News 06 Aug 15

Croats Chant Anti-Serb Slogans at Nationalist Concert

Some 80,000 people watched nationalist singer Marko Perkovic Thompson celebrate the 20th anniversary of Croatia’s victorious Operation Storm, many chanting “Kill a Serb” and fascist slogans from WWII.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Knin
Marko Perkovic Thompson on stage.

People came from all over Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the concert on Wednesday evening at a football stadium in the town of Knin, organised by the local authorities as the closing event of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Croatian military’s Operation Storm, which drove out Serb rebels.

Many in the 80,000-strong crowd chanted “Kill a Serb” and the slogan of the WWII-era pro-fascist Ustasa movement, “Za dom spremni” (“Ready for the homeland”).

People in the audience also chanted “Here we go, Ustasa” and sang Ustasa songs. Some wore distinctive Ustasa caps and other insignia.

Earlier in the day, top Croatian officials attended commemorations of Operation Storm in Knin, which was the stronghold of rebel Serbs until it was seized back by Zagreb’s forces on August 5, 1995.

Before the concert, Djuro Glogoski, head of the Association of 100 Per Cent Handicapped Croatian Defenders and the leader of a nine-month-long sit-in protest against the centre-left government in Zagreb, addressed the crowd.

“Those who didn’t fight in the war did not have the courage to address the patriots in Knin at the ceremony for the 20th anniversary of Operation Storm,” Glogoski said, referring to Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, who was booed by his opponents when he arrived at Wednesday’s commemoration.

Glogoski and other protesting ex-soldiers are demanding the removal of veterans’ minister Predrag Matic and the passing of a special law ensuring the status of war veterans in the constitution. His speech triggered more chants of “Kill a Serb” from the audience.

While most Croats see Operation Storm as a great victory, many Serbs regard it as a war crime, describing the exodus of more than 200,000 refugees who fled the Croatian offensive as ethnic cleansing. The anniversary of the operation was marked in Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb-led entity Republika Srpska as a day of mourning for the victims.

Before nationalist singer Marko Perkovic Thompson took to the stage on Wednesday, a song was played which includes a famous speech made in 1996 by former Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, in which he talks about internal ‘enemies of the state’ who he accuses of collaborating with foreign foes against Croatia’s independence.

The singer, nicknamed Thompson after the American submachine gun, opened the concert with his most popular wartime song, ‘Cavoglave’, which starts with the slogan “Za dom spremni”.

He continued the concert with a song called ‘Anica kninska kraljica’ (‘Anica the Queen of Knin’), which includes the lyric “I’ll set Krajina on fire all the way to Knin”, a reference to the rebel Serbs’ self-proclaimed wartime statelet, the Republic of Serbian Krajina, which was crushed during Operation Storm.

Six people were arrested during the concert, mostly for assault and insulting the police.

Man wearing a Ustasa cap, posing with the 1990s paramilitary Croatan Defence Forces' flag with the "Za dom spremni" slogan. All photos: BIRN.
Croatian war veterans on stage, led by Djuro Glogoski (in wheelchair).
Knin mayor Josip Rimac greeted the crowd.
Marko Perkovic Thompson took to the stage with a song using the slogan "Za dom spremni".
In a heated atmoshere, some people chanted anti-Serb slogans.
Croatian flags dominated the concert.
Fans set off flares as well as waving flags.
A banner comemmorating Skabrnja, a village where Croats were killed by Yugoslav Army and Serb forces.

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