Representatives of Croatia’s Serb and Jewish communities rejected an invitation from Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to hold a joint commemoration of victims of the World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac in April.
Representatives of Croatia’s Serb and Jewish communities announced on Tuesday that they will commemorate victims of the World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac separately in April, and will not take part in the joint commemoration that Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has proposed.
Plenkovic on Saturday invited Croatia’s Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters, the Jewish community, Serbs and Roma to commemorate the victims of the WWII fascist Ustasa-run camp together with state officials.
For the past three years, groups representing Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascists – who constituted the majority of the victims killed at Jasenovac – have boycotted the official commemoration in protest about they believe is the government’s failure to address historical revisionism of WWII crimes.
Ognjen Kraus, the leader of the Jewish community in Croatia, told media on Tuesday that “nothing has changed in a year, nothing new has happened” to justify joining the state-backed commemoration this year.
“The state has not taken the necessary measures to stop or even diminish the denial of the Holocaust and genocide in the Second World War and revisionism,” Sasa Milosevic, deputy chairman of the Serbian National Council, which represents Croatia’s Serb minority, told Novosti on Tuesday.
“There are obviously two contradictory positions on these things, and with such a big difference in such a social climate, we cannot and should not go together to Jasenovac,” Milosevic added.
He announced that a separate commemoration would be held by the Serb, Jewish and Roma minorities and anti-fascists on April 12.
According to a name-by-name list compiled by the Jasenovac Memorial Site, the Ustasa killed 83,145 Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascists in the camp between August 1941 and April 1945.
The annual commemorations are organised at the former camp to mark the last attempted breakout by inmates on April 22, 1945, before the Ustasa liquidated the camp completely.
Roma ethnic minority MP Veljko Kajtazi said on Saturday he would prefer a joint commemoration for the Jasenovac victims this year but that as far as he understood, there will be two separate ones again.
“I will attend both, although we Roma commemorate our Jasenovac camp victims [in another separate commemoration] every year on August 2,” Kajtazi said.