Croatia’s institutional and societal discrimination against Serbian victims and deceased members of our families is even worse than its discriminationagainst us, their earthly descendants
The annual State Department Human Rights report conclusions on the existence and continuity of the process of discrimination and violence against Serbs in Croatia, is encouraging to hear from the world’s biggest power. At the same time, the conclusion of the U.S. administration that was the main sponsor of Tudjman in the 1990s and is the ultimate authority fortoday’s Croatia, without any specific directives and proposed activities to improve the condition of damaged human rights, is nothing more than a hypocritical attitude towards the victims.
For many after war years we witness the Croatian society relating towards remaining Serbs in Croatia as the winner does towards the defeated, the powerful towards the powerless oraustere landlord towards the undesirable but necessary tenant.
An overall relation of the Croatian society and institutions towards the largest part of the Serbian minority population, the one that was expelled and forced to run away in search of refuge, it is sufficient to describe. In Croatia’s view, they are simply followers of Milosevic’s Greater Serbia policy, who at the time of the aggression against Croatia did not showloyalty to the country and stood under Tudjman’s Ustasha banner, but fled, ran away, escaped, and defected. In a word, they betrayed the homeland of Croatia.
Could Croatia’s Serbs be discriminated at all, if they are described as traitors, regardless of whether they live within or out of Croatia borders?
Indifference of Croatian oversees Big Brother should not be surprising, if there is not a sincere and effective care for this part of the Serbian population even in Serbia and Republic of Srpska. Or, there is not a sufficient care for them.
The expelled and exiled Serbs from Croatia are successfully integrating into Serbia’s and Republic of Srpska societies, going through the processes of reinventing their identity, thus most of their children recall the old country only if an opportunity to get some cash from a distant heritage of their grandparents popped up.
The Serbs that continued to live in Croatia are becoming in a growing number Serbs by origin only, and not by their ethnic Serbian name or publicly declared affiliation, because without this kind of mimicry and denationalization it is hard to get a job, exercise civil rights, become part of the majority and live a normal life.
How to pass through this painful process of Croatization followed by inevitable catholicization, euphemistically named “integration into Croatian society” – there is the leadership of the Serbian National Council in Croatia to demonstrate an easier way by its own example and work, rewards and punishments.
This umbrella organization of Serbs in Croatia, as the Serbia’s and Republic of Serpska’s ruling elites call and treat it, follows and implements Croatian state politics, driving slalombetween the Croatian rightists and leftists for years, as they are replacing each other in power.
When it comes to discrimination and violation of human rights of Serbs in Croatia and from Croatia, the Serbian National Council which is funded and supported by both sides of the Drina River (and beyond), cannot do anything or at least anything efficient, effective and visible.
The Republic of Serbia treats this part of Serbian corpus not much better, which can be seen from its permissive attitude toward the leaders of the newest EU member state, when Serbia in hope to get promised “support” from Croatia for its own European integration process, was almost begging Croatia for simultaneous withdrawal of mutual genocide lawsuits, expressing a public desire to see “neither side won” outcome of the litigation process. This is how, in fact, Serbia pre-agreed that there was no genocide committed against Serbs in Croatia during the realization of Croatian national project by scorched earth campaigns of Tudjman’s, Susak’s and Bobetko’s troops.
The genocide against the Serbian people committed by the Croatian nation at the time of existence of the Independent State of Croatia, ceased to be mentioned as part of Serbia’scounter lawsuit, even as background explanation of continuity of the crime and the a causal link between 1940s and 1990s genocides.
Would the government of the Republic Srpska invest as much workaholic efforts, commitment and energy as it was invested in care for status of the ethnic Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina,to take care of the Serbian minority status in Croatia, their overall status would not be significantly improved, but their self-confidence as well as a sense of national and spiritual unity would be strengthened
And, when we are pointing out to the discrimination of Serbs in Croatia, our attention is focused only on the living part of the Serbian corpus, while the much larger part of our nation, consisting of killed and buried Serbs, whose bones lie in neglected and destroyed cemeteries, karst pits and mass graves of the past two wars, was completely forgotten. Anddiscrimination against these martyrs, deceased fellow members of our families, is even worse than the discrimination against us, their living descendants.
Our unaccountable relation toward our dead, that we almost forgot and left at the mercy of the Croatian state, could perhaps explain our present relation towards their livingdescendants and our countrymen.
Dusan J. Bastasic
(The author is President of the Association
Jadovno 1941, Banja Luka)
Translated from Serbian: Nada Ljubic