August 05, 2015

20 years since Krajina Serbs pogrom

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On this day, two decades ago, with the attack on Knin at dawn, the long prepared exodus of Serbs from Krajina started, which represents the biggest ethnic cleansing in Europe after World War II. In the action of the Croatian army and police, known as the "Storm", with the silent consent of the international community, in a matter of days, more than a quarter-million people were exiled from their hearths. This area used to comprise the cleanest of Serbian ethnic territories in the former Yugoslavia: northern Dalmatia, Lika, Banovina and Kordun. These territories were part of the Republic of Serbian Krajina and they were under the protection of the United Nations.

Murderous wave of Zagreb soon warmed to Serb areas in the Republic of Srpska, too. In a joint action with the Croatian forces, Fifth Corps Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina brutally attacked 13 Serbian municipalities, from Grahovo to Prijedor. In this wave, 125,000 Serbs were exiled.

The “Storm” took away 2,500 lives. The number of people missing is the same – they still have not been found. 24,752 Serbian houses, 13,000 industrial facilities, 182 cooperative homes, 56 health centers, 78 churches, 29 museums, 181 cemeteries, 352 stores, 113 aqueducts, 96 substations were destroyed … All Serbian industrial units, 920 monuments, 211 catering facilities and 410 craft shops were destroyed. After the pogrom, about 20,000 Serbs, mostly the elderly, returned to their hearths. Only about 3,000 Serbian houses have been reconstructed. And more than 1,000 Serbian villages and settlements, in which the Serbs were the majority, have practically ceased to exist.
The return for the Serbs who want to do go back is almost impossible. In the early days when people started returning, 70 returnees, mainly old people, were killed or stabbed to death. It was a reminder that any attempt to restore their homes can be fatal.

The official Zagreb celebrates the “Strom”, with champagne, as "triumphant-liberation" action, and the day when ethnic Serbian territory was cleansed, as the Homeland Thanksgiving Day.

Serbs, on this day, and in the coming days as well, remember their killed and their abducted home. They light candles and lay flowers. Despite the time passing, the pain does not go away, and neither does the cry for justice, because the crime against Krajina Serbs is still without punishment.

“Veritas” points out that on August 4, 1995, the Croatian armed forces, backed by NATO, and in coordination with the forces of the Croatian Defense Council and the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted aggression against northern Dalmatia, Lika, Kordun and Banovina, the Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina, part of the then Republic of Serbian Krajina.

Even after all resistance had ceased, the aggressor continued killing people who would not, or could not leave their hearths, but also those in refugee columns, all the way to the Una river, and across it, deep in the territory of the then Republic of Srpska. Records of “Veritas” note the names of 1,853 killed and missing Serbs from this action and after it, 65 per cent of them being civilians.

Without a valid reason, Croatia avoids exhumations even in places which are known to be places of burial with about 270 mortal remains, buried mostly under the label “unknown”, which is the unique case in the area of former Yugoslavia, and also without a valid reason, prolongs the identification of 294 victims, whose mortal remains have been exhumed – “Veritas” points out.

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