Easter In Croatia – 2021 Looking Back To 1991

(R) Josip Jovic, the first casualty in Croatia’s 1990’s pursuit for independence. (L) Giant and magical Easter eggs proudly on display in front of Zagreb Cathedral 2021

Easter of 2021 is the second Easter of most difficult times many have seen when it comes to celebrating togetherness, together. The pandemic is the culprit. At Easter we usually crowd the churches, and, in our homes, we gather so that we can all experience the spirit of contemplation during the greatest celebration of Christianity. This year many across the world will not have this togetherness in physical presence but the soul, the heart and the mind connect and stay connected, cementing the love and joy in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

My thoughts and the thoughts of multitudes in the Croatian diaspora are with our first Homeland, Croatia. Croatia is being tested once again as the third wave of Covid-19 looms and threatens the very existence of community life in the coming months. And so, the Homeland and the diaspora shall remain united with faith and optimism.

Croatian diaspora keeps the Homeland in its heart and draws strength from Croatia, which feeds identity and belonging like little else in life. This source of strength in most difficult times has been proven a thousand times and we are familiar with the strength Croatian diaspora offered when defending Croatia from brutal Serb aggression became a matter of life and death. It was Easter 1991 when the first blood was shed in the goal of Croatia’s freedom and in preserving Christian identity, away from communist Yugoslavia.

Croatian diaspora’s love for Croatia is the compass that guides us in the crossing of any difficult road of life. On reflecting upon Croatia’s history, the sufferings and the sacrifices for freedom one may indeed compare this pain with the pain and suffering Jesus Christ endured on his torturous way to the Calvary. But just like Easter Day, the day of His resurrection, as we imbibe Croatia’s lush beauty, wine and cuisine cultivated by centuries of tradition in celebrating Christ, the utmost sacrifice and pain in achieving victory for its independence, we find that history never tasted so good; just as faith never tastes so good as it does at the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

At Easter 2021 it is inevitable for Croatians to contemplate on Easter 1991 with great sadness but also exquisite joy at what would be achieved once torture of bloody aggression was suffocated and victory came like resurrection of the Croatian thousand-year dream. Freedom and independence.

Easter of 1991 became to be known as Bloody Easter (“Krvavi Uskrs”). Every year, 31st March marks the anniversary of the death of Josip Jovic, the first Croatian defending Croatia killed in the Homeland War. He sustained fatal wounds in the area of Plitvice Lakes when Serb rebels mounted a vicious onslaught against Croatia’s efforts to pursue a path of secession from communist Yugoslavia. This incident of recent Croatian history hinted that the battle for Croatian freedom and independence would be difficult and bloody. It is this tragic event that will go down in our history as Bloody Easter.

Croatian peoples’ intention to get out of communist Yugoslavia and become a sovereign, independent State had accelerated during 1990 as changes on the political landscape saw new political parties formed towards a democratic future, Croatia’s Constitution being written, Croatia’s diaspora connected to help fight for democracy and on 30th May 1990 Croatia held its first session of a democratic Parliament, inaugurating the Croatian Parliament. A section of Croatia’s Serbs who did not want to be a part of independent Croatia even though, overall, they were a minority in Croatia, grew into terrorist formations and in October 1990 proclaimed a part of Croatia their so-called “Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina” (SAO Krajina). Ethnic cleansing and abuse of Croatians living in that region was evidently on the cards.

The day prior to the Bloody Easter incident at Plitvice Lakes in 1991, Serbian extremists and rebels in that region organised the so-called “rally of truth”, demanding that the Plitvice Lakes National Park remain part of the rebel Serb freshly self-proclaimed and so-called SAO Krajina. The next day, another illegal decision to dismiss the management of the National Park and the beginning of terrorising non-Serb workers followed. A bus full of Serb extremists from Knin had arrived in the Plitvice area, known worldwide for its natural beauty and under the protection of UNESCO. Serb rebels entered the administrative building of the National Park, blocked the main public road to the south, to the so-called SAO Krajina, at dawn the SAO Krajina flag was found raised at the Korana River bridge in the area.  

These events at Plitvice called for immediate intervention. The young Croatian police force had a task of establishing order and peace in the park area. However, before dawn on March 31, rebel Serbs ambushed a convoy of vehicles with Croatian special forces on the main route not far from Plitvice hotels.

Gun fire opened from the surrounding forest, and an anti-tank mine entered the bus full of Croatian police officers, which fortunately did not explode due to an unpulled fuse. This was followed by the police officers’ hurried exit from the bus, lying down by the road, opening fire in the direction from which the shooting came and slowly advancing through the thick fog and deep snow that surrounded Plitvice that Easter.

The conflict lasted for several hours. Unfortunately, in the action, an enemy bullet fatally wounded 22-year-old Croatian policeman Josip Jovic, a member of the Special Tasks Unit of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia, Rakitje. Despite the quick intervention by the ambulance medics, Jovic died from wounds on the way to the hospital. A dozen more Croatian police officers were wounded.

Serb rebels issued an ultimatum to Croatian forces to leave Plitvice. But that was resolutely rejected. Although the action of the special units of the Ministry of the Interior in Plitvice was of a limited character, and in the totality of all future horrendous events of the Homeland War it was relatively small in scope, but it was the first such action of defending Croatia, above all successful, which far exceeds its importance in armed terms.

Croatians stood their ground to defend their people and land at Easter 1991. A show of remarkable and extraordinary love of Homeland was set in action then. The faith in the Croatian nation that smouldered and sparkled in the hearts for a thousand years was fortified, once again, by action of courage and love there at Plitivice Lake in 1991, at Easter! Let’s keep it that way – Croatia and its diaspora!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)

Happy and Blessed Easter everyone!

Ina Vukic

Croatia – Heed The Book Of Amos

 

On 30th August 1991 sixteen Croats were killed and 95 wounded in Vukovar in the attack by the Belgrade-;ed Yugoslav People’s Army and Serbian terrorists; Vinkovac and Nustar were viciously attacked also.

30th August 1993 the International Conference on the protection of victims in Geneva coined a phrase: never since WWII has there been so many civilians exposed to the cruelties in war as those imposed by the war led by Serbia against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

30th August 2020 the Croatian government treads a dangerous path of reconciliation with the Serb aggressor by taking more steps in equating the Homeland War victims (Croats) with the Homeland War aggressor (terrorist Serbs from Croatia and Serbia). Individual deaths of Serbs in Croatia during the war are given more or equal weight to the mass deaths of Croatians and ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs.

Amos’s message (The Book Amos) stands as one of the most powerful voices ever to challenge hypocrisy and injustice. Salvation comes through judgment, Amos teaches us. Hence, you must first be judged in order to be saved and what the Croatian government and President are doing is to free the Serbs and Serbia from being duly judged for their brutal aggression against Croatia and saved regardless of the fact they have not been judged.

But, Croatia stands strongly divided on this unnatural process of reconciliation.

The culture of competitive victimhood is detrimentally promoted by the minority Croatian government who has chosen to collaborate with members of former rebel Serbs in Croatia (the aggressors) rather than with those who uphold the values of the Croatian Homeland War of 1990’s. Using lies and half-truths the government of Croatia is helping its Serbian coalition partners to upstage the Croats as to who was the biggest victim in the Homeland War! The fact that Serbs were the cruel and genocidal aggressors and the Croats in absolute need to defend their lives and homes from such a cruel aggression has been buried for the sake of the government’s reconciliation politics that rest on competitive victimhood.

As elsewhere in the world so too in Croatia, the single greatest challenge in politics right now into which seemingly every single debate and issue and struggle Croatia has fits into is how we handle disagreement. The Croatian social media and independent media as well as some mainstream media are filled with bitter disagreements with what the Croatian government is doing:

Almost humiliating the Croatian people and veterans who fought the Serb aggressor and saved Croatia not only from continued communist oppression but also from continued oppression from Greater Serbia appetites in Croatia.

Just a few recent examples of humiliating the Croatians and their glorious victory over the brutal Serb aggressor easily slot into the formula for reconciliation which spells out disaster for the Croatian nation. These are the commemoration of six Serbs killed in Grubore on 25 August 1995, the comments made by Milorad Pupovac a couple of days ago that he will insist on making Serbs in Croatia feel safe…all in all, fuelling the competitive victim culture so that the Serb aggression ends up not looking so bad!

Many Croats in Croatia and outside it are angry, bitter, there is a lot of upset. The former rebel Serbs in Croatia as well as members of government, especially the communist Yugoslavia nostalgics,  seem to have lost the capacity to disagree with the Croats who keep providing them with the need to reconcile the Homeland War through what it was: a victory over the aggressive neighbour (Serbia) who never acted neighbourly. The former rebel Serbs, Serbia, Croatian government and the Croatian President keep coming up with individual examples of supposed injustice to the Serb aggressor or their civilian population in Croatia who were not civilian but often armed and always aggressive towards their Croat neighbours. They have lost the national perspective of it all because they never had the Croatian national perspective and they never wanted an independent Croatia.

To butter-up this atrocious political garbage that panders only to former communists and Serb aggressor against Croatia in the 1990’s Milorad Pupovac, Member of Croatian Parliament for Serb minority, said a few days ago in his statement to the Croatian public television that “it’s a big deal that the Andrej Plenkovic cabinet and President Zoran Milanovic, together with us from the Serb community, have decided to change the trend and stop the spreading of hate produced by war.”

Well – no hate was produced by the war – hate against independent Croatia started the War and pursued its destructive path against Croats all the way, to today. Croats do not hate Serbs, many Serbs helped Croatia defend itself against Serb aggression, but Croats as a rule do not like injustice and liars!

The hallmark of every great civilisation is not how it handles agreement but how it handles disagreement. Handled badly, as the Croatian government and President do, disagreement with the national plight and deserved status inevitably leads to the development of hatred, that is, their disagreement with the Croatian national plight is interpreted as hatred for the Croatian national plight.

In the Book of Amos, Chapter 5 where it says “There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground”; Chapter 6, where it says “you have turned justice into gall (bitterness), so all your righteousness tastes like poison fruit” what the prophet is saying is that if the quest for justice becomes bitter, even if you get it right, it tastes like poison to everyone. The cries for justice in Croatia for the Homeland War are very bitter because its government in association with its former Serb rebels and aggressors have turned away for justice to the Croatian fallen defenders in the war of Serb Aggression and justice for war reparations.

What the Croatian government seems to be wanting to achieve in its profoundly flawed reconciliation politics is the perception that there were only victims (Croatians and Serbs) in the Croatian Homeland War of 1990’s and no perpetrators of criminal aggression! This is the stuff powder keg for future unrest is made of and it has nothing to do with any ethnic rivalries between Serbs and Croats they are trying to peddle to the world but it has everything to do with falsifying the facts of that recent history, with hypocrisy equating victim with the aggressor.

There is a distinction between legal term and psychological term of victim. When in law we talk about a victim what we mean is that there was a perpetrator of a crime and then the person who suffered that crime and in order to restore justice one has to fight for the right of that victim. When justice collapses in the society hope collapses with it.  So, it is always important tom think about how to figure out what is right. That is the right or healthy thing to do, but in the psychology of competitive victim culture, which appears to be promulgated by the current politics of reconciliation in Croatia, there is a wrong or unhealthy side.  As Psychologists have for decades talked about competitive victim culture this what is happening in Croatia at the moment is fundamentally unhealthy. The reconciliation politics that the Croatian government is pushing for in partnership with the Serb aggressor is trying to train the victim (Croats) that they are not victims, the only victims! Accelerating the destructive competitive victimhood in the Croatian state.

When we are talking about victim culture, psychologically we are dealing with something vary difficult and very dangerous and that’s why Amos talks about not turning justice bitter.

Competitive victimhood narrative in Croatia falls into the usual formula: you did this, yes but you did this … both sides, Croat and Serb are forced into a competition to see who has been hurt the most, when the truth and justice is a very simple thing to deliver. And this is utterly wrong. It is a fact that Croatia was attacked in 1990’s by Serbia and rebel Serbs from within. The Croatian government is pandering to the European Union undercurrents of politically and morally corrupt push for equating victims with aggressors so that peaceful co-existence may be achieved. What a monstrously corrupt and unfair proposition!

Amos stressed that social justice was the key to building an enduring future. Unfortunately, many people fail in Croatia to heed him – the social justice for Croatia has only one entry door and that door is to heed the message of 1990’s 94% of voters choosing to rid themselves of Yugoslav communism and oppression – completely. This has not been done, this door has been shut by former communists, if anything, the powers that be since year 2000 are chipping that choice away, making it almost null and void by forcing a reconciliation with the unrepentant aggressor, who did not and does not like that choice the people made. The possible consequences of such reconciliation politics are too ugly to contemplate.

The Book of Amos tells us that the transgressions that require judgment are nearly entirely comprised of acts of oppression. It is hard to read the book of Amos and not conclude that the Lord is deeply moved when one nation deals cruelly with another, or when the weak and helpless in society are crushed by the powerful. The entire book of Amos shines a powerful light on society, revealing its dishonesty, corruption, and violence. That being the case, overwhelming disaster naturally follows.

Croatians must not allow competitive victimhood to become a debilitating issue for the independent nation that arose from the rivers of blood during the 1990’s Homeland War. They must take action against the injustices with role models that uphold and act on the truth behind the fight for independence. Otherwise, they will be rendered helpless and their future controlled by the very same force that attacked Croatia and its people.

For real and lasting reconciliation facilitating forgiveness among groups involved in brutal conflicts, even in intractable conflicts, requires reducing competitive victimhood which stems from the conflicting parties’ motivation to restore power and a positive moral image. While Croatian Serbs and the Croatian government are trying to dig out any event that saw even a single Serb killed wrongfully in Croatia during their aggression against Croatia and flag that as overwhelming evidence to say that Croats too were brutal, if not more brutal than Serbs, there will be no reconciliation. The Croatian government and President have got it wrong! One cannot bring about lasting and true reconciliation post a brutal and genocidal aggression without the aggression being nationally condemned and called by the name it deserves! One cannot ask for forgiveness for a deed if that deed has not been established in the national creed as a deed that requires forgiveness. The Croatian government of today with its Serb partners are trying to further erode the factual history of the Croatian War of Independence and that the War did ensue because of Serb aggression; brutal one at that!

The way things stand at this moment it appears that the people rather than the government in Croatia take heed of the Book of Amos. Changes that give true credence to Croatia’s War of Independence as the foundation modern Croatia is built on are on the horizon, visible from the Croatian grassroots. They are in the unrest and painful discomfort that the current government reconciliation politics are causing among a widespread Croatian population that voted for independence, that fought for independence, that has lost family lives for independence.  Ina Vukic

The Vomit Principle in Serbia’s Political Spin

 

The “Vomit Principle” in modern marketing trends hasn’t eluded Serbia’s politicians. The vomit principle is a political tactic that wilfully disgusts people in order to grab their attention. When it comes to Serbia’s denial of its horrendous crimes in its pursuits of a Greater Serbia, stretching into Croatian territory and the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990’s, then it has almost perfected the “art” of the “Vomit Principle”.  Serbia’s politicians, whether in Serbia (for example Aleksandar Vucic, Ana Brnabic, Ivica Dacic) or in Croatia (for example Milorad Pupovac, Boris Milosevic) or in Bosnia and Herzegovina (for example Milorad Dodik) are sticking to their marketing message, sprouting their their passively-aggressive slogans and genocide denials ad nauseam. You’d think they’d get sick of saying the same thing at every turn. And if by any chance, you are asking why I’m putting Serbs from Serbia, Serbs from Croatia and Serbs from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the same cauldron here it’s because both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had ethnic Serbs living there who emerged as rebel Serbs (rebelling against the states’ secession from communist Yugoslavia), mounted terror against non-Serbs in those two countries, and were joined in that fight by Serbia with its deadly viciousness. If Croatia’s minority government had the courage and prudence to side with the Croatian Serbs that fought with Croatians against Serb aggression (and there was a significant number of them) we would surely now be looking at a different political scenario, perhaps even at a good progress in reconciliation. But it didn’t and it doesn’t! It sides with Croatian rebel Serb camp that promotes Serbia’s politics in Croatia.

No matter how many times they repeat their spin based on fabrications, there will always be someone who has missed it.  So, repetition is essential to the point of making people feel sick. This is the “Vomit Principle” and it shows particularly at that time when you realise that the spin, the message, the slogan, has been said so many times that you feel that if you hear it or say it once more you are just going to throw up and that is the point at which people hear it. In other words, all marketing that achieves intended results relies on a message which resonates, repeated often enough until it penetrates the minds of your intended audience and gets them to take whatever action you want.

And Serbia wants the world to forget that its aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina ever occurred! That the genocide, the ethnic cleansing, the mass rapes, the torture, the sheer wanton destruction it committed during 1990’s did not occur and if it did occur then it was justified to pursue such course of action because Serbs say in deceit that Croatia, for example, engaged in genocide during World War II. I will not go deeply here into the fact that WWII history regarding Croatia when it comes to, say, Jasenovac camp and the numbers of people who perished there, was largely fraudulently written by Serbs and other communists and, judging by relatively recent research into WWII, it does not represent the true picture, or actual facts. I will not go deeply here into the fact that, for example, Serbia (its leaders of the 1990’s aggression) were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague of genocide in Croatia, and Croatia was not.

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic took part in a commemoration ceremony Tuesday, 4 August 2020 in Sremska Raca near the borders with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ceremony marked the day when, in 1995, the Croatian military’s Operation Storm, which marked the end of the war for Croatia’s independence from communist Yugoslavia and was organised by official Serbia in remembrance of the Serbian victims and refugees.

We will not celebrate the tragedy of the Serbian people, the killing of Serb civilians, the killing of the Serb children. We will not be humiliated,” Vucic said at the commemoration in Sremska Raca. “Reconciliation, yes. Humiliation — no,” said Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic!

Knowing the fact that there are no known civilian victims during Croatia’s Operation Storm on 4th and 5th August 1995 and that the exodus of some 200,000 of Serbs from Croatia at the time was actually an ordered evacuation that was directed by Serbia itself puts a bitter taste and outrage to these words uttered by Vucic, yet another of many times!

Then, at around the same time, Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, regurgitated Vucic’s vomit against Croatia.  “We want reconciliation, peace, we do not ask you to apologise, admit the genocide in Jasenovac, but we want you to let us mourn that day or those days. We want reconciliation, but not humiliation, which we will not agree to.”

Serbia continues pressuring Croatia to admit to genocide it did not perpetrate in WWII against Serbs in order to continue denying the genocide it, itself, perpetrated in 1990’s in both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina! The gut-wrenching thing in all this is that pro-communist Yugoslavia political/government leadership of Croatia does nothing to alert the world not to succumb to the nausea infecting the world from Serbia. Even, if that leadership or government of Croatia is in coalition with the Serb activists in Croatia in order to sustain its minority government, it has no right to keep silent in the face of continued barrage of lies and denials of the 1990’s murderous aggression coming from Serbia!

Whether Serbia’s usage of the “Vomit Principle” strategy in its politics to wash away its 1990’s mortal sins against the Croatian people, as if they were never willfully committed, will force Croatian current leadership to further compromise the absolute need of Croatia to defend itself from the murderous Serb aggression is yet to be seen. According to some media sources Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Barnabic has even during the past week “told” Croatia to stop using the term “Serbo-Chetnik aggression” when it comes to Croatia’s Homeland War! Will Serbia’s use of the “Vomit Principle” force a reconciliation founded on the cruel equalisation of the victim with the aggressor? It’s certainly heading that way it seems and it spells no blissful future that depends on truth; it spells a long painful future of unrest among the Croatian people, for certain.

Let’s take a look at what is evidently standing behind Serbia’s leadership’s words – behind what Vucic and Brnabic are saying. In terms of psychology Vucic’s and Brnabic’s, indeed of all Serbia’s leading politicians of decades past, telling lies and pointing fingers at others especially for unrelated acts (for example WWII) has evidently become a way not to admit that which makes them feel ashamed and they do not want to be judged for crimes Serbia has perpetrated. Serbia should be ashamed of its aggression against Croatian people who wanted out of communist Yugoslavia, which, by the way, Serbs controlled to a large extent. Then, of course, the relatively recent trends in historical research into facts of WWII Croatia have revealed several crucial facts regarding WWII Jasenovac and regarding Blessed Alojzije Stepinac that cause anxiety and panic among Serbs who had participated in writing the history of WWII Croatia, based on lies and cruel fabrications. There is the extensive research by American dr Esther Gitman on the rescue and survival of Jews in WWII Croatia which point to the fact that there were Croats, including Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, who made it their task to rescue Jews and others, but still, after WWII Serbs led the persecution against Blessed Alojzije Stepinac with trumped-up charges of Nazi collaboration. Then, British dr Robin Harris published also a biography of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, based on similar facts. But, wouldn’t you know it (!), Serbia has recently placed Israeli historian Gideon Greif on its payroll and Serbia’s lies get new reinforcement.

Historical archives being open after Croatia seceded from communist Yugoslavia in the 1990’s has enabled historians to delve into researching the history of Jasenovac camp. The results that are emerging from this research give a significantly different picture of WWII Jasenovac. This picture based on discovered documentation is definitely set to throw the false picture Serbs and their allies painted into garbage; onto the heap of human misery and deceit. Serbs and their allies have already maliciously dubbed this research as “Holocaust denial” and “Historical Revisionism”! Some notable researchers into WWII Jasenovac camp have been Blanka M. Matkovic, Igor Vukic, Vladimir Horvat and Stipo Pilic, to name just a few. They all point one to the fact that the myth about WWII Jasenovac camp was a cruel myth devised to prop-up the oppressive communist Yugoslavia regime and the Serb determination to cover up their own terrible participation in the WWII extermination of Jews and their hatred for any kind of independent Croatia.

And so, it has surfaced relatively recently that the myth of Croatian genocide against Serbs in WWII is based on lies and fabrication – and this feeds Serbia’s “Vomit Principle” with ammunition made up of lies. Associated with this principle are Croatian Serbs’, who were directly or sideways associated with the rebel Serb faction in 1990’s Croatia (Such as Milorad Pupovac and Boris Milosevic), constant attempts to characterise the “For Homeland Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) Croatian salute, used for centuries as a mark of patriotic love, as a salute that promotes a genocidal character of Croatian fight for independence! Serb aggression and the need for Croats to preserve their lives amidst the brutal aggression means nothing in their warped minds. They lived in Croatia as the 19990’s war of aggression arose, they live in Croatia today and yet they are activists for Serbia’s anti-Croatian politics!  And with this, they all call for a future that is threaded together by peace and reconciliation between Croatia and Serbia!

Surely, Serbia’s use of the “Vomit Principle” cannot possibly succeed in achieving reconciliation because that would mean that Croatia has finally cowered to the pressure of liars and aggressors and that, in no small ways, spells out yet another myth Serbia has managed to forge and place on the world’s stage! To the detriment of humanity and truth! Ina Vukic

 

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