The Coordination of Serbian Associations of Families of Killed, Missing and Expelled Persons from the Former Yugoslavia has announced that the fact that only one person was convicted of war crimes committed in the Croatian military operation Storm shows that there is no serious intention in Croatia to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes against Serbs.
The Coordination points out that the highest Croatian state officials are denying the criminal side of the Storm saying that it “is as clean as a whistle,” while glorifying as national heroes “those who planned and commanded incriminating military operations, such as Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, instead of bringing them to justice.”
The Coordination says that the ICTY exonerated Croatian generals of the count of joint criminal enterprise in the operation Storm, even though it found them guilty in the first instance judgment and sentenced Gotovina to 24 and Markac to 18 years in prison.
“In this judgment the court claimed that the Storm was the largest ethnic cleansing operation in Europe after WWII, that mass, systemic crimes against innocent civilians were committed, but it abruptly ‘forgot’ the command responsibility and 1,300 pages of the first instance judgment and exonerated persons most responsible for mass crimes committed against Serbs with one stroke of a pen,” says a press release.
The press release says that by that judgment, the IC finally declared double standards official when it comes to crimes against Serbian victims in the area of the former Yugoslavia, to which the Serbian Coordination is vehemently opposed.
Families urge the public and the authorities in Serbia to oppose to false interpretations of events of the 1990s war and join the families of the victims in their struggle for truth and justice.
Political analyst Branko Radun claims that 23 years after the military and police operation Storm, the Serbs in Croatia live like the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and that Croatia continues the policy of extreme chauvinism, nationalism and rehabilitation of the Ustasha ideology.
Radun has told Srna the Serbs are wrong to call the August 1995 pogrom over the Serb people from Krajina “Storm” like the Croats do, saying it was primarily an ethnic cleansing with elements of genocide, and in no way a “brilliant military operation or triumph of the Croatian defence”.
“It wasn’t a war. It was ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Croatia and we are marking a mistake when we accept their terms like ‘Storm’ because ‘Storm’ was their propaganda which was supposed to portray a brutal political operation of persecution, ethnic cleansing and genocide as a flawless military victory, so it can associate with ‘Desert Storm’ when the United States defeated the army of /the Iraqi president/ Saddam Hussein. Those two have absolutely nothing in common,” said Radun.
He said that a strong anti-Serb feeling in Croatia has never really ceased to exist and that it appears in “tidal waves”.
“Today we have a strong feeling again, primarily an anti-Serb feeling, and I see the recent visit by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as a remedy for that, because under the protocol, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic had to go together with him to Jasenovac and did that reluctantly,” said Radun.
He added that Kitarovic “mixed apples and oranges” at the site of a horrific crime and that, as long as she went to Jasenovac, she had to give a negative comment about the genocide in Jasenovac and mix the 1990s into that and practically relativise the victims in Jasenovac.
“But that’s just the continued Croatian policy and only the naïve Serbs had believed in brotherhood and unity, tolerance and co-existence. The Croats have consistently remained hostile towards the Serbs,” said Radun.
He pointed out that the hostility was equal to Republika Srpska and Serbia.
“Regardless of what the relations between the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are like now, and they are good as a force of circumstance because the Serbs and Republika Srpska are the guarantor of the Croats’ survival in BiH, the policy of Croatia and Zagreb at this moment is basically burdened by the anti-Serb feeling and that will not change, while Kolinda is only expressing the view of the elite, politicians, intellectuals and a better part of the public,” said Radun.
Croatia is relativizing crimes, rehabilitating the Ustasha ideology and doing promotion through the controversial singer Marko Perkovic Thompson, who is a governmental project, not a private matter, rather something backed by the elite, and no one objects that, he said.
“Nothing new in Croatia… What happened in WWII and 1990s has continued in the media, propaganda and culture. It is perpetuated. Now we can see burnt returnee houses,” said Radun.
The Serbs owe thanks to the famous Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff and Israeli president that the global public is now well-informed about Jasenovac and what the Croats did there.
“The world public is unaware of Jasenovac. They know about Auschwitz, but what about Jasenovac? When the president of Israel says that Jasenovac is the Balkan Auschwitz, that’s a big deal. It echoes in the whole world and we must be grateful to the people who engage in that in their own interest, but our politicians too should speak more about that,” stated Radun.
During the Croatian military and police operation Storm, according to the data provided by the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees, 250,000 Krajina Serbs were expelled, 1,856 were killed and 836 are listed missing.
The operation began on August 4, 1995 with an offensive of the Croatian military and police and Croatian Defence Council /HVO/ in the area of Banija, Lika, Kordun and northern Dalmatia, that is, the Republic of Serbian Krajina.
A day later, on August 5, the Croatian troops entered the almost vacated Knin and put up the Croatian flag, while convoys of refugees on tractors and other agricultural vehicles were entering Serbia.
Operation Storm was the biggest and most brutal ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The central state manifestation marking the Day of Remembrance of the Soldiers and Expelled Serbs in the Operation “Storm” will be held on Saturday, August 4th at 20:00 at the Sports and Recreation Center “Tikvara” in Bačka Palanka, announced the Government of Serbia.