Knin: Consultations held regarding RECOM initiative

Croatian non-governmental organizations Zena, Drnis and Documenta – Center for Dealing With the Past, in behalf of the Coalition for Establishing a Regional Commission for Truth-seeking and Truth-telling About War Crimes (RECOM), have organized in the beginning of August local consultations in Knin.

Consultations in Knin were attended by representatives of associations of victims, returnees and other people affected by war happenings, as well as members of Coalition for RECOM in Croatia.

The aim was to start a dialogue on the right of all victims on justice and adequate compensation in the environment which is still going through heavy process of reconciliation, mutual trust and inter-national tolerance.

Public testimony of the victims’ representatives was the central part of Knin consultations. Jovan Berić from Varivode, Milena Percin from Drnis and Radoslav Bobanovic from Knin told their stories to participants of the meeting and media. According to Croatian media, Jovan Berić, whose parents were killed in Varivode, has spoken for the first time in public about his case.

„I’m very glad for the initiative and I hope it will help bring all criminals to light. My parents were not murdered by Croatia, but by individuals who have their name and surname, and who must be found. We have to live together, we cannot collectively accuse each other for ages, and that is exactly why all these investigations should be finalized and all criminals caught“, said Jovan Beric.

„Who tortured us is something that we know already. We also know who did not. It is irrational to blame all Serbs for it, nor all Croatians. Crimes do not out-date, but as victims, criminals too have their names and we have to reveal them“, adds Radoslav Bobanovic who was captured and tortured during the war in Knin prison called „Stara bolnica“.

„Not all people are guilty. Until exact individuals are identified and revealed to public, we will continue to accuse nations and that does not lead to co-existence and there is always a possibility to have those extremists awaken again some time and have them ruling Balkan area again“, stressed in its testimony Milena Percin who lived for four year in occupied area of Drnis, and who is now the president of Association „Zena“ („Woman“).

Manager of Documenta, Vesna Terselic in her statement for Novi list has stated how, on their way to Knin, members of Coalition for RECOM, have stopped by  Skabrnja, Nadin and Varivode.

„We expressed our respect for the murdered victims there, and more than ever I was aware how hard it is to speak about different sides of the war, to speak cheerfully how Knin has been set free from occupants, greet the defenders who set those occupied areas free, and in the very same time, have other people remembering how they were placed in colonies back then. Facts and perception of war happenings in the same day, differ from country to country, and it i a challenge to hear and respect each other mutually now“, said Terselic and stressed how families of the murdered and missing persons cannot be satisfied with what war crime trials have provided so far.

The city if Knin was not randomly chosen as city host of consultation for RECOM Initiative. In that time when the consultations were held, citizens of Knin was marking the event Operation  „Oluja“ („Storm“), one of the key military action in ending the war in Croatia which set free numerous Croatian cities under Serbian siege.

„Our wish is above all to open space for dialogue, regardless of resistance that was present so far, and which are still being a trend in the environments which, as Knin, still carry the heavy burden of war happenings and post-war traumas. Not only that we represent the Initiative of great number of non-governmental organizations from throughout region who want to establish RECOM, but our aim is also encourage and start all those processes that can help in faster establishment of mutual trust and inter-national tolerance“, said Eugen Jakovcic, Regional Coordinator of Documenta.

Bogdan Ivanisevic from International Center for Transitional Justice, has shared with the participants useful and important information about experiences of others in re-building of social trust jeopardized by war happenings, rousing a discussion in which participants from victims’ associations have stressed that they are aware how hard it will be to make official bodies to mutually cooperate, since so far they have been making only problems in quest for missing persons, and almost always jeopardized the investigations and prosecution of the responsible persons.

Council representative Ratko Gajica from SDSS (Independent Democratic Serbian Party) has stressed how Knin, and every other war affected environment in the area of ex-Yugoslavia, has the capacity for the process of re-building trust, but manipulations are still very strong. That’s why the Initiative RECOM is of great significance, but will also face with a lot of resistance from the very same social environment in which it is planned to be implemented.

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