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Activists Protested Church’s Denial of War Crimes

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About 200 citizens of Zagreb stood in line at the Zagreb Cathedral on June 10, 2014, holding signs with the names of the 116 victims of the massacre of Bosniak civilians in the village of Ahmići, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Activists held the names of the victims of Ahmići massacre in front of the Cathedral (Photo Tamara Opačić/H-alter)Activists held the names of the victims of Ahmići massacre in front of the Cathedral (Photo Tamara Opačić/H-alter)

The commemoration, which also was a protest against the denial of war-crimes by the Church in Croatia, was organized by Documenta Centre for Dealing with the Past, the Civic Committee for Human Rights, the Centre for Peace Studies and Platform 112 coordination of NGOs. Name signs were held by many civil society activists, human rights defenders, journalists and trade union representatives.

Boris Aždajić who, at the time of the Ahmići massacre held the position of commander of special forces of the Croatian Defense Council for the City of Sarajevo, joined the action in front of the Cathedral, made a round and bowed in respect to all the names of the victims.

"Those who would give even a minute of airtime to condemned and sentenced criminals are out of their minds. I didn't do some things that I was authorized to do the way they should have been done. That is why I am here today“, Aždajić said in a statement.

Opposite to the activists were several dozens of citizens that opposed the action of the human rights activists to commemorate the victims of Ahmići.

The “opponents” prayed, sang religious hymns and the songs of nationalist pop-star Marko Perković Thompson. H-alter.hr reports that, behind a framed picture of Jesus Christ, with big wooden cross, rosaries and signs with the names of Croatian victims killed in the war, they cursed the “communists, Titoists and Mesićsts“. They didn't respond to the activists' invitation to join their line with the names of Croatian victims or exchange name-signs.

The former president of the HR Herzeg-Bosnia (Croatian Republic Herzeg-Bosnia) Dario Kordić, who was sentenced by the Hague Tribunal to 25 years prison sentence for his role in the war crimes committed against Bosniak civilians in the Lašva Valley, in Central Bosnia, arrived in Zagreb on June 6, 2014, being released from Austrian jail after serving two thirds of his sentence.

The Bishop of Sisak Vlado Košić was among the people who gathered at the Zagreb Airport “Pleso” to greet Kordić on his arrival. It was that gesture by the high ranking church dignitary, as well as several open actions in support to the person sentenced for war crimes against Bosniaks, organized by the Church, that provoked the organizers of the protest to remind the public of the events in Ahmići and protest against denial of crimes.

"We send a different message to the outside world – we respect the victims and we feel for their families. Croatia has to face this crime. The members of the Catholic Church who praise Kordić send messages that are not acceptable. They don't contribute to coexistence or peace, and they insult the families of the victims in the most direct manner. It shouldn't have been allowed to happen“, said Eugen Jakovčić, activist of Documenta Centre at the gathering in front of the Cathedral.

An incident took palce at Kordić's arrival at “Pleso”. One female activist, dissatisfied with the celebratory nature of the gathering, raised a placard with the number “116”, the number of victims in Ahmići, while activist Zoran Ivančić yelled “Satan!” and “Murderer” at Kordić and the party that greeted him at the airport.

The activists were attacked by a group of men, with Ivančić earning light injuries. The attack was serious, however, and the Police had to arrest him to save him from the lynch mob. The female activist was protected by the attackers by one man. (Source: H-alter/Dokumenta-Novi list)

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