No Dogs, Catholics Or Muslims Allowed

Civilians of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993 running for cover to avoid Serb snipers during the city's siege Photo: Chris Helgren/Corbis

Civilians of Sarajevo in
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993
running for cover to
avoid Serb snipers during the city’s siege
Photo: Chris Helgren/Corbis

The referendum held on 25 September 2016 in the entity of Serbian Republic (Republika Srpska/RS) within Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) regarding confirmation that 9 January should be set as public holiday for the celebration of the Day of Republika Srpska/Serbian Republic Statehood Day may to many in the outside world seem benign but given BiH’s geographic position coupled with the 1990’s history puts it all in a different light. But, in reality and in truth this frighteningly defiant move led by Milorad Dodik, RS president – and nourished and supported via Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s promises of financial supports – has all the hallmarks of officially legitimising war crimes, especially ethnic cleansing and genocide (including Srebrenica) committed during 1990’s against Croatians and Bosniaks/Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina/BiH in that self-proclaimed Serbian territory situated within sovereign borders of BiH.

 

It once again brings to a chilling reminder the chilling “banner”, the “warning sign” under which Serb aggression operated there in that BiH sovereign territory in the 1990’s: No Dogs, Catholics or Muslims Allowed.

 OHIO, Nov. 21, 1995 from Centre left: President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, President Alija Izetbegovic of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and President Franjo Tudjman of the Republic of Croatia sign the Dayton Peace Accords. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Brian Schlumbohm

OHIO, Nov. 21, 1995
from Centre left:
President Slobodan Milosevic
of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
President Alija Izetbegovic
of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
and President Franjo Tudjman of the Republic of Croatia
sign the Dayton Peace Accords.
Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Brian Schlumbohm

 

In November 1995 the primarily US-driven international Dayton Accords peace agreement ended the war in BiH and it preserved BiH as a single sovereign state, divided into two largely autonomous parts/entities: the Bosniak-Croatian Federation and the Serbian Republic. Dayton Accords, although made having peace in mind, in essence meant that peace had no chance as no conductive environment was created for proper reconciliation, in many ways the Serb aggressor was rewarded with its own region to govern autonomously. Dayton Accords agreement had sealed the fate of BiH as a sovereign state made up of three constitutional peoples (Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs) into a perpetual state of ethnic rivalry, recriminations, dysfunction and fear that Serbs were only “an inch” away from achieving their initial goal of creating their own sovereign state from parts of BiH’s sovereign territory they’d cleansed of all non-Serbs.

 

Milorad Dodik had officially, with apparent newfound determination, begun threatening to hold a referendum on secession of Serbian Republic from BiH in 2014 if Bosnia does not become a confederation of three states (Serb, Croat and Bosniak). At that time he sought to seize on the Crimean referendum and subsequent Russian annexation as a political and moral guide and an example of self-determination in action, however wrong, tragic and misguided these actions may have been held by the leaders of the Western democratic world. Dodik had planned for the referendum regarding 9 January as the Day of Serb Republic/ Statehood Day (which date by the way coincides with the Serb Orthodox religious holiday) to be held on 15 November 2015 but this and any such referendum was thwarted via BiH Constitutional Court’s ruling, making such referendums illegal.

Milorad Dodik September 2016 Photo: Reuters/ Dado Ruvic

Milorad Dodik
September 2016
Photo: Reuters/ Dado Ruvic

Defying BiH Constitutional Court and BiH Parliament, to which Serbian Republic answers, the referendum held Sunday 25 September saw the Serbs living in that entity in overwhelming numbers voting Yes to declaring 9 January as the Day of Serbian Republic. The relatively very few Croats and Bosniaks now living in the Serb Republic (having returned there post 1995 Dayton Accords agreement) had refused to vote in the referendum because, in essence, the referendum represents Dodik’s rehearsal for an eventual secession of Serb Republic from BiH and, therefore, the destruction of BiH as the world knows it now.

A further element of defiance and repulsive attempt to legitimise genocide and ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs in this referendum can be seen through Biljana Plavsic’s comments as she voted in the RS representative office in Belgrade, Serbia. Biljana Plavsic, whose actions in 1992 as a member of collective presidencies of both Bosnia and the breakaway Serbian Republic of Bosnia constituted crimes against humanity and who actively supported the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in Serb-held lands, who is an ICTY convicted war criminal said last week that the referendum represents a defense of Serbian Republic – of that in which she herself had participated in the 1990’s.

Whether the leaders of Croatians and Bosniaks living in BiH consider Dodik’s defiant move with the referendum as some kind of an internationally acceptable foundation for a movement that would split BiH into three different ethnically defined sovereign states (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) is at this stage a disquieting point occupying a great deal of political analyses space throughout the world. As desirable as contemplation of such a division of BiH into three sovereign states may appear to each of the three ethnic groups at this moment may be, this articulated in the media desirability or political assessment in essence masks the real and dangerous prospect of the possibility of repeated Serb violence and aggression against Croatians and Bosniaks in BiH.

 

Croatian refugee families from Serb Republic still today in their thousands seek return to their rightful homes in Banja Luka. Photo: HINA

Croatian refugee families from Serb Republic
still today in their thousands seek return to their rightful homes in Banja Luka.
Photo: HINA

Dodik’s defiance with holding the referendum and his subsequent defiance of the BiH State Prosecutor by refusing to answer a summons to appear before the prosecutor regarding his breach of the Constitutional Court order that declared the referendum illegal, are acts that are very likely to motorise the Serb population’s energy for renewed attacks against non-Serbs in BiH. Dodik has found it handy to interpret everything commented against his referendum as threatening to his personal safety and so:
I will not go to the prosecutor’s office in Sarajevo but I am ready to give a statement in any other judiciary office in the Serb Republic,” Dodik told a news conference 27 September 2016. He therefore rejects the jurisdiction of the government of Bosnia Herzegovina to which Serbian Republic entity must answer. He has therefore, in his mind and in his deeds already cut Serbian Republic’s ties with BiH.
If Dodik fails to comply with a summons, and fails to justify it, the prosecution will then issue an arrest warrant,” said Bosnia’s Security Minister Dragan Mektic, a Bosnian Serb.

Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina with entities of Serb Republic/ Republika Srpska and Croat Bosniak Federation

Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina
with entities of
Serb Republic/ Republika Srpska
and Croat Bosniak Federation

 

All this says that Bosnia and Herzegovina is in a more dangerous state than at any other time since Dayton Accords in 1995, with looming possibility of renewed violence and crimes against humanity. It confirms that, despite atrocities committed in early 1990’s and guilt confirmed via international criminal tribunal and domestic criminal courts, Serbs have not learned to keep their fingers off sovereign territories and state borders that have been established/recognised on an international level for many decades. Collective catharsis associated with the atrocities and war crimes as some guarantee of lasting peace in BiH has made no progress despite Dayton Accords and the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). This latest behavior of Bosnian Serbs evidences the fact that reconciliation in BiH (in former Yugoslavia, really) has been a pipe dream, and a utopian dream concocted by the West and the European Commission who thought that equating the aggressor with the victim would reap positive results of reconciliation and peace. Permitting Serbian Republic to exist within BiH in the first place was the beginning of that pipe dream, which was above all cruel to the victims of war crimes and, as such, it was never going to work. Daytom Accord should have either split BiH into three distinctive sovereign states (Bosniak, Croat and Serb) or insisted on retaining BiH as a single sovereign state without entities or divisions of autonomous territory between its constituent ethnic/national groups.

But as things have panned out, the world must cringe with disgust watching the referendum signatures of the majority of the genocidal Bosnian Serb “nation” celebrating without an inkling of shame or remorse their “state” founded on war crimes, forced deportations, ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, genocide, torture…and all that permitted by way of world leaders’ benign political statements that offer only political analyses of the past and no visible intention for decisive involvement to stop such lunacy that is creating new victims of the imposed ethnic Serb superiority in that region. This is a true perversion of justice for the victims of crimes against humanity and freedom to live peacefully anywhere within one’s country’s sovereign borders.

By way of referendum for Serb Republic Statehood Day Bosnian Serbs are erecting a monument to those who committed genocide. This comes without real sanctions and practical intervention against this shame for humanity as all of the political analyses and statements by world leaders about this appear more benevolent toward this Serb cause of celebrating genocide than toward anything else. Turbulent times are on the cards once again for Bosnia and Herzegovina; for Bosniaks and Croatians. Together with political instability in Macedonia, violent protests in Kosovo, the destabilisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina will have a destructive influence on the entire Balkan region. The referendum in Republika Srpska also perfectly shows how history can be used to drum up hostility between nations. Desirous of peace and life without fear, a life that moves away from daily infliction of pain contained in politically live reminders of the 1990’s war, Bosnian Croats may do well by utilising this latest practically unchecked Bosnian Serb defiance and seek their own independence or autonomy within or without BiH. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Renewed Aggression And Hatred From Serbia – Alarms

 

Vicious and Indicted Serb War Criminal  Vojislav Seselj Burns the Croatian Flag in Belgrade

Vicious and Indicted Serb War Criminal
Vojislav Seselj
Burns the Croatian Flag in Belgrade

It’s difficult to conclude that the renewed aggression against Croatia coming out of Serbia since the indicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj burned the Croatian flag last week is not politically connected to the announcement by Milorad Dodik, the president of the Serbian Republic (entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina/B&H, which has the 1995 massacre and genocide of Srebrenica as its cornerstone) regarding his plan to bring about at the end of April 2015 the declaration of the independence (from B&H) of the Serbian Republic. All this tells me, and I’m sure, many, that the Greater Serbia plan has not been shelved and sovereign nations affected by it (e.g. Croatia, B&H) must continue vigilance, as possibilities of renewed armed Serb-aggression, such as the one in early 1990’s, do seem to pose a risk.
Serbia did not succeed in its aggressive bid to try and stop secession from communist Yugoslavia of Croatia and B&H into independent states. However, in B&H, Serbs managed to hive off a part of that sovereign country as their enclave with their own local government. In Croatia, they lost completely – Croatian forces in 1995 “Operation Storm” liberated most of the Serb occupied and ethnically cleansed region (Krajina), and the rest was peacefully reintegrated into Croatia by the end of 1998. And everything they do politically points to the conclusion that Serbs cannot accept that; they cannot accept being a minority where they are a minority within a country.
Even though the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) appellate judges had just over a week ago, 30 March 2015, ruled that the indicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj had violated the terms of his release and ordered him to return to ICTY custody, Vojislav Seselj and Serbia’s leaders (Seselj’s political mates during the 1990’s aggression against Croatia and B&H, Serbian ultranatiolists) seem unperturbed and have raised their hate speech and aggressive disposition to almost the levels that existed during the 1990’s war of Serb-aggression against Croatia and B&H .
While the sinister Milorad Dodik is announcing a declaration of Serbian Republic independence in B&H (in defiance of the 1995 Dayton Agreement, which had as its foundation a goal to keep B&H in one piece as a sovereign and independent state) Vojislav Seselj is burning the Croatian flag in Serbia’s capital Belgrade, in front of Serbia’s government house, and threatening that he will only come to Croatia in a tank, and armed! Meanwhile, Serbia’s minister for work Aleksandar Vulin has obviously in the name of Serbia’s government intensified his anti-Croat hate speech, calling Croatia’s 1990’s war hero and general, Ante Gotovina, an Ustashe General and promoting still the lie that some 200,000 Serbs were deported forcefully from Croatia in 1995, ignoring the ICTY Appeals court ruling that there was no forceful deportation of Serbs from Croatia. (Ustashe were members of the Croatian Revolutionary movement in the period 1929-1945 and are considered an ultra-nationalist and fascist formation.A similar group in Serbia, during the same historic period, was the Chetniks.)

 

 

As one might expect, Milorad Pupovac, a member of Croatian parliament representing the Croatian Serb National Council support this Greater Serbia “warrior” and continues equating the 1990’s Croatian War of Independence with the WWII efforts towards Croatian independence. Serbia’s president Tomislav Nikolic had said that stringent measures under the law would be taken out against the person burning Croatia’s flag in Belgrade – but guess what – it’s been over a week and Vojislav Seselj still walks the streets of Serbia instead of being rounded up by Serbia’s authorities to prevent any further criminal actions while the burning of the flag is processed, and, to ensure Seselj returns to the ICTY to face judgment on charges of war crimes perpetrated against Croats and Bosniaks in Croatia, Vojvodina and B&H. Tomislav Nikolic sees the ICTY order to have Seselj returned to Hague as pressure against Serbia! The fact that Seselj stands accused of most heinous crimes against humanity does not seem to factor one iota in Nikolic’s thinking on due justice!
Furthermore, Serbia’s foreign minister and another of Seselj’s political “mates”, Ivica Dacic, said that the ICTY decision to seek Seselj’s return was “perfidious and scandalous” and jeopardised the stability of Serbia and the entire region. Never mind the fact that victims of Seselj’s war crimes spree deserve justice!

 

 

The ICTY Trial Chamber has last week ordered the ICTY Secretariat to contact the medical team of Vojislav Seselj (in Serbia) as soon as possible and furnish the Chamber with the latest information about the health condition of the accused. Meanwhile, Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic states that his government has no proof that Seselj is well again! I would have thought that organising public hate speeches, threatening Croatia, burning Croatia’s flag was proof enough that Seselj was quite well physically to be treated at medical facilities in the Hague for any physical ailment he may have and when it comes to his mental state – there’s ample proof that he needs to be behind bars as he is a danger to many innocent people!

To throw another element into the factor where Serbia will try everything and anything to avoid acceptance of its guilt for the horrible wars that ensued during the breakup of communist Yugoslavia, Serbia’s president Tomislav Nikolic has a few days ago announced that Serbia’s military forces would be marching in Moscow at the May celebrations of WWII victory! One may indeed raise ones eyebrows and ask: Why? This are the times when Serbia says it wants to join the EU and the EU is not in good terms with Russia, over Ukraine! Is Serbia giving up its plan to join the EU (its leaders’ political idol war criminal Vojislav Seslj says Serbia should not join the EU) or is Serbia, once again, intimidating the international community (EU) in order to, somewhat surreptitiously,  “bag” new acreage for Serbia – Serbian Republic in B&H – and get away with its denial of war crimes perpetrated during 1990’s?

 

 

As to Serbian plans to march in Moscow, Serbia’s political scientist Aleksander Pavic said that he believes that Serbia’s participation in the parade has a tremendous symbolic significance. “We are definitely part of the coalition [of victors], considering how many Serbs were killed in the Second World War. We had not one, but two anti-fascist projects, and we have the right to say that we were the first to rebel in a Europe enslaved by Nazism.” Pavic, like all Serbia’s leaders, have conveniently forgotten that Serbia’s WWII “rebellion” against Nazi enslavement came after Serbia under Milan Nedic exterminated, by May 1942, 94% of its Jews and became one of the first European countries to declare itself “Judenfrei” (Jew-free)! Serbia was like Russia during WWII: shouting to be anti-Nazi while murdering multitudes of innocent people! What a disgrace for humanity!

 

Although, last week Croatia had, after Seselj’s burning of the Croatian flag, called its Ambassador to Serbia back to Croatia for consultations it is of utmost importance that, within Croatia, some serious measures are put in place to protect the Croatian people and Croatia’s war veterans from Serb nationalist lies and the undermining of the sovereignty of Croatian state. Pressure might be on from the EU (and other parts of the world) to see neighbourly relations between Croatia and Serbia become more normal and moving towards reconciliation but this latest outpouring of hatred and lies against Croatia and the 1990’s War of Independence coming out of Serbia vividly demonstrate that Serbian and Serbs still do not see themselves as Croatia’s neighbours nor do they want to be neighbours – they still want a piece of Croatia for Serbia just as they want the same in Bosnia and Herzegovina! That is the ugly bottom line and the sooner the Croatian leadership acknowledge this truth publicly the better it will be for Croatia and its people; for democracy and freedom far and wide. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A. Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: PM Visits Bosnian Croats And Protesters Say No Sex In Public Firms

Centre: Zoran Milanovic, Croatian Prime Minister In Mostar 9 Feb 2014 Photo: Branimir Boban/Cropix

Centre: Zoran Milanovic, Croatian Prime Minister In Mostar 9 Feb 2014
Photo: Branimir Boban/Cropix

This is not a joke; this is reality!
“Why is there no sex in state firms and government offices?… Well because it’s all relatives…family … in the Council, in the Government, in the Cantons ” says a protester on the streets of Bosnia in this translation of this fresh video clip.

In other words nepotism is rampant and chances for achieving real changes without some serious moves are nil!

Failed, fraudulent and corrupt privatisations, obscenely rampant unemployment (almost 60% among youth and about 42% generally), obscenely wide gaps between the rich and the poor, and the utterly inefficient and unaccountable political system are said to lie at the basis of the predominantly Bosniak (Muslim) protests that had gripped Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) for over a week now.

Protests in Tuzla, Bosnia Photo: AFP Getty Images

Protests in Tuzla, Bosnia
Photo: AFP Getty Images

Parts of towns and cities across BiH have seen eruptions of aggressive protests; government buildings burning (even the National archives building where a great deal of a thousand years of history has been reported as destroyed), rocks and all sorts of steel, sharp missiles thrown at government buildings, at hordes of bewildered police that sheltered themselves behind shields, crawling and shuffling at times against walls like black caterpillar formations in fear of injury, yelling and screaming “Down with corrupt government” “thieves – out!”, holding banners with inscriptions such as “Moja jedina nada, je da padne vlada” (My only hope if for the government to fall). In Tuzla, Mostar, Zenica and Sarajevo, government buildings have been set on fire and there have been demonstrations across much of the rest of the country. Hundreds have been injured, including policemen, but the determination in the protesters’ eyes is fierce – they want to overthrow the government that has brought them nothing but misery, unemployment, hunger, more corruption…no hope for their children’s future…

Graffiti: "He who sows hunger, reaps anger!"

Graffiti:
“He who sows hunger, reaps anger!”

Several leading elected officials in BiH have been under investigation for corruption. Ethnic or nationalist squabbling has paralysed government institutions and it’s not getting any better.

It is in that circumstance and reality that one must protect the nationality or ethnicity that’s being downtrodden and repressed, just as we would do for ethnic minorities anywhere.

Serbs and Bosniaks outnumber the Croats in BiH and, as a result Croats have demonstrated the suffering from threats to their very existence, identity, power to self-determination and struggle for equality amidst an ever increasing and ever louder self-imposed ethnic and administrative superiority of Serbs and Bosniaks.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic had decided to pay an emergency visit to Mostar and its burned buildings last Sunday. On that occasion he said, “all this would not have happened had the EU had clear BiH politics …I will make efforts towards achieving talks between EU and BiH …”. He emphasised several times that he had come there to give support to the EU path for BiH although some saw his visit to Mostar as support for the Croats living there for whom he said were already citizens of EU (apparently referring to those who hold double citizenships/that of BiH and that of Croatia).

Back in Zagreb, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic stated:

It’s not realistic to ask a state such as Bosnia and Herzegovina to change its constitutional frame, which is 20 years old, and there is no consensus for this. Let’s accept Bosnia and Herzegovina as it is now. It’s not perfect, its Constitution is not the best but in the EU there is at least one country in which it is known that the president must be of one religion, vice-president of another religion or nation. That is not good, but at this moment this is the only possibility.”

At the same time Serbian Republic’s Milorad Dodik keeps pushing for a territorial division of BiH into three parts; One for Serbs (well they already have it in Serbian Republic, which they seized through genocide and ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Croats in the 1990’s) one for Bosniaks and one for Croats (source: Croatian TV evening news 13 Feb 2014 ). Having previously stated that the protests are also to destabilise Repubika Srpska and further involve the international community in the country’s politics.

The political/government order in BiH Croatia’s Prime Minister seems to support in reality is this: Three constitutional ethnic groups (Bosniak, Croat, Serb), five levels of government, two political entities (Serbian Republic and Federation of Bosniaks and Croats), one special district (Brcko), ten cantons (in the Federation) that compete with local governments (Councils) making it fourteen governments in BiH and one internationally appointed High Representative. The reality has been that in this situation no one answers to no one, and everyone makes their own decisions as they please, and to make things worse nepotism has spread like a plague in all public firms (and in private ones to a lesser degree).

In the constellation of loud Serbs and loud Bosniaks the Croatian voice is hardly heard; their presence in BiH seems to be even more repressed than before. So, Zoran Milanovic’s visit to Mostar can be seen as a reminder to all that the third ethnic entity in BiH exists and has rights also, although his motives for the visit can be seen as attempts to help quash nationalistic outbursts there.  Given the absolute fact that Bosnian Serb and Bosniak (Muslim) nationalistic passions are and have been running high for decades it’s a pity that he did not speak louder on behalf of Bosnian Croats who are struggling with their rights and identity within Bosniak predominance in the Federation.  Bosnian Croats have an absolute right to having in BiH what Serbs and Bosniak have – a piece of BiH where their voice will predominate; their rights be duly fought for and realised.  It was Croatia’s late president Franjo Tudjman who supported the evident and strong will of Bosnian Croats to self-determination and self-governance and for that he was branded as criminal! Perhaps Zoran Milanovic fears speking out too loudly in support of Bosnian Croats in fear of being labelled by the international political wheelers and dealers a criminal, too?

The current protests in the Bosnian Federation can only serve as a testament to what it was like for Croats in BiH during early 1990’s! A bloody fight for survival amidst competing Bosniak and Serb majorities! The international community has all but accepted that Serbs in BiH have a right to their entity; the Bosniaks seem to be waging protests not for the motive visible – get rid of corrupt government – but possibly to get rid of the cantons and thus achieve ethnic majority across the Federation, cutting any chance of expression where it counts for the Croats.  Croats deserve their own entity in BiH and that does not mean that such an outcome would result in tearing apart the BiH created by Dayton agreement.

Graffiti: Stop Nationalism Stop Nationalistic Division of Bosnia United Bosnia

Graffiti: Stop Nationalism
Stop Nationalistic Division of Bosnia
United Bosnia

It is true that the protesters have claimed to be anti-nationalist. The violence has stopped during the past couple of days and protests have taken the form of so-called “plenums” in the streets. Meetings of “fed-up” citizens at which they’re attempting to formulate political demands are being held and more planned as we speak. If these plenums don’t result in clear directions, in clear leaderships, in clear demands, nothing will change. All this unrest will be remembered as loud venting by frustrated people, some of which have been labelled by politicians in power as hoodlums.  These Bosniak led protests have been dubbed by the participants and supporter as “Bosnian Spring” – this reminds one of the recent “Arab Spring” and not the “Croatian Spring” of 1971 when Croatia unsuccessfully and with terrible backlashes sought greater independence from Tito’s Yugoslavia. How anyone can call this the “Bosnian Spring” when the only people participating in these protests are Boaniaks (Muslims) begs explanation! Serbs are not taking part, Croats are not taking part (except for a reported few in Mostar) – it cannot be a Bosnian Spring because Bosnia has three ethnic groups. Let’s not forget the Croats in Bosnia for they truly have been and are – endangered! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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