NGO calls for preserving former prison camp islands Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur

NEWS 23.08.2022 21:19
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Source: Udruga Goli otok "Ante Zemljar"

Documenta - Center for Dealing with the Past, a human rights NGO group, called on the Croatian government on Tuesday to preserve the islands of Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur in northern Adriatic which used to host prison camps for political prisoners in communist times.

The group also presented a virtual guide through history of these prison camps, to mark the Day of Remembrance for Victims of All Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes, marked in all of Europe on 23 August.

“It is concerning that after the government’s decision to protect the island of Goli Otok in 2019, further devastation of the abandoned buildings continues. We have again called on the Ministry of Culture and Media to allocate funds for the creation of a conservation study and protection,” Documenta said on Tuesday.

In addition, Documenta, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Dialogue office in Sarajevo and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Zagreb office for Croatia and Slovenia on Monday presented a new, expanded, edition of the virtual guide to the history of the Goli Otok prison camp.

The director of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung regional office in Sarajevo, Ralf Melzer, at the presentation emphasized the importance of critically dealing with the past based on scientific research. Deputy Head of Mission of Germany in Croatia, Harald Seibel, visited Goli Otok and said more should be done to preserve the memory.

“This island is accessible to everyone, but visitors can find very little information on what happened here,” Seibel said.

The director of the Zagreb office, Sonja Schirmbeck, said she considered critically facing the topic of Goli Otok very important for two reasons. Firstly, we as the political left must sweep our own front porch first and critically deal with the crimes of the left-wing politics, she said.

Secondly, she added, this topic is important because the discourse on the period of Tito’s reign is much more ambivalent in the domain of memory politics than the discourse on the 1940s or 1990s.

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