Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day ... the Muslim victory that led to the Serbian aggression. Victors celebrate and victims weep ...
Today is Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day (Croatian: Dan pobjede i domovinske zahvalnosti) in Croatia. It is a public holiday in Croatia which is held as a memorial to what Croatians call their War of Independence.
It is celebrated today as the day Croatian Army forces took the city of Knin in 1995 after only 3 days fighting - it as the principal object of Operation Storm, which obliterated the Republic of Serbian Krajina, a self-proclaimed Serb entity in Croatia. Knin is a town of strategic importance as the railroads from Zadar, Split and Šibenik all pass northwards through Knin, to Zagreb.
The leaders of Krajina were Knin locals: Milan Martić, a former police inspector, and Milan Babić, a dentist.These separatist Serbs held the town until Croatian forces liberated it , both were indicted for crimes.When they were indicted they were described as leaders of the "Serbian Autonomous District /Sprska autonomna oblast/ ("SAO") Krajina," and the so-called "Republic of Serbian Krajina /Republika Srpska krajina/" ("RSK") (Martic trial)
In exchange for Babic's guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop four other charges of war crimes."
"Babic signed a lengthy confession acknowledging that he was aware of the forced eviction and persecution of Croats, that he helped spread pro-Serb propaganda, and that he helped acquire weapons and distribute them to Serb population. More than 78,000 Croats and about 2,000 Muslims lived in Krajina in 1991, but within a year virtually the entire non-Serb population "was forcibly removed, deported or killed," Babic's initial indictment said. "
In the 2001 census, the population of Knin was 11,128 in the city and 15,190 in the municipality, and the majority of its citizens were Croats with 76.45% and Serbs 20.8%.
The University of Zadar Geography department figues show that in 1991 the of 12,331 people in Knin, 85% were Serbs and 10% Croats.
This mass ethnic cleansing of the Serbs was the result of Operation Storm planned and executed by General Gotovina with US aid in terms of money, manpower, equipment on the ground and intelligence in the form of aerial surveilance. He, after many years on the run like Karadic is now standing trial in the Hague. He had been eventually arrested in a luxury hotel on Tenerife with a handful of false passports in December 2005, thus easing Croatia’s path to EU membership.
Testament, like the arrest of Karadic after 3 weeks of the new ASerbian Government that the offer of entry to the EU allows them to winkle out the survivors.
Gotovina is joined by 2 other generals, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac, The three generals are accused of taking part in a joint criminal enterprise together with Franjo Tudjman, former President of Croatia, Gojko Susak, former Minister of Defence, and two former army chiefs of staff all four of whom are dead.
Amongst the charges are "Large-scale deportation or displacement of an estimated 150,000-200,000 Krajina Serbs "
As the trial continues , conflicting evidence arises, especially on the role and actions of the US - Alun Roberts was a UN spokesman and accused Croatian military forces of shelling Knin and crimes committed in the vicinity of that town after the operation, and said that 200 civilian facilities were damaged in the shelling of August 4 and 5, 1995, "which had not been limited to the locations used by the self-proclaimed local military and civilian Serb authorities".
He said that Croatian authorities, specifically General Čermak, had limited the movement of UN members to the center of Knin "in order to conceal the extent of the shelling".
On the 11th July ,Goran Jungvirth , a former United Nations logistics officer told the trial that the shelling of Knin during a 1995 operation to recapture Serb-held areas of Croatia was designed not to hit military targets but to frighten civilians into fleeing.
“It was deliberate, harassing fire,” said another witness Josef Lorenzo Claude Belrose, a Canadian retired colonel. Belrose also described how he saw signs of looting and the burning of houses in nearby villages when he was removing UN observation points. He said UN representatives were unable to enter the villages because Croatian special police stopped them, telling them operations were under way and it was not safe.
To everyone's surprise , Peter Galbraith, the former United States ambassador to Zagreb (and son of economist JK Galbraith), said in testimony at the end of June that Knin was not randomly targeted during the first days of Operation Storm. The damage from shelling was not large-scale and the city was left largely undamaged, Galbraith said, adding that this information came from embassy staff who – unlike UN personnel – were allowed to move around Knin.
President Clinton approved Operation Storm and this was passed on by Colonel Richard C. Herrick, then US military attaché in Zagreb. Several days prior to the commencement of Operation Storm, Herrick visited Markica Rebić in Zagreb. Rebić, Miroslav Tuđman, then director of HIS and Miro Međimurac, then head of SIS, held the most intensive communications with the American military and intelligence agencies.
In 1996, Markica Rebić was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal bythe same Peter Galbraith, then US Ambassador to Croatia who has such differing views to UN observers on the shelling of Knin.
President Clinton in approving the opertaion said , that the operation had to be 'clean and fast' and had to be completed in 5 days.
Jovan Dopudj, a former member of the municipal assembly in the town of Obrovac, testified how the Serb population fled on the first day of the Croatian attack. He said people became frightened after artillery started to hit civilian buildings.
However back home now, Ante Gotovina is a hero and Zbor Udruga (Assembly of Associations), is saving the spot of leader for his release. Their popular singing spokesman Marko Perković Thompson, much criticized for his pro-Nazi lyrics and iconography is currently leading the chorus of pro Croatian hagiography of the 3 imprisoned generals.
Ivo Sanader the Croatian prime Minister says that Operation Storm had been a just and legitimate defensive action by the Croatian armed forces, and that he would never allow anyone to cast a shadow over that operation, even for internal Serbian reasons.
This was in response to the now popular (with the Western allies) Serbian President Boris Tadić who had earlier said on the anniversary of what Serbs call the fall of Knin, that he expected an apology from Croatia for crimes against and the persecution of Serbs from Krajina during Operation Storm.
Ivo Sanader was the leader of the right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), once chaired by the nationalist President, Tudjman (who died Dec 1999). With Sanader, HDZ, which softened its nationalist language and was rehabilitated in some way, also obtained the support of the Serbian minority. And the new Prime Minister was ready to do anything in order to make Croatia, which submitted an application for the EU membership in April 2003, a member of the European Club. And the price was Gotovina.
On the 18th of June, 2004, the EU granted to Croatia the candidate status. And on the 17th of December, the European Council fixed the start of negotiations for the 17th of March, 2005.
On the 16th of March, 2005, the European Council of Foreign Ministers postponed the negotiations sine die. Ante Gotovina was found (it is said the CIA grassed him up) on December 5th.
The Sarajevo Declaration which was was signed on January 31, 2005, with the patronage of the international community— the OSCE, the UNHCR, and the European Commission stipulated that the issue of displaced persons throughout the territory of the former Yugoslavia should be resolved by the end of 2006.
Nothing has been done.
Not much to celebrate there then.
This site covers all the US involvement in Operation Storm
You Tube video (one of many) hero worshipping General Gotovina