Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik stated Monday in Gradiska during a marking of the 22nd anniversary of the killing of Serbs in the Croatian military operation Flash that the stealing of land, expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Western Slavonia was an organised state project of Croatia.
Dodik said that the banishment of Serbs from Croatia in the 1990s war was the continuation of crimes which had obviously not been finished in Jasenovac.
“Twenty-two years ago, Serbs from Western Slavonia crossed this bridge and left their homes forever. That wasn’t enough, so convoys of refugees were then bombed. It was a sad tragedy for the Serbs, even though not far from here, Croats celebrate this day as their great victory in which they banished women, children and unprotected Serb population who were disarmed by the UN,” Dodik said in an address during the anniversary ceremony.
He pointed out that no one had answered for that crime, nor did anyone answer for many other crimes against Serbs.
“I often wonder how it was possible to allow so much suffering of the Serbs and the only conclusion I come up with is that the problem is in us, in our good soul, our delusion and gullibility in which we forgive, forget and believe that it can never happen to us again, and we can see that Jasenovac was realised almost completely, but in a different form,” said Dodik.
He pointed out that with the Serb state there can be no freedom for the Serbs and that the suffering of Serbs was largely prevented with the existence of Republika Srpska.
“If someone tells you that Republika Srpska is safe and accepted by those who don’t want it to exit, you should know they are lying and preparing another situation that is supposed to deceive us into not expecting something we experienced before,” Dodik added.
He emphasised that Republika Srpska as a state is motivated by the desire of Serbs to exist.
“Many Croats and Bosniaks don’t want it but Republika Srpska has to survive, because if it were to disappear, there would no more Serbs here, no Serb freedom or Serb way of life,” said Dodik.
Minister of Labour and Veteran and Disability Policy Milenko Savanovic said that the Government Committee in charge of nurturing the tradition of liberation wars classified the anniversary of the suffering of Western Slavonia Serbs as an event of entity significance, because the Serbs from Western Slavonia were banished from their homes and deprived of the right given to every human being, the right to life and freedom.
“We will try as much as we can to make sure those who committed crimes are prosecuted. That also depends on the prosecutor’s offices of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina; none of the people responsible for the tragic events in Western Slavonia 22 years ago have been prosecuted,” said Savanovic.
Speaker of the Gradiska municipal assembly Milenko Pavlovic has said that a great number of Serbs from Western Slavonia found refuge and freedom in Gradiska 22 years ago, while many left the country and are now scattered around the world, but that those who stayed in Gradiska are diligent and good citizens.
After the official speeches, wreaths were thrown off the “bridge of salvation” into the Sava River.
Before that, a memorial service was held in the Church of the Intercession of the Theotokos in Gradiska and flowers were laid to the memorial to the killed Western Slavonia Serbs.
Monday marks the 22nd anniversary of the Croatian military operation Flash in which the Croatian troops attacked the UN-protected Western Slavonia in which 283 Serbs were either killed or went missing, including 55 women and 11 children, while the Serb population was banished from that part of Croatia.