Today is Remembrance Day for Victims of the Homeland War and the Sacrifice made by Vukovar and Škabrnja, a national holiday. Thirty years ago rebel Serbs and the Yugoslav People's Army killed 43 civilians and 15 soldiers, then pillaged and destroyed the town of Škabrnja in the Zadar hinterland.
Despite the pandemic and cold weather, thousands of people turned out to pay respects for the victims.
Denis Gurlica was a child at the time the town was occupied.
“I was in the basement of the late Marko Brkić and I'm the only living witness from that basement. I saw them shoot people; they lined us up then took me out of the line and killed the rest. There was one četnik who wanted to cut my throat, but a Yugoslav People's Army officer prevented him,” said Gurlica.
A procession passed through the town to the location of a mass grave where numerous delegations laid wreaths and lit candles. Ministers were led by Oleg Butković.
“Thirty years have passed, time goes by quickly but wounds do not heal. I hope that all of us together, in the building of a better Croatia, will achieve in making us all live better, but we hope this will never happen again. That is what we all desire,” said Minister Butković.
Mass was later led by Zadar Archbishop Želimir Puljić at the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Škabrnja and respects were paid at the local graveyard. In his homily Archbishop Puljić remembered the suffering of Škabrnja, but also Vukovar.
"We direct our fervent prayers to the Heavenly father. May he remember all those that died here innocently thirty years ago," said Puljić, noting that it is not enough to lay wreaths and light candles. "Namely, soldiers fell for the freedom of the Homeland so that we may know how to build it justly and honestly," added Puljić, calling on people to not leave their present and future to the elements and hopelessness.
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