The Croatian Association of Former Inmates of Serb-run Concentration Camps (HDLSKL) on Sunday marked a day of remembrance for inmates of enemy camps in the 1991-95 Homeland War, commemorating the day when in 1992 the last big exchange of prisoners of war took place at the eastern village of Nemetin.
On that day, 714 prisoners of war were released in an all-for-all exchange. Around 300 inmates died in prison camps due to beatings and torture while around 2,500 people were killed on the way to those camps, said HDLSKL president Danijel Rehak.
He said that there were about 70 prison camps in Serbia and the then occupied parts of Croatia, and that more than 30,000 people went through them. Of that number, slightly fewer than 8,000 people, registered by the International Committee of the Red Cross, were given the status of former prison camp inmates, according to Rehak.
"This is a major problem that has not been solved. The camp at Ovcara has not been recognised either and around 4,000 people were imprisoned there, of whom 260 were killed," said Rehak.
Attending the commemoration in Vukovar were also three ministers in the outgoing government - Economy Minister Tomislav Panenic, War Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Medved and Defence Minister Josip Buljevic.
"Serbian officials must acknowledge that camps existed on Serbian territory, not one or two but 70 camps. Rights arising from torture and atrocities must be recognised because that is the only way to achieve reconciliation," said Panenic.
"It is time Serbian political elites faced the fact that camps did exist and that Serbia fought a war of aggression against Croatia and it is time that we behaved accordingly," said Buljevic.
Commenting on former camp inmates' rights in the context of Serbia's talks on accession to the EU, Medved said that victims should be enabled to access the judiciary and seek appropriate compensation. Croatia will insist on that, he said.