Croatia – Persistent Grief For Victims Is A Call For Justice

Photos: Screenshots hrt.hr news

Croatia’s Homeland War consequences are still unsettling – a lot. The frequent commemorations at graves of victims or massacre sites of Serb aggression against Croatia convey a clear message of permanent expressions of profound, prolonged and intense grief of a nation, still after 26 years, crying for justice. The country’s pivotal operations, including the diplomatic core, are riddled with communist mindset unwilling to surrender to Croatia’s 1990’s original national creed of independence and full democracy away from communist Yugoslavia. The Serb aggressor has not in meaningful and lasting terms answered for the responsibility of aggression and hatred waged against a nation that chose to secede from communist Yugoslavia.

This week of 18th November 2017 marks 26 years from the fall of Vukovar and massacres and ethnic cleansing of Croats and other non-Serbs from their homes; it marks also the massacres of Croats in Skabrnje; it marks also the amazing love for freedom and the multitudes of Croatian victims who perished in the early 1990’s defending its resolve to secede from communist Yugoslavia, resist a Greater Serbia expansion, and build a nation of freedom and democracy.

Not a week passes in Croatia, it seems, that we don’t come across a marking of anniversaries of terror waged against the Croatian freedom fighters, whether that be the scaffolds, the mass graves from the 1990’s Homeland War or those of communist Yugoslavia crimes. Intense grieving for the victims never seems to subside; intense anger at the lack of justice for the victims is ever-present, intense need to justify (because others/pro-communists have wrongfully embarked upon criminalising it) defending Croatia from aggression in the 1990’s Homeland War that was – unquestionably – just. A nation arrested in grief unable to truly and fully move forward, channelling one into thinking and worrying as how all this will manifest in future generations.

As things stand now the foreseeable future in Croatia is unlikely to bring any significant reprieve from the state of prolonged grief and confusion when it comes to lack of justice for the victims of the Homeland War. Year in and year out the status remains the same, some courageous political leaders and citizens speak the same: we need justice for the victims. Instead of pointing the finger in Serbia’s direction, for guilt and war damages compensation to Croatia, president of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic decided in Vukovar or Saturday 18 November upon a populist statement that may appease emotions of the grieving Croats but shows absolutely nothing in the way of a future where intense grief would be requited by acts (instead of hope) of justice for the victims and country, giving way to building a better future where assertive emancipation of the nation’s original goals of democracy (severed fully from communism and communist mindset influencing the governance of the country) and prosperity.

We hear every year, year after year, how Serbia needs to come clean regarding the missing in Croatia from its war of aggression against Croatia.

A lot of water will flow in the Dunav river before Croatia and Serbia become friendly states, but that doesn’t mean we cannot talk to them, our responsibility is to talk and solve the open questions such about those that are still missing that is a humanitarian question, which we have to solve as soon as possible, ” Grabar Kitarovic said.

Tracking her and her dimplomacy’s relations with Serbia one couldn’t possibly see any genuine intention on her part as far as the connotations of this statement are concerned. We’ve heard it all before – for at least 20 years in fact.

One would expect that to truly insist on justice, to truly insist upon solving the issue of the still missing, after 26 years, Croatia’s leaders would cease employing the diplomatic staff that have obviously not been doing a good job at moving beyond the impasse with Serbia on the issue of the missing.

Instead of intent to continue talks with Serbia on this and similar issues president Grabar-Kitarovic would have convinced us better of the genuineness in her efforts to resolve the question of the missing with Serbia were she announcing in Vukovar the blatantly clear picture that Croatia’s diplomatic core needs a severe shake up. A shake-up which would sift out the pro-communist Yugoslavia, the former communist operatives and bring in fresh untainted by communism staff who might do a better job than their predecessors when it comes to diplomacy with a country that was also a member state of communist Yugoslavia but which did not want a break-up of Yugoslavia.

Friendship per se has nothing to do with diplomacy when it comes to resolving critical issues that are important to the soothing of grief for victims of war of aggression prevalent in ones nation (Croatia). Business is business and, at that, friendships and any emotional or politically sensitive ties due to previous coexistence under the Yugoslav flag should be closely scrutinized, for it is these that interfere with objective justice. Croatia’s diplomatic core is riddled with former communist Yugoslavia operatives and it’s a fool’s paradise to think things can change regarding the missing while they go about playing the diplomatic game with Serbia for the interests of Croatia and Croatian people.

So I choose to heed the words of a man taking part in Vukovar’s remembrance procession on Saturday who said:

I think we should be restoring people’s lives more than some monuments, that people have a job, have a good time and that they don’t leave this town,” he said.

Yes!

For that to occur it is essential to recognise that, in aid of maintaining the destructive notion that communism and Yugoslavia were well-functioning platforms for people to live under, things of national importance for Croatia have become warped and distorted. The relationship that normally exists between national creed/orthodoxy and revisionism in historical writing as well as living itself has been reversed in Croatia. Specifically, in the case of Croatia, the national creed of righteousness of the fight for freedom only lived a relatively short time without disruptions before the former communists began with revisionist injections, claiming that the fight for freedom is to be criminalized while permitting constant claims how communist Yugoslavia was a great place to live in. It’s usually the case that the national creed precedes revisionism in historical writings: the first historians to write about great events generally accept official explanations for them – not in Croatia, not with so many former communists who didn’t want an independent Croatia in the first place. The overwhelming majority of citizens (94% of voters) voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia and defend that decision and belief with bare life defined Croatia’s national creed regarding the 1990’s Homeland War. The righteousness of that national creed moved the nation in 1990 with its diaspora to the robes of David against the Goliath (communist Yugoslavia led by Serbia and its determination for a Greater Serbia to be created via brutal aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular). This was not at all an easy task, particularly given the fact that a great many of Croatian powerful communists acted against the very idea, let alone emancipation, of an independent Croatia, away from communism.

Restoring people’s lives after a major war requires a national consensus on moral judgment for the war. It requires an affirmation on the national level of the righteousness of its national creed that catapulted it to today. Croatia, today, suffers a disturbing and disquieting dichotomy when it comes to the assertion of righteousness of moral judgment of its defence efforts against Serb and Yugoslav Army aggression in the 1990’s. Croatia must reverse the relationship between national creed and revisionism.

With the passage of time and the coming into power of former communists in Croatia (emboldened by foreign biased powers) and the lack of lustration with view to enabling Croatia to move forward into a functioning democracy do we end up with palpable skepticism in the Croatian society regarding the Homeland War. Croatian defenders, victims and Croatia’s status as victim-nation become lost – fretful for due recognition and justice. Its goals of freedom and democracy become bastardised as the Homeland War is shown by former communist leaders and notables as a criminalised venture, the push to equate the victim with the aggressor creating confusion, anger and helplessness for a nation largely arrested in prolonged grief due to lack of justice for victims of the war of aggression. The fight against communism in Croatia constantly being devalued and made to appear irrelevant and yet it was crucial for the nation voting to secede from communist Yugoslavia.

Lustration would indeed put a significant stop to the communist revisionists of Croatia’s Homeland War – the equating of victim with the aggressor would experience the deserved quashing blow. Croatia’s communists never wanted an independent Croatia and all the revisionism regarding its war of defence, all half-baked attempts to influence the delivery of justice to the victims, have a great deal to do with that fact.

The task for Croatia’s leaders must become one of insisting in unison that the Homeland War was necessary for precisely the reasons that the Croatian people and leaders at the time said it was: to preserve the credibility of people’s wishes to secede from Yugoslavia, because of which they had no choice but to fight the war in order to defend the nation and its people. To achieve that unison, lustration is absolutely necessary.

Croatia achieved a military victory over Serb and communist Yugoslavia Army aggressor. The persisting efforts to equate the victim (Croatia) with the aggressor (Serbia) pretty much have the effect of minimising or even belittling the significance of that military victory, giving way to controversies that should not be. Giving way to unrelenting and intense grief for the victims-without-justice across the nation.

If, as a nation, Croatia reflected seriously on the journey from independence through the lack of full emancipation of the goals set for that independence, we would have to acknowledge that the threat to freedom and democracy through continuing enslavement of the nation by communist mindset is something that is arresting progress and keeping the nation in a prolonged, constant state of grief. As long as there are present systems and structures which deny citizens of Croatian the opportunities and the judicial system commensurate with a full democracy (away from communist come socialist bureaucracy), social justice free from corruption, rights, and respect, emancipation of its 1990/1991 original goals remains an ideal and communism or its off-cuts will continue retarding the glory due for Croatia’s independence.

The purpose of history is to unearth and engage with those truths that have something to teach us. This requires a willingness to interpret and render moral judgments; the moral judgments that will emancipate the grounds upon which a terrible war was fought for a better future. A moral judgment based on the national creed for Croatia’s independence has the power to unleash the decisive will and power in mobilising lustration in Croatia. Ina Vukic

Remembering Vukovar And The Smut Of Erdut Agreement

Ivo Lucic
Photo: screenshot

This is the week we remember the victims in the November 1991 fall of Croatia’s Vukovar (and all the victims of Serb aggression against Croatia), brutally attacked, destroyed, slaughtered and tortured by Serb rebel paramilitary as well as Serb-led Yugoslav Army forces. This is the week that in our mind the thoughts of forgiveness and reconciliation inevitably intrude upon those of profound sadness for the victims and the search for that light of justice due for all. Forgiveness, though, is only truly earned by those that repent. This, though, is not the case for the Serb who are, these days, on an accelerated and noisy rampage of trying to justify the crimes because of which Croatia was put into the situation of having to defend the self-preservation of its own people and land from the onslaught.

While the Erdut Agreement reached on 12 November 1995 for a peaceful reintegration into Croatia of its Serb-occupied territory in the vicinity of Vukovar, the region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium established all transitional arrangements, including a transitional administration that would facilitate the return of refugees in the region, the protection of refugees and their property rights, and the deployment of an international force to maintain peace and security in the region, Croatian Serb leaders including member of parliament for Serb ethnic minority Milorad Pupovac, undoubtedly propped-up by Serbia’s support, are resurrecting these days the Erdut agreement as though it was a permanent fixture in the way independent Croatia should proceed to develop itself as a sovereign democratic state, and as though it gave the Serb aggressor absolution for its crimes and rights to go on with life as though no aggression, murder, ethnic cleansing of Croats from the region, torture – occurred back then! Pupovac said this week at the marking of the anniversary of the Erdut Agreement that the agreement would be satisfied in full when there is Serb representation in all municipal councils of Croatia, in all government ministries, in all institutions…!

Whether the Erdut Agreement had in fact clauses or addendums that stipulate any such representation or not, is beside the point as in fact and de jure agreements have a life span that cannot be extended or shortened without due legal processes. The Erdut Agreement had the life span of transitional nature and if anyone has issues with its implementation the world of judicial pursuits upon which any “complaints” should be adjudicated in democracy is open to all, including Serbs. But I somehow doubt Pupovac has a leg to stand on in the scheme of things that occurred with Serb aggression and their tremendously destructive consequences for the Croatian citizens and the development of the democratic state.

Erdut Agreement was largely a brainchild of Peter Galbraith, US Ambassador to Croatia, who along with Russian Ambassador Leonid Karestadjians and German diplomat Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, concocted in January 1995 the so-called Z-4 Plan for Croatia where autonomy (to Serbs) would be given on a significant part of the occupied Croatian territory! It actually planned for a legal Serb state within Croatia! There’s more than one way of succeeding in extending the borders of Greater Serbia, it seems – if Croatia’s leaders permit Pupovac and his followers the reign of drunken, hateful, disrespect for the victims of aggression and Croatia’s victory of independence as a sovereign state. There was not a single word of remorse for the genocide committed against Croatian people, across Croatia. Pupovac made the point of saying that Erdut Agreement brought peace to the region but failed to address why it was essential to bring peace and what was behind it (Serb aggression).

The fact that Pupovac rhetoric regarding infiltrating public administration and decision making with members of ethnic Serb minority brings about torrents of traumas to the Croatian public because, among other disquieting thrusts that suggest Serb victory within Croatia, it represents the notion that all crimes of aggression against Croatians and Croatia should perhaps be erased as acceptable and forgotten as if nothing happened! Pupovac move here is a clear example of attempting to solidify the equating of victim with the aggressor.

That which medical doctors did in Vukovar hospital in 1991, healing all patients, even those belonging to the enemy, is something that is rarely seen and we can be proud of that. With this book I wanted to tell that relatively unknown story because we know quite a bit about the battles for Vukovar and about defending it but the story about the heroic doctors has remained somewhat in the shadows,” said dr. Ivo Lucic in Zagreb, Croatia, on 14 November 2014 at the promotion of his book “Vukovar hospital, the lighthouse in the historic storms of Croatia’s East” (“Vukovarska bolnica svjetionik u povijesnim olujama hrvatskog istoka”).

The hospital was also a warning for those who approached, and who has destroyed Vukovar just before that. The hospital sent the message to watch how they approach the institution marked with a red cross and protected under international laws. However, they did not accept that message and ran aground the cliffs of crimes, did everything that is already known to us, in Ovcara and other places, murdered the wounded and civilians and that is something that will remain in their conscience forever,” dr. Lucic emphasised.

By the end of its three-month siege at the hands of Serb forces in November 1991, Vukovar had become utterly devastated and its Croatian and non-Serb population ethnically cleansed. The capture of the town was an important strategic objective for the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army. It was designed to consolidate Serb control over the region of Croatia known as Eastern Slavonia.

When the Serb forces took control of Vukovar on 19 November 1991, several hundred people took refuge in the town’s hospital in the hope that they would be evacuated in the presence of neutral observers. But instead of the hoped-for evacuation, about 400 individuals – including wounded patients, soldiers, hospital staff and Croatian political activists – were removed from the hospital by Yugoslav army and Serb paramilitary forces and taken to Ovcara farm near Vukovar. The detainees were beaten up. Some died of their injuries and approximately 260 of them were executed and then buried in a mass grave.

Lest we forget!

Ina Vukic

Cruel Irony Afflicts Unveiling Of Monument To Croatian Freedom Fighter

Defending “For Home Ready” greeting
Zagreb, Croatia, 11 November 2017
Photo: Screenshot

It is a cruel insult and cruel irony that on Armistice Day, 11th November, when World War I allies mark with respect and piety those who gave their lives for freedom and their emblems, police authorities in Zagreb, Croatia, go about disrupting remembrance gathering organised for the unveiling of the monument to the legendary Zarko Manjkas – Crvenkapa, who lost his life defending Vukovar and freedom for Croatia in November 1991, and attempt to seize the HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) flag under which Crvenkapa fought and died. The monument itself does not have the HOS emblem under which Crvenkapa lost his life fighting, which is a sad and utterly unjust consequence of current push in Croatia to declare the “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) illegal. The HOS emblem itself and the flag carrying it are protected under the Croatian law. On it, the salute “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) is written and the process to render this salute illegal is already in train as the left-leaning lot carrying political and power clout wrongfully place its origins in WWII fight for Croatian independence.

Just imagine a Britain, or any Allied country, today where the salute and greeting “For Home and Country”, or similar WWI or WWII salutes across the Allied world, were threatened with bastardisation and extinction! The protests would be as fierce as defending freedom from aggression were.

It was such an uplifting feeling to watch Croatia’s brave young, many of whom are children or grandchildren of those who gave their lives for Croatia’s independence, fiercely and determinately hold their stead, refusing to budge to the police pressure to remove the HOS with “Za Dom Spremni” salute from sight at the unveiling of monument to Crvenkapa.

The words exchanged between a young lady holding the HOS flag, other young people there, and police as recorded on the video taken in Zagreb on Saturday 11 November at the unveiling of monument to the fallen HOS fighter for freedom are as follows:

Young man: “It’s a mistake for the man who got killed for Croatia as member of HOS … everyone here is bothered by the fact that the monument is missing the HOS emblem, because he died for that, in that unit.”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “Why we are here? To give honour to our killed Crvenkapa, keeping in mind that we are very saddened by the fact that there is no HOS emblem on the monument nor ‘For Home Ready’ sign that he proudly carried and under which insignia he was killed … What impression will the future generations have looking at this monument…that Croats respect their patriots, their defenders who gave their lives for Croatia …for the freedom of Croatia.”

Policeman: “Close the flag … you have breached the law”

Police try to remove legal Croatian army banner
Photo: Screenshot

Young lady holding HOS flag: “We have breached no law, this is a legal Croatian army flag…Manjkas died under this emblem on his cap and you did not put it on the monument … who is bothered by the emblem I don’t know…you cannot move a flag at the opening of a park dedicated to a HOS fighter …”

Jounalist to the young lady holding the HOS flag: “What do you say about being chased out from here?”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “What’s there to say! Do we live in a free a free Croatia, or is this still Yugoslavia? Do Chetniks (Serbs) rule over Croatia or, perhaps, Croats …let’s take authority into our own hands and free ourselves from the pests …” – “No, not a chance, no…this flag is legal Croatian army flag that created our State,” she replies as another policeman’s insistence that she takes the HOS flag down.

Second policeman: “Please, everything is alright, the flag is O.K., move the banner…”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “Why, why should the banner be taken down. We are trying to show a big mistake, a big injustice …”

Second young man: “This is persecution of Croatian defenders … this is not right… my father was in the 204th Vukovar brigade, he fought together with HOS, HOS carried its own insignia ‘Za Dom Spremni’ and HSP (Croatian Party of Rights) was written there …”

Policeman: “Move the banner! …” ( The banner had writing on it: “Who is bothered by the ‘For Home Ready’ greeting on Crvenkapa’s monument?”

Third policeman: “Young lady, let’s have a talk, come with me…come here…” Young lady holding HOS flag: “But why!? … OK…”

Journalist: “Why are you forbidding them…” he asks the policeman

Third policeman: “We are not forbidding anything …” he says as he lead the young lady holding the HOS flag to the side.

Zarko Manjkas Crvenkapa Monument
Zagreb, Croatia
Photo: afp

The police, despite trying very hard, did not manage to intimidate these young people insisting on showing the flag and banner under which members of HOS fought and died for independent Croatia. So proud! Make no mistake here – Croatian authorities and their pervasive communist mindset are attempting to kill the love for independent Croatia that carried its defenders into the bloody battles of Serb aggression during early 1990s. No different to oppression that was in communist Yugoslavia. How else could one interpret the intimidating police surges against the holding up of a legal banner!? Ina Vukic

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