Today we remember the victims, survivors
and their families, all of whom deserve recognition of their suffering and
solidarity of the society as a whole. In Croatia today we still feel
consequences of the crimes committed during the Second World War and in its
aftermath, and of numerous post-war unjust political processes.
After the occupation by German Nazi and
Italian fascist regime of the entire territory of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia,
the Independent State of Croatia was established under the leadership of Ante
Pavelić. By the end of 1941, the Ustashe authorities had already started with
mass killings of Jews, Serbs and the Roma, as well as Croats who were regarded
as ideological enemies. The mass killings started through criminal actions of
the ustashe forces in Gudovac, Glina and other locations in Banija, in Jadovno
and Slana death camps, and in the first camps of the Jasenovac complex near the
village of Krapje.
On May 15, 1945, seven days after the
capitulation of the Third Reich, remnants of the Ustashe, Chetnik, Home Guard
Army, and White Guard movement
surrendered near the town of Bleiburg to the army of Great Britain. Together
with those forces, a large number of civilians was also withdrawing, many of
which were forced to accompany the Ustashe army. Both war prisoners and
civilians were passed to the People’s Liberation Army of Yugoslavia and
returned to Yugoslavia’s territory.
During this withdrawal, in fury of revenge, many of the war prisoners were
killed without being prosecuted, together with many civilians.
We find that victims of this march,
today in Croatia known as the Way of the Cross should be properly recognized and shown piety. Therefore, we invite
the Croatian Parliament, after reaching a decision on termination of
sponsorship over the commemoration in Bleiburg, to choose, in consultation with
academic institutions, relevant organizations and representatives of victims’
families, an appropriative location in Croatia and an appropriate commemorative
We condemn every act of relativization
of crimes and call for quicker establishing of facts about every crime,
including the genocide over Jews, Serbs and the Roma, crimes committed along
the Way of the Cross and investigation of destinies of political prisoners imprisoned at the island of Goli
otok and similar prisons, due to the crime of thinking differently. We also
invite the Ministry of culture to start a scientific debate dedicated to
adoption of a long-term development politics of the culture of remembrance,
which would include reconstruction of highest priority antifascist monuments.
We also invite the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports to initiate
development of both formal and informal education programs, which would be
based on the destinies of victims.
Crimes concealed for decades, about which
very little has been written until the end of the 1980s, have not been properly
investigated until today. Every day we witness political manipulation, reducing
or oversizing the numbers of victims and their instrumentalization for the
purpose of daily politics. We believe that we owe respect to all victims, and
to new generations we educational programs based on facts, in order to enable
them to recognize ideas and movements which aim at violation of human rights
and freedoms, and to teach them to oppose these ideas before they turn into
crimes. We invite the Croatian government to allocate additional budget funds
needed for necessary research and all relevant institutions to develop programs
of the culture of remembrance and to use, in a more quality, way European
programs devoted to the memory of victims.
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