Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Independent MP Vidović Krišto Ordered Out of Parliament Chamber

ZAGREB, 8 Dec, 2021 - Independent MP Karolina Vidović Krišto was ordered to leave the Parliament chamber at the start of the session on Wednesday morning for violating the Rules of Procedure after proposing paying respects to all children killed in the 1991-1995 Homeland War. 

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković rejected her proposal, saying that such matters should be agreed in advance. After repeatedly asking Vidović Krišto to stop talking and cautioning her three times, he ordered her to leave the chamber.

"This is a very delicate matter and Ms Vidović Krišto put me in a very awkward position. Children killed in the war deserve to be honoured and we should certainly do that. We should honour not just the children but all the people who were killed, civilian victims and Croatian defenders. What she did is extremely inappropriate, an act of provocation with which she wanted to put me and everyone else in an awkward situation," Jandroković said.

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Monday, 6 December 2021

Plaque Unveiled in Dubrovnik to Wartime Photographer Pavo Urban

ZAGREB, 6 Dec 2021 - A memorial plaque was unveiled in Dubrovnik under a clock tower where wartime photographer Pavo Urban was killed by shrapnel during the fierce shelling of Dubrovnik's old town on 6 December 1991.

The ceremony was held on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the heroic defense of Dubrovnik during the Homeland War and Dubrovnik Defenders Day. Urban's family attended the unveiling ceremony which was conducted by Mayor Mato Franković and the prime minister's envoy, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković.


(Photo: Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL)

Minister Vučković underscored that Urban's photographs are remembered because the world saw the culturecide that occurred in Dubrovnik and Croatia.

"Urban's photographs bring documentary directness but also an incredible artistic experience," the agriculture minister said.

Mayor Franković said that Urban gave the most valuable thing he had, his life, in exchange for the truth and to bear witness to Dubrovnik's suffering and destruction and to present it for the world to see.


The last photographs ever taken by Pavo Urban, before he was killed during shelling in Dubrovnik on December 6, 1991. Photos: Pavo Urban.

The program marking the 30th anniversary of Dubrovnik's defense ends on Tuesday with the launch of a book by Nikola Obuljen, "How we Negotiated with the Enemy".

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Monday, 6 December 2021

Online Campaign Launched for 30th Anniversary of Massive Shelling of Dubrovnik

ZAGREB, 6 Dec 2021 - SENSE Transitional Justice Center has launched a video about the 6 December 1991 massive shelling of Dubrovnik, and the video is part of the interactive narrative "Targeting History and Memory".

SENSE Transitional Justice Center is the successor to SENSE News Agency dedicated to documenting and making permanently accessible the facts about wars in the area of former Socialist Yugoslavia, established beyond a reasonable doubt at the ICTY in The Hague.

The shelling of the Old City of Dubrovnik was qualified in International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)  indictments and judgments as to the "destruction or deliberate damaging of institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, arts and science, historical monuments, and works of art and science."

The five-day online campaign about the destruction of Dubrovnik was launched on 4 December and brings about the contents of the ICTY's investigation, documents, and trial about the war atrocities committed by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serbian and Montenegrin paramilitaries during the siege of Dubrovnik in 1991 and 1992. 

The five-day internet campaign can be watched on FacebookYouTube, and the SENSE Transitional Justice Center's official website.

30th anniversary of an all-out assault on Dubrovnik

The siege of Dubrovnik culminated in an all-out assault on 6 December 1991 when the JNA and Serbian and Montenegrin paramilitaries targeted the medieval walled town with all types of weapons, killing 19 defenders and civilians and wounding another 60 people. Thousands of shells fell on the historical center, nine palaces were burnt to the ground and 461 buildings were severely damaged that day.

During the siege, this Adriatic town lived mostly without electricity or freshwater. The JNA swept through the surrounding villages looting houses and razing them to the ground. Villagers fled to Dubrovnik or to the islands, some of the elderly who could not flee were taken off to war camps in Morinj, Montenegro, or to Bileća in Serb-controlled Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the war in a wider Dubrovnik area, 116 civilians and 430 Croatian soldiers were killed and several hundred were injured. As many as 443 Croats were taken to detention camps, and as many as 33,000 had to flee their homes during the siege and the JNA attacks.

Several commemorative events will take place in Dubrovnik to mark the 30th anniversary of the all-out attack.

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Monday, 22 November 2021

Plaque Commemorating Croatia and Slovenia's Cooperation in 1990s War Unveiled

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - The scars and traces of the 1990s war and Slobodan Milošević's insane policy are felt even today, Croatian PM Andrej Plenković said in Slovenia on Monday, at the unveiling of a memorial to the cooperation of the governments of the two countries at the time of their struggle for independence.

The memorial plaque in Otočec Ob Krki was unveiled by the two countries' current prime ministers, Janez Janša and Plenković, and their prime ministers of 30 years ago, Franjo Gregurić of Croatia and Alojz Peterle of Slovenia.

"We remember all the horrors that happened during the Great Serbian aggression of the Milošević regime, and the crucial role in it of the then Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), both in Slovenia and in Croatia," said Plenković.

As of mid-1991, there were no longer JNA troops in Slovenia's territory, while a part of Croatia's territory was occupied until 1995 and the military and police operations Flash and Storm, Janša said.

"We suffered the consequences of that aggression practically throughout the 1990s, and the scars and traces of that period and Slobodan Milošević's insane policy are unfortunately felt to this day," Plenković added.

Janša said that "it is important to have a good neighbor in difficult situations" and that Croatia and Slovenia were good neighbors to one another at the time.

Gregurić said that understanding and cooperation made it possible for businesses to reopen despite the war, for trade to function as well as transport, "which to us was very important because there were de facto major barriers to transport connectivity due to the war in Croatia, not only with Serbia but the Eastern Bloc as well."

"Our customs and police services agreed very quickly and there were no impediments to the transport of any goods and services between Croatia and Slovenia. To us it was very important to have a free passage and a corridor to the West," the former Croatian PM said, thanking Slovenia for taking in a portion of Croatian refugees, and Plenković and Janša for their successful cooperation.

Slovenia's six-month EU presidency is nearing the end and Slovenia has been a partner to Croatia on its journey to accession to the Schengen and euro areas, said Plenković.

"Slovenia has been not only a friend and partner that supports us, but it has also been an EU chair actively helping us make progress in the months to come," Plenković said.

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Saturday, 20 November 2021

Vukovar Remembers Victims of War Crimes Committed at Velepromet and Ovčara

ZAGREB, 20 Nov, 2021 - A requiem mass was said and wreath-laying ceremonies were held on Saturday on the premises of the Velepromet storage facility,  which was converted into a concentration camp by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serbian paramilitaries and rebels during the siege of Vukovar in 1991. 

An estimated 10,000 people were detained in the "Velepromet" buildings from late 1991 to March 1992 when this camp was closed, according to statistics kept by former detainees' association.

Of those 10,000 detainees, some 700 were killed, and the head of the association Danijel Rehak said today that this was the biggest execution site in Vukovar.

He said that the former detainees had lodged a plenty of reports against perpetrators of atrocities a Velepromet and in Vukovar, and he accused the Croatian prosecutorial authorities for insufficient efforts to prosecute those war crimes.

On Saturday afternoon, residents of Vukovar and families of the missing and fallen defenders and civilians will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the executions at former Ovčara farm.

Ovčara was another site of atrocities committed by the occupying forces on 20 and 21 November 1991. The exact number of the people killed at Ovčara, a former pig farm, is unknown, but 194 cases have been documented before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Of those, the youngest victim was 16 years old and the oldest 77. The majority of victims were patients transported from the Vukovar general hospital to that farm, several kilometres away from the town.

Vukovar was peacefully reintegrated into Croatia in January 1998. The peaceful reintegration began in January 1996 with the assistance of the UNTAES (UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and western Sirmium). Croatia's parliament decided in 1999 that Vukovar Remembrance Day would be observed on November 18, the day of the town's fall.

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

Lanterns Floated Down the Danube in Memory of Fallen and Missing Defenders, Civilians

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - Several hundred lit red and white lanterns were floated down the river Danube on Thursday evening in memory of Croatian defenders and civilians killed or gone missing in the defense of Vukovar from the Great Serbia aggression in 1991.

Red lanterns were lit in memory of the missing persons and white lanterns for the fallen defenders and civilians.

According to data collected by the Franciscan monastery in Vukovar, 2,717 persons were killed or went missing in Vukovar in the military aggression of the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitary groups.

Another 386 persons are on the list of persons detained or gone missing in the Homeland War, having disappeared without a trace in wartime Vukovar.

On the occasion of Vukovar Remembrance Day, tens of thousands of persons from Croatia and Bosnia, and Herzegovina passed through the city in the Remembrance Procession on Thursday on the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the city's defense, police estimates.

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

Respects Paid to Vukovar and Škabrnja Victims at NATO Headquarters in Brussels

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021- Respects were paid to Vukovar and Škabrnja victims at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and that gesture sends a strong message that the truth about the events of Croatia's Homeland War has crossed Croatian borders, said Defence Minister Mario Banožić, the Ministry of Defence reported on Thursday.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar, Remembrance Day for Homeland War Victims, and Vukovar and Škabrnja Remembrance Day, the Croatian flag was flown at half-mast to commemorate all Vukovar and Škabrnja victims.

Minister Banožić said that the gesture sent a strong message that the truth about the events of the Homeland War had crossed the borders of our country, which was an additional motive for continuing to promote the truth about the Homeland War, especially among young people.

"Today we are reminded of the importance of collective security and how much easier it would have been for us to oppose threats to our territorial integrity during the Homeland War if we had been a member of NATO then. Today, the Republic of Croatia and the Croatia Armed Forces are appreciated among their allies and partners, which show how much we have done in the past 30 years and that with will, effort and perseverance there are no impossible goals," said Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

He underscored that Croatia was a responsible ally that contributed to international missions, global peace, and security, the ministry said.

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

NGOs Hold Commemoration of Vukovar Victims in Belgrade

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - The Women in Black association organized a commemoration of Vukovar victims in the center of Belgrade on Thursday, standing in silence with the banner "We'll never forget the war crimes in Vukovar".

Representatives of the Civic Democratic Forum (GDF) joined the Women in Black, and the rally was secured by police, which is seldom when it comes to the association's demonstrations, commemorations, or peace actions.

In addition to remembering the victims of Vukovar, members of the Women in Black pointed out the existence of camps for Croats, who were brought to the territory of Serbia, to Sremska Mitrovica, Stajićevo near Zrenjanin and Begejci in Žitište since the beginning of the conflict, asking for memorial plaques to be placed in those places.

"Serbia and its institutions should grant the request the Women in Black and the Art Klinika association have been making for 15 years, with the support of more than 30 civil society organizations, that a memorial plaque be placed at the location of camps in Stajićevo, Begejci and elsewhere," said members of the Women in Black, seeking support for other forms of symbolic compensation to victims and their families, as well.

According to the Women in Black, Serbia and state institutions should establish the responsibility of the top of the former Yugoslav People's Army for the armed attack on Croatia and initiate court proceedings for the crime of urbicide in Vukovar.

GDF: Serbia doesn't have the strength to face the past

The Civic Democratic Forum said on the occasion of the anniversary of the fall of Vukovar that not only Vukovar but the entire Yugoslavia had fallen on 18 November 1991.

GDF leader Zoran Vuletić told Hina that "Vukovar is indelible proof of the criminal policy which united the Yugoslav People's Army and bloodthirsty paramilitary groups with its manipulation about the defense of Yugoslavia and incitement of revanchism and nationalism".

"And what must not be forgotten in this shameful chronology of evil, the destroyers set out from Serbia for Vukovar, as the executors of the policy of Slobodan Milošević and like-minded people. The vengeful rampage of the destroyers lasted for months until the city stopped looking like itself, and thousands of people were killed, wounded, or forced to leave, not knowing where to go," the GDF said.

Even today, Serbia does not have the will, strength, or desire to face this memory, Vuletić said.

With occasional heckling and verbal provocations by some passers-by, today's commemoration in the center of Belgrade passed without incidents.

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

Remembrance Day March Passes Through Vukovar

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - Several tens of thousands of citizens from around Croatia and neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina marched through Vukovar to commemorate the war victims of Vukovar on the 30th anniversary of the city's fall into the hands of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitaries.

Veterans' Minister Tomo Medved said that arrivals in Vukovar awakened emotions every time.

"We express our gratitude to our courageous defenders and in a special way pay homage to the victims who were taken from the hospital to the Ovčara farm, to all our POWs, people who were taken to Serb concentration camps. The thing that is very important, is that today is a day when emotions are present to that measure, on the other hand, we have to work throughout the year for society to have appropriate relations towards Croatian defenders and the victims of the Homeland War, said Minister Medved.

Kata Zadro, the widow of legendary defense commander of the Trpinjska cesta street, Major General Blago Zadro who was killed in 1991, also marched in Vukovar on Thursday. "Vukovar today looks very nice. When I was here before the peaceful reintegration I couldn't find my own street or my house, given the way the city looked like then. Today, everything is renewed but it bothers me because there is no harmony or unity," she said.

According to Vukovar's defense commander Branko Borković, the Vukovar episode is not over because the perpetrators have not been punished yet.

"There are many open wounds. Many mothers, children, grandchildren are still searching for their loved ones. That means a very large number who still have not been found. That is a huge burden that not only burdens us all but is an obligation for the state authorities, regardless of their political background to insist and fight for that," said Borković.

Lyliane Fournier also attended the march. Fournier is the mother of a French volunteer Jean-Michel Nicolier, who was one of the victims taken from the Vukovar hospital and killed at the Ovčara farm.

"I am filled with emotion. We are waiting for the state prosecutor to finish the procedure and to conduct an investigation, to indict my son's murderer. All we have now is a decision by the court in Osijek. I am surprised with how many people are so kind to me and how many people remember my son," she said.

Flag bearers were at the helm of the march carrying the flags of Croatia army units including Croatian historical units dressed in historical uniforms.

As the procession passed in front of the building of Croatian Radio Vukovar, its staff played the last report by its wartime reporter Siniša Glavašević who was killed at the Ovčara farm on 20 November 1991 along with 199 other victims.

Similar to previous years, the country's top officials, President Zoran Milanović, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended the procession.

They were accompanied by several cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, representatives of political parties, and many public figures, like Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava, Vukovar-Srijem County Prefect Damir Dekanić, and numerous other mayors and county prefects. Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević was also seen at the march.

The Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Šefik Džaferović, also participated in the commemorations and laid a wreath at the Memorial Cemetery.

After the march, numerous delegations laid wreaths and lit candles in honor of the victims of the Homeland War.

Holy Mass was celebrated by Zagreb Auxiliary Bishop Ivan Šaško.

The city on the River Danube was under siege for 87 days, and the battle for Vukovar ended on 18 November 1991 with its occupation, which lasted until 15 January 1998 and the peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region, after which the people of Vukovar finally returned to their homes.

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

Tens of Thousands of People Attend Vukovar Remembrance Day Procession

ZAGREB, 18 Nov 2021 - Tens of thousands of people joined the commemorative procession in the eastern Croatian city of Vukovar on Thursday to pay their respects to the defenders and civilians killed or gone missing at the start of the Homeland War in 1991.

The country's most senior officials, President Zoran Milanović, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended the procession. They were accompanied by several cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, representatives of political parties, and many public figures.

The procession passed through the main street near the city landmark, the Water Tower, which now serves as a memorial center. During the war, it was damaged by 640 mortar shells.

As the procession passed in front of the building of Croatian Radio Vukovar, its staff played the last report by its wartime reporter Siniša Glavašević who was killed at the Ovčara farm on 20 November 1991 along with 199 other victims.

As the procession walked through the city, the bells of St. Phillip and Jacob's church rang the entire time.

Upon arriving a the Memorial Cemetery, the state delegations laid wreaths and lit candles in tribute to the war victims, while a memorial Mass was celebrated by Zagreb Auxiliary Bishop Ivan Šaško.

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