Activists stage protest to raise awareness of war crimes in 1995 Operation Storm

NEWS 03.08.2022 15:05
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Source: Katarina Brečić/N1

Several human rights NGOs staged a half-hour anti-war protest at Zagreb main square on Wednesday to commemorate people killed and expelled during and in the immediate aftermath of the Croatian army's Operation Storm in 1995.

Participating in the rally were memberss of the Center for Women Victims of War – ROSA, the Center for Civil Courage, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, the Association for Social Research and Communications from Sarajevo, and the Women’s Network of Croatia, who expressed solidarity with all victims of war and war crimes.

“We cannot understand the irresponsible behavior of Croatian politicians when it comes to dealing with the past. The current political leadership in Croatia does not show sincerity, humility and respect for the victims of crimes, for the people who were killed,” said Nela Pamukovic of the Center for Women Victims of War.

“Until Croatia faces war crimes committed in Operation Storm, it has no right to point the finger at others,” the protesters said.

According to the protesting NGOs, during and in the aftermath of Operation Storm more than 600 civilians are estimated to have been killed and more than 22,000 houses were burned, while about 150,000 Croatian Serbs fled the country. Their return was systematically discouraged and prevented for years.

“We oppose the state’s denial of facts, and warn that our fellow Croatian citizens of Serb ethnicity were killed, their property was looted and destroyed, their family members were expelled, and their return was de facto being prevented for decades,” said Pamukovic.

“There are no prospects for a peaceful future in a society that is based on not acknowledging its mistakes from the past. Protests and incidents show that our society is still divided,” she added.

During the half-hour protest, held with close police presence, some passers-by protested against the activists, some took pictures of their banners and talked to them, while others shouted verbal abuse at them.

Ana Gvozdic of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights said that the fact that so many people are against their protest only served to show how poorly the public is aware of the crimes committed against civilians. “This is the problem we have been warning about, while demanding that government institutions ensure the right to truth and justice for the victims, and for society,” she added.

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