News 11 Dec 14

Croatian Veterans Protest Post-War Suicides

Some 3,000 former soldiers marched through the centre of Zagreb, demanding that the government take action after the suicides of numerous 1990s war veterans.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Protesters in Zagreb. Photo: Facebook.

The war veterans, accompanied by families of people who have committed suicide, blocked traffic as they marched through the city on Wednesday wearing black T-shirts with a white cross on the front and a question mark on the back.

The crosses were intended to symbolise the veterans who have committed suicides due to problems like post-traumatic stress syndrome and the question marks to indicate that unknown others might do the same.

The leader of the protest, the president of Association of 100 Per Cent Disabled War Veterans, Djuro Glogoski, claimed that of the 800 to 1,000 suicides in Croatia each year, between 100 and 120 are war veterans. This figure could not be independently verified.

Glogoski blamed government bodies for the deaths, and demanded new measures for suicide prevention and an official tally of veterans who have killed themselves.

“Those who are heading these institutions are responsible for each and every one of these suicides. It is unacceptable that the exact total number of suicides is still unknown in 2014,” he said.

Veterans march through the city. Photo: Facebook.

Glogoski has also been leading a non-stop sit-in protest by former soldiers outside the Veterans’ Ministry for the past 52 days.

They are demanding the removal of war veterans minister Predrag Matic and his team, the passing of a constitutional law on war veterans and the amendment of other laws to boost their status.

Glogoski said that the government has until December 15 to meet their demands, after which they will move their protest to the government building.

“We will come, but then someone will have to go,” he warned.

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