Mrkonjic Grad, October 10 /SRNA/ – The Republika Srpska Minister of Labour and Veterans’ Affairs, Milenko Savanovic, said that the suffering of Serbs in western Krajina in 1995 was a genocide and continuation of plans of the Independent State of Croatia /NDH/.
At a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the sufferings of Serbs in 13 western Krajina municipalities in Mrkonjic Grad, Savanovic expressed the conviction that with the help of an honourable part of the IC, perpetrators of unheard of crimes committed against Serbs in this area will be brought to justice.
“After it expelled Serbs in 1995, Croatia, together with its international mentors, intended to solve the Serbian question in BiH by expelling Serbs across the Drina River, which is a project that has been known for a long time,” Savanovic said.
He added that autopsies of victims of the past war showed that the same monstrous methods of killing were used as in the NDH in 1941, and that the fact that victims were civilians as well gives particular gravity to this crime.
“Unfortunately, those who should have heard the cry of that people have not heard it. We must persevere and ask for help from other countries in the region and their courts and prosecutor’s offices,” Savanovic said.
He said that efforts of Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik aimed at holding a referendum on the BiH Court and Prosecutor’s Office are not random, since these are renegade institutions which are applying selective justice under political pressure from Sarajevo.
“It remains for us to continue to mark these events, to put pressure on all who are in charge of launching criminal proceedings,” Savanovic said.
He said that in an offensive carried out by the Croatian Army, the Croatian Defence Council and the BiH Army, with the support of NATO, 120,000 Serbs were expelled from their homes in 13 western Krajina municipalities in September 1995, when 1,647 civilians and soldiers were killed, of whom 1,214 have been exhumed.
“The largest mass grave from that time is at the city cemetery in Mrkonjic Grad, from which 181 victims have been exhumed, and 176 victims have been exhumed from graves in local cemeteries,” Savanovic said.
Regarding compensation of material damage, he said that there is no progress regarding this issue as well, noting that Mrkonjic Grad Municipality alone suffered the damage of some KM 68 million from destruction and looting.
“During 117 days of occupation of Mrkonjic Grad, the enemy was focused on the killings of civilians and soldiers, looting the companies and destruction of infrastructure, regardless of the presence of IFOR which should have protected them. It will take decades to return Mrkonjic Grad to the state before the occupation,” Savanovic said.
The Head of Mrkonjic Grad Municipality, Divna Anicic, expressed the hope that the crimes committed against Serbs in this Municipality will finally be prosecuted.
“I sincerely believe that this will happen, since the Croatian Army and state here organised the looting – machines from factories were taken, which could not have been done by individuals,” Anicic said.
According to her, today it is hard to see that 20 years ago Mrkonjic Grad was torched. Reconstruction took place thanks to the hard work and persistence of the population, and as of late, thanks to the assistance from the Republika Srpska Government.