Commemorations for those killed after the fall of Vukovar to Serb and Yugoslav People's Army forces in 1991, continued on Friday at the former Borovo Commerce building. A commemoration was also held in the village of Nadin in the Dalmatian hinterland.
The Serb occupation of the Borovo neighborhood of Vukovar began on November 19th, at which time roughly one thousand civilians and wounded were sheltering in the building, which was being used as a make-shift hospital. 115 of them were forcibly taken, tortured and killed. Melita Antolović and Željka Jureta had family members captured in Borovo.
"The pain and sadness doesn't pass. It's been here all these thirty years. And the people who committed these crimes have not been punished," Antolović said.
"My father was taken prisoner here thirty years ago. He died two years ago, so I come here in his place," added Jureta.
The Special Advisor to the Mayor of Vukovar, Tomislav Josić, was one of the few defenders to survive the onslaught: "Those of us who survived, we're hanging on somehow, but each year there are fewer and fewer of us. We need to keep talking about what happened and remember all those people who gave their lives so that we can live in a free country today."
Ivan Kovačić was the last commander of Croatian forces defending Vukovar's Borovo neighborhood: "The years have taken their toll, the emotions aren't like they were in 1991, but there are so many things that you just can't forget, they stay with a person until his dying day."
A commemoration was also held at the banks of the Danube River by the village of Borovo Selo. It is estimated that some one hundred people were killed at the site. Candles were lit and wreaths were also laid at the Lovas farm, where 24 bodies were exhumed from a mass grave. Ljiljana Alvir from the Association of Detained and Missing Croatian Veterans: "1 853 people are still unaccounted for in Croatia, this includes people that we know were killed but have not been able to locate their remains. As a far as the Vukovar area is concerned there are 386 families that still do not have a grave or mortal remains for a loved one."
Marija Šestan’s son Tomislav is still listed as missing from Borovo: "I'm looking for my son Tomislav Šestan. He was taken from Borovo Commerce and brought to the school in Borovo Selo. After that there is no trace of him. I don't know whether his life ended here in the Danube or in some mass grave. We come here to the Danube, light a candle throw some flowers into the river. Not just for him, but for everyone who went missing."
Members of the Serbian NGO "Women in Black", based in Belgrade, also visited Borovo today to pay their respects. They say that the level of denial in Serbia regarding the atrocities committed in Vukovar is worrying. Women in Black founder Staša Zajović: "The Hague Tribunal did not qualify the destruction of Vukovar as a war crime. In spite of that, we feel that Vukovar has become a symbol of the bestial and barbaric destruction of cities, and that it is necessary to continually remind people of that. For many of us Vukovar is a very, very important city."
A somber commemoration was also held in the village of Nadin in the Dalmatian hinterland today. On November 19th 1991 the village fell to Serb and JNA forces, who went on to kill 14 villagers, mostly elderly and women, and five Croatian soldiers. The commander of Nadin's defenses, Marko Čulina: "I say that Nadin was Škabrnja's collateral victim, because when Škabrjna fell Nadin couldn't survive, because everything in the hinterland towards Benkovac was already occupied."
Nadin veteran Željko Vrsaljko: "We managed to break through their lines, and in that way we saved ourselves and a lot of people around us, and that was that. We returned to Nadin after Operation Storm."
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