milorad pupovac.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Mladen VOLARIĆ / mm

The president of the Serb National Council, Milorad Pupovac, has sent a letter to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic warning about an atmosphere of growing intolerance and messages of hate directed at political, ethnic and other minorities in Croatia and noting that it could threaten basic democratic achievements, political stability and social security.

Pupovac says in the letter that over the past few weeks he has been witnessing with concern an increase in intolerance and messages of hate towards political, ethnic and other minorities in Croatia, which, he says, became evident especially after the formation of the new government.

"Some respond to political discussions about the government and its platform with a campaign of intolerance and hate, and some see statements by individual members of the government and parliament as encouragement and support to that campaign," Pupovac says in the letter, noting that that destroys the tolerance and acknowledgement of political and identity-related differences that have been built for decades, which could jeopardise basic democratic achievements, political stability and social security.

In the past two-three weeks a number of public figures, journalists, actors, stage directors, religious dignitaries, politicians and human rights activists have experienced threats and hate speech, Pupovac warns, citing as examples reporter Mirjana Rakic, who chairs the Electronic Media Council, actress Nina Violic, stage director Oliver Frljic, and the head of the Serb Orthodox Church in Croatia and Slovenia, Metropolitan Porfirije.

Vojislav Stanimirovic, leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), and his wife have been targeted by a vile campaign to implicate them in war crimes despite the state prosecution's repeated position that such accusations are groundless, while Zoran Pusic, president of the Civic Committee for Human Rights and the Anti-Fascist League, has been called a traitor and his car tires were slashed, says Pupovac.

In an anonymous letter the Croatian Journalists Association and the Serb National Council are called "those who do not love Croatia and abuse media freedoms and freedom of assembly on the occasion of religious holidays to allegedly manifest their animosity towards their own country," says Pupovac.

"These are just some of the cases that show how the language of the darkest web portals, the darkest bars and the darkest side of the not so distant Croatian and European history are claiming the right of publicity and spreading into the public to foment an atmosphere of hate, fear and very possible violence," Pupovac warns. That language is not targeting those who have lied and who still lie, those who have stolen and continue to steal or those who killed and incited to killing, but rather those who in one way or another have dedicated a large part of their life to fighting all that, says Pupovac.

Pupovac says that he is not writing the letter for his own sake "because as horrible as it may be, this is far from what many Croats and Serbs (including my closest relatives) went through in the war years, losing their lives, health, their dearest ones, their homes and their native places."

"I am writing the letter to ask - What reason, whether it concerns the state or a political party, could justify the renewing of animosity, intolerance, hate and very likely violence in our country? For what reason are animosity, intolerance, hate and violence, which brought so many horrors and historical regressing to Croatia, again being fomented and starting to control the public opinion and the minds of individuals and groups? I am writing to ask what good can this bring to any individual or the country as a whole," Pupovac says in the letter to the president.

The questions must be answered by "those who are the political guardians of constitutionality and lawfulness", "particularly because those who for reasons of their world view, political affiliation or some other reason are not showing any intention of stopping but are rather stepping up their campaign of intolerance and hate."

The letter was not made public nor was it released on the web site of the Serb National Council "because it was not intended to be public", Pupovac told Hina, adding that after the letter found its way into the media, he agreed to making it publicly available.

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