COMMEMORATING VICTIMS OF COMMUNIST CRIMES
If Only They Would Honor Victims
By Seating A Few Victim Families In Front Rows
It seems to me that I have spent half my life wondering “What and who does the Honorary Bleiburg Platoon association serve” (Počasni bleiburški vod) since the organisation of the commemoration of the victims of communist crimes of Bleiburg and the Way of the Cross was stolen from the Croatian diaspora and planted in Zagreb, riddled with former communist operatives. I see, namely, that these commemorations are organised in such a way that they induce the effect of diminishing the significance and horror of the victimhood, of several hundred thousand post World War Two victims!
At the commemoration of these victims of Yugoslav communism held in Donji Macelj on Saturday, May 13, 2023, I finally realized, with a heavy heart, that the most important thing in this commemoration to the organizers and sponsors are not the victims and their descendants (who are also victims) but the descendants of Yugoslav communist murderers or their ideology, for they sat in first rows, not the victims. They, not the descendants of the victims, sat in the first rows, closest to the altar from which Holy Mass in memory of the victims was said! So, in the first rows, on the chairs that signify honoring, not a single victim of that terrible genocide of the innocent Croatian people sat, not a single descendant of theirs! Most of the Croatian government sat there, and they were the first to be greeted!
This year, as in previous years, the Honorary Bleiburg Platoon organized the commemoration according to the same pattern and under the sponsorship of the Croatian Parliament: the ruling elite in the first row, closest to the altar, and neither the piety nor the prayers for the victims were visible on their faces or lips from where I sat, along with numerous descendants of the victims. Archbishop of Zagreb Mon. Drazen Kutlesa, leading the Holy Mass, delivered a deeply moving speech focusing on the victims of the communist terror. In Macelj alone 10,000 of them in 130 mass graves so far unearthed. But the Catholic Church was not the organizer of this commemoration, nor of the seating arrangements.
When someone like me comes to Croatia from the so-called civilized world, where at similar commemorations the victims or their representatives are placed in the front rows, often next to the President of a country or the Prime Minister, then this Croatian commemoration leaves the impression of shallowness and superficiality of piety and lack of remorse on behalf of those murderers in whose Party they were once members. This Croatian commemoration was about elitism of those holding power in the country and not so much about demonstrating respect for victims and their families. This is very sad as far as I am concerned and deserves utter condemnation.
An unpleasant impression was created that this commemoration created new victims (victims of the commemoration) because, well, those who are associated with communist ideology and regime terror that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent Croatian men, women, children and members of the Croatian Army that fought in the Second World War for independence of Croatia were sitting in places of honor during the commemoration; regardless of the fact that the European Union also condemned the communist totalitarian regime.
Croatia, Macelj, 13 May 2023 – Commemorating victims of communist crimes, victim families without due honouring as seated away from front rows (Photo: Screenshot)
They were not sitting there like those who have already publicly and vehemently condemned these communist crimes and erected monuments to their victims across the country. No, they still let wild grass and weeds grow over mass graves and around the openings of deep pits full of victim remains.
To me and to most decent, compassionate people this arrangement of seating at the commemoration is perceived as glorification of the perpetrators of the crimes over the victims who are being commemorated, and a kind of license to continue belittling the victims and underplaying communist crimes in the public and state-official space.
Universally, the right to truth is often invoked in the context of gross violations of human rights and serious violations of humanitarian law. The right to truth implies knowing the full and complete truth about the events that took place, their specific circumstances and the persons who participated in them, including knowing the circumstances in which the violations occurred, as well as the reasons for them. Not in official Croatia. Not about communist crimes. Given that the seating arrangement at the commemoration in Macelj is a measure for revealing the truth, then it seems that these victims will have to wait a long time for it. Unfortunately!
There is an awful, most unpleasant on humanity’s level, political phenomenon gaining more and more momentum in Croatia. Creating havoc, social division, and heartbreak (especially for victims of heinous communist crimes that are tantamount to genocide). One would have expected the passing time and commemoration of victims would yield a tolerable peace of mind; calmness, forgiveness on national level. However, with the relatively widespread communist mindset in places of power, on local and national levels, the passing time has only brought more determination in those associated in the past with communist operatives to keep justifying and glorifying the atrocious communist crimes and keep labelling the victims and their families as Fascists or Ustashas; even if the latter do not exist and even if the victims were largely not Ustashas during World War Two, and Fascism as such did not exist as a regime in Croatia.
The frequent celebration in Croatia of former Yugoslavia’s communist symbols and leaders on the streets of Croatia today is sickening. It is also incredulous that, since year 2000, Croatia has not produced leaders in power who would address this injustice and kick forward a decisive transition from communism.
Today, 19 May 2023 marks 32 years since 1991 referendum with which Croatians said no to communism, no to Yugoslavia! That 94% “No” vote cost Croatia enormously – 1990’s Homeland War that ensued after Yugoslav Army and Serb aggression. Rivers of blood, rivers of ethnically cleansed Croats from their homes, unfathomable brutality of Serb aggressor and devastating destruction of homes and infrastructure.
That, coupled with the arms embargo against Croatia at the time, compared to today and the persistent communist plague interfering with democracy and transition from communism imposes a certain kind of mass restlessness in those faced with such injustice that must, sooner or later, find catharsis. That is simply human nature.
Croatia, Macelj, 13 May 2023 – Commemorating victims of communist crimes, political elites, associated with communist murderers either through family or ideology seated in front rows.
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