News 23 Aug 17

Croatia Honours Victims of Totalitarian Regimes

Croatian officials marked Europe's official day of remembrance for the victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, visiting some of the worst killing sites and former prison camps.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Government pays respect at the monument to the victims of the 1990s war in Zagreb. Photo: Croatian government

Croatian officials commemorated the European Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes on Wednesday, visiting locations of former camps and killing sites from World War II and the post-war Communist period.

Led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, they laid wreaths and candles at the central memorial to victims of the independence war of the 1990s in Zagreb's main cemetery at Mirogoj.

The government delegation also paid its respects to the tomb of independent Croatia's first president, Franjo Tudjman.

“Revealing the truth, condemnation of systematic violations of fundamental human rights and remedy for victims and their families are prerequisites for responsibly dealing with the past, for which Croatian society has no alternative,” Plenkovic said after the ceremony.

“Only by clearly distancing ourselves from all totalitarianism, respect for their victims, and by educating younger generations can we build a society without ideological and social divisions, to fully focus on the key challenges facing Croatia in the 21st century,” he said.

Plenkovic added that the new Council for Dealing with the Consequences of the Rule of Non-Democratic Regimes was established in March for this purpose.

The work of the Council in dealing with the consequences of the wartime Fascist regime and Communist-led Yugoslavia has come under some scrutiny, as its specific goals remain vague.

Asked about the plaque containing the Fascist Ustasa slogan "Za dom spremni" [‘Ready for the Homeland"] - and whether it will be removed from the municipality of Jasenovac – near the location of the notorious Ustasa-run concentration camp – Plenkovic added that the government was awaiting a resolution from the State Administration Ministry on the issue.

Commemorating the victims at Jasenovac, Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek on Wednesday visited the site of the former death camp.

At the same time, War Veterans’ Minister Tomo Medved visited Macelj, in northern Croatia, where Communist-led Partisans executed over 1,100 people in May 1945.

A parliamentary delegation, led by Gordan Jandrokovic, on Wednesday visited the sites of former Communist-run prison camps on the islands of Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur on the northern Adriatic coast.

Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur served as prison camps for alleged supporters of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin between 1949 and 1956, following Yugoslavia's break with Moscow.

Goli Otok held some 16,500 people, 413 of whom died there. They were either killed directly by guards and other inmates or died due to the grim conditions or as a result of suicide.

At the commemoration, Jandrokovic stated that people who had been imprisoned and died on Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur were put there because they belonged either to the wrong nation, religion or political orientation.

Jandrokovic and the delegation paid their respects at the memorials on both islands and finished the commemoration ceremony by watching a documentary on Goli Otok.

The European Parliament established a day commemorating victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes in 2008 – first called the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.

If followed a 2006 Resolution of the Council of Europe, condemning the crimes of totalitarian communist regimes, passed by 99 out of 317 members – mostly from the Baltic states, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

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