On the occasion of 23rd anniversary of the suffering of civilians on the territory of Western Slavonia and in Zagreb, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Croatia and Youth Network of Serbs in Croatia together remember civilian victims of war, in order to contribute to the process of reconciliation in our society. Respect for human rights, the rule of law and condemnation of all war crimes are the values connecting us and such values we must preserve.
Let us remind you, Operation Flash of the Croatian Army was completed on May 2, 1995. In this Operation, 283 persons were killed or are considered missing; there are 79 victims who are still unidentified, as well as undefined number of wounded. The forces of the Republic of Serbian Krajina responded by shelling Zagreb and surrounding towns, where, in the course of two days, seven people, also civilians, were killed in Zagreb, and 214 were wounded in the attacks on the main Zagreb square and broader downtown area.
For the shelling of Zagreb, Milan Martić was prosecuted before the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia; in September of 2008, he was convicted for crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war, and sentenced to the imprisonment of 35 years.
We warn of the absence of prosecution of war crimes committed during Operation Flash. As early as in 2012, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights filed a criminal complaint against the perpetrators of war crimes against prisoners of war after this Operation, but it did not result in the prosecution of the perpetrators.
We consider the date of May 2 1995 symbolically important because a large number of citizens of Croatia, civilians of both Croatian and Serb nationality, suffered on the same day. National or any other identity should never be an obstacle in exercising the rights to justice, truth and reparations by these and all other victims.
Today, we wish to call on Croatian public, members of the Croatian Parliament and Government to show solidarity, together with us. Let this date be declared a memory day for all civilian victims of war. We want a society which respects all victims regardless of any of their identities, including national, and sees peace as its ultimate value.
Youth Network of Serbs in Croatia
Youth Initiative for Human Rights