June 11th 2008 01:33:18 PM
When actors and politicians go to the same rock concerts where people scream “Kill, kill the Serb,” you can be in only one place on earth: Only in Croatia, Kids. Only in Croatia.
ZAGREB — Last night’s concert by Marko Perković, a.k.a. Tompson in Zagreb, dedicated to the capital’s defenders, was attended by a crowd of over 100,000, media say.
Even though the Croatian Helsinki Committee, Jewish associations, and even President Stjepan Mesić all objected to the concert because of the preponderance of Ustasha and fascist insignia, he was welcomed on stage with chants of “Kill, kill the Serb”.
Several members of Croatia’s political and acting community were also in attendance.
Despite police warnings prior to the concert that anyone carrying Ustasha or fascist insignia would be arrested, caps and scarves with ustasha iconography were scattered all around, particularly on the heads and around the necks of euphoric teenagers, while one Tompson fan even turned up with a swastika flag in his hands.
The most vocal were a group of young fans going through their regular repertoire of chants, including “Anyone sitting down is Orthodox”.
In spite of the fact he and his army of fans greet each other with raised right fists, the controversial singer claims that his fans are big anti-fascists.
After the concert, Perković was unable to explain why he had been banned from holding concerts in Austria and Switzerland.
The president of the Association of Disabled Croat Soldiers of the Homeland War called on the media to be objective, and to write that there had been no outlawed insignia or songs.
You see, it’s not enough that the Croatians have gotten all they wanted and more, that their bloody victory over the Serbs was a complete one, abetted by the entire world that ganged up with them against their Orthodox rivals. They still lament that it didn’t come with a permanent license to kill Serbs. If only they could come up with a new excuse to kill even more Serbs and revive the lost art of making necklaces of Serbian fingers and home decor of Serbian ears, only then will Croatia’s greatness truly be restored.
Two more reports:
ZAGREB (AFP) - Some 60,000 people attended a concert Friday in central Zagreb by a controversial Croatian singer known for his sympathies with the country’s World War II pro-Nazi regime, police said.
The Croatian branch of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights issued a complaint ahead of the concert by Marko Perkovic “Thompson”, especially over a song which starts with a verse used as the salute during the pro-Nazi regime. [”I never do the Nazi salute!” Perkovic protests to every interviewer. Indeed, he’s craftier than that.]
Despite the complaint, the concert in Zagreb’s main square, organised by veterans of Croatia’s 1991-1995 war of independence from the former Yugoslavia, attracted an enthusiastic crowd and Perkovic performed the controversial song.
As usual, Perkovic, 41, was dressed all in black, like the uniform of Croatia’s fascist Ustasha regime.
He urged the crowd pray for Mirko Norac, a former general sentenced Friday to seven years in jail over his role in the wartime massacre of Serb civilians and prisoners of war.
Police said there were no incidents during the concert and they noted no displays of banned symbols.
The news website Indixe reported that before the concert a group of youths shouted anti-Serb slogans and songs glorifying the Ustasha regime.
Human rights group protests against Croatian singer’s concert (European Jewish Press by: AFP)
ZAGREB (AFP)—A human rights group protested on Thursday against a concert planned in Zagreb by a controversial Croatian singer known for his sympathies with the country’s World War II pro-Nazi regime.
The Croatian branch of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights voiced dissatisfaction over the concert of Marko Perkovic ‘Thompson,’ due in Zagreb on Friday, especially over a song which starts with a verse used as the salute during the pro-Nazi regime.
“It is impossible for this slogan, similar to other messages that Thompson is repeatedly stressing, to be stripped of its dominantly pro-fascist and criminal meaning,” a committee statement said.
Perkovic argued earlier that the slogan was an “integral part of the song which is not forbidden.”
The concert, to be held on the capital’s main square, is organised by veterans of Croatia’s 1991-1995 war of independence from the former Yugoslavia.
The singer gained popularity with patriotic songs during the 1991-1995 war.
In the past Perkovic was known for glorifying Croatia’s fascist Ustasha regime at his concerts where, dressed in black, he gave a Hitler-style salute and shouted Ustasha slogans.
However, he gave up such behavior and has repeatedly denied that he is a fascist or anti-Semite.
But at his concerts part of the audience always wear uniforms or symbols belonging to the Ustasha regime that ran Croatia during World War II.
Earlier this month Perkovic had two concerts cancelled in Switzerland because his lyrics breach anti-racism laws. Another concert due in June in Austria was also cancelled for the same reasons.
The Ustasha killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, anti-fascist Croatians, gypsies and others in Croatia’s concentration camps.
Croatian nationalists and right-wing politicians see the 41-year-old singer as an icon.
Some background on that war criminal/hero whom the rocker urged the crowd to pray for:
2 Croatian generals go on trial charged with 1993 crimes against Serbs (AP, June 18, 2007):
An 84-year-old blind woman sprayed with bullets on her porch, a man set on fire, Serb-populated villages indiscriminately shelled: all are war crimes that two Croatian army generals are charged with failing to prevent…Mirko Norac and Rahim Ademi are charged with responsibility for the September 1993 killings of about 30 Serb civilians following Zagreb’s offensive to retake part of the land seized by rebel Serbs in the 1991 war.
Ademi and Norac, local commanders at the time in the central Croatian area known as the Medak Pocket, are the highest-ranking Croatian officers being tried for wartime atrocities against the Serbs. For years, Croatia declined to prosecute its own, claiming that only Serbs committed crimes in the war.
It is the second war crimes trial for Norac, who already is serving a 12-year sentence for orchestrating the killing of Serb civilians in the central area of Gospic in 1991.
The Croatian indictment charges Ademi and Norac with ordering “indiscriminate shelling” of Serb villages and with failing to prevent the killings.
It cites the killing of an 84-year-old blind Bosiljka Bjegovic in the village of Citluk, where another villager, Djuro Krajnovic, was killed with 24 bullets. In another village, Croatian troops allegedly tied a 31-year-old mentally retarded man to a car and dragged him around before incinerating him…
UN policeman recalls Medak carnage (from February):
A former UN policeman described seeing corpses after the Croatian Army had withdrawn from the Medak Pocket.
At the trial of Croatian Generals Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac, Steve Marishink told the District Court in Zagreb that all the buildings had been destroyed, some were still on fire, and that the UN civil police had found no survivors.
“The destruction was fresh, and there was a smell of death around the whole area,” added the witness, recalling the moment the UN civil police had entered the Medak Pocket, recently vacated by the Croatian Army.
He remembered seeing two charred female bodies in a henhouse in the village of Čitluk. Their faces were unrecognizable, and worms were crawling in and out of two holes in their skulls.
Marishink concluded that the women had been killed a day or two before their arrival, and that their bodies had been burnt subsequently. He added that he had also come across the bodies of dead soldiers, one of whose ears had been cut off.
During his testimony, the witness, who had been part of a reconnaisance team, described an encounter with a group of Croatian troops who, he said, looked different from their other ragged, dirty-looking colleagues.
“They were smartly dressed, and I think they were carry[ing] Heckler and Koch guns. When I approached them, they had yellow lightning insignia on their shoulders, and it said that they were policemen. It seemed as though they were controlling what we were doing. They just looked at us, but the way they looked gave me the creeps, I can even say I was afraid,” he recalled. …
Norac and Ademi are the highest-ranking officers to be tried by the local court on war crimes charges — a sensitive issue in a country that long overlooked or justified crimes committed by its own people in the 1991-95 Serbo-Croat war. [Of course, this is always helped by media overlooking crimes by non-Serbs for the past two decades — including the AP that printed that line.]
Both Norac and Ademi had pleaded not guilty and claimed throughout the yearlong trial that the other had been in charge.
But the judge said he acquitted Ademi after learning that, though he was formally a commander, his real authority had been “reduced” at the time.
At least five of the victims were tortured, including an 84-year-old blind woman sprayed with bullets on her porch and a 31-year-old man dragged behind a car before being set on fire, the prosecutor said. About 300 Serb homes were robbed and burned.
“It was his duty to prevent” the crimes, the judge said of Norac. “By not taking legal actions against the soldiers after learning that they committed war crimes, a commander (Norac) in fact provided a pattern on how soldiers should behave,” Mrcela said in the ruling.
He said Norac received less than the maximum 20-year sentence because he was not convicted of ordering the atrocities.
Croatia began prosecuting war crimes committed by Croats a few years ago, after long maintaining that only Serbs — who rebelled against Croatia’s independence in 1991, triggering the war — were to be blamed for atrocities.
Now, if a Croatian is saying that only Serbs are to be blamed for atrocities, it’s not exactly a lie, since common Croatian understanding holds that killing a Serb is no crime — indeed it’s a duty. So the only war crimes and atrocities even possible are those committed against non-Serbs, by Serbs.
In addition to the International Herald Tribune, the above AP report was also carried by CNN, demonstrating that the truth can slip into that news organization when it’s not looking.
So why are Croatian courts suddenly convicting Croatian generals/commanders as opposed to convicting only Serb commanders and a handful of Muslim ones: “Correspondents said the trial was seen as a test of Croatia’s readiness to join the European Union.”
Just a note on language. Notice how the Serbian civilian victims in the report below (and in several of those I excerpted above) are referred to as Serb “rebels” — a designation one doesn’t see in the countless reports about the “ethnic Albanians” who were ostensibly Serbia’s victims:
Croatian general Mirko Norac was sentenced to seven years in prison on Friday for crimes against rebel Serbs in the 1991-95 war at the end of a year-long trial seen as a test case for the European Union candidate country.
The trial, which started in June last year, has been closely watched by the EU and human rights officials for indications of how Croatia is dealing with atrocities committed by some of its military leaders in the war of independence from Yugoslavia. [Illegal secession — apparently not an act by rebels.]
Reading the sentence, judge Marin Mrcela said Norac had breached the Geneva convention on the protection of civilians and treatment of war prisoners.”As the commander of sector 1, Norac failed to prevent his subordinates from killing and torturing civilians and from destroying and ransacking their properties and killing their cattle, both during and after the operation.”
There were no protests outside the courthouse in downtown Zagreb, in contrast to violent demonstrations by thousands of war veterans and nationalists after the arrest of Norac for another war crime in 2001…
Just to repeat a sentence from the second-to-last report above:
Croatia began prosecuting war crimes committed by Croats a few years ago, after long maintaining that only Serbs — who rebelled against Croatia’s independence in 1991, triggering the war — were to be blamed for atrocities.
The writer would have you understand that wanting to remain in the country you’ve been a citizen of for 60 years by rejecting an illegal secession by one of its territories (dominated by folks who killed your entire family in WWII) is what triggered the war — and not the secession itself. Pretty nifty.
At least this August 2005 report from Deutsche Presse-Agentur got the cause-and-effect in the right order:
At least 200 ethnic Serb civilians were murdered by Croatian forces in 1991…Croatia’s Globus weekly said in its Wednesday edition. Murders of civilians took place shortly after the beginning of the war which broke out after Croatia declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia.
Globus, Croatia’s most influential weekly, said the 200 Serbs murdered by Croat troops had lived in the territory still under Croatian government control. Most of them were not involved in the rebellion.
The figures are believed to be much higher than the 200 victims mentioned in Wednesday’s article, Globus warned.
In compiling the article, Globus researchers spoke with human rights organizations, survivors of the atrocities, members of the victims’ families, non-governmental organizations and others.
“They stayed in their homes, convinced that nothing bad would happen to them as loyal citizens of Croatia. Some of them paid for that decision with their lives,” the report said.
In Gospic, at least 50 Serb civilians were believed to have been kidnapped from their homes and executed by Croatian armed forces.
Because of this, in 2003 Mirko Norac became the first and so far the only Croatian army general to be sentenced for war crimes. He is currently serving a 12-year jail sentence.
Two other lower-ranking soldiers were sentenced as well…Prosecutions for war crimes were always difficult in Croatia. Many ordinary people believe that “our boys” could not have committed war crimes, and therefore should not be put on trial.
During last week’s celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the “Operation Storm” offensive in which Zagreb regained its territory from Serbian insurgents, nationalists even booed Croatian President Stipe Mesic during his speech when he said that war crimes must be prosecuted.
It is believed that up 700 civilians were killed during the operation [Storm].
…As well as experiencing vicious firefights and enduring concentrated artillery bombardments, the men of 2PPCLI were forced to witness the grotesque aftermath of one of the worst atrocities committed during the vicious civil war. Some 200 ethnic Serbian inhabitants “disappeared” in the wake of the Croatian offensive, while the raped and burned bodies of teenage girls and elderly women bore testimony to the Croatian brutality.
The Canadian force suffered four wounded in this battle and claimed 26 Croats killed. The unseen psychological wounds our troops suffered as they witnessed and recorded the slaughter of civilians has yet to be fully determined.
At the time, 2PPCLI commander Jim Calvin told his battalion that justice would be served and the perpetrators punished for their crimes. But it was not until 1996 that Canada first learned of this battle, when David Pugliese broke the story in the Ottawa Citizen.
Amazingly, no Croatian commander was ever brought before The Hague Tribunal for these crimes. In fact, no formal legal action was undertaken until last June, when generals Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac were finally put on trial in Zagreb, at a specially convened Croatian war crimes tribunal.
Testifying this month in defence of his accused colleagues, Croatian Gen. Davor Domazet-Loso told the panel of judges that the whole affair simply never happened and accused the Canadians of committing the atrocities against the Serbian victims.
While two Croatian commanders have been charged in the Medak massacre, one of the principal participants remains unindicted. Agim Ceku, an ethnic Albanian, has thus far managed to avoid any responsibility for the criminal actions of his troops in September 1993. He is presently the prime minister of Kosovo.
From a September piece by the above-referenced Ottawa Citizen writer Pugliese:
A 1993 battle in the Balkans, which earned Canadian troops top honours from the governor general and credit for standing up to Croat forces intent on killing innocent civilians, never took place, claims a former Croatian senior officer.
“We knew who we were firing at,” retired colonel Jim Calvin said. “And the Croats knew exactly where we were. They’re just trying to re-create history. I have no control over that.”
The dead, including elderly residents, had been shot in the back of the head, had their throats slit or were bludgeoned to death.
“We’re talking about Croatian citizens of Serbian descent that were ethnically cleansed,” Mr. Calvin pointed out. “Some of them had that land in their families for as much as 300 years.”
Mr. Calvin also said it was the Croatian media that reported UN forces had killed or wounded 26 Croatian soldiers…
The trial of Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac continued in Zagreb today with protected witness testimonies.
Both witnesses today testified under protective measures to hide their identities. Both are survivors of the massacres that took place in the vicinity of Gospić.
Protected witness 18 was called to identify the bodies after the Croatian army took over the area, killing some civilians, and forcing others to flee.
He arrived to the village of Medak to identify several of his neighbors from another village, Čitluk, mostly elderly, whose bodies were burned.
Another of his neighbors, who later died, told him that the Croatian soldiers found two women hidden in a basement, to slit one’s throat, and shoot the other.
The Serbs in Čitluk were unarmed and were not resisting the troops in any way, the witness told the court.
Protected witness 22, a woman from the area, said that she saw some elderly residents burned alive by Croatian soldiers, who also pillaged the villages, taking livestock and furniture from households.
She described a scene for the court when her neighbor Boja Vujinović, over 70 years of age, was taken out of her house by the soldiers, who then set her on fire while she was still alive, watching and jumping around her as the woman screamed in agony.
The witness saw the crimes committed, she told the courts, after she managed to crawl out of her house, after a bomb thrown inside exploded. Although she sustained injuries, she managed to hide. But the Croatian soldiers took her invalid son with them.
The witness described the shouts from the troops, who were saying that “all needs to be destroyed, not even a dog must be left alive.”
After she walk[ed] through the woods for the next ten days, the witness stumbled into Serb-controlled territory, where she was told her son was murdered, with only his charred bones recovered.
Joint RFE and IWPR report finds local judiciaries are making progress, despite being fraught with problems. (From February):
The Hague tribunal must close within two years, and observers are anxiously watching courts in the ex-Yugoslav states to see if they are capable of processing the thousands of 1990s war crimes cases still untried.
CROATIA: UNEQUAL TREATEMENT FOR SERB AND CROAT DEFENDANTS
So far, the Hague tribunal has referred only one case to a Croatian court – that of the Croatian Generals Mirko Norac and Rahim Ademi, who are accused of war crimes against Serb civilians in the Medak pocket in 1993. Local courts have processed hundreds of their own cases, however, since the end of the 1991-95 war, and observers claim Serb and Croatian defendants have not been treated equally.
“I witnessed two or three trials against Serbs in Vukovar. One defendant was a policeman and worked in some prison as a guard during the war. It was proved in court that he slapped somebody two or three times, or pulled somebody’s ear, and he was sentenced to 11 years in prison,” said Zagreb lawyer Anto Nobilo.
On the other hand, he recalled cases in which the accused were Croats and received only nine or ten years “for real war crimes, crimes which involved killings and torture”.
He was supported in his assessment by fellow Lawyer Cedo Prodanovic. “Trials against Serbs have been very short, without judges insisting on a lot of evidence and with punishments that were much more drastic compared to those handed down to Croats,” he said. “There have been only a few trials against Croats until now.”
The prevailing feeling in Croatia is that Croats were the victims in the war, and that the crimes were committed by the Serbs. The trial of Ademi and Norac, which started a few months ago in Zagreb, might change that, however…
To close is an excerpt from author William Dorich’s 1994 book The Suppressed Serbian Voice And The Free Press In America:
In battles between Croatian HVO forces and the Serbian Chetniks in the Krajina region on September 1, 1991, both sides took 3 prisoners each from their opponents. On September 3, 1991, in a trade of prisoners, the Serbians returned three captured Croatian HVO troops in exchange for three Serbian Chetnik troops. Little did the Serbians know that the three live Croatians were being traded for three dead Serbs. [Something else that the Serbs have in common with the Israelis.] One of the bodies was brutally beaten, stabbed dozens of times, the toes cut off, the left leg broken. Evidence obtained in autopsy indicated that vital organs were missing, [possibly] corroborating the Serbian claim that vital organs of victims were being sold on the black market in Germany. Video footage of one of the three victims was shown on German and Zagreb television during the first week of September, as ‘conclusive evidence’ of the brutal torture and death of Croatian victims at the hands of the Serbs. The English translation of this video footage was allegedly narrated by the American actor, Martin Sheen, and copies of the video were sent to representatives in the American congress and senate. Dusan Markovich however, was not a Croatian victim. He was a thirty two year old Serb, father of one child with a pregnant wife. These photographs show the recovered body of Dusan Markovich being identified by his grieving father. The use of the tortured body of Dusan Markovich for propaganda purposes, indicates the depth to which the Croats and Muslims will stoop to gain international sympathy.