„Resurrected Faces of Vukovar 1991 – 2021“ – Editor,  Julienne Busic

From Left: Book Front Cover “Resurrected Faces of Vukovar”, Julienne Busic (Editor), Ante Nazor and Radomir Juric for publishers

Understanding the reasons for and extent of the evil that Greater Serbia committed against the heroic Croatian city of Vukovar and the whole of Croatia constant reminders, credible corroboration, hermeneutical reading, and artistic interpretation of historical facts are required for the sake of the truth.

„Resurrected Faces of Vukovar 1991 – 2021“, published by Croatian Homeland War Memorial Centre (headed by dr. sc. Ante Nazor) and Matica Hrvatska -Zadar (headed by dr. sc. Radomir Juric) in December 2021, presents unequivocally a book of remembrance and honour to  the victims of Serb aggression. Furthermore, the ethnic cleansing of Croats and wanton destruction of Croatia’s Vukovar during and after its siege from 1991 referred to in this book come alive in our minds once more, nudging us to try and understand that which is often impossible to understand because of the aggressor’s depraved cruelty involved. It was published to mark the 30th anniversary of the Vukovar tragedy that culminated horribly in November of 1991. The book was compiled and edited by the well-known author and Croatian freedom activist Julienne Busic and is presented in a bi-lingual edition, Croatian and English. Julienne Busic also wrote the foreword for the book and several of the texts. The book is a wealth of series of texts, illustrations, pictorial presentations, documentary material, created or arose during the period and resulting from the Serb and Yugoslav People’s Army aggression and Croatia’s Homeland War of 1990’s. All material presented relates to actual events that occurred during the years of the Homeland War in the city of Vukovar.

“Resurrected Faces of Vukovar 1991 – 2021” with its contents is an overwhelming reminder of the cruelty Croatian victims either suffered, endured and/or survived because of Serb and Yugoslav People’s Army aggression. The great value of this book is not merely in its exceptionally well-chosen variety of evidentiary material of suffering in Vukovar but also in its psychological significance for the understanding of what had occurred in that depravity of Serb aggression; the aggression that saw repeated and incessant tragedies of brutal death, brutal rape, brutal torture, brutal destruction every day and every night for over three months in 1991 and afterwards in concentration camps. It is said that we must repeat seeing things that occurred those thirty years ago in Vukovar, to corroborate and verify repeatedly to understand them towards perhaps easing the deep pain that the memory of them still brings.   

The renowned and widely respected journalist, a native to the city of Vukovar, Tihomir Vinkovic, knowing that many a reader who has known the horrendous suffering of Croats in Vukovar during Croatia’s Homeland War would approach reading this book with expectations of poignance, sorrow directed at the victims and even profound bitterness and anger directed at the Serb aggressor, introduces us skilfully to the historic Vukovar, both in its grandeur and its suffering.  His text is followed by parts of the poem “Vukovar” by the Croatian artist and writer Tomislav Marijan Bilosnic entitled “Who are those who go against tanks”.  

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living” section of this book is a rich collage of various government communiques, newspaper excerpts (domestic and foreign), statements regarding suffering in Vukovar by those key personalities and leaders at the time, who were tasked with verifying the existence of many mass graves and exhumed, tortured human remains of the genocide Serbs perpetrated with the assistance of the Yugoslav People’s Army in Vukovar. Accounts of Croats that are still missing, of raped women, of maimed civilians and soldiers, of the ethnically cleansed and forcefully banished from their homes – all of whom had lived through the nightmare that Vukovar was. These excerpts and records of historical facts of Vukovar 1991-1995 are a harrowing indictment against the Serbs and pro-communist Yugoslavia aggressors that Croats must never forget as Lord David Owen, the book quotes, said in February 1996 “Vukovar remains on the conscience of the world”.

The reader is then presented with the academic paper by Sanja Knezevic PhD, presented at the Eighth Regional Conference of the European Association of Women in Theological Research 2012 in Split, Croatia. This academic paper titled and subtitled “The Suffering and Resurrection of Raped Vukovar Detainees 1991 –1992: Does Postmodern Culture Tolerate Suffering? The abstract of this academic paper reads as follows: “The perception of women’s suffering in contemporary society is analysed, based on the statements of the abused and raped Vukovar women, which were recorded and made public in the book, Sunny (2011). The Vukovar story, which can be regarded as a prototype of women’s suffering and grief in all wars, shows that rape, the most serious crime against humanity and its divine image in 21st century society, still has no place in our consciousness.

In addition to not receiving any kind of civil rights in the sense of compensation for the pain they suffered, they also have not been offered psychological assistance or support. The perpetrators of the crimes against them have for the most part not been tried; society has not reacted to the seriousness of their crimes. Women who have endured rape and torture live with permanent repercussions, but they live.”

This thorough and confronting presentation of discussion and facts surrounding the suffering of Vukovar women and other detainees are a stark and sad reminder of how attitudes vary towards depravity of genocide and mass torture should only have one attitude and that attitudes encompasses intolerance with all its aspects.    

There’s a very useful and clear Brief Review of the Disintegration of Yugoslavia and the Battle of Vukovar written by one of Croatia’s leading historians Ante Nazor and the propeller that drives the practice and notion of remembering what occurred and how much suffering was endured by the Croatian people as a result of Serb and Yugoslav People’s Army aggression and utter brutality.

Otherwise, dr Ante Nazor, director of the Croatian Homeland War Memorial and Documentation Centre said this about the book:

“This is a collection of works on Vukovar, from art to history, and what is very important to emphasise are parts of books that have already been published somewhere, some are not, but it is important to emphasise that everything is translated into English and thus available to the foreign public to try to understand what was happening in Vukovar. We owe special gratitude to Julienne Busic, this is a person who considers Croatia  her homeland, and with her actions before and now with this book she shows how much she cares about Croatia, so that the period of the Homeland War is not forgotten ”

There is a moving excerpt, from Julienne Busic’s, “2013 A.B. Simic” award-winning novel Živa glava / Living Cells that was inspired by the testimony of a young Croatian woman who was sexually and serially abused at the beginning of the Serb aggression against Vukovar and occupation of Vukovar for the purposes of creating Greater Serbia.

Julienne Busic said in January 2022, when this book was launched in Zadar Croatia: “I have a special connection with Vukovar, I worked on the excavation of the mass graves in Vukovar, and I saw everything and wrote reports and took photographs for reports for the outside world in English, and it must not be forgotten, it must be recorded for future generations.”

An excerpt, the chapter on War in Vukovar, from the book “Vukovar Hospital: a lighthouse in the historical storms of Eastern Croatia” by historian Ivo Lucic, 2017, is a shocking reminder of the Serb and Yugoslav People’s Army unthinkable cruelty Croatians were faced with and many perished under as the aggression ensued and progressed.

In this chapter dr.sc. Ivo Lucic aptly reminds the reader of how the tragedy of aggression against Croatia started: “The most important political decision the Croatian government made was to pass in Parliament, on June 25, 1991, the „Constitutional Declaration on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Croatia“ on the basis of results of a referendum held on May 19, 1991. In agreement with representatives of the European Community, the implementation of this proclamation was postponed for three months to resolve the crisis in a peaceful manner.

However, instead of peace, a fierce attack was launched on the institutions of the Republic of Croatia, its statehood and sovereignty, which caused immense human suffering and significant material damage. A civil conflict of sorts in Croatia quickly escalated into outright aggression by Serbian-Yugoslav military formations in Croatia. The Croatian Parliament passed the ‘Decision on

the termination of Croatia’s legal relations with the SFRY’ on October 8 and the ‘Resolution regarding aggression against the Republic of Croatia’, which reinforced the initial declaration. This was the day after the Yugoslav People’s Army air force attacked Banski Dvori in an attempt by the Yugoslav Army leadership to kill the President of the Republic of Croatia and his closest associates and stop the country’s path to independence.”

The book offers the reader a very touching excerpt from the book: “We Defended our Homeland: national minorities in the defense of Croatia”, authors Ivica Radoš and Zoran Šangut, 2013 which tells the reader Nenad Gagic’s story, the story of the son of a Serbian Orthodox priest from Pacetin, Croatia, who volunteered into the Croatian volunteer defence forces because somebody was attacking “his homeland!”.

The reader is presented in the book with letters written by world leaders to the President of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, including a letter from UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, January 9, 1998, in which she concluded with these words: “As you begin the difficult and delicate process of restoring human rights, order and prosperity to Croatia’s recovered territory, you can take heart that a just cause has triumphed, and that those who gave their lives for it did not die in vain.”

The book concludes with a series of moving reproductions of paintings and statements by Austrian artist Hermann Pedit (1933 – 2014) who was present at the Vukovar exhumation of victims in 1998 and then, at his “Night of the Soul” exhibition at the Mimara Museum, which opened on September 16, 1999 with a meticulous review, Dark Body, by Academic Tonko Maroevic, presented his opus dedicated to the Serbian war victims.

“Resurrected Faces of Vukovar 1991 – 2021” is not only a book of brief and yet all-encompassing record of insufferable cruelty against Croats in Vukovar at the hands of Serb and Yugoslav People’s Army aggressors but it is also a book that channels those victims into the field of resurrections, of live presence in our lives today, so that we may assist in lasting remembrance of this painful heritage of Croatia, which brought Croatia’s independence and freedom despite the cruelty.

Ina Vukic, Sydney, 9th April 2022   

While the Kindle version of the book is expected soon the book itself may be purchased via contacting Croatian Homeland War Memorial Centre

Email: centar@centardomovinskograta.hr

Nobel Prizegiving Decisions: Gone To The Dogs

War Crimes Apologist Peter Handke To The Critics Of Genocide Perpetrated By Serbs: “You can stick your corpses up your arse!”

No declarative words can describe the emotions and content triggered by this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature better than the idiom “gone to the dogs”. Nobel Prize has all gone badly wrong and lost all the good things it had. Austrian author and playwright Peter Handke has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2019, with 2018’s postponed award going to Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk.

“You know it was we who protected you from the Asian hordes for centuries. And without us you would still be eating with your fingers.” So declares a character defending the Serbs (and their attendant massacres in the 1990’s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina/ no need to mention the Serb attendant massacres in Croatia during the same time – they are known also) in author Peter Handke’s war play “Die Fahrt im Einbaum oder Das Stueck zum Film vom Krieg” (The Journey into the Dug-out, or the Play of the Film of the War).

“Does the jury sincerely contend that Peter Handke’s appearance at the grave of mass murderer Slobodan Milosovic will advance understanding between nations? Does the brazenness with which Handke glosses over Serbian crimes and denies ethnic cleansing foster solidarity between peoples?” Hubert Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27 May 2006.

Milosevic died in 2006 while on trial at The Hague for war crimes pertaining to the Bosnian genocide, including his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Handke, however, eulogised Milosevic after the dictator’s death, and before an overflow crowd of some 20,000 radical Serb nationalists. Fourteen Serb war criminals, Milosevic’s men, have been convicted of genocide and other crimes against humanity by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the Hague including former Military Commander Radislav Krstic, former President of Republika Srpska (Serbian Republic) Radovan Kadadzic and Bosnian Serb Military Leader Ratko Mladic, also known as the “Butcher of Bosnia”. Handke’s alignment with Milosevic has been so controversial that in 2006, his nomination for the Heinrich Heine Prize was ultimately withdrawn and yet, here we are in 2019, the Nobel Committee. While acknowledging the controversy regarding his apologetic stand on war crimes committed by Serbs the Nobel Committee still awards Handke the Prize!

According to an article published in The Irish Times in April 1999, when critics pointed out that the victims’ corpses of Serb genocide provide evidence of Serb war crimes, Handke replied: “You can stick your corpses up your arse.”

It would seem, sadly, that the Nobel Committee ignored the fact that a controversy does not stand for its own sake but for the sake of upholding to the decent level the world’s moral compass. What a shame! How scandalous indeed!

Pater Handke Photo: Getty images

On Thursday 10 October 2019  Peter Handke, 76, won the 2019 Nobel for Literature “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience,” according to the Swedish Academy, the cultural institution responsible for awarding it. If writing about massacre and genocide in order to support the perpetrator then we can all do without this “periphery and specificity of human experience” being elevated to the Nobel! Kosovo’s ambassador to the United States, Vlora Çitaku, tweeted that the award was a “scandalous decision,” adding that “genocide deniers and Milosevic apologists should not be celebrated.” “Have we become so numb to racism, so emotionally desensitized to violence, so comfortable with appeasement that we can overlook one’s subscription and service to the twisted agenda of a genocidal maniac? We must not support or normalize those who spew hatred. You can do better! Nobel,” Vlora Çitaku tweeted further.

In a statement published by PEN America, the organisation that promotes literary freedom of expression said it was “dumbfounded” by the decision to honour a writer “who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth and offer public succour to perpetrators of genocide.”

“We are dumbfounded by the selection of a writer who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth and offer public succor to perpetrators of genocide, like former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic,” they wrote.

“At a moment of rising nationalism, autocratic leadership, and widespread disinformation around the world, the literary community deserves better than this. We deeply regret the Nobel Committee on Literature’s choice.”

Within just over a day from the announcement of the Nobel Prize award to Peter Handke 25,000 have signed an online Petition to the Nobel Committee seeking to revocation his Nobel! The Petition says: ”Peter Handke is an apologist for the “butcher of Balkans” Slobodan Milosevic. Person who was responsible for wrongful death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and tens of thousands of raped women and men. A person who defends such a monster does not deserve a simplest literary recognition let alone a Nobel Prize. Let us send a loud and clear message to the Nobel Prize Committee, that we do not condone rewarding apologists of mass murderers.”

Winning a Nobel Prize is usually a cause for celebration in the Nobel laureate’s home country as well as worldwide. It is a point of pride in glorious achievements individuals can reach. This pride runs very thin when a laureate’s personal stand outside the works that deserved the Nobel becomes bitter and anger-provoking.

According to AlJazeera, Handke told Serbia’s state TV on Thursday, the night before the Nobel Prize award, that he felt Serbians’ “happiness because of the big award that I have received”, adding that they will celebrate with “a rakija [brandy] and a glass of white wine”.

The Nobel has gone to the dogs! No doubt about that, just a loud shriek of despair! If the world erected a pillar of shame, then this episode with Peter Handke at the Nobel would surely be etched at the top of the list.

Ravaged by infighting, accusations of corruption, and connections with serious sexual assault allegations, the Swedish Academy said in May 2018 that the Nobel Prize for Literature, traditionally announced every autumn, was cancelled for that year.  Prior to Thursday 10 October 2019 observers said this year’s prize has the potential to mark a comeback from the events of last year. Having recognised how low trust was in the Academy. The Nobel Prize is considered by many as the leader in efforts to push things in the other direction, and to open the windows. The only window that has been opened this time around seems to be the one that tells people to forget genocide, even the Holocaust, to forget the atrocities perpetrated by Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina because they weren’t so bad! Ask the victims of Serb genocidal aggression about that! Ask anyone!

The Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize lost a lot with not only the accusations of sexual harassment and sexism, and the man who ended up in jail for rape, but also in how they handled the situation with their own members. It will take time to regain trust and respectability. The catharsis has not occurred yet. The untouchable patriarchs are still ruling, and this is demonstrated by the scandalous decision to award the 2019 Nobel for Literature to Peter Handke for whom the horror of war crimes depends on who perpetrates the war crimes! The catastrophe for human decency of this year’s Nobel for Literature can only be crushed by cancelling the one awarded to Peter Handke. Ina Vukic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Croatian Court Sentences Serb Paramilitary Commander For War Crimes

Dragan Vasiljkovic (R)
Photo: AP

Croatian court in the city of Split has sentenced Tuesday 26 September the former Serb paramilitary commander and Australian citizen, Dragan Vasiljkovic, a.k.a. Captain Dragan, a.k.a. Daniel Snedded, to 15 years in prison for war crimes committed in Croatia during Serb aggression against Croatia in the 1990s.

The sentence is pathetic. If true justice were handed out then the man would spend the rest of his life in prison.

The municipal court in the coastal town of Split said Tuesday found that the rebel Serb paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic had during the 1991-95 Croatian Homeland war, when Serbs took up arms against Croatia’s secession from communist Yugoslavia, killed, tortured and beaten civilians and Croatian police prisoners in a fortress in Knin prison in 1991 and that his attack that same year on a series of villages near Glina had resulted in the deaths of civilians.

The 63-year-old Vasiljkovic, who was born in Serbia, went to Australia at the age of 15 but returned to the former Yugoslavia to train Serb rebels in 1991, when Serbs took up arms against Croatia’s secession from Yugoslavia.

He spent nine years in detention in Sydney fighting extradition, claiming he would not receive a fair trial after The Australian had exposed his war crimes in a 2005 article. Vasiljkovic was discovered by Australian Federal Police while working on a yacht at the Harwood Slipway in the Clarence Valley (state of New South Wales, Australia) after 43 days on the run. He was then extradited from Australia in July 2015, after fighting a 10-year legal battle against being handed over to Croatia’s judiciary.

He became Australia’s first extradited war crimes suspect.

While praised in Serbia and among Serbs worldwide as disciplined soldier with no mercy, in Croatia he was known as a smug self-promoting commander of a special forces unit, the feared Kninjas, that sought to drive out ethnic Croats from the border area known as Krajina (territory covering about 1/3 of Croatia and occupied by Serbs during the war via ethnic cleansing of Croats and other non-Serbs, murder, rape, plunder and destruction).

The three-judge Croatian court panel found Vasiljkovic guilty of two of the three charges, which included torturing and beating imprisoned Croatian police and army troops and commanding a special forces unit involved in the destruction of Croatian villages. He was found responsible for the death of at least two civilians.
About 60 prosecution witnesses were questioned during the trial, including those who said they were tortured by Vasiljkovic.

The court found that Vasiljkovic, as commander of special Serb purposes unit of the paramilitary forces, for the training of special units known as Alpha, acted against and in breach of Geneva Convention.

When Vasiljkovic strode in the historic old fortress town of Knin in the Dalmatian hinterland near the Bosnian border in early 1991 tensions against secessions from former Yugoslavia reached boiling point from Serbia direction, his connections with Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic’s secret police who sat at the apex of the power structure were already well-established.

The deadly assault at Glina in July 1991 was an early bloody chapter in the genocides committed by Serbs in Croatia. The Glina assault is among the war crimes tribunal’s three allegations against Vasiljkovic, who is accused by Croatian prosecutors of commanding troops who tortured and killed prisoners of war; commanding a deadly assault at Glina in 1991; and training paramilitary units that committed war crimes at Bruska near Benkovac in Croatia’s central Dalmatian hinterland in 1993.

When Croatia declared it wanted independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Vasiljkovic adopted the moniker Captain Dragan and was encouraged by Serbian intelligence chiefs Milan Martic (sentenced to 35 years prison in The Hague) and Franko Simatovic (currently on retrial for war crimes in The Hague) to train special forces units in an old scout hall in the village of Golubic from where he often led his own unit on military operations.

Vasiljovic’s lawyer Tomislav Filakovic said in Split: “Captain Dragan didn’t expect such a harsh sentence, this has come as a big surprise.
We don’t believe the prosecution presented substantial evidence to arrive at such a verdict and we will appeal.’’

His lawyers will lodge a request for Vasiljkovic to released immediately because he has served nine years in detention in Australia and a further two years in a jail in Split. Under Croatian law prisoners can be released after serving two-thirds of their original sentence.

Vasiljkovic, who was widely believed during the war to be working for Serbia’s secret service, has claimed innocence throughout the one-year trial, saying the whole process was rigged. The judges ruled that they will take into account the time Vasiljkovic served in detention in Australia and in a Croatian prison, meaning he has three and a half years of his sentence remaining.

As much as Serbia may pursue its denial of direct involvement in the violence and genocide in Croatia (and Bosnia and Herzegovina), which led to the rising of Croatian defence forces against the backdrop of UN arms embargo, strong Yugoslav Peoples’ Army acting for Serbia’s interests, and an impoverished material defence resources Vasiljkovic’s case serves also as a reminder of the horrors Croats went through during the Homeland War. Any lasting reconciliation can only be achieved via truth and justice such as the one seen surfacing in the Split court on Tuesday, even if the sentence is pathetic when compared to the brutality of the crimes. One must not forget that many Serbs known or suspected of war crimes in Croatia had, as part of the deal for peaceful reintegration in Croatia of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium, in 1998, been given amnesty from prosecution for war crimes.  This is something that is most painful for Croats. However, as there is no statute of limitation for war crimes and a revisit to the matter with view to rescinding the amnesty would no doubt serve the needed justice for victims of war crimes. Ina Vukic

 

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: