Obilježavanje 71. obljetnice bleiburške tragedije, Željko Reiner.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Dario GRZELJ/ ik

Let us finally stop with divisions and let us live for the future of our children in peace, freedom and democracy, Croatian Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner said on Saturday at a central ceremony commemorating the 71st anniversary of the Bleiburg tragedy in the Bleiburg field in Austria.

"We need to clearly say to all those who even today are trying to cover up the crimes committed in Bleiburg ... claim otherwise and find justifications, that we are not here today to express some alleged regret about the NDH (Independent State of Croatia), let alone celebrate or justify the Ustasha crimes, but we are here to express our deepest respect for innocent victims of the Communist crimes and that is the only truth, regardless of what anyone might say," Reiner said.

Reiner said that all those who arrived in the Bleiburg field today came to express their disagreement with the policy of crime.

"We must not forget our past, but we must learn from the past that injustice, hatred and killing had never led to anything good, anywhere. We must remember our past and teach our children the truth about it, because a people that does not remember its past is doomed to repeat it," Reiner said.

He expressed satisfaction with the fact that after 15 years, the Bleiburg commemoration is once again held under the patronage of the Croatian Parliament.

Reiner said that fascists, Nazis and Ustashas who had committed crimes during World War have mostly been punished, adding that those totalitarian ideologies have been clearly and undoubtedly condemned. He stressed that on the other hand Communist crimes against Croats committed after WWII had not been been punished, adding that those who committed those crimes had lived in peace and enjoyed great privileges.

The Commemoration was also attended by First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko, several ministers, Deputy Parliament Speaker Ivan Tepes, envoy for the Croatian President Bruna Esih, numerous MPS, representatives of the authorities of Bosnia and herzegovina, etc.

Holy Mass was celebrated by Banja Luka  Molitvenu misu za žrtve Bleiburga i Križnog puta služio je banjalučki biskup i predsjednik Biskupske konferencije BiH Franjo Komarica.

Today's ceremony commemorated executions of Croatian soldiers and civilians who surrendered to British forces in Austria in May 1945, but were handed over to the Yugoslav Partisans. Some of them were killed in the Bleiburg field, while many perished during death marches, known as Ways of the Cross, during their repatriation to Yugoslavia. The exact number of Croatian soldiers and civilians killed has never been established and research carried out to date puts their number at at least 50,000.

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