Veterans going to Vukovar after all



Vukovar, 181117
Dan sjecanja na zrtvu Vukovara 1991. - 2017. Polaganje vijenaca na Memorijalnom groblju u Vukovaru . Na fotografiji: Ivan Penava gradonacelnik Vukovara.
Foto: Emica Elvedji / CROPIX
Emica Elveđi / CROPIX

Ivan Penava, the Mayor of Vukovar

Over the last days, there was much hesitation with regard to the protest among veterans, which was caused by the Croatian Association of Disabled Veterans (HVIDRA) when it distanced itself from the protest.

Yesterday, the group of associations of veterans unanimously decided to attend the protest slated for 13 October in Vukovar, organized by Ivan Penava, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)'s Mayor of Vukovar.

- All nine members of the group decided to attend the protest. We will organize transport for protestors in line with our capabilities - said head of the group Miljenko Kolobarić. He pointed out that the associations have several thousand members, but did not want to predict how many will protest against insufficient activity of relevant institutions when it comes to processing war crimes committed in Vukovar.

There was considerable hesitation among associations of veterans over the last ten days or so with regard to the protest in Vukovar. Most of it was caused by the HVIDRA, or its leadership, which distanced itself from the protest. HVIDRA head Josip Đakić revealed one week ago that HVIDRA's sports event will be delayed.

One day

- The event will take place in Vukovar, the date has not been set yet, but it will not be held on the same day as Penava's protest - said Đakić last week. However, talks with members of the group who are at the same time HVIDRA members revealed that HVIDRA members do not share the opinion of the leadership.

Damir Varaždinac, head of the HVIDRA Osijek-Baranja County branch said that Đakić did not relay the conclusions of the Main Committee accurately.

- The Committee decided to move the event originally slated for 12, 13 and 14 October one day, to 11, 12 and 13 October - said Varaždinac and added that the conclusion will be adopted if accommodation can be arranged. Some HVIDRA branches announced they would organize transport for their members to Vukovar, but the Osijek-Baranja County branch is not one of them.

- If our members want to go they are free to do so, but we will not organize transport - said Varaždinac.

No ban

Marko Klasan, head of HVIDRA Sisak-Moslavina County branch revealed that he is personally in favor of attending the protest in Vukovar and added that the County coordination of associations of veterans will decide whether transport will be arranged at the meeting in coming days.

- Nobody can ban HVIDRA members from attending the protest in Vukovar - stressed Klasan.

The Association of Veterans of the Special Police of the Homeland War, which has some 8,000 active members, will organize transport to Vukovar. Zoran Maras, head of the association, revealed he will go to Vukovar despite pressure, adding that protestors will pay for the transport and stressing that he does not want the protest to be politicized.

- We are not interested in political parties. Only the Mayor and witnesses of crimes in Vukovar will speak. We do not want anyone like singer-songwriter Marko Perković Thompson or TV host Velimir Bujanec there - said Maras.

Organizer of the protest - City of Vukovar - expects approximately 8,000 protestors. Since many associations announced they would come to Vukovar in busses for the protest, including the Croatian Association of Widows of Veterans, it is possible that more than 10,000 protestors will come to Vukovar on 13 October.

-We are receiving calls from all over Croatia and we are thinking about renting one more bus - said Rozalija Bartolović, head of the Association.


Association of 1st Guards Brigade Veterans is preparing for the protest in Vukovar. Their webpage lists a telephone number for people interested in the protest and an announcement that transport and lunch in Vukovar costs HRK 100.

- I would not say that the protest will be a fiasco. The fact that war crimes have not been processed grieves us - said Tihomir Kmet, head og the Association of 3rd Guards Brigade Veterans.

Head of the Association of Vukovar Veterans and Međimurje Camp Prisoners Željko Sršan claims many veterans from Međimurje will attend the protest. Sršan revealed that he is under pressure from local HDZ officials because he supports the protest and added that Minister of Veterans' Affairs Tomo Medved is pressuring him as well, threatening to cut financing of associations of veterans.

However, group head Kolobarić refuted accusations brought against the Minister, stressing that the group of associations of veterans is cooperating well with Medved.

HRAST MP Hrvoje Zekanović will attend the protest in Vukovar as well. Many Istina o Istanbulskoj [Truth about the Istanbul Convention] initiative activists could attend the protest as well. The initiative sent an announcement to volunteers that busses will be organized from Split, Šibenik and Zagreb. The initiative expects at least 10,000 to 15,000 protestors from all parts of Croatia.

It is likely that many activists from Željka Markić's U ime obitelji [In the Name of the Family] NGO will attend the protest in Vukovar as the NGO recently supported the protest.

- I expect victims to be heard at the protest, people who see their rapists or murderers of their loved ones in the streets every day - said Markić. It is still not clear whether MPs Zlatko Hasanbegović and Bruna Esih will attend the protest.

Some protestors will pay for transport to Vukovar. Price stands at some HRK 100, with lunch included.

Hrvoje Zekanović (HRAST) - City of Vukovar is the organizer of the protest and we are the only parliamentary party to fully support Mayor Penava.

Željka Markić (U ime obitelji) - There will be no special organization, but I have heard from many people they will go privately. I expect victims to be heard at the protest.


Inačica na drugom jeziku / Alternate language version