The Soul Is Indestructible – Interview With Julienne Busic

Julienne Busic with statue
of her late husband Zvonko Busic
in Rovanjska, Croatia
Photo: Private collection


You’ve been operating a foundation (Zaklada Zvonko Bušić Taik) in Zvonko’s name for several years now. Tell me about the Foundation’s work

– The Foundation was initiated by former Premier of Croatia Nikica Valentic, who became friends with Zvonko (Busic) and admired him very much. He offered space in his office building and that’s how it all began. Among the founding members are Drazen Budisa (past president of the Social-Liberal Party, former political prisoner during the Tito dictatorship, and also a friend from student days), and many others who have a place in Croatian history. We have been involved in many humanitarian activities; for example, delivering Christmas gifts to impoverished families with many children in Slavonia, and collecting canned goods and other groceries for families who suffered in the floods several years ago. Lidija Bajuk, one of Croatia’s best singer-songwriters of ethno-music in the world, donated a concert on behalf of the effort. We’ve also organised musical evenings with the children of war veterans as the performers. Many of them are extremely talented musicians and opera singers! And not to forget our Valentine’s Day party for very special couples, war invalids and their spouses, who have remained by their side and been their most important support and comfort! Our translation project – English translations of books about the Croatian war of independence – is among our most important ongoing projects. So far we have translated and offered on Amazon and the Internet two such books, In the Eye of the Storm, by Ante Gugo, and The Croatian War of Independence by Ante Nazor. A third is coming up soon, about the siege of Vukovar and the human aspect of the aggression against the city. This project was possible in large part thanks to a radiothon organised by the Croatian radio program in Australia (Pero Maric is the director). So once more, thanks to the Australian Croats for their unending support for valuable projects. We even had the pleasure and honour of meeting with the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, and presenting her personally with our first book!

Julienne Busic (Second from L) with
former Premier of Croatia, Nikica Valentic (third from L)
Photo: Private collection

Now that the Vukovar Day of Remembrance is approaching, can you talk about your third book, Living Cells, which deals with the subject of rape as a war crime through the eyes of a survivor during the siege of Vukovar?

– I just taped a long documentary program for Croatian radio on this subject, which will be broadcast next week prior to the Day of Remembrance. As some might know, Living Cells (for which I was honoured to receive the prestigious A.B. Simic literary award several years ago) is based on the true story of a friend of mine who was held for months as a sex slave in Vukovar during the siege. Her story was particularly disturbing because she was forced to choose between three soldiers; in other words, they forced her to choose her rapist or else threatened that she would be raped by all of them and others as well. This was an evil psychological twist that was almost as bad as the rape itself, at least in my opinion. Later, many friends and neighbours accused her of willingly “cooperating”. Otherwise, why would someone “choose” her rapist? Not only was she branded as a rape victim, as though it were her fault, but also accused of having done it voluntarily, even received benefits from it. So this issue is a complex one, and needs to be addressed by several ministries. First, the Ministry of Health and Social Services needs to provide therapy for the victims, and the Ministry of Defenders must ensure the women receive some kind of compensation. Many are destitute still today. And of course, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must take action to get the perpetrators back to Croatia to serve their sentences. The two rapists in my friend’s case both fled to Serbia and therefore never paid the price for the horrific acts. And without justice being served, it is difficult to forgive. The women want to forgive, but until the perpetrators address their crimes and pay their debt, express remorse, it is difficult for the wounds to heal. This isn’t a pleasant topic, I know, but we need to inform women’s groups and human rights groups outside Croatia about our victims, create a network, raise our voices. My book is the only one I’m aware of that addresses rape as a war crime against Croatian victims, so I hope people will read it and perhaps donate a copy for their local university, a school, a group dealing with this issue.

Nino Raspudic (L) Julienne Busic (C)
Drazen Budisa (R)
Photo: Private collection

How are you coping with the loss of your husband? It’s been four years now.

– It might sound strange, but I don’t feel that I’ve “lost” him. He is always with me, guiding me, sending me messages only I can understand. Philosophically speaking, the physical body is just a collection of atoms and degradable materials that are reabsorbed into the earth. The natural process of birth, death, and regeneration. But the soul is something else and it’s indestructible. I take great comfort in that. In the end, he paid in full his debt to society, he never intended to harm anybody, and the fact that he served 32 years in prison, two years longer than the law allowed, didn’t bother him in the end. He often commented that he was grateful for the last two years because he discovered two philosophers, Pierre Hadot and John Cottingham, who provided explanations for many issues he’d been grappling with all those years. Unfortunately, he didn’t recognise the world into which he was finally released, and couldn’t find his place in it, couldn’t find a way to be useful. He was also deeply disheartened by the materialism, the Ego that seemingly ruled everything, the lack of idealism, the placement of party over homeland, and the vindictiveness of petty, superficial souls, so he went on to discover the ultimate Truth that can only be found in Death. He gave everything he had for his people and country, for their freedom, for his greatest love, Croatia.

Julienne Busic and
President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovuc (C)
Photo: Private collection


Julienne (Julie) Busic (maiden name Julienne Eden Schultz) is a successful American writer and a worldwide well known political activist (alongside her late husband Zvonko Busic) for the freedom of Croatia at the time (1970’s) when Croatia was still a part of the oppressive communist totalitarian regime of Yugoslavia. Julie lives in Croatia and dedicates her life to book writing, promoting and actively taking part in translating into the English books by Croatian authors on the topics of the Croatian War of Independence and painful destinies of victims of crimes committed against Croats during that war. She remains a devoted humanitarian, concerned and seeks to promote human welfare of Croatian victims of war crimes. Interview conducted by Ina Vukic




Croatia: Reparations For War Damages – A Priority In Relating To Serbia


Vukovar, Croatia 1991 - brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 – brutally devastated from Serb aggression

This month, the Croatian government announced its backing for legislation, set to be voted in May, entitling rape war crime victims to a one-time compensation payment of up to 20,000 euros ($21,500), a 320 euro ($340) monthly allowance, health care, psychological counseling and legal aid.
The focus of the law is on the victim, without the need to detail or emphasise the person who committed the war crime of rape, however, it’s necessary to emphasise the perpetrator’s military characteristics in order to make a distinction from a civil perpetrator,” said Vesna Nadj, deputy veterans’ minister.


Marija Sliskovic

Marija Sliskovic

Until now, victims have had to deal with their own trauma privately. Now, they will finally be seen by society,” says Marija Sliskovic, who runs Women in the Homeland, an NGO that has been advocating for rape victims’ rights since 2010, and helping them to heal.






Ruzica Erdelji - Barbaric

Ruzica Erdelji – Barbaric

Raped by some 20 men in Vukovar, Ruzica Erdelji-Barbaric fled her hometown during the war and returned in 1998. She lives off a 200 euro ($215) pension, and hopes the new compensation will help her live “a decent old age”. Barbaric, 63, insists other perpetrators must face justice. “I was raped and I want the people who did it to be punished,” she said. “Our wounds will never heal.”




War veterans’ minister Predrag Matic told the Croatian media recently that the compensation envisaged by the proposed law will be granted “based on trust”.
A victim of sexual violence comes before the committee and tells what happened to her or him and gives accompanying documentation, if there is any. The commission will then decide whether they will get the status of a victim or not,” he said.
Minister Matic has emphasised that his government is the first to do anything about the war crime of rape and that they have shown a “political good will” to address compensation to victims of rape!

While compensation to victims of rape war crime is, in itself, a positive and needed move one cannot but scorn such statements by the veterans’ affairs minister. Such statements do strongly suggest that there is no substantial will to deal with the gravity of such crimes and their perpetrators. Furthermore, given that the grant of compensation will depend on “trust” the process announced for decision-making on compensation via a committee tied to the veterans’ ministry is fraught with likelihoods of political influences and subjective interpretations on committee members.

This law would seem to fit into the concept of “victims of crime compensation” known to societies throughout the democratic developed world. The only difference is, that in the democratically developed world there’s genuine pursuit of justice against the perpetrator and in this case there seems to be no efforts by the Croatian authorities to seek reparations from Serbia whose citizens, at its instigation, committed these war crimes!

Franjo Tudjman visits Vukovar 8 June 1997 during the process of peaceful reintegration of the Serb-occupied Croatian Danube region into the Croatian constitutional and legal system

Franjo Tudjman visits Vukovar
8 June 1997 during the process
of peaceful reintegration of
the Serb-occupied Croatian
Danube region into the
Croatian constitutional and legal system

This brings me to a pertinent issue: Serbia is desirous of becoming an EU member and as such it would be required to respect the democratic standards inherent to EU membership. One of these standards is respecting and complying with agreements signed with other countries. One of such agreements is the Agreement on Normalization of Relations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Croatia, 23rd August 1996.
The joint committee (Croatia – Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/Serbia & Montenegro) met a few times (last time in 1999) after the signing of the said agreement, without any progress being made as to reparations for war damages. Serbian members rejected Croatia’s draft on compensation for damages submitted in July 1998 under the false guise that the 1990’s war was a civil war and, therefore, each state should sustain/compensate for damages arisen on its own territory! Not an inch of Serbia’s territory was under attack, of course. Croatia could not agree to such a legally and factually unfounded premise and considered that its responsibility lay in compensation for war damages that occurred on the territory under the control of the Croatian authorities and not for those that occurred in its occupied territories under the control of the Yugoslav army, i.e. Serbia and Montenegro, and the rebel Serbs in the Krajina region.


Armed Serb rebels  commenced aggression  in Croatia with barricades 1990

Armed Serb rebels
commenced aggression
in Croatia with barricades

War damages to Croatia sustained between 1990 and 1999 are estimated to be in the vicinity of 32,5 Billion Euro. At the end of 1999 Croatia filed a lawsuit against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (later changed to Serbia as Montenegro left the union with Serbia) at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for genocide and seeking compensation for war damages. When Social Democrats won government in Croatia, in 2000, Prime Minister Ivica Racan suspended all activities to do with the abovesaid 1996 Agreement, pending ICJ verdict. Despite that, Serbia had continued to raised the question of restoring the property to Serb minority that had fled Croatia during the war years, criticising Croatia that not enough is being done on that front even though Croatia had, to September 2014, spent 5.5 Billion Euro from its budget in the implementation of the national program securing the return of refugees and their housing.
In its February 2015 verdict the ICJ had decided that while acts of genocide were committed in various areas of Croatia there was no genocide committed by either side (Croatia or Serbia) as a whole but there was no doubt as to the fact that Serb aggression against Croatia, on Croatia’s sovereign territory, so to speak, did occur.

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 Serb Chetnik and Serb-led Yugoslav army march into Vukovar singing: "Slobo, Slobo (as in Slobodan Milosevic) send us some salad, there will be meat, we'll slaughter the Croats" (BBC newsreel screenshot)

Vukovar, Croatia 1991
Serb Chetnik and Serb-led Yugoslav army
march into Vukovar singing:
“Slobo, Slobo (as in Slobodan Milosevic) send
us some salad, there will be meat, we’ll slaughter
the Croats” (BBC newsreel screenshot)

Croatian parliament had on 21st October 2011 upheld the Declaration on promoting European values in South-East Europe and it has been heard on several occasions that Croatia will not, as an EU member state, use that position in obstructing Serbia’s negotiations for EU membership. However this Declaration does not mean that Croatia should renounce its rights and national interests.
It’s high time to put a stop to political juggling and “political good will” (as minister Matic put it in the case of war crime of rape) and bring the matter of compensation for war damages to Croatia to the table, along with other open questions such as the missing, the Vukovar medical archives, the processing of war criminals, the return of stolen art treasure, the landmines’ plan etc.). An official meeting between Croatia’s new President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Serbia’s Tomislav Nikolic would seem to be an ideal opportunity to start “the ball rolling” in the right and practical direction. There’s been enough politicisation on the issue of compensation for war damages and the tide needs to turn towards actual and concrete demands to Serbia for payment. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia’s Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic Flogs A Dead Horse At UN Human Rights Council

Vesna Pusic Photo: Screenshot UN WEB TV 3 March 2015

Vesna Pusic
Photo: Screenshot UN WEB TV 3 March 2015


Croatia’s foreign minister and deputy Prime Minister Vesna Pusic is in the grand scheme of the UN map – insignificant. However, when she stands up at a UN event giving a speech on violations of human rights then Croats, indeed the world, need to pay attention, for she is the very example of hypocrisy on two legs.

She spoke of violations of human rights and how the world – UN – should fight against these when her own track record on these matters in Croatia tells us the fight under her “tutelage” has no chance of any success.

So, she flogged a dead horse in Geneva on 2 March 2015!

For years now she has served in the high position of power in Croatia and yet has done absolutely nothing with respect to the plight for justice coming from war crime rape victims from Croatia’s Homeland War. She has done nothing to ensure rapists are thoroughly dealt with and brought to justice; she has done nothing in the possible pursuit of removing the amnesty from prosecution and impunity for war crimes afforded to many Serb rapists, some of whom are still freely walking the streets of Vukovar, keeping their victims in continuous distress, for instance.

Please see this documentary “Sunny” published in 2014 to give a voice to women and men who were victims of rape in the war in an effort to grant them the status of victims of war crimes entitled to every means of assistance and support. To bring the perpetrators to justice.



And yet, Vesna Pusic had the gall to speak in Geneva this week, lecturing the world on how it should deal with sexual violence as a form of human rights violation!

Did she speak at the UN Human Rights Council with the intention of paving a way to perhaps secure herself an international position, perhaps in Human Rights field, once she is no longer in power in Croatia? My answer to this question is – yes. But I do so dread being a citizen of the world where people like Vesna Pusic give speeches and in real life do the opposite of what they are preaching, or do nothing to better the world; stand idly by while the world around them alarmingly deteriorates.
There are three types of human rights violations in the world today, Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said at the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday 2nd of March.

The violations in question are violations of women’s rights worldwide in fighting sexual violence, violations of human rights in Ukraine and violations of the freedom of speech manifested as hate speech. One of the most extreme examples of human rights violations are ISIL decapitations, the Foreign Ministry quoted the minister as saying in her address.
“… when we examine the functioning of countries’ judiciary we look at how well they fight corruption…white collar crime … but never ever have I seen an evaluation of a country’s judiciary on how well it fights sexual violence. How well it prosecutes rape cases. How effective it is in fighting through its courts, through its judiciary system sexual violence. How well it prosecutes the perpetrators. How well it fights impunity for sexual violence in peace time let alone in times of war. And make no mistake, not fighting sexual violence in peace time is directly related to widespread sexual violence in times of war…this is one area which demonstrates that however long we have been aware of the problem without fighting and finding efficient ways of addressing the problem in a way in which it will go away, in a way in which it will become centre stage problem, not just one of those things, it will stay and it will spread. So I think we need a new onslaught, new crusade against sexual violence, against impunity for crimes committed either in war or in peace…” Pusic said in her speech.

Then in the same speech Vesna Pusic spoke of violations of freedom of speech that are manifested in hate speech! And yet, in Croatia, she as a highly positioned member of the government has done nothing to sanction (at least by way of public statements) hate speech that comes in the form of labeling as fascism all expressions of Croatian patriotism or democratic avenues of protest against violations of rights, such as is the case with the current war veterans protest that is well into its fourth month in Zagreb. It cannot elude any reasonable mind to see that her government is the leading force behind this hate speech and when people, for instance, point to the facts of communist crimes she and her lot label that as hate speech! She fails to acknowledge that there is no hate speech in citing facts such as mass graves, mass murders – victims of communist Yugoslavia regime, and the like.
“…Hate speech is a form of mobilizing global lynch mobs. People who decide that they have the right to hate other people so much that they go and kill people in our streets…or people who think differently who have different political opinion. Hate speech has been extremely effective. I don’t remember in my long life seeing it as effective as it is today. To mobilise people to kill other people, to violate their human rights …” Pusic said.

What a pathetic liar!

Vesna Pusic lived and thrived in Communist Yugoslavia, in a communist family who were, I believe, well aware of human rights violations of people who were against the communist regime; who had done nothing to protest against such widespread human rights violations. If she was not aware during her life in Yugoslavia of Tito’s communist purges where hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed, others tortured and imprisoned because of their political opinions, then she has become aware of them after more than 650 mass graves of communist crimes victims were unearthed in Croatia, particularly after 1990’s. But still turned the other way!

Furthermore, she and her government fund exorbitantly the Documenta NGO of which her brother Zoran Pusic is the President of the Board, and which deals with “the past” but avoids with every fiber of its being to address communist crimes! The crimes that have left multitudes of victims; the crimes that are left unaddressed – still, and which continue to feed profound distress in that society.

The European Court of Human Rights has identified a number of forms of expression, which are to be considered hate speech – offensive and contrary to the Convention on Human Rights (including racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, aggressive nationalism and discrimination against minorities and immigrants). However, the Court is also careful to make a distinction in its findings between, on the one hand, genuine and serious incitement to extremism and, on the other hand, the right of individuals (including journalists and politicians) to express their views freely and to “offend, shock or disturb” others.
There is no universally accepted definition of the expression “hate speech” and various courts throughout the “Western” world have established various parameters making it possible to characterise “hate speech” in order to exclude it from the protection afforded to freedom of expression or freedom of assembly and association.

A person with such an appalling record in fighting violations of human rights (eg prosecuting rapists, removing impunity of rapists…), a person with such an appalling record of doing nothing to improve the welfare of victims of human rights violations, such as those in Croatia that relate to the forms of human rights violations Vesna Pusic spoke of in Geneva this week, has no place in a UN Human Rights Council! Of that I am convinced and I do not stand alone in this! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: