News 09 Jun 17

Fascist Chants Mar Croat Nationalist Concert in Bosnia

Fascist slogans were chanted at a concert by Croatian nationalist singer Marko Perkovic ‘Thompson’ in the Bosnian town of Mostar in support of Bosnian Croat ex-officials on trial for war crimes.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Mostar
...

 

Around 8,000 people chanted the Croatian World War II fascist chant “Za dom spremni” (“Ready for the Home(land)”) at Thompson’s concert on Thursday night at the Zrinjski football stadium in the southern Bosnian town of Mostar.

In a town largely divided between Croats and Bosniaks, the concert was organised in support of six former Bosnian Croat generals and politicians – leaders of the unrecognised Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna wartime statelet – who are awaiting their final verdict before the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for war crimes against Bosniaks between 1992 and 1994.

In 2013, the ICTY’s trial chamber sentenced them to a total of 111 years in prison but an appeal against their convictions is now being considered by the judges at the UN court.

The concert attracted mostly younger people between 15 and 25 years old from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as neighbouring Croatia.

The announcer at the concert said that it was being held in support of innocently imprisoned Croats “and all innocently convicted members of the HVO” - the Croatian Defence Council, Herzeg-Bosna’s armed forces.

Six empty white chairs with names of all six Herzeg-Bosna officials – Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoje Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic – were placed in front of the stage.

The concert was opened by a girl singing the Croatian national anthem, while various bands and singers played folk and patriotic songs, some of which hymned Herzeg-Bosna.

The biggest star of the concert was Croatian nationalist singer Thompson, who closed the event.

Despite not singing one of his most controversial songs, the 1991 wartime song ‘Cavoglave’, which uses the Ustasa chant “Za dom spremni”, the crowd started chanting it on their own on several occasions.

The crowd at the concert chanting "Za dom spremni".

“With this concert, we are giving voice to beauty and love. We want this concert to encourage our prisoners, to encourage our defenders [1990s war veterans], and your dear friends, our people who live in Herzegovina, in Croatia, in Bosnia… This is the message of this gathering - love,” Thompson shouted, to applause from the crowd.

“And let our Croatian defenders who have been unfairly prosecuted feel this strength of [this] evening’s love,” he added.

Thompson and the other performers closed the concert with the Croatian singer’s popular patriotic song ‘Lijepa li si’ (‘You are Beautiful’), which praises Herzeg-Bosna.

The organisers of the concert - the Croat National Assembly, which includes Bosnian Croat parties and the Association of the Croatian Heart of Hope, an NGO promoting Croats in Bosnia – forbade media from communicating with the crowd in the front rows. Media were also forbidden to leave the space reserved for them in front of the stage.

While a few flares were set off at the concert, county police reported that there were no incidents – not mentioning the “Za dom spremni” chants. Some concert-goers wore the T-shirts of the 1990s paramilitary Croatian Defence Forces, HOS, with “Za dom spremni” in its coat of arms – a logo officially recognised by the Croatian state.

Some NGOs and Bosnian political parties had demanded that Thompson’s concert be banned – as his gigs have been across Europe – due to his associations with the Ustasa regime and praise for Herzeg-Bosnia, but this was rejected by the Mostar authorities.

In 2009, Thompson’s performance of the Ustasa-praising song ‘Jasenovac and Gradiska Stara’ – the names of Ustasa-run concentration camps – caused outrage in Croatia and across the region.

In 2015, some 80,000 people watched Thompson celebrate the 20th anniversary of Croatoa’s victorious 1995 military operation ‘Storm’, many chanting “Kill a Serb” and “Za dom spremni”.

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