The president of the steering board of the Prebilovci Serbian National Society, Milenko Jahura, said that this is the most direct pressure by the authorities on the expelled Prebilovci residents not to return to their village and a message to returnees that there are no prospects for them there.
Capljina Municipality, without any notice or announcement on its official website, started to distribute land to individuals at a plateau in Prebilovci, NW from the Church of Christ’s Resurrection, which has been the heritage of Prebilovci residents for centuries, says Milenko Jahura, the president of the steering board of the Prebilovci Serbian National Society.
“This land is registered in the name of Prebilovci residents, among whom there are hundreds of families exterminated directly or indirectly by the Ustashe in the Independent State of Croatia /NDH/ in 1941,” Jahura told SRNA.
He says that this land is a centuries-old heritage of the Prebilovci residents and their joint property, which is used for free grazing of cattle and for passage to parts of their properties.
Jahura has warned that this municipal decision will primarily threaten Serbian returnee families who live off of cattle breeding, half of whom are in the village.
He says that this is the most direct pressure by the authorities on the expelled Prebilovci residents not to return to their village and a message to returnees that there are no prospects for them there.
“The fact that Prebilovci is the village which suffered the most in Europe in WWII has been in vain, as well as the charter with the similar village of Lidice in the Czech Republic, visits of politicians, church dignitaries and persons from the film world and all media attention…,” Jahura said.
Regarding the decision of Capljina Municipality to distribute the land, he said that it is possible that something about it has been published by the media or that some notice will be made that this decision was on a bulletin board, as often happens when such evil things are being done.
“No one from the Prebilovci local community knew about it, and it would be natural for them to be informed of it,” Jahura says.
With the terrible truth they keep, Prebilovci is a danger for those forces which are nurturing the ideology of the NDH and they have never seen a solution other than violence.
“Hate speech which the general vicar of the Mostar Catholic Bishop, don Zeljko Majic, delivered on November 8, 2015, in the Serbian village of Klepci, which suffered equally, is the announcement of violence. He, following the customs of this area, did not even want to utter the name of Prebilovci, but called it ‘the neighbouring hill’,” Jahura said.
Majic accused Serbs of the sufferings of Croats in the Klepci District and said that some 500 Croats were killed from April 1942 until the end of the war. “He did not say that in June and August 1941, 1,200 innocent Serbs, including 500 children, were killed in this District,” Jahura said.
He said that there is less than 5% of civilians among Croats who were killed, most of them being Ustashe who killed and raped in Serbian villages, who threw Serbs into pits and took them to NDH concentration camps. They were also on the Eastern front, in uniforms of the Croatian and German Army.
“Everyone who is now stealing the land from Prebilovci residents counts on all risks of such behaviour and accepts them. The latest violence against Prebilovci does not leave us a choice but to present the truth and facts about the crimes against our people, of which we have kept silent, and to resist this violence, expecting the support from numerous friends,” Jahura told SRNA.
He says that Prebilovci, as a symbol of sufferings of the Serbs in the genocide committed by the NDH, cannot survive unless their space is protected, as a cultural, historic, memorial and ecological value.
“We don’t know whether we will be protected or not, but it will be clear as to whether we have the support of the Serbian side for our survival or not,” Jahura said.
The Church of Christ’s Resurrection in Prebilovci near Capljina was consecrated on August 8 last year.
It was built in a place of a Memorial Ossuary which contained the bones of 4,000 Serbs killed by the Ustashe in WWII and thrown into 13 Herzegovina pits. In June 1992, the Croatian Army mined the Memorial Ossuary.
Upon the return of Serbs to Prebilovci in 2000, the bones of Prebilovci new martyrs were collected. They were put in seven coffins and buried in the crypt of the Church of Christ’s Resurrection which was built in imitation of the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The names of those killed are written on the walls of the church, including the names of 862 residents of Prebilovci, which is one of the four villages which suffered the most in Europe in WWII.
In the first days of August 1941, 85% of the residents of Prebilovci were killed, mostly women, children and elderly. According to the testimony of the Ustashe who were tried for this crime in 1957, they were thrown alive into the Golubinka pit near the village of Surmanci, near Medjugorje.
The Serbian Orthodox Church canonised the Prebilovci martyrs and their day is on August 6 – Holy Prebilovci New Martyrs.
The church in Prebilovci was built with the good will, understanding and assistance of Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik and donations of Serbs in the Diaspora.