At the sitting held on 1 August, the members of the Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region adopted the conclusions of the 15th Committee sitting, held on 22 April 2019, and deliberated on one of the most complex humanitarian issues – missing persons.
The Committee adopted the following conclusions of the 15th sitting:
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region endorses the initiative to have the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopt a Declaration Condemning the Genocide against Serbs, Jews and the Roma in NDH;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region endorses the idea to establish a Memorial Centre for Serbian victims of NDH genocide;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region endorses the establishment of a Memorial Centre for the Victims of Fascism;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region endorses the marking and securing of crime scenes in NDH and keeping the memory of the many Serbian victims;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region endorses the exhumation of Serbian victims of NDH where possible and their burial in accordance with Christian custom;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region endorses the Museum of Genocide Victims permanent project “Victims of War 1941 – 1945” and believes that the list should include all the Serbs killed in the 20th century and urges for a more active engagement by relevant authorities on ascertaining the list of victims;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region endorses the decision of Belgrade City Assembly to erect a memorial to Dijana Budisavljevic who saved over 15,000 Serb children from Ustasha death camps during WWII;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region endorses the initiative to name a quay of part of the river bank of rives Sava the bank of Jasenovac victims, or a street or square with the same name, in memory of the victims of genocide in NDH;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region believes that a memorial should be erected to keep the memory of Serbian children killed in WWII;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region believes that school curricula should focus more on the memory of Serbian victims of genocides in NDH;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region notes that Jews and Armenians have developed a strong culture of memory of the genocide they had suffered while the genocide committed in NDH against Serbs has for decades been kept quiet, its victims diminished, negated and forgotten;
- The Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region will inform the National Assembly Speaker, Serbian President, Prime Minister, Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Belgrade City Assembly and the Museum of Genocide Victims about its conclusions.
Committee Chairman Miodrag Linta then proceeded to speak about missing Serbs saying that the whole problem has been at a standstill in the past years because official Zagreb and Sarajevo lack the political will to treat all victims, irrespective of their nationality, equally. This comes from the strong support Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have from western powers in the intention to present Serbs as the aggressors in the wars on the territory of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and Bosniaks, Croats and Albanians as victims of the purportedly liberation wars.
Veljko Odalovic, President of the Serbian Government’s Commission for Missing Persons, said that Serbia is investing maximum efforts to resolve this humanitarian issue and a lot has been done so far. Of the 35,000 missing persons, as registered by Red Cross, 10,179 are still listed as missing, third of which are Serbs. Odalovic said that the Republic of Serbia is committed to advancing bilateral cooperation, however there are still difficulties in the cooperation with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. That is why international organizations should remain involved in the process of resolving this issue.
Milorad Kojic, Director of the Republic Centre for Research of War, War Crimes and the Search for Missing Persons of the Republic of Srpska, said that, besides being a humanitarian issue, the search for missing persons is also a matter of legal processing which is why the Bosniak side is obstructing the search for missing Serbs. The Missing Persons Institute, founded in 2008, lacks professionalism in its actions and its objective is not to exhume and identify all the missing persons, regardless of nationality, rather its focus is on enlarging the Bosniak victims in Srebrenica.
The results and problems encountered when processing the issue of missing persons were discussed by the Director of the Republic Centre for Research of War, War Crimes and the Search for Missing Persons of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Kojic, President of the Coordination of Serb Associations of Families of Missing Persons on the Territory of Former Yugoslavia Dr Dusko Celic and Chairman of the Coordination’s Executive Board Dragan Pjevac, President of the Association of Families of Missing Persons “Suza” (Tear) Dragana Djukic, secretary of the Republic Organization of Families of the Detained, Killed and Missing Soldiers and Civilians of the Republic of Srpska Isidora Graorac Strkic, President of the Committee of Detained Soldiers and Missing Civilians of the Republic of Srpska and member of the Advisory Board of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina Marko Grabovac, President of the Association of Parents and Families of Detained and Missing Persons Mirjana Bozin and Association member Slobodanka Koldzic, President of the Association of Families of Missing and Killed Persons from Western Slavonia Ljuba Sucur and Association member Jovica Prodanovic.
Committee Chairman Miodrag Linta said that the Committee will prepare conclusion proposals to be adopted at the next Committee sitting.
The sitting was chaired by Committee Chairman Miodrag Linta and attended by the following Committee members: Marjana Maras, Vladimir Djuric, Prof. Dr Miladin Sevarlic, Olivera Ognjanovic, Blaza Knezevic, Snezana Paunovic, Goran Nikolic, Prim. Dr Vlado Babic, Aleksandar Cotric and Branimir Jovanovic.