stronger terms than anyone else, appraised, described and expressed remorse for JCE perpetrated by the “Serbian forces”.  Given that, as far as I know, the Croatian public is not practically aware of this, I’m giving here the most important (according to me) parts of what Babic said:

Innocent people were persecuted, innocent people were forcefully ejected from their homes and innocent people were killed.

I allowed myself to participate in the program of the worst kind against people only because they were Croats, and not Serbs.

Only the truth can give a chance to Serbian people to unload themselves from the collective shame.

These crimes and my participation in them can never be justified.

Even after I had discovered what had happened, I remained silent about it.

I come before this Tribunal with deep feelings of shame and repentance.

The regret that I feel because of that is the pain with which I must live for the rest of my life.

I can only hope that by bringing out the truth, by admitting to guilt and by expressing my remorse I can serve as an example to those who still wrongfully believe that such inhuman actions could ever be justified”.

Until Serbia condemns Memorandum of neo-Nazism, Croatia will remain endangered. At the very beginning of President Josipovic’s mandate, young Jastreb (Hawk) and I warned him not to enter into any arbitrary or superficial reconciliation. We have never been in conflict with Serbs or with Germans, but we are not prepared to come to terms with Nazism. Josipovic did not invite us for talks, but he has evidently burned himself and is now more careful. Perhaps he also doesn’t like it too much when Pupovac (Milorad) lectures him from time to time, but he doesn’t have the courage to react.

Completely unacceptable statements are coming from Serbia, from politics, from academic community and the church. Serbia, in its Constitution, needs to recognise the European borders set after Allied victory, nonaggressive solution to disputes with neighbours, reject the use of its army for aggression and persecution of other nations and express universal rights of all people. Until that happens, we can talk about relations with the neighbours, but not about friendship. Only this way Croatia respects the right of greater majority of good people in Serbia and long-term interests of all.

About 250 million people in Europe use Cyrillic; half of them are Russian. With Bulgaria’s entry into the European Union, 1997, Cyrillic (along with Latin and Greek script) had become an official script in EU.

84 languages, in the world, use Cyrillic, 37 Turkish, 23 Indo-European and the rest all the way to Eskimos. Among them is Juhuri, the language of the Jews from the hills of Caucasus.

Vuk Karadzic developed Serb Cyrillic at the beginning of the 19th century, and from 2006 it is constitutionally proclaimed as the official script of Serbia.

The attempt to introduce Cyrillic in Vukovar is an attempt to impose much lesser importance to much greater human rights (demographic health, justice and the truth about the creation of the state, security), and exclude legitimacy in the name of legality. I am not a lawyer, but I know that Huckleberry Finn was right when he helped his black friend escape from slavery, even though it was against the law of that time. To maliciously and unprofessionally call for the use of Cyrillic in Vukovar is completely unacceptable and impermissible.

Croatia should introduce Cyrillic when Serbia is accepted into the EU, the same way as … Ireland or Portugal.

Our citizens are not equal in Vukovar. For peace’s sake we gave special rights to certain people of Serb nationality. Today’s Croats are dissatisfied; they feel injustice and endangerment.

The Croatian anthem alerts us with the words: “ … Danube, do not lose your might, Deep blue sea go tell the whole world, That a Croat loves his homeland…” But Croatia has already lost a lot of Danube’s might, in Zemun and in Syrmia, and the message we send to the world is too weak.

The whole city of Vukovar is a living symbol of Croatian suffering, and the whole of Dubrovnik of Croatian culture. During the creation and defence of Croatia both have suffered particularly and we defended both, particularly. They are still not secure or equal nor connected to Croatia. At the instigation of the distinguished lawyer, politician and friend, Bosiljko Misetic, I propose that there be an immediate appointment of a non-political group of distinguished and professional people to draft special laws on Croatian Dubrovnik and Vukovar.  I propose to the president of the Republic and the Parliament to immediately call the leaders of the Peaceful Reintegration (Skare, Vrkic and Klein), the war veterans, Mr Misetic and myself regarding talks on realisation of this proposal – of course, that’s if they care about Croatian Dubrovnik and Vukovar.

Dr Slobodan Lang   Photo: Pixsell

Dr Slobodan Lang Photo: Pixsell

About dr. Slobodan Lang. Born to Jewish family 8 October 1945 in Zagreb, Croatia. Physician, author, writer, politician and former personal adviser to the first Croatian President dr. Franjo Tudjman. His paternal grandfather Ignjat was the president of the Jewish community in Vinkovci (Croatia) and his grandmother Terezija was a housewife. In 1941 Catholic priest Hijacint Bošković, distinguished Dubrovnik and Croatian Dominican, was engaged in an extraordinary attempt to rescue the Langs from Nazi persecution. Bošković traveled from Dubrovnik to Vinkovci with a special permit that allowed him to relocate the Langs to Dubrovnik. Langs grandfather refused to leave, saying that he “was the president of Jews in peace and he will stay one in the war”. Both of his grandparents were killed in the concentration camp during the Holocaust. He graduated at the University of Zagreb School of Medicine and is a specialist in social medicine. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slobodan_Lang)
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Related post: No Cyrillic in Vukovar – Thank you!

Croatia: 5 June 1991 – historic day to remember!

City of Split – 5 June 1991 demonstrations against Yugoslav Peoples Army

5 June 1991: City of Split demonstrated against Yugoslav Peoples Army and terrible Greater Serbia tendencies.

On this historic day, after many days of the siege of village Kijevo (near Knin) and the massacre of Croatian policemen in Borovo selo, embittered residents of Split came out in their masses – unarmed,  they confronted one of the strongest formations of the Yugoslav army, had sniper barrels pointed at them but, despite all the threat to their lives, showed their strong resolve to choose an independent Croatia.

The scene in which an unarmed resident of the city of Split takes Yugoslav Peoples Army’s tank, bashes and belts its exterior, and another in front of the building of the Naval command filled with soldiers, raises the Croatian flag, stands as  witness to the great courage of ordinary Croatian people.

Transcript of  News video recording of the event:

After rebel Serbs had for several days held the Croatian village Kijevo (near Knin) in a blockade and prevented supplies to the hospital in Vrlika, Split rose to its feet, distressed by constant threats and provocation by self-proclaimed sheriff of Knin, Milan Martic, and the relations of the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA) with the rebels, the residents of city of Split came out into the streets.

Everything started about 10 o’clock when rivers of workers headed to the Split wharf and the Yugoslav Military Navy Administration building. Many citizens soon joined the protest. 

 They demanded that the Army takes a clear position towards the extremists and Martic’s outlaws. That is, the federal secretariat of defence arbitrarily raised combat readiness of JNA and executed mobilization, not waiting for the decision from the Presidency of SFRJ (Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia). 

 These commands, under the pretense of neutrality increasingly and openly placed themselves on the side of rebel Serbs.  Unfortunately when tanks threatened the demonstrators chaos arose and gunfire ensued in which a soldier of Macedonian nationality was killed. Another soldier and a woman were wounded. 

The Split mayor Onesin Cvitan appealed to the masses of 50,000 demonstrators to settle down, emphasizing that there were many inserted provocateurs and only one fired bullet could lead to bloodbath. The president Franjo Tudjman called for the cessation of the rally as, he said, at that moment the rally did not serve Croatia but only its enemy. Nevertheless the Split demonstrations clearly showed the mood of Croatian people in Dalmatia and their resolve to oppose the Greater Serbia tendencies”.

Many of Split’s residents taking part in the demonstrations against the Yugoslav Army were arrested, beaten… by the Yugoslav government security forces. One may well say that the 5 June 1991 protest against the rising, distressing, Serb rebel threats to the new Croatian democracy and independence stays in memory as a stark reminder of how very courageous the Croatian ordinary people were in their path to freedom. And, I’ll say it once more: To march at armed tanks with only ones bare hands, while snipers stare down at you is truly courageous. Only utter desperation for freedom and selfless love for ones country can explain such courage. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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