Ombudswoman accuses Croatian Government of tolerating fascism in a scathing report

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21.11.2018.

Zagreb, 060418
Trg burze 6.
Lora Vidivic, drzavna pucka pravobraniteljica Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX
Darko Tomaš / CROPIX

On Tuesday, Ombudswoman Lora Vidović published a study in which she calls out a number of state institutions for endangering the fundamental values of the Constitution and giving room to the growth of hate by being ineffective and tolerating historical revisionism and the use of explicit Ustasha or Nazi symbols.

- Symbols and slogans of countries of the Axis forces are written or stenciled on bus stops, walls, stadiums and posters, but also on monuments to the NOB (the National Liberation Struggle during World War 2) - says the Ombudsman's document.

- Swastikas and Ustasha U symbols can be seen throughout Croatia, as can the Ustasha salute of 'Za dom — spremni' (For the home — ready!) and its abbreviation, 'ZDS'. Those symbols also mark and accompany insulting commentaries on internet portals and social networks that foment humiliation and hate of the Roma, Serbs, Jews and others. - stated Vidović.

The Ombudswoman particularly warns of the increasingly frequent forms of historical revisionism and its protagonists and promoters: 'In the recent years, books and articles have been written and published, public forums held, documentaries filmed and TV shows broadcast denying or diminishing the criminal character of the NDH (the Nazi-loyal Independent State of Croatia during WW2). Such views are aired not only in the nationalist-agitator media, but also in the official publication of the Catholic Church, and have insinuated themselves into the leading media outlets, including the public TV.'

The focus of the document, however, is on the attitude of the authorities towards the developments.

 - Given that the official reactions are inconsistent or often absent, the impression is that the authorities tacitly tolerate (the issue), which creates an atmosphere in the society that encourages the strengthening of revisionist attitudes towards the character of the NDH - says the study.

Vidović reminds that such conduct by the authorities is contrary to the Resolution on the Rise in Neo-Fascist Violence in Europe, adopted by the European Parliament last month, which calls on EU members to clearly condemn and suppress hate speech and historical revisionism.

The Ombudswoman illustrates the study by citing concrete examples. She sharply criticizes the lack of action and passivity of a number of state institutions towards the instances of glorifying the NDH symbols and denying and relativizing its crimes.

Vidović is particularly scathing towards the police and the misdemeanor courts, which often fail to find anything questionable in the public us of the Ustasha salutes, as well as the Office of the State Attorney (DORH), which fails to use the legal availability of appeal against lenient verdicts. She takes the Ministry of Administration to task for failing to update the Civic Associations Act, but also the Ministry of Defense, which finances and otherwise supports associations that deny the criminal character of the NDH.

Vidović is concerned that some high-ranking Catholic Church officials can be found among the NDH crime deniers, that publications fomenting such views are promoted on church premises — but also on public TV (HRT).

Inačica na drugom jeziku / Alternate language version