Serb and Jewish associations to boycott Jasenovac commemoration

After the coordinating body of Jewish communities said they would boycott this year's commemoration of the victims of the Jasenovac WWII concentration camp on April 22, the Serb National Council (SNV) and the Jewish Community Bet Israel of Croatia have done so too.

The SNV made the decision unanimously on Friday, saying in a press release that the reason was the general climate in society and the messages coming from the Culture Ministry and Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic.

The SNV said the ministry and Hasanbegovic had turned a deaf ear to a memo in which institutions of the ethnic communities of victims killed in the Jasenovac camp and representatives of anti-fascist organisations jointly expressed their dissatisfaction with the exhibits of the Jasenovac Memorial Museum and the delay in the appointment of its council, and in which they called for dialogue on this year's commemoration.

The SNV warns about "a series of events and activities from which it is evident that attempts are being made in Croatia to relativise, downplay and even negate the crimes committed at Jasenovac and elsewhere by the Ustasha movement during" the Nazi-styled Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

The SNV warns about messages at public rallies, in the media and in the public arena which renew the values of the Ustasha movement and glorify the Ustasha ideology and its representatives, saying this has resulted in the spreading of hate speech and intolerance of political differences, ethnic and other minorities.

The SNV takes issue at the absence of an appropriate response from political and state institutions. "Furthermore, those who warn about such manifestations, including our institution, are frequently publicly attacked and insulted."

The SNV says it is "time to stop the dangerous practice of formally commemorating one day in Jasenovac, while freely relativising, downplaying and negating in the remaining 364 days the Ustasha crime of genocide committed at Jasenovac and elsewhere at the time of the NDH and tolerating and reviving the ideology of the movement which conceived and executed the crime."

The Jewish Community Bet Israel of Croatia decided on Thursday that it would not attend the commemoration.

"Unfortunately, we can see that instead of respect for the victims and the obligation to remember the persecution and the horrors suffered in the Second World War, such commemorations are increasingly being used to confront different political and historical world views. We as a Jewish community find unacceptable the recently increasing historical revisionism, relativisation of crimes and attempts to justify and revive historically condemned movements and ideologies," Bet Israel said in a press release.

The Kali Sara Roma Alliance, which gathers 40 Roma associations and councils, today discussed whether to attend the commemoration. Its president, Veljko Kajtazi, said the decision would be made early next week.

Last update: Fri, 08/04/2016 - 18:25

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