Today we mark 26 years since "Operation Storm" #Oluja, the greatest crime of ethnic cleansing since Second World War, carried out by the state of Croatia against then Republic of Serbian Krajina, expelling more than 280,000 Serbs from their ancestral homes, while killing 2,670. Since 2014 Serbia and Republic of Srpska have been jointly marking the anniversaries of the suffering of the Serbian people in the Second World War and in the Croatian military operation "Storm" as the Day of Remembrance for the victims and expelled Serbs.
On August 4, 1995, the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia carried out an aggression against northern Dalmatia, Lika, Kordun and Banija, i.e. the Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina, as part of the then Republic of Serbian Krajina. The aggression was carried out despite the fact that the area was under UN protection and that the representatives of the Republic of Serbian Krajina accepted in Geneva and Belgrade the proposal of the International Community on a peaceful solution to the conflict the day before the aggression.
Even after 26 years, this is a highly contentious issue between Serbia and Croatia. While Croatia treats this war crime and ethnic cleansing as a legitimate war operation, celebrating it as Victory Day; the day when their "Homeland War" - the Croatian War of Independence - was won, and their quest for full sovereignty and independence finally realized, Serbs regard it as a moment for national mourning, an occasion when hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs were ethnically cleansed from their ancestral homelands, a view now shared by many independent outside observers.
About 200,000 soldiers were engaged against the Krajina Serbs (about 230,000 inhabitants with about 30,000 soldiers), and in a few days of unequal fighting, the resistance of the Serbian Krajina Army was broken, and the people of the western Krajina retreated towards Serbia and Republic of Srpska. The material damage caused by the "Storm" is of unimaginable proportions. 13,000 buildings, 25,000 houses, 72 churches, 96 museums, 181 cemeteries, 52 health centers, all industrial plants etc. were destroyed.
According to the 1991 census, there were 581,663 Serbs living in the Republic of Croatia (12.2% of the total population), while the 2011 census showed that there were 186,633 Serbs in Croatia (4.36% of the total population). Therefore, after the civil war and the mass exodus of the Serbian people, the number of Serbs fell by 2/3.
Crimes against the Serbian people at the end of the 20th century cannot be viewed outside the context of crimes and genocide from the period of the Second World War. Today, almost no one in Europe and the world talks about the genocide of the Serbian people on the territory of the Nazi creation of the Independent State of Croatia in the Second World War, and the horrific story about the Jasenovac concentration camp is shrouded in silence. No one from the Croatian military and political leadership was held responsible before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for the expulsion of almost a quarter of a million Serbs (the sum of those expelled in "Storm" and "Flash") and the killing of a large number of civilians and prisoners.
Serbs have never forced anyone to admit genocide, but only to show reverence for Serbian victims and not to celebrate over the graves of our compatriots. Serbia and Republic of Srpska will never celebrate the tragedy of the Serbian people, the killing of Serbian civilians and children.
The presence of representatives of the international community and the diplomatic corps at the Croatian "celebrations" of the anniversary of the "Storm" action is incomprehensible, because those present are participating in the celebration of the anniversary of ethnic cleansing. Serbs who remain in Croatia are still often treated as beings of a lower order (they are denied the right to language, culture, economic progress and a dignified life). Nazi Ustasha values and achievements are still widely celebrated in Croatia.
This day, and numerous others, when we mourn the historical tragedies of the Serbian people must be remembered, and brought to light through the public discourse, as the only legitimate means to peaceful reconciliation. We are obliged to remember, to not to be silent, to educate those around us, and to continuously seek justice.
Professor James Ker-Lindsay takes a look at International Relations with a focus on territorial conflicts, secession, independence movements and new countries.
Here is his analysis of Operation Storm and wider consequences.
We will bring to you the latest interviews with candidates running for office, political activists, leaders, and elected officials.
Please help us identify the candidates running in your area, or send us suggestions of who you would like us to interview. We will profile them on the series, informing our community on the current issues and the election platforms, in order to make an educated decision on which candidates to support in 2022.