Croatia: 5 June 1991 – historic day to remember!

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

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

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

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

Transcript of  News video recording of the event:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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