Croatia: Candles For The Unforgotten – 25 Years On

Vukovar remembers 25 Years since Battle of Vukovar Top R: President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Bottom R: Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic Photo collage: Vecernji List

Vukovar remembers
25 Years since Battle of Vukovar
Top R: President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Bottom R: Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic
Photo collage: Vecernji List

Friday 18 November 2016 more than a 120,000 people took part in the memorial march in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar to the Serb-led Yugoslav army and Serb rebel forces on 18 November 1991 after a three-month siege and slaughter of Croats and ethnic cleansing of Croats from the town. Across Croatia lit candles lined the streets to mark the day 25 years ago when rivers of innocent Croatian blood flowed under the knife of Serb aggressor and the destruction of Croatia reached the point of the senseless and brutal. More than 10,000 people were killed in the Croatian war (1991 – 1995) that started when Croatia declared independence from communist Yugoslavia, triggering a murderous rebellion by minority Serbs to whose aid swiftly came the communist Yugoslavia army seated in Belgrade Serbia.

Remembrance march in Vukovar 18 November 2016 Photo: Screenshot Jutarnji List

Remembrance march in Vukovar
18 November 2016
Photo: Screenshot Jutarnji List

The Battle of Vukovar began on 25 August 1991 when the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitaries mounted an all-out attack on the town. About 1,800 Croatian defenders, including a large number of volunteers from throughout the country, defended the town for almost three months before being overrun by the besieging forces on 18 November 1991. About 4,000 people were killed in the battle.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic lights candles at Vukovar Memorial Cemetery 18 November 2016 Photo: Marko Markonjic/Pixsell

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
lights candles at Vukovar Memorial Cemetery
18 November 2016
Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

JNA troops took wounded Croatian soldiers and civilians from the town hospital to a nearby pig farm at Ovcara and executed them in the night between 20 and 21 November 1991. Two hundred bodies have been exhumed from the Ovcara mass grave and 76 persons are still unaccounted for. The youngest victim was 16 years old and the oldest was 84. Among the victims was a woman seven months pregnant.
After the town’s occupation, several thousand Croatian prisoners of war and civilians were taken to concentration camps in Serbia, and about 22,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were expelled from the town.
A total of 309 persons from the Vukovar area are still listed as missing.

From Left: Hero, Dr Vesna Bosanac of Vukovar Hospital 1991 Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia Ivan Penava, Mayor of Vukovar at Vukovar 18 November 2016 Photo:Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

From Left: Hero, Dr Vesna Bosanac of Vukovar Hospital 1991
Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb,
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia
Ivan Penava, Mayor of Vukovar
at Vukovar 18 November 2016
Photo:Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

On the same day, November 18, 2016, several thousand people gathered in the coastal Skabrnja on Friday to commemorate the massacre on 18 November 1991 of 58 Croatian civilians and 26 soldiers by Serb rebel forces led by Ratko Mladic (currently at the Hague, ICTY, for war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina including Srebrenica genocide).

Remembrance march 2016 Skabrnja, Croatia Photo: HINA/ ml

Remembrance march 2016
Skabrnja, Croatia
Photo: HINA/ ml

The next day, November 19th, thousands march peacefully in remembrance of massacres and tortures of Croats in Borovo Naselje (next to Vukovar) and Nadin (next to Skarbrnje) when of 19 November 1991 Serb paramilitary forces made up of Croatian Serbs with the help of Yugoslav army seated in Belgrade, Serbia, stormed into these villages and as in Vukovar and Skabrnje the day before – massacred dozens of Croatian civilians, forcing others in their thousands to concentration camps both in Croatia and in Serbia. The same terror occurred in many other places, day by day. It was the time of Serb occupation of Croatian lands by means of murder, ethnic cleansing, rape, destruction… a reign of terror no one can forget and most cannot forgive – the pain is still too fresh and the crimes still unpunished. This is not a good report card for Croatian governments since at least 1998 when the last patch of Croatian Serb-occupied land was reintegrated into Croatia. There are still hundreds upon hundreds of massacred and murdered Croats on the missing list and Serb simply will not reveal where their remains are buried.

Stone monument to those massacred in Nadin on 19 November 1991 Photo: Vladimir Brkic

Stone monument to those massacred in Nadin
on 19 November 1991
Photo: Vladimir Brkic

 

Besides political rhetoric and declarations of condemnation Croatian governments have not really set a firm agenda intent on achieving the result of finding out where the remains of the missing people are and what had happened to them. This agenda should become the Croatian government’s demand to Serbia as part of Serbia’s negotiations to EU membership.

I hope that after 25 years we will receive an answer to the question where our people perished, and then find the perpetrators and try them for their crimes and punish them,” said in Borovo Naselje to HRT TV news Ljiljana Alvir, president of the Union of the Families of the Imprisoned and the Missing.

Ljiljana Alvir Photo:hrt.hr

Ljiljana Alvir
Photo:hrt.hr

She said that when talking about Borovo Naselje, people from Borovo village (near Vukovar), the Serbs who were there (in 1991) and those who still live there, and who participated in the crimes and celebrated their “victory” on 19 November 1991, know where the graves of the missing are. She added that threats are made against Borovo population and the population of similar places, if they reveal where the graves are, that something (nasty) will happen to them. Besides, she said, they also fear that they’ll be indicted of the crimes if they reveal burial places and, therefore, keep quiet.

Remembrance march Borovo Naselje 19 November 2016 Photo:Gordan Panic

Remembrance march
Borovo Naselje 19 November 2016
Photo:Gordan Panic

We expect concrete measures from the Croatian government and pressure against Serbia, especially via the European parliament and to show Serbia that, if it doesn’t solve the question of the missing, it would not enter the EU as member state…” Alvir added.
Perhaps the new Croatian government will achieve more for the road to the revelation of the graves of the missing by appointing the retired General Ante Gotovina as Special Adviser to Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic at a government meeting in Vukovar on Thursday 17 November2016. General Gotovina along with general Mladen Markac were acquitted in 2012 by the ICTY of war crimes charges relating to the 1995 Operation Storm which liberated much of Croatian territory of Serb occupation.

Ante Gotovina Photo: FaH/ Mario STRMOTIC /ds

Ante Gotovina
Photo: FaH/ Mario STRMOTIC /ds

I am very pleased that my great friend and our hero has accepted my proposal and this engagement. I am confident that the general, with his knowledge and competence, will make a considerable contribution to national security and the development of the Croatian Armed Forces. It is my desire to continue encouraging the engagement of former professional soldiers and officers who helped in creating our Homeland and who can certainly also help in maintaining national security,” Krsticevic said in his Facebook post. https://eblnews.com/news/croatia/general-gotovina-appointed-special-adviser-defence-minister-44830 Serbs and Serbia are not going to be happy about this appointment as they continue with their denial of war crimes committed in Croatia but then nothing short of strong measures by Croatia will ever do justice to the victims of Serb-aggression crimes in Croatia.

And that pressure against Serbia should become the focus of all Croatian citizens in the coming months and years, if needed. Remembering those that perished without a trace, year after year, loses its true meaning without real efforts being made in finding their graves and their destiny. And so, I too hope that the Croatian government will turn its political rhetoric about the need to find the missing and start applying some real measures and pressures to actually give that revelation a real prospect. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia Remembering Victims Of Vukovar And Skabrnje

Fountain in Zagreb lights up as Vucedol Dove the symbol of Vukovar Croatia 24th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar

Fountain in Zagreb
lights up as Vucedol Dove
the symbol of Vukovar
Croatia
24th anniversary of the
fall of Vukovar

 

On the night of November 17th people of Croatia’s capital Zagreb and their friends and visitors lit up the city with candles lining its long and wide artery called Vukovar Street! This was in memory and honour of all those who perished and died defending the Croatian city of Vukovar from brutal and genocidal Serb aggression in 1991 until the city fell on its knees on 18 November 1991, suffered genocide and ethnic cleansing committed against the Croats and other non-Serbs and became occupied by Serb-led forces.

 Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Lights the candles along Vukovar Street in Zagreb 17 November 2015 Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX


Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Lights the candles along
Vukovar Street in Zagreb
17 November 2015
Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

More than 10,000 candles were lit last night in the capital Zagreb along the 10-kilometre Vukovar Street to remember victims from the 1990s homeland war in the eastern town of Vukovar.

 

The damage to Vukovar during the long siege prior to that date in 1991 has been called the worst in Europe since World War II, drawing comparisons with the World War II–era Stalingrad. The city’s water tower, riddled with bullet holes, has been retained by city planners to serve as a testimony to the events of the early 1990s.

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 - brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 – brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar was heavily damaged during the Croatian War of Independence. Approximately 2,000 self-organised defenders (the army of Croatia was still in an formative stage at that time) defended the city for 87 days against approximately 36,000 Yugoslav People’s Army/JNA troops commanded by Serbia supplemented with 110 vehicles and tanks and dozens of planes. The city suffered heavy damage during the siege and was eventually overrun. Untold cruelty was suffered by the Croatian people of Vukovar during the siege – massacres, murders, tortures, rapes, forced deportation, humiliation, forced detention… Some 2,000 defenders of Vukovar and civilians were killed, 800 went missing (more than half of which are still missing to this day in 2015) and 22,000 Croat and non-Serb civilians from Vukovar were forced into exile.

Remembering those that perished Vukovar Street in Zagreb 17 November 2015 Remembering Vukovar of 1991 Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

Remembering those that perished
Vukovar Street in Zagreb
17 November 2015
Remembering Vukovar of 1991
Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

On that same day – 18 November 1991 – on the other end of Croatia – in the seaside village of Skabrnje near Zadar – another terrible crime was committed by Serbs, under the command of Ratko Mladic (held also responsible for Srebrenica genocide 1995), against innocent Croatian civilians. Moving from house to house, Serb butchers tortured, murdered and massacred 43 civilians and 15 Croatian defenders. The Croatian villagers that survived were forced into exile and their property burned and pillaged.

 

Memorial to victims of massacres in Skabrnje Serb aggressors were most brutal 18 Nov 1991

Memorial to victims of
massacres in Skabrnje
Serb aggressors were most brutal
18 Nov 1991

Today on the 18th of November 2015 the 24th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar is marked in Vukovar and the 24th anniversary of the Skabrnje massacre.
On the main road in Vukovar, along the road where on 18 November the procession will pass, a banner with the names of the deceased Croatian soldiers has been put up. The banner is over 200 metres long and includes 1,145 names. This is the first time that the names of all those who have laid down their lives for independent Croatia in Vukovar have been publicly presented.

Vukovar Tower and banner with names of the victims of 1991 Serb aggression Photo: Davor Javorovic/Pixsell

Vukovar Tower and
banner with names of the victims of 1991
Serb aggression
Photo: Davor Javorovic/Pixsell

Vukovar and Skabrnje from 1991 are a sad, terrifying reminder and distressing symbol of hatred and aggression the whole of Croatia was made to suffer because it wanted freedom from communist Yugoslavia; because it wanted democracy for its people!

Croatia and Croats Will Always Remember!

Croatia and Croats
Will Always Remember!

 

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Bows to the victims of Skabrnje 18 November 2015 Photo: HINA

Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Bows to the victims
of Skabrnje
18 November 2015
Photo: HINA

May the victims of the heinous Serb aggression rest in eternal peace and honour. Lest We Forget. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Radovan Karadzic Genocide Against Croats And Bosniaks ICTY Trial At Its End

Radovan Karadzic - Photo: AP

Radovan Karadzic – Photo: AP

 

On Monday 29 September 2014 the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague heard the Prosecution’s final arguments in the genocide and war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, charged with some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II, including the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. Initially indicted on 25 July 1995, Karadzic, 69, is facing 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Bosnian Croats between 1992 and 1995 during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced 2.2 million people. Karadzic evaded arrest for many years to be finally found living in Serbia in July 2008, under an assumed name, reportedly practicing as a faith healer. He was arrested on a Belgrade bus and taken to The Hague; his ICTY war crimes trial commenced in October 2009.

Prosecutor says Karadzic along with late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic acted together to “cleanse” Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territories after the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.
Under his command and oversight, Karadzic’s subordinates and those cooperating with them expelled, killed, tortured and otherwise mistreated hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats,” said the prosecutor’s final trial brief (PDF click here), released on Friday 26 September.
The scale and scope of these criminal campaigns is vast,” the brief says.
Karadzic is notably accused of masterminding the July 1995 massacre in the small eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops slaughtered almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys and dumped their bodies into mass graves.
Apart from genocide, Karadzic is also facing charges over the 44-month-long siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which ended in November 1995 with some 10,000 people killed.
During the siege, “fear pervaded daily life — the most mundane acts such as crossing the street or fetching water carried the risk of death,” the prosecutor said.

In their final statements the prosecution stated on Monday that Karadzic was the driving force of genocide against Croats and Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina; that he was responsible, among other war crimes acts, for the killing of 7 to 8 000 men and boys in Srebrenica, and for the shelling of Sarajevo. The prosecution seeks lifelong prison sentence.

The ICTY prosecution has no doubts: Radovan Karadzic is a “Mafia-gangster” and a liar who implemented genocide and ethnic cleansing. After hundreds of witnesses, 8 000 pages of court transcript and 10000 items of evidence the prosecution minced no words, hid no emotion, at the Hague on Monday.

Let me give you the sad picture”, said prosecutor Alan Tieger, “the population was systematically harassed, thousands were taken forcefully from their homes, mutilated and killed, the whole ethnic minorities tens of thousands of people were forcefully deported, hundreds of thousands suffered months long sieges in Bihac, Derventa, Gorazda and Sarajevo. Many ended up in camps in inhumane conditions where hundreds were killed…”

Tieger said Karadzic publicly “bragged at the time about the painstaking steps he was taking” to violently remove non-Serbs from parts of Bosnia to create an “ethnically pure” Serb state within Bosnia.

The court saw many examples of brutality, depravity and sheer criminal activity as evidence  – evidence that showed prisoners in these camps were forced to eat parts of each other’s bodies, women were forced to clean up blood during the day and were raped at night, to thousands of boys and men murdered in Srebrenica. All that and more was done within the joint criminal enterprise that had as its goal a forceful creation of an ethnically clean Serbian state.

Karadzic is expected to close his own defence today (Wednesday) and Thursday of this week. According to legal advisor Peter Robinson, Deutsche Welle reports, “He will demonstrate that he played no part in genocide or the murder of Muslims,” Robinson told the British Broadcasting Corporation, calling the opportunity for Karadzic, who is defending himself, a “milestone.”
At his opening statement in March 2010, Karadzic told judges that the atrocities for which he was being held had been “staged” by his Muslim enemies – and that the Srebrenica massacre was a “myth.” Do not expect remorse or admission from a born and bred criminal.
The verdict is not expected before mid to late 2015. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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