Some five thousand people attended a religious commemoration ceremony marking 20 years since war crimes committed against the Croats in Bosnia’s northern region of Posavina.
The ceremony and collective prayer was led by the Bosnian Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, who reminded that almost hundred and fifty thousand Bosnian Croats have lived in the Posavina region in 1991 and today, twenty years later, there are just over a thousand left.
All the rest, according to Puljic, have been either killed or displaced.
“These numbers speak about the destiny of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has been twenty years since the exile and we cannot push this under a rug. Remaining silent about these crimes would be a grave sin”, said Puljic at the commemoration.
In the first half on 1992, the Bosnian Serb forces took control of the Posavina region, which was annexed to the Srpska Republika of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which later became Republika Srpska.
The property of Bosnian Croats was destroyed, many civilians were arrested and killed, and a large number of non-Serbs were expelled.
Puljic said that crimes against the Croats in 1990s were done in retaliation for crimes done by the Croat forces during World War II, adding that he is saddened by the collective burden the Croat people are forced to carry.
He added that the notorious Second World War concentration camp Jasenovac, is used a stick to beat the Croats, while other locations, where the Croats were killed, are not often mentioned.
Jasenovac was the largest extermination camp in the Independent State of Croatia, NDH, a puppet government of Nazi Germany, run by local Croatian Fascists known as the Ustasha during World War II.
It is estimated that the Ustasha regime killed between 70,000 and 100,000 Serbs, Jews and Roma in Jasenovac.
The Jasenovac concentration camp made news last week, when the Croatian historian and cleric, Stjepan Razum, said in an interview to the Croatian newspaper Hrvatski List that the camp is a “Serbian myth”.
“Through propaganda we have been brought into a situation where we have to prove there were no mass executions in Jasenovac. This is why it is a duty of Croatian historians and this generation to speak up”, said Razum in the interview.
After this interview, the Serbian embassy in Zagreb has sent an inquiry to the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for the official position and comment by the Croatian government. No answer has been made public up to date.