(Photo: HRT) (Photo: HRT)

At the Bleiburg field for the first time, due to restrictions on public assemblies imposed by the Austrian government because of the coronavirus pandemic, a small gathering was held, under the patronage of Croatian Parliament this year as well.

Prayers were said at the cemetery in Unter-Loibach, led by the head of the Croatian Catholic Mission in Klagenfurt, Fr. Pavo Dominiković. Representatives of the Honorary Bleiburg Platoon from Austria and the Croatian Ambassador to Austria Daniel Glunčić laid wreaths at the monument on the Bleiburg Field.

(Photo: HRT)

At the Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb, Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and the Prime Minister's envoy and Croatian Veterans Minister Tomo Medved paid tribute to the victims of the Bleiburg tragedy and subsequent death marches.

Jandrokovic told reporters that they had gathered to once again pay their respects to the victims of Bleiburg and the death marches, and to pay their respects to the captured and defeated soldiers and civilians, among whom there were also children.

“This is a crime that we must talk about so that our younger generations know what was happening not only in the Second World War, but also in the postwar period”, he said.

He noted that it was a crime committed by of the Yugoslav communist regime, which was a closely guarded secret for 45 years, which, he believes, speaks best of how those who committed it and ordered it had a guilty conscience and feared the truth, and the survivors feared talk about it out of fear of revenge.

Jandroković said that even today, when we live in Croatian freedom, we are obliged to remember these people, pay homage to the victims and condemn the crimes of the communist totalitarian regime.

Cardinal Vinko Puljić (Photo: Armin Durgut/PIXSELL)

A mass was held in the Sarajevo Cathedral, with strong security measures. The Mass of Remembrance for the victims of Bleiburg and the death marches was led by Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Vrhbosna. Cardinal Puljić said that reconciliation can only be built on the truth and called for equal respect for every victim of war suffering.

Due to an assessment by the security services that concluded this is a high-risk event, and also due to the current epidemiological situation, only about 20 believers attended the mass.

Police secured the city center during the mass.

(Photo: Armin Durgut/PIXSELL)

At the same time, a protest rally organized by anti-fascist associations was held at Marijin Dvor, where the citizens of Sarajevo were killed during the rule of the Independent State of Croatia. They paid tribute to the victims of the Ustasha terror, responsible for the killing of numerous Sarajevo citizens during the fascist occupation in World War II.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović said that the mass in Sarajevo for the victims at Bleiburg could turn into a glorification of the Ustasha regime responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs reacted to her statement.

“Zagreb considers unacceptable the statement of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights saying that the mass in Sarajevo could turn into a glorification of the Ustasha movement and will therefore submit a protest note with expressions of discontent and dissatisfaction,” announced Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Saturday.

“We expected the exact opposite because she is the Commissioner for Human Rights and this is about commemorating persecution, murder, crime, paying tribute and respect with mass in Sarajevo for all the victims during the communist regime and immediately after the formal end of World War II, when there were mass executions and crimes without proof of guilt,” said Grlić Radman.

Source: HRT