Monday, 24. November 2014 - 14:11
24. 08. 11. - 15:00
Croatian officials observed yesterday (Tue) the European Day of Remembrance in memory of victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.
Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor unveiled a plaque on the wall of the former penitentiary in Stara Gradiska (eastern Croatia) where political prisoners were incarcerated by the communist regime of former Yugoslavia.
"We especially pay tribute to the victims of Nazism and the ustasha regime in Croatia. However, we are now also trying to pave the way for investigations into communist crimes and to cease treating that issue as a taboo," Kosor said as quoted by website Tportal.
"We must remember all victims equally."
The European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (also known as International Black Ribbon Day) is a Europe-wide commemoration of victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes observed annually on 23 August since 2009.
At a ceremony in Dubrovnik, Interior Minister Tomislav Karamarko said that all crimes – regardless of who the perpetrators and victims are – should be investigated and processed, including those committed after World War II.
There have been 731 locations discovered in Croatia, 672 of them mass graves. It is believed that 90,000 people - including soldiers of the fascist Independent State of Croatia, German soldiers and civilians - were killed. Some 82 exhumations have unearthed 1,900 remains so far. Five people have been indicted.
Karamarko said that the time that has lapsed, lack of witnesses, deaths of perpetrators and missing documentation which was systematically destroyed by the former Yugoslavian secret services are all impediments to investigations.
"There are too many obstructions in solving and processing communist crimes," Karamarko said.
Several months ago Karamarko announced he would step up his efforts to uncover and persecute what he calls the "communist crimes" that took place during and after World War II. His words sparked debate amongst the country's public actors.
The President of the majority Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Andrija Hebrang welcomed Karamarko's position, which he believed was late in coming.
"All post-communist countries have undertaken investigations about communist crimes and have sentenced them, but we have been, unfortunately, asleep."
But former Croatia's President Stjepan Mesic criticised the minister, saying that his "personal preoccupation" must not become the official policy of the state.
"To speak of communist crimes in a lump, as he does, is nothing more than a cheap and a to failure condemned attempt to compromise an idea and an ideology because some individuals that ascribed to it really did commit crimes," Mesic said at the time.
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