News 18 Jul 16

Croatian Right-Wingers Removed from Anti-Fascist Monument

Police removed members of the far-right Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights from a WWII monument where they had been staging a sit-in to prevent an anti-fascist commemoration.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
The right-wingers wait for the police in front of the monument. Photo: BETAPHOTO/Mladen VOLARIC.

Police on Sunday morning removed several members of the far-right Autochthonous Croatian Party of Right, A-HSP, from the WWII anti-fascist monument near the village of Srb in the Lika region, close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The right-wingers, who set up a tent by the monument, had been hoping to prevent a commemoration on July 27 of the 75th anniversary of the uprising by anti-fascists against the WWII Nazi-allied puppet regime, the Independent State of Croatia.

But after they breached a police deadline to leave, officers removed the tent and carried away eight of the ten A-HSP members on site who refused to move. Seven of them were released shortly afterwards.

A-HSP president Drazen Keleminec was a given a 700 euro fined for breaking public order and public assembly laws and banned from the monument for another six months by the magistrates’ court in the town of Gracac.

Keleminec represented himself in court, claiming the judge gave him only two hours to hire a lawyer, and condemned the ruling.

“Of course I'm not satisfied with the verdict because it is tailored according to police wishes so that I couldn’t come to Srb on July 27,” he said.

Keleminec and his party planned to stay at the monument to prevent the Serbian National Council and Croatian anti-fascist associations from commemorating the 1941 uprising against the wartime Nazi-allied regime.

For the past six years, A-HSP has held protests during the commemoration, claiming that it is a ‘Chetnik commemoration’ and should be stopped.

During the 1941 uprising, the local population, the majority of them Croatian and Bosnian Serbs, rebelled against the regime after numerous crimes against Serbs were committed by fascist Ustasa units in the region in the momths beforehand.

The date was the celebrated as the Day of the Uprising of the Croatian People until the 1990s, when it was replaced by the Day of the Anti-Fascist Struggle on June 22, commemorating the anniversary of the establishment of one of the first anti-fascist units was established in the Brezovica forest next to the town of Sisak in central Croatia.

The A-HSP opposes the commemoration in Srb because it says war crimes were committed by anti-fascists against local Croats during the uprising.

However police said that the party did not get attain a permit to use the site for its sit-in.

Police first said that the tent should be moved last Tuesday, but the A-HSP activists moved it just ten metres.

The party also warned the police not to try to remove the tent by force “because it could ‘light a match’ and create problems that nobody wants”.

The same day, some of Srb’s residents sent an open letter to the Croatian authorities urging “all institutions and prominent members of our society to protect us and support the memory of the resistance against… the Ustasa regime”.

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