Sunday, 24 April 2022

Roma Killed by Ustasha in WWII Commemorated

ZAGREB, 24 April 2022 - A group of Roma killed in the village of Hrastina by Ustasha units in the night between 24 and 25 April 1945 was commemorated for the first time at the Marija Gorica cemetery on Sunday.

The commemoration was organised by the Kali Sara association of Roma in Croatia, which also refurbished the memorial in cooperation with the Marija Gorica municipality and Roma MP Veljko Kajtazi.

He said one of the biggest Ustasha crimes against Roma and Sinti was committed here at the time of the Nazi-styled Independent State of Croatia and that little was known and talked about it until now.

It was long thought and misinterpreted that the victims were Jews from Germany and Austria, and that the crime was committed by the SS, Kajtazi said. But the crime was committed by Ustasha units from Jasenovac, he added.

"By refurbishing the memorial, we wish to acquaint the public with the historical facts and the tragedy of the Roma during WWII", Kajtazi said.

"The Nazi policy against Roma and Jews resulted in their systematic persecution in these parts, which we must always remember so that it never happens again", he added.

"We have the moral obligation and the political duty to commemorate with dignity all victims of Ustasha crimes and to stamp out everywhere any trace of Nazism and the exclusion of others on ethnic grounds", Kajtazi said.

"This refers in particular to the victims who were anonymous or forgotten until now, such as the 43 Roma killed in Hrastina", he said, adding that the plan was to exterminate an entire people.

The president of the SABA association of antifascists and antifascist fighters, Franjo Habulin, said the truth needed repeating so that it was not forgotten, and that today were being honoured innocent people killed by Ustasha criminals, a regime, he warned, said to have been an aspiration of Croatian citizens.

"But it was not nor could it have been, he said, adding that the victims were innocent people due to a racial law according to which some did not have the right to live."

"It is therefore our duty to keep remembering them so that the darkness of historical revisionism of the past 30 years does not cover them up", Habulin said.

"The people we are honouring as well as many others gave their tomorrow for our today, let's be grateful to them and respect their sacrifice", he added.

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Tuesday, 20 April 2021

No Joint Ceremony to Pay Tribute to Jasenovac Victims

ZAGREB, 20 April, 2021 - There will be no joint commemoration for victims of the World War II concentration camp Jasenovac on Thursday, representatives of the victims will lay wreaths separately from the state leadership while President Zoran Milanović will do so separately from the prime minister and parliament speaker.

President Milanović's spokesman Nikola Jelić confirmed to Hina that Milanović and his delegation will lay wreaths at the Stone Flower monument at Jasenovac at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

Office of the President did not receive reply from gov't, parliament

"President Zoran Milanović and his delegation will pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims on 22 April, at 11 a.m., as agreed with the organiser, the Public Institution Jasenovac Memorial Area," Jelić said.

He added that the Office of the President had not received a reply from the government or the parliament to its invitation to pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims together.

"As early as last Friday the President of the Republic proposed to the Prime Minister and the Parliament Speaker that they all pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims together, but we have not received any reply," Jelić said.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said today that a government delegation would lay a wreath at Jasenovac at 9 a.m., again dismissing the possibility of paying tribute together with Milanović, noting that "there is no reason for us to put on an act."

"As regards any joint laying of wreaths or flowers, I said yesterday.... there will be no putting on an act," he told reporters during a visit to Rijeka.

Plenković: We were not the ones to start with insults

"The President of the Republic or his staff are now launching an initiative for the Parliament Speaker and myself to lay a wreath with him in Jasenovac. We were not the ones to start with the 'animal farm', we were not the ones to start with insults or a number of other things that are most inappropriate, so there is no reason to put on an act, let that be clear to everyone," said Plenković.

He added that the organiser of the commemoration was the Jasenovac Memorial Area, not the government or anyone else, and that this year's commemoration would be held in line with epidemiological restrictions.

The government's delegation will arrive at 9 a.m. and the parliament's delegation at 10 a.m., he said.

"This has nothing to do with representatives of the victim ethnic groups. We met with them last week, we hold meetings regularly, we respect the victims and went to Jasenovac in the past four years as well. We will go this year again, next year, in 2023, 2024. This has to do with the protocol, but putting on an act is out of the question," he said.

Reporters asked Plenković if he should ignore his relationship with Milanović, regardless of how bad it may be, in situations such as commemorations, to which he said: "No, there's no need for that. In this case it is not envisaged and is out of the question."

Representatives of Serbs, Jews, Roma and antifascists to form separate delegation

The Serb National Council (SNV) said earlier in the day that representatives of ethnic groups that were victims of the Ustasha terror would have a separate, four-member delegation in Jasenovac.

SNV president Milorad Pupovac, the leader of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, Roma association "Kali Sara" representative Veljko Kajtazi, and the leader of the SABA association of antifascist fighters and antifascists, Franjo Habulin, will lay a joint wreath at the Stone Flower monument at noon on Thursday.

Kraus confirmed to Hina that this decision was made yesterday, after it became evident that there would be no joint delegation comprising top state officials.

"After we realised that there would be separate delegations, we decided on a separate delegation as well. As you can see, a single delegation does not depend on us. We cannot support the use of commemorations for political one-upmanship," said Kraus.

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