Serb member of the BiH Presidency Milorad Dodik has said that Garavice outside Bihać is a horrific place of suffering of Serbs in WWII which must never be forgotten.
Addressing those present at a ceremony marking the 78th anniversary of the Ustashe crime against Serbs, Dodik has said that this place is sad not only because of the events of 1941 but because of historical and general negligence of this space where a huge number of people was killed.
“Various sources say that at least 12,000 Serbs were killed in Garavice, and some sources even say 17,000. This happened at the very beginning of WWII, which is a proof that there was a plan to kill Serbs who were already being killed in Jadovno, on the Pag Island, Prebilovci and many other places,” Dodik said on Wednesday.
Dodik has said that by liberating other peoples in WWI and WWII, the Serbian people sacrificed their own freedom for Yugoslavia naively believing that neighbors will not again commit the same crimes against them.
He has said that the Serbian nation was halved in the past century, stressing that this century is the century of unification and recovery of the Serbian nation in every sense of the word.
Dodik has said that neither history nor courts should spare anyone who committed crimes, no matter if they are Serbs, Bosniaks or Croats, and regardless of when they committed these crimes.
“I renounce any Serb who committed a crime against others, different from us, in the name of an idea,” said Dodik, stressing that he had never heard anyone admitting to committing the crime in this place.
Dodik thanked the Una-Sana Canton authorities for issuing a permit for a gathering in this place so that people could pay their respects to Serbian victims in Garavice.
“We intend to support a proposal by His Grace the Bishop of Bihać and Petrovac Sergije to build a memorial church in Garavice. It is up to us to gather around the idea, secure funds and ask for a permit from the Bihac authorities,” Dodik said.
The Serb member of the BiH Presidency also supports Bishop Sergije’s idea to declare Garavice victims martyrs at the Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church and to set a date in the calendar of the Serbian Orthodox Church dedicated to them.
On behalf of Republika Srpska institutions, Dodik laid a wreath at the memorial to Serbian victims in Garavice.
At the beginning of WWII, in 1941, Ustashe committed a mass massacre of at least 12,000 Serbian civilians, including a large number of children.
According to English intelligence, between 14,000 and 14,500 people were killed in Garavice.
Residents of Bihać and surrounding villages, who were exclusively Serbs, and a small number of Jews, were killed on the occasion.
This killing ground was neglected after WWII since facts about the massacre of civilians in Bihać committed by the Independent State of Croatia /NDH/ were kept far from the public eye in the former Yugoslavia.