At the sitting held on 22 April, the members of the Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region deliberated on one items on the agenda – remembrance of the victims of genocide in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the breakthrough of the last Jasenovac concentration camp prisoners.
Committee Chairman Miodrag Linta said that 22 April 1945 is the date of the breakthrough of the last prisoners of WWII biggest death factory in the Balkans, Jasenovac. In the night between 21 and 22 April 600 of over 1000 prisoners led the breakthrough, of which only 117 survived. The same date is the day of the breakthrough of Kozara, in which only 11 prisoners survived. The Committee Chairman said that since Tudjman and HDZ came to power in 1990, Croatia had launched the process of rehabilitation of NDH and the Ustasha ideology. In 1993 Croatia passed laws to give the surviving Ustasha and other members of NDH and their families pensions. Linta said that the authorities in Croatia, among other things, finance dozens of associations that use the Ustasha emblem as their insignia with the starting white field and the salute “Za dom spremni” ("For home (land) ready"), associations promoting the anti-civilizational thesis that Jasenovac was a collective and work camp and the concerts of the biggest promoter of Ustasha ideology, singer Marko Perkovic Tompson and others. The current authorities in Croatia made the shameful decision in 2016 for the Croatian Assembly to again host the commemoration for the Ustasha killed in Blouberg, where Croatian authorities and tens of thousands of Croats mourning the collapse of NDH gather every year. According to Linta, Croatia has not faced up to its criminal past nor acknowledged NDH’s genocide against the Serbian people, regretted it or asked for forgiveness.
Dusan Bastasic, President of the Association Jadovno of Banja Luka, said that the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian public as a whole has to date not terminologically determined itself as regards the genocide committed against the Orthodox Serbs by the Independent State of Croatia. While Jews and Roma have the terminology globally recognized for the genocide committed against them, Serbs still have no term for the genocide committed in WWI by the Independent State of Croatia and offered the idea that the genocide in question be called the Massacre. Linta said that the term Massacre for the genocide against the Serbian people had been found unsuitable by the Republic Centre for the Investigation of War, War Crimes and the Search for the Missing of the Republic of Srpska. The institution believes that the mass crime committed against the Serbian people in WWII in NDH should still be termed genocide.
Historian, Prof. Dr Vasilije Krestic said that the Republic of Serbia cannot offer suitable solutions for the most generic question such as the term to name the event and Serbia has no memorial centre for the victims of the genocide, while Jews have 17 memorial centres around the world for the victims of WWII. He said that Staro Sajmiste which is to be turned into a memorial centre will be a memorial centre for the Holocaust, genocide and other victims of fascism in WWII, not just for the victims of Jasenovac which again says a lot about the insufficient commitment to the victims of WWII.
Stefan Radojkovic, secretary of the Committee for Jasenovac of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, spoke about the Committee’s activities, led by the pledge of Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic to venerate the new martyrs of Jasenovac and inform the world of the sufferings of the Serbian martyrs and that the Serbian people should not seek revenge for the injustice it had suffered, but not forget and learn from its experiences.
Nenad Antonijevic, advisor at the Museum of Genocide Victims, spoke about the Museum’s activities and the need to publically discuss the matter and make sure Serbian history is not forgotten.
Slavko Miladinovic, president of the Association of Jasenovac Inmates, Milinko Cekic, honorary president of the Association of Jasenovac Inmates, Snezana Dragosavljevic, vice-president of the Association of Jasenovac Inmates, Jelena Radojcic, member of the Association of Jasenovac Inmates EB and Ranko Bujic, member of the Association of Jasenovac Inmates EB also spoke at the sitting. The members of the Association spoke about the initiatives they had submitted to the National Assembly and other state and international institutions, stressing that they expected to be met with more understanding and support in the future. One of these initiatives is for the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia to adopt a Declaration Condemning the Genocide in NDH.
The sitting was chaired by Committee Chairman Miodrag Linta and attended by the following Committee members: Dragan Veljkovic, Blaza Knezevic, Aleksandar Cotric, Aleksandar Markovic, Olivera Ognjanovic, Goran Nikolic, Snezana Paunovic and Marjana Maras.
At the end of the sitting Linta said that, by the next Committee sitting, conclusions will be prepared concerning the establishment of the memorial centre for Serbian victims of NDH genocide, the declaration on the genocide against Serbs, Roma and Jews in NDH and others concerning keeping the memory of the mass suffering of the Serbian people in NDH alive. He expects the Committee to unanimously adopt the proposed conclusions at the next sitting.