Monday, 31 December 2007

A new year is coming, and a look-back at this blog's achievements!

A new year is upon us guys. And it can only mean one thing…














…RESOLUTIONS!

And I've written a list of ten not-so-difficult to fulfill ones here on my MySpace blog. Hope you are inspired!

Looking back, this has been an interesting year for me. Although I started the year unemployed, I have had success and have been earning my OWN money! I know I've only mentioned a little bit about employment here in August and September. I was thinking about writing about it in more detail on my MySpace blog (where I mention a recent post above). And hey, I might do so next year!

As you know, I've been to my country this year, spending time near Gračac in my mother's village and in Kistanje at my aunt's and uncle's. I spent much of that time away from a computer, which I know can be a good thing. However, at the time, I strongly felt that I spent too long without access to a computer, in particular access to the Internet. The Internet for me is a valuable source of news and information, and it does connect me with the outside world. And as you can see in this post when I managed to find internet access in the Dalmatian town of Knin, I was more than relieved!

And may I take this opportunity to apologise once again to one of my cousins I met in my mother's village this year but failed to mention in the above post! How could I have FORGOTTEN to mention that encounter???!!! Very sorry, indeed.

As one of my New Year resolutions, I hope to write more blog posts. This of course means that I hope more people will visit my blog in the new year. And with more visitors, more comments to my posts will come along! Speaking of which, keep checking out this list of blogs to which I've commented to. I'm pleased that I have such a page on my blog, so I can keep up with where I place my comments to other people's blogs by listing them on precisely such a page designated for that purpose.

So stay tuned, as they say on the telly. And…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
-
SRETNA NOVA GODINA!


PS: I've noticed on my Sitemeter that many people have arrived at my blog on this page dedicated to Brian Eno's iconic, ethereal and truly beautiful sountrack from Google's search engine. I'm glad that this has proven to be a great visitor grabber - not that I intended it to be! And I've also notice that this blog post of mine features in the relevant search results either on the second or first page! Therefore, I hope to find more cool ways to get hits to my site in the year to come! ;-D

Thursday, 27 December 2007

About Milošević

This is a blog post I began last month, but have only now finished.

Slobodan Milošević, unless you haven't heard of him (there are such "lucky" people!), was the man who set off the domino effect causing the break-up of Yugoslavia, resulting in widespread distruction and loss of life, not to mention over a million displaced people. It was his policies that led to unnecessary and yet avoidable misery and suffering for all the people of the Former Yugoslavia who were affected, directly or indirectly, by the wars of the 1990s.

Who's the bitch?Nicknamed "Slobo", he supported the genocidal régime of the Bosnian Serbs with Radovan Karadžić at the helm, and is believed to have agreed with Croatian nationalist president Franjo Tuđman that the "Republika Srpska Krajina" should fall, leading to the widespread exoduses of my people, the Croatian Serbs, among whom were many of my own relatives.

In all, he made fools out my people; he made us Serbs look like idiots in front of the WHOLE WORLD, something we Serbs would never let anyone do to us. And yet he successfully pulled it off! That's just incredible. And he was so successful in deceiving the Serbian public at home in Serbia into thinking the whole break-up of the Former Yugoslavia was the fault of other people, namely secessionists in the western republics of the federation and "the West", and not him, that the ordinary citizen of Serbia could truly never guess - GUESS! - that he was actually responsible for starting the process. And he was successful because he understood his subject people well; he basically abused my people's nature, good and bad.

However, I have a confession to make to you, the readers of this blog, whether familiar with the recent history of my part of the world or not.

I haven't always thought this way about Slobo. In fact, I'll tell you straight‪…

‪…I used to like him!

Now bear two things in mind with me:

  • my parents are pro-socialist in political orientation, and

  • remember that we Serbs have a long history of being attacked by other countries as opposed to the other way round, ie. our victimhood throughout history.


  • You will see how relevant these two points are in how my parents and other Serbs perceived the recent wars and political turmoil affecting our people and our former Yugoslav brothers all around the former Yugoslavia.


    ======================================================================

    You see, I am a diaspora Serb, and I remember the extremely negative media spin as a child during the early nineties - especially regarding Bosnia - and as a young adolescent in the late nineties about Kosovo. And for a long time after all that, the BBC, for instance, continued to relate the wars from a perspective that cast us Serbs in a negative light, whenever the wars or the current peace are mentioned. I rarely - if ever - heard anything about what us Croatian Serbs went through.

    Also, I and my parents had access to satellite back then, and even today we have digital satellite. And we regularly watched the Serbian state Radio Television Serbia, along with the terrestrial British channels (I remember my parents watching Bosnian and Croatian TV via satellite back then too). And being a state TV and radio channel today in more democratic times, you don't have to guess whether or not it was a state TV and radio channel back then under Milošević. And it is through Belgrade's satellite channel that my parents heard many stories that were either not mentioned or sparsely mentioned on the Western channels.

    Of course, like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, he knew his people very well and made sure that our people back home in Serbia - and even us in the diaspora - would blame the West and Croatian and other secessionists for everything that was going wrong. In fact, we would never even work out that HE was actually to blame for all the turmoil in the Western Balkans. I see this now.

    However in the past, I deeply resented the Western media - especially British - for continuing to portray us Serbs in a negative light, because back then I didn't think they put the recent history in a more neutral perspective that would allow its Western viewers to understand the war from both sides. Of course, not all Western media reports showed us up in such a vehemently negative light. But then again, I was living in Britain, the land of Political Correctness, and it seemed as though these British correspondents didn't think any Serb would complain about the way they described the contemporary post-war political issues affecting our people and our neighbours back home today. Doesn't P.C. apply to us Serbs?

    It's like they didn't think any Serbs lived in Britain, so they didn't care if we felt offended by their reporting or not! There aren't many of us here, true, but there are between 10,000-50,000. Many came following the Second World War, some a couple of decades after that, many more came more recently due to the recent turmoil that was messing up everyone's lives.

    And as you can guess, when it comes to the Hague, I used to think the International Criminal Trinual for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) served to depict the Western side of the story, in which the Serbs are most to blame for the wars and committed the worst crimes, while the other sides that also committed crimes were let off the hook, something I found quite insulting. I was also displeased to see so many more Serbs being tried and fewer of the others.

    Therefore, I admit that I did admire his performance at the tribunal, and genuinely thought he was revealing information regarding the wars that the Western media kept quiet about. And if you were to watch his proceedings, you would indeed hear many facts of various credibility - I stress "various" credibility - you would never have heard from many Western channels.

    Also, the wars happened at the time of the "Collapse of Communism", when the Soviet Union disintegrated. A time that was said to mark the victory of Western Democracy over Soviet Communism. Of course, us Yugoslavs, being pro-socialist and sympathetic to Soviet Russia, were critical of the West. We were suspicious of their motives an' all. So when our Yugoslav federation started falling apart, us Serbs saw many politicians from the Western republics advocating secession, namely Slovenia and Croatia. This was a time of rising nationalism, particularly Serbian and Croatian. And it seemed to us that the secessionists advocating Western-style Democracy in the geographical West of the federation were backed by the West. And this is why even today many Serbs blame the West for the break-up of Yugoslavia, and not Milošević's politics accompanied by Serbian nationalism. Indeed, we really didn't see - let alone think - that it was Milošević who caused the political crisis throughout the federation; we blamed secessionists in Slovenia and Croatia.

    Now bear in mind that Marshal Tito's Yugoslavia was not a satellite state of Moscow like Poland and the former Czechoslovakia except for a few years following World War Two. Indeed, he famously left the Warsaw Pact, and was thus respected by the West. And what you've got to remember about Tito's Yugoslavia is that, regardless of its faults - REGARDLESS OF THEM, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!! - it was actually a decent socialist society, in which people like my mother and her generation lived very decent and wholesome lives. Such a country like Yugoslavia didn't deserve such a terrible fate, of course. In fact, I believe Yugoslavia without the Communism could have, would have and should have continued to exist to this day as a democratic and, dare I say, cosmopolitan Yugoslavia within the European Union.

    But back to the media portrayal during the war, what's interesting is how the Western media would wholeheartedly condemn war crimes committed by Serbs, even go as far as writing "Serb monsters" on the newspaper, which smacks of RACISM (!), and yet show the public no understanding of what motivated these crimes in the first place. Don't get me wrong readers, neither I nor anyone else is suggesting that one should justify any war crime whatsoever. But I really think the Western public - or at least the British public during the nineties, was not aware enough of the history of the Balkans. If they did have as much knowledge of Yugoslav history as they have of Israeli/Palestinian history, they would have had a much better understanding of the motivation of the Bosnians Serbs to commit war crimes against their fellow Bosnians. Indeed, as much sensitivity as applied in reporting other conflicts around the world would have been exercised in this case, but not just during the wars, after the wars in the Balkans during peace as well. And of course, they would have condemned those war crimes in a more correct and appropriate way.

    The Balkans are a part of the world that not many people in Britain have any connection to, of course. But what is surprising when it comes to the Second World War in Europe, is that not that many people have heard of the Jasenovac concentration camp, run by Croatian Ustaše in which the main victims were Serbs. In fact, Serbs were the main victims of the Ustaše throughout the "Independent State of Croatia" (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska) during the Second World War in Yugoslavia.

    Yes, it's true that not many people have heard of many concentration camps other than Auschwitz, Treblinka, Dachau and Belzec, but that's NOT the point! The point is a recent war happened near a particular extermination camp in which one of the most horrendous crimes that man could commit against his fellow man were committed. And if the British public understood the Serbs' victimhood and their wars against the Croats and Bosniaks as much as they understand the Israelis and their treatment of the Palestinians in the Holy Land, then once again I tell you my dear readers, they would have condemned the crimes of the Bosnians Serbs in a more sensitive manner, without leaving their Bosniak audience feeling that they were not condemned enough.

    NB: you will find that some people compare modern-day Serbian nationalism and the war crimes committed by the Bosnian Serbs with WW2 Fascism as practised by collaborationist forces amongs the Serbs, and even with Anti-Semitism that was promoted by the leaders of such forces. Now it is true that memory of these collaborationist forces did play a part in the recent wars. There's no doubt about that. However, what doesn't seem to occur to them is to explain to their readers how these Bosnian Serb war criminals may have been inspired by the very real suffering that their grandparents and great-grandparents endured during the Second World War, whatsoever. Radovan Karadžić certainly didn't feed the Bosnian Serbs much in the way Anti-Semitism during the nineties, if at all; instead, he fed them kilograms of anti-Croat propaganda, and most importantly, tonnes of anti-Muslim propaganda.

    Again, no one here is suggesting that war crimes should be justified. No one. Rather, we should try to understand what motivated ordinary people to engage in such dreadful criminal activity against their fellow citizens, just like any criminal investigator would intend to discover the motive of a particular murder in times of peace.

    ======================================================================

    And so, yes I used to respect Milošević, I admit that. But now, of course, I know better.

    You see, I changed my opinion some time at the beginning of this year. And I did so with the help of a medium (via their website on the internet), a medium I used to consider as anti-Serb medium in Serbia backed by the West financially. Actually, this medium consistantly fought against Milošević's disastrous rule throughout the nineties. Of course, it is B92, the bastion of free speach and democratic values in Serbia. And it is through the information their website divulges and opinions of liberal-minded individuals at their blogs section, not to mention other individuals associated with that medium, that I learnt why B92 and the people linked to it opposed Milošević so faithfully.

    They are the people who lived under Milošević's régime. They lived in a Serbia whose society was collapsing and degenerating from within; falling apart and stagnating. They also lived in a Serbia whose leaders were waging wars against Croatia and Bosnia, formerly sister republics and its peoples formerly fellow Yugoslavs, as their federal country Yugoslavia was falling apart and dying. They are the conscious witnesses to the bad politics of Milošević's régime.

    It was B92's radio (that's how it started out) that broadcast to Serbia informing its citizens of the wrong-doing their leaders were committing inside their country and outside in the newly-independent republics. B92 was often suppressed during Milošević's time, and many ordinary people with right-wing sentiments were understandably distrustful of the station, one, because of the news it was reporting, and two, it was considered "unpatriotic"! And yet in the end, Milošević finally departed office following a massive uprising of people in response to election fraud in the first round of elections in 2000. B92 is still with us, Milošević isn't, and better that way.

    And it's thanks to the B92 website, that I can now understand what truly happened throughout the nineties, thanks to all that testimony as seen through Serbian eyes.

    I now see that he really did cause a nationwide crisis when he revoked Kosovo's autnomy, not just a crisis in the province itself, which lasted for ten years. I understand that this caused alarm in the other republics leading the people of those republics to question whether they should stay within a Yugoslav federation with Serbia being more dominant than acceptable. It could be debated whether the politicians in those republics capitalised on this alarm for their own personal ends. Nevertheless, people in these republics saw how Serbian nationalism spread and most importantly, also noticed how Milošević somehow supported its rise.

    But there's another point that must be mentioned, 'cause it concerns many Serbs. You see, Croatian nationalism also rose at that time, which is something that many Serbs in Croatia noticed at the same time Serbian nationalism was rising among them. In fact, Croatian nationalism started rearing its head even when Tito was still alive in the early seventies, during the "Croatian Spring" (Hrvatsko proljeće) in which Franjo Tuđman personally participated, long before Milošević came around.

    But here's the difference between the manifestation of Croatian nationalism in the early seventies and the rise of Serbian nationalism in the late eighties. The Communist authorities of Croatia at the time of the "Croatian Spring" did not support this movement, while the Communist Slobodan Milošević - even before he became president of Serbia and afterwards continuously - did in some way support and foster Serbian nationalism.

    And yet in Kosovo during the eighties and of course before, some Serbs there - not ALL, but a significant number of whom - did experience ethnically motivated intimidation from their Albanian neighbours, and it's unfortunate that it happened. Such intimidation was not "invented", but exaggerated by the Serbian media, which at that time was motivated to inform the Serbian public of what was considered at the time "repressed common knowledge" of the suffering of Serbs caused by Albanians in Kosovo and the resulting migration of Serbs from the province because of which.

    But the way Milošević dealt with this plight of Serbs was completely the WRONG way. Such an issue should have been dealt with sensitively by his régime. Instead, his way of dealing with the issue merely encouraged distrust between the two communities to fester. And by revoking Kosovo's autonomy, something the Albanians in the province treasured, he basically treated these people like children. For instance, when a child misbehaves, one way you chastise him/her is to take away his/her favourite toy. And yet what he did to them was many times worse than that. I now see how his policies in the late 80s caused a lot of fury amongst Albanians. And in the end, it lead to catastrophe ‪…literally (!), and for all of Kosovo's people.

    Beyond Kosovo and particularly in Bosnia, Slobodan Milošević basically supported a fascist régime that lead genocidal policies against one particular group in the country, the Bosnian Muslims who today call themselves "Bosniaks". His régime in Belgrade both politically and militarily supported Radovan Karadžić's aims of securing circa 70% of Bosnia & Herzegovina, in the hope that this territory would later become a part of Serbia, the new "Western Serbia". There is even evidence that Milošević actually advised - or perhaps commanded - the Bosnian Serbs on what actions to take during the fighting.

    And when it comes to Radovan Karadžić, I can now see how he, and others like him, manipulated ordinary Serbs; he used their painful memories from the Second World War and even the folk memory of the Ottoman period to create precisely an atmosphere conducive of the ethnically-motivated violence that we saw.

    And as for the Serbian people in Kosovo and the short-lived Krajina, he gambled with their lives. There is no doubt about that. He truly betrayed these people; he offered them false hope and they in the end became victimised in response to either his actions in the case of Kosovo, or the actions of those he supported in the case of Krajina. And like I said in a previous article, my fellow Croatian Serbs were victimised a second time last century, fifty years after Jasenovac and the genocide committed against our grandparents and great-grandparents by the Ustaše.


    ======================================================================

    Having "disowned" Milošević, it is nevertheless my opinion that NOTHING Milošević, Šešelj, Karadžić, Babić, Martić and all the other idiots did in the recent history has anything to do with our respectable identity, wonderful culture and my dear people. Those people are in my opinion NOT my Serbian brothers! Full stop.

    And even though I understand the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia much better than I did before, I still deeply resent it when Western and even Serbian reporters, speakers, etc. say or write how the crimes these individuals committed were done so "in our name". Well, you know what I think, guys? I think they weren't actually. That's right, no. No they were NOT committed in our GOOD name! Not a SINGLE crime that was committed by those criminals was committed "in our good Serbian name"! THANK you very much!

    All crimes that were committed by Bosnian Serbs, Croatian Serbs or Serbian Serbs were committed by MANIAKS, even DRUNKS, or just all-round CRIMINALS whose crimes don't deserve to be dignified with our good name; the people who committed these crimes don't deserve to be called our "Serbian brothers".

    (There is ample evidence that many crimes committed by Bosnian Serb troops were committed in a state of drunkenness. NOT that it subtracts from the seriousness of the crimes committed; merely explains what kind of state many of these criminals were in when they did what they did.)

    And what about the fact that Ratko Mladić treated Srebrenica, where he committed an internationally recognised genocide against the Bosniaks, as a "gift to the Serbian people"? Well you know what they say about gifts, you don't have to accept them. And you can guess what I think. I don't accept the town of Srebrenica or her villages around her, and I'm sure that there are many other Serbs who think exactly the same way as me.

    But what is important to consider, and this is hardly ever suggested, is how Milošević didn't even have the moral courage, since he obviously knew he was gonna stay in the Hague, to explain why he did all the things he did. Why he deceived his people; led his people into wars; gambled with his people's lives; and all the while, supporting nationalist forces that were victimising other people? Why? Why didn't he just come clean and confess to the people of the Balkans, instead of repeat the same lies at court he used to keep his citizens back home in Serbia in the dark?

    Who knows? Maybe he did want to come clean at the end of the trial, at the verdict stage perhaps. But then again, since it was alleged that he was taking improper medicine deliberatly to undermine the effects of the drugs supplied to him by the Hague - even the Hague was accused of poisoning him! - maybe he really couldn't have cared less.

    Glad I've disowned him!

    Tuesday, 18 December 2007

    Boris Tadić is brilliant!!!

    Boris Tadić
    Yesterday I watched an interview with Serbian President Boris Tadić (in the picture) on Serbian state television, Radio Television Serbia. And watching the interview gave me another chance to see what a brilliant man he is. Brilliant in the way he composes himself, brilliant in the answers he gives, all round brilliant for Serbia.

    During the interview, he makes references to many issues obviously dealing with his country Serbia of which he is head of state and similar/relevant ones as well, and he also describes the conversations he had with many other politicians and their opinions. So much knowledge and political savvy, which is precisely what you'd expect from someone in his position. He is just a remarkably intelligent man. And being all of that, he is an inspiration to me, and I'm proud that he is one of us Serbs. Hey, I could even call him a modern-day Serbian symbol!

    There will be a presidential election in Serbia early next year (there was a general election early this year). And I know that with being a self-proclaimed Anarchist I don't believe in voting other people in and thus allowing them to make decisions for your lives, and of course, I won't be voting (besides, I can't; I ain't a citizen of Serbia, let alone registered on the electoral roll!). But I've got to say when it comes to him, I wouldn't mind hearing Boris Tadić being called "President of Serbia" for another four years to come.

    Here you can watch it online hosted by RTS website. The interview is in Serbian, or as I like to call it, Serbo-Croat! :-P

    Friday, 14 December 2007

    My comments to other blogs!

    I think I should catalogue all the comments I've made to other blogs. So here they are, and I shall be updating this page regularly.

    I shall arrange them in years and try to arrange them in order of the time of year they were posted in and as a list of blogs I've contributed to:

    Note: As this page is devoted to comments I make at other blogs, it does not, as a rule, list comments I write on this my own blog!

    By Year:



    ============================================================

    2007

    1. One of my earliest comments went to the Neretva River blog, which you can only access these days if you're invited! AAAAAAGGHHH!!!

      The blog is run by a man named Kris, who has commented regularly on the current affairs of the Former Yugoslavia for quite a long time there.


    2. Another of my earliest comments is found under this article about nationalism, politics and stereotypes at the Anegdote blog run by fellow Serb Dejan in America. You'll find my comment under "Alan" there.


    3. I added a comment to this article about Serbia's victory in the Eurovision song contest this year. The blog post is by my namesake Alan Kočević, who writes how offensive the three finger salute is on his GENOCIDE IN BOSNIA blog. He comes from Srebrenica, and his very grandfather perished in that awful atrocity. He lives in Sweden today.


    4. I added a comment to this article on the Americans For Bosnia blog run by Kirk Johnson. In that post, and in a series of of related posts, he extensively criticizes a book revising the recent history of the break-up of Yugoslavia. My comment there was a response to a rather insensitive and reckless comment above. Sorry guys, but I don't pull any punches when it comes to certain issues.


    5. On the Belgrade 2.0 blog, I added a comment here to their article about the Gorski Vijenac movie (under "Alan") in early June, and here regarding the death of Belgrade mayor Nenad Bogdanović (under "Alan Jaksic") at the end of September.


    6. Global Voices contributer Veronica Khokhlova mentioned my post about my trip to Gračac in this post. As you will see, I left a comment under that post since I was pleased that someone mentioned my blog like that somewhere for all to see. The contributer has since mentioned other posts I've written here on my blog on Global Voices Online. Hey, I enjoy the attention my blog receives on the net!


    7. When looking at the details of my Sitemeter account one day, I found that one visitor came to my site from Molly'sBlog. And so, I added a comment here to which MollyMew, a.k.a. Pat Murtagh who runs the blog, replied to.


    8. On the LimbicNutrition Weblog run by Jonathan Davis, I added a comment to his blog post about Michael Palin's programme on Serbia in his series of trips around Eastern Europe for the BBC, including new EU member states and aspiring ones, called Michael Palin's New Europe.

      I watched the series in question, and was never failed by his poor pronunciation of foreign names and words!


    9. At the famous Balkan Baby blog run by Ed Alexander, who lived in Zagreb for two years and has travelled widely around the former Yugoslavia and speaks our language very well. I added a comment here in his artcle about Zagreb, two here, and a number of comments here in his article about Belgrade.

      Here where I got into a spot of bother, unfortunately, engaging in polemics about the Serbo-Croat language and whether Serbian and Croatian is one language or not! Ed later wrote this article concerning the language issue, to which I also added a few comments.


    10. I responed to this article on the Albanian Reality Check blog by an American with pro-Albanian sympathies about right-wing Conservatives in America being somewhat pro-Serb and Anti-Abanian.

      The writer even responded to my comment to his post with an entire blog post of his own! What an honour! I added a comment to that post too.


    11. I added two comments to this post from the BOB FROM BROCKLEY run by a guy called Bob from Brockley! I realised that he transcribed the list of blogs beginning with "B", where you will find my blog mentioned, from this post from Molly'sBlog (mentioned above), where I also added a comment.


    12. Under this blog post about Kosovo on the Bosnia Vault blog run by Shaina, I introduced myself (shameless advertising!) and added a link to my article concerning Kosovo and a link to another article of mine about my people, the Croatian Serbs.


    13. At the famous Srebrenica Genocide blog run by a Bosniak calling himself "Daniel" in Canada, I posted my comment to an article looking at a Serbian newspaper falsely representing certain mass grave photographs.

      I had been meaning to write to the editor of that blog for some time. So I found the opportunity then!

      I also commented on this article about a Srebrenica Genocide denier.

    Altogether, I left 47 comments on other people's blogs in 2007. This number, however, does not include the 3 deleted comments (I deleted them!) in this Balkan Baby post, and the circa 3 comments I posted to the Neretva River Blog. I cannot access those comments I made to that blog, since I'm not one of those "elite" individuals invited to read it!

    2008

    1. Started the new year of comments by wishing a fellow blogger (namely Bob from Brockley mentioned above in "2007") a happy new one! Afterall, I had to return the favour! ;-)


    2. I notified Ed at Balkan Baby mentioned above, about a mistake in his article on Carla Del Ponte. The mistake was with regards to one of the people the Hague tribunal convicted for persecution during the war in Croatia. I also added a self-correction too! I then added a couple of responses to two anti-Serb comments, and later I responded to a much nicer comment.

      I added one more explaining my opinion on a particular issue. And I answered another commentator four times who was questioning me regarding this post I wrote at this blog. This makes 10 comments under one post!


    3. I added my comment here to Belgrade 2.0 regarding rumours of George Clooney and Sharon Stone organising a protest against a unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo.

      I wrote about this issue here after news of it came out, and here after it turned out to be false.


    4. At the 'Scuse my French... blog, I added a comment notifying other commentators that rumours of George Clooney & co. organising a protest against Kosovo's independence were not true. I had to add another comment to remind people of that, 'cause it looked like it didn't sink in!


    5. I left two comments at the Bosnia Vault regarding Bosnian Serb Savo Heleta and reconciliation.


    6. Left my comment here at Belgrade 2.0 with links to two of my 2008 Presidential Elections pages.


    7. Left a long comment at the Anegdote blog at this page and a shorter one here commenting on the picture.


    8. At the Reluctant Dragon blog edited by a guy called Marko in Belgrade, I left an approval under this post.


    9. I responded to a writer/commentator at Global Voices online about recent history regarding Kosovo.


    10. Again at Balkan Baby, two comments about Kosovo Serbs and Dr. Vojislav Koštunica.


    11. I left another comment at Global Voices Online under a about my recent on Kosovo, following the unilateral declaration of independence by its Albanian leaders.


    12. Left three comments at the Srebrenica Genocide Blog: the first one expressing my disagreement with the blog's editor's interpretations of the violence in Belgrade in response to Kosovo's declaration and other historical and contemporary issues; the second one in response to the editor's response to my comment; and the third one to another commentator.


    13. A Greek Anarchist blogger called Katsigaros left a comment at my blog here, and I replied to him at his blog under this article on CO2 emissions along with help on HTML!


    14. I left two comments under this blog post on Arti i te Jetuarit, an Albanian blog by an Albanian woman called Alidea in Albania. She left a comment under this Kosovo article of mine. So being the gentlemen that I am, I knew I had to reply! :-)


    15. Showed my support for the female candidate for Belgrade mayor at Belgrade 2.0.


    16. Replied to blogger Milan from Subotica on his Suicide city blog here after I noticed that he posted a comment under this post of mine.


    17. Left a comical/sarcastic comment on fellow Gračac woman Dragana's blog.


    18. This article on the Srebrenica Genocide blog reports how a group on Facebook called NOZ ZICA SREBRENICA, which was glorifying the murder of Bosnian Muslims and other Muslims, was shut down by Facebook's administrators. After reading about it, and since I have my own Facebook account, I joined the CLOSE GROUP NOZ ZICA SREBRENICA group, which helped get rid of the first such group, to report to Facebook the second such group that has again appeared on the social networking site.


    19. I left a comment in answer to Sarah Franco, the editor of the Café Turco blog, on the Srebrenica Genocide blog.

    Altogether, I left 35 comments on other people's blogs.

    2009

    1. I expressed my condolences to the late Dr. Nedret Mujkanović and his family on the Srebrenica Genocide blog. His death was suicide (he hung himself), and his wife Jasminka found his lifeless body, which struck a chord in me.


    2. I left two more comments in response to two previous comments on the same page on the Srebrenica Genocide blog I had previously left a comment on last year, and then I left two more responses.

    5 comments for that year.

    2010

    1. I left a comment at the BETWEEN THE WORLDS blog, under a post regarding freedom of speech versus spreading hate speech.


    2. On my Sitemeter, I noticed that someone entered my site from this blog post on the The Last Psychiatrist blog. Someone was criticising someone for "soiling" (!) Anarchism as a brand, calling upon that person to "make sense" when discussing Anarchism, ending his comment with a link to this blog. So of course, I left a comment of gratitude to that person, with the hope of seeing comments by himself very soon!

      Someone later replied to that comment of mine, prompting me to give another response!


    3. I found Rastko Pocesta's blog L'Infinie vie. He is a young advocate for human rights in Serbia, who has received attention for his pro-Western views but also for having to put up with Serb nationalists' threats. And I added a lengthy comment on this blog post in response to his "Ja sam SRBIN, ali..." points. (Unfortunately, that blog post has been removed by the author! My mistake; it's still there!)


    4. I added a comment of condolence for the late Biljana Kovačević - Vučo on Rastko Pocesta's blog post in her memory.


    5. Commended a good article by American lawyer Mark Vlasic about Slobodan Milošević, against whom he helped prepare the prosecution's case at The Hague Tribunal, on the Srebrenica Genocide blog here.


    6. Had a frank discussion with Daniel at the Srebrenica Genocide blog, regarding Serbo-Bosniak relations, Ottoman history, and finally forgiveness! 4 comments by myself.


    7. Again at Srebrenica Genocide blog, I conveyed my appreciation for Daniel's consideration for myself and other Serbs.


    8. I found a blog that has quoted an extract of my article Being a British Serb - living in contrariety. The blog is called Serbia’s Ambassador To The World run by Karl Haudbourg, and you can find my comment here, where you can also see that my article has received 4 "tweets" on twitter! Way to go!


    9. My take on Daniel's comment here.


    10. On Radio Slobodna Evropa's website ('Radio Free Europe' in Serbo-Croat), I found out that Rastko Pocesta, the young Serbian human rights activist mentioned above, took part in the 2010 Srebrenica Peace March, commemorating the flight of Bosniak Muslim men from the former UN-protected zone in 1995. Due to his young age, only 12, he was accompanied by the president of Women in Black ('Žene u crnom'), a Serbian anti-war organisation that actively opposed Slobodan Milošević's criminal régime. Since the article is in Serbo-Croat, I offered my support to the young man in our language (see in the comments section under the article).

    14 comments so far.

    2011

    1. Left a humorous recommendation to a blog post from the previous year about a former Serbian minister of health at Belgraded.com.


    2. Commented on an article about the nature of the Bosnia war at Politics, Re-Spun by fellow Anarchist Jasmin Mujanović from Bosnia now living in Canada.


    3. Commented on an article about Srebrenica and the Bosnian war by Hassaan, originally from Pakistan, currently living in Slovenia.


    4. Commented via my Facebook account on an article about Serbian nationalism at Global Post, and how it creates followers among Serbia's disaffected youth.


    5. Responded to an intense response — or polemic — to my article I'm a Croatian Serb! on the General Mihailovich blog.


    6. Added my comment of commendation under a very good article about Belgrade's upcoming Pride Parade and LGBT issues in Serbia on the W!LD RooDTeR blog, run by communications consultant Marcus Agar.


    7. Left a comment on a post about my blog on a3yo, a blog with news on Anarchism in Eastern Europe.

    12 comment so far.

    Be sure to visit this page often, as the list will grow!

    Thursday, 6 December 2007

    In limbo, and yet dedicated to my people

    Ok. This post I write with regards to my people, the Croatian Serbs, what they went through during the war, what has been established as fact by others about the war, and how all of that affects people. This is a long blog post, so get something warm to drink while reading this!

    I've been on the Gračac forum a lot lately, which you can visit by clicking on it in the Links section on the left. Thanks to that forum, I get to socialise with people from my hometown and the surroundings thereof. It's become rather addictive; I find myself on that forum every day! Going through the new posts made by my fellow members, fellow Gračac folk, of course! Hey, they're my people, and if there was no war, I would have seen and known many of these people long ago.

    But, I have recently found myself in a state of limbo, hence the title of this piece. And it's to do with the war that has seen my people dispersed throughout the world, though particularly concentrated in neighbouring Serbia. You see, I was sharing with them what has been proven by institutions like the Hague tribunal and individuals who fought against Milošević, ie. Milošević started the process of Yugoslavia's break-up in Kosovo. Along with that, while discussing the war, I told them how he openly advocated the preservation of Yugoslavia, while covertly he supported nationalists (Serbian ones, of course) in Bosnia and Croatia who very openly advocated that areas with a Serbian majority in those countries join Serbia and form an enlarged Serbian state denounced by the Western and local media with the name "Greater Serbia". I even shared with them views that many Croats hold about the war in their country.

    A lot of my fellow Serbs who regularly participate on the forum are not happy about my views one bit. Some are very visibly upset that their fellow Serb, from their region, could think like that after all what they went through during the war. They are, of course, very well aware that I didn't live through what they did.

    You see, it is very difficult to share such widely accepted facts with my people (facts that have openly been proven in the Hague, for instance), and pretty much impossible for them to accept them, because these facts in many ways conflict with what they personally and actually experienced at the time. I have noticed this when discussing with them, and I shall share with you just what they experienced.

    And before any of you start having problems with me sticking up for my people, I just want to say, yes it is true. Milan Martić and Milan Babić, the leaders of the short-lived breakaway "Republika Srpska Krajina", led my people into war, betrayed my people and caused a lot of harm along the way to Croats. They've both been punished for what they did, both have received more than a decade in jail sentence (Martić three and a half decades; Babić 13 years though only served two of them since he killed himself). And most of all, I despise what they've done to MY people, THEIR people!!!

    Martić and Babić are guilty, that is all true and I don't make excuses for them. Bear in mind though that Babić at least confessed his crimes, and probably because of that got a shorter sentence than his partner in crime. I do think that they also bear at least some responsibility - but not complete - for why the majority of my people don't live in their towns and villages across Croatia as they used to do before, but rather elsewhere in the world, particularly in Serbia. However, in my book and in many others', the prime culprits for the exoduses I shall discuss later, are the governments of Zagreb and Belgrade at that time.

    However, and this is a BIG HOWEVER, the problem is my people didn't experience the war in that way, the way that I have explained above which the Hague tribunal has established. They also remember what happened from 1990 to 1995 in a much different way than what the Croatian state and media claim and have claimed for the past 16 years.

    The Croatian side claims how their country, and as a result their nation, was a victim of "aggression", namely from Serbia, and that the land that was part of the "Republika Srpska Krajina" constituted "occupied territories". The Serbs who lived in that Krajina, my people, don't agree with those two terms and are in fact offended by them. Even I disagree with the usage of the words "aggression/aggressors" and "occupied territory/ies". I particularly resent the word "occupied" being used for areas like Gračac, whose majority Serbian populations at least democratically chose, for right or wrong reasons, to be part of that Krajina. Not to mention how the Serbs who specifically fought in the army of the "Republika Srpska Krajina" can't be called "aggressors". Yes, they fought against Croatia and some of the members of that army did indeed commit war crimes. But still, you just can't say that they fought against their towns and villages; and of course, they did not invade their hometowns and villages. And I stand by that.

    You really have to put yourself in my poeple's shoes, and try to imagine yourself being subjected to the kind of circumstances and influences they were subjected to at that time. It's really no good doing what the Croatian media encourages Croats to do, which is to just assume they were "aggressors" occupying "their" land, as if majority Serbian towns like mine and others are the personal possession of every Croat under the sun. How ridiculous! And another thing, you really have to remember the Second World War.

    You know that World War Two started in 1939, right? Well, it came to Yugoslavia in 1941. And to cut an even longer story short, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia capitulated to the Axis powers and was divided up. And upon the territory of modern-day Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Srem in Serbia was established the notorious "Independent State of Croatia" ("Nezavisna Država Hrvatska"), a puppet state run by the "Ustaše", which had as its goal to rid the territory it had authority over of "undersirables" like Jews and Roma like Germany - BUT, more importantly for this fascist Croatian state was to eradicate one group in partcular, Serbs. And considering how 1.9 million of them were located within this "Independent State of Croatia", the Ustaše could take their pick and treat my people like fair game to butcher and slaughter any way they like. And while Germany ran Auschwitz in Poland, this Croatia had Jasenovac, a death camp within its own territory. The number of victims in that camp has been in despute, and is beyond the scope of this article. Research in the 1980s suggests that the number of all Serbian lives the Ustaše are responsible for taking could be anything from 200,000 to over 300,000 people, of course covering the entire territory of the fascist "Independent State of Croatia".

    In the face of all this apocalypse and tragedy, my people managed to survive, rebuild their lives in Marshal Tito's Yugoslavia, and build a better future for their families, which is why I am here writing this post to you.

    Therefore, bear in mind what happened to the Croatian Serbs, and other Serbs whose towns and villages were so unlucky to fall under the jurisdiction of that fascist puppet state during the Second World War, when dealing with this recent war in Croatia.

    Another thing I notice is this anti-Western sentiment among Croatian Serbs, which you'll find among many other Serbs as well, since much of Western foreign policy during the nineties was indeed geared towards undermining Slobodan Milošević's régime, not to mention how the Western media condemned and disparaged the Serbian nationalist régime in Bosnia that established the Republika Srpska.

    You have to remember that they were pretty much cut off from the outside world. No state in the world recognised this short-lived state of Krajina, and even Serbia which supported the breakaway republic was isolated from the world, sanctions and embargos galore. But while Serbia was an isolated "pariah" state, the Croatian Serbs' isolation had an "on the edge of survival" characteristic.

    The Serbs living in the Krajina were never sure of what was going to happen to them, and ever since the war you'll find many of them always thinking how as they often say "centres of power" are controlling what is happening in the politica sphere. This sounds very much like a conspiracy theory. However, I hope you don't find this too bizarre, because this idea of "outside forces" deciding the fate of millions beneath them is precisely based on what they actually experienced. You see, as the war unfolded, my people who found themselves with that short-lived breakaway state, depended their very survival (which sounds over the top, but really isn't) on: one, the army of the "Republika Srpska Krajina" since they were fighting against Tuđman and in turn Croatia; two, on their leaders in Knin, the convicted Martić and Babić; and three, they also looked to Belgrade, because Milošević was an important influence upon the two leaders of the Krajina, not to mention party to the war.

    And so, they depended on their leaders, who in the end betrayed them so humiliatingly. And in turn, there must be some other leaders who are also to blame! With regards to the major source of Croatian Serbs' anti-Western sentiment, it is very well known that the United States did of course support Croatia military. In fact, it was the Americans who gave Zagreb the "green light" to carry out "Operation Oluja", which led to the exodus of my people from Krajina that I explain below. And therefore, it is not hard to understand why Croatian Serbs, after all that's happened to them, blame the West in some way for what happened to them during the war.


    ======================================================================

    As to the causes of the war, according to many of my fellow Croatian Serbs - and it must be said that Serbian politicians with often dodgy reputations like Borisav Jović often repeat this claim - what caused the conflict in Croatia was the change - or at least perceived change - in their people's status in the country's constitution. They've maintained this position for all these years. According to the constitution from 1974 till 1990, Croatia was officially:


    "the state of the Croatian people, the state of the Serbian people in
    Croatia and the state of all nationalities that reside in her".

    My people in Croatia considered themselves a "constitutional people" based on this constitution, and they felt it was very important for them to be a "constitutional people", because, based on their war effort against fascism during the Second World War, especially against the home-grown Croatian fascism, it was only right in the name of all the Serbian victims of fascism and the genocide Croatian fascism wrought on them for them to be a "constitutional people". What also came with being a "constitutional people" as written in the constitution was that Croatia was a binational state, the state of both the Croatian people and Serbian people in Croatia, something that provided the Serbs of Croatia with a sense of security after the nightmarish ordeal they had survived. Mind you, even in Austro-Hungarian times, my people in modern-day Croatia had certain privileges.

    That wording you see above was changed in 1990 by Croatian assembly with Franjo Tuđman as the country's president into:


    "…The Republic of Croatia establishes itself as a national state of the Croatian people and a state of those people and minorities who are her citizens…"

    This paragraph in the constitution, believe it or not, goes on to mention the various nations - including my Serbian people - to whom are guaranteed "equality with citizens of Croatian nationality" and the "realization of national rights".

    Let's look at the changed wording in full:


    "…The Republic of Croatia establishes itself as a national state of the Croatian
    people and a state of those peoples and minorities who are her citizens: of the Serbs, Muslims, Slovenes, Czechs, Slovaks, Italians, Hungarians, Jews, and of others, to whom are guaranteed equality with citizens of Croatian nationality and the realization of national rights in accordance with democratic norms of the UN and countries of the free world."

    With all that is said of how my people's status was demoted in Croatia's constitution, I have to say how the change of wording as I and anyone else can see it is not in the least bit offensive.

    However, I remind you once again that I am speaking as a Serb who didn't live through Croatia's secession and the ensuing war like my people did. Of course, I am saying this as someone looking in from the outside, not to mention from an historical distance.

    I can understand that this perceived change in status alarmed a lot of Serbs in the country, considering the security they felt being a "constitutional people" in Croatia. Even our people's more moderate representatives at the time saw this as a major provocation at the expense of the Serbian people in Croatia, because they saw Croatia as a binational state of both the Croatian people and Serbian people in Croatia, a status awarded to them for their effort in liberating Croatia.

    It must be noted that many of my fellow Serbs in Croatia and elsewhere just did not like the idea of being a "minority in their own country". But also because it was Franjo Tuđman's government that made this change that compounded this state of alarm among us Serbs, since he was very unpopular for his nationalistic rhetoric and his views on certain issues that affected us.


    ======================================================================

    And so, the state that was established to protect the Serbian people, the "Republika Srpska Krajina", from the kind of Croatian fascists my people were victims of during World War Two (Ustaše), was defeated by Croatia's army in 1995. What wasn't brought under Croatia's control that year was later peacefully re-integrated in 1997. But what happened in 1995 has also been disputed between Serbs and Croats.

    Basically, as you already know, the Croatian army mounted the military campaign named "Operation Oluja", "oluja" being the Serbo-Croatian word for "storm". And as you may know, Croats see this as their ultimate victory over the Serbian Chetnik "occupiers/aggressors", and what not. Prior to "Oluja", there was "Operation Bljesak", "bljesak" meaning "lightning", and this is also considered a victory over these same "bad guys", "baddies". And as you will also know, both actions resulted in widescale exoduses of the Serbian population from those parts of modern-day Croatia that were under "Republika Srpska Krajina" beforehand. With "Bljesak" came the flight of about 30,000 Serbs, while with "Oluja" came the exodus of around 200,000 Serbs from the fallen Krajina. My numerous family members and their fellow townspeople and villagers were victims of this "Oluja".

    I have mentioned this in my blog before and I shall mention this again. The Croatian state denies and continues to deny all responsibility for the resulting exodus of my people during "Oluja", and dare I say how the media of that country follows suit. Instead, they primarily blame the Krajina authorities for "evacuating" the Serbs under their authority; they lay responsibility upon the leaders of the fallen Krajina for having "ordered" the Serbs under their authority not to stay in their homes should the Croatian army take control of territory under this breakaway state, and for having "informed" the populace prior to "Oluja" through their media of which routes to take!

    This is all very confusing for anyone who was either not personally involved in what happened or is just not very familiar with the historical background! Not to mention how all of this is very contradictory - hey, not the first time when it comes to the histories of the Balkan peoples, I can tell you that for sure!

    So we're dealing with a humanitarian catastrophe which happened at the same time as what Croats believe was an act of "liberation". We know that many crimes were committed by Croatian troops upon Serbian civilians who chose to stay back and not leave with their fellow Serbs (mainly the older people). We also know that Croatian troops even harrassed Serbs assembled in those very columns that stretched for miles leading into Bosnia destined for Serbia. Around 200,000 Serbs fled the fallen Krajina through Bosnia into Serbia, and yet according to many Croats, these Serbs just "voluntarily" left.

    Without having to guess, you can see that Croatian Serbs who lived through the exodus that coincided with "Oluja" are understandably offended by what the Croatian media and politicians claim, ie. the Croatian side of the story, with regards to this military action. However, you must understand why many Croats are so insensitive to the plight of Serbs.

    As you know, Milan Martić and Milan Babić are convicted war criminals. And during their leadership of the short-lived Krajina, they committed war crimes against Croatian civilians, crimes that include ethnic cleansing, specifically mass expulsions of Croatian civilians from their towns and villages numbering over 100,000 people in 1991, at the very beginning of the conflict. Therefore, I don't have to explain much for you to already notice why many Croats are not in the least concerned by the exodus of Serbs - my people - during "Oluja" and the exodus before during "Bljesak".

    All this, of course, makes reconciliation between Serbs and Croats from Croatia very difficult, not least because they don't even agree with what happened! But you must also remember that many Croats also consider Croatian Serbs collectively as "traitors" to their (Croats') beautiful homeland for all the war crimes committed under Martić and Babić, let alone for choosing to break away from Croatia, which they did democratically. And this adds to the contempt many Croats have for Serbs and for what they went through during the war, and thus makes reconciliation even more difficult.


    ======================================================================

    The main problem you'll find between communities that have been at war against one another, as you've noticed from what you've read above, is obviously that they don't look at how the other side feels; they don't try to put themselves into their shoes. Many people may not want to reconcile with their former foe. And you know what? That's fine. In my opinion, such people should try to keep their hatred to themselves, live with it if they can. But most importantly for them to bear in mind: one, do nothing to realise their hatred; and two, leave us who want to live in peace with our neighbours, who want peace between our communities, alone.

    Many Serbs don't want to see things from the Croatian point of view, just like Croats don't want to see things from the Serbian point of view. But you know what, and let's be fair on them. They don't particularly have to. Besides, you must remember that many of my fellow Serbs from Gračac and across the fallen Krajina have lost friends and family during the last war, and if you were to explain to them that their side committed crimes against the other side, you may get wrongly accused of "feeling sorry for the other side" in opposition to their side, ie. siding with the enemy. And if you're a Serb like me, and a Croatian one at that, suggesting to Croatian Serbs that Milošević is more responsible for the break-up of Yugoslavia than Croatian separatists like Tuđman could make you very unpopular, even make people consider you "treatcherous"!

    And so, without repeating things too much, people who were personally victimised by a certain side are not likely to sympathize with the victims from that side and vice versa. And this is so true for both the Croatian and Serbian peoples who lived through this war. Considering which, you can guess what it's like for Bosnia's three main ethnic communities.


    ======================================================================

    However, many Serbs, in this case Serbs in general, find it very difficult to believe - believe it or not - that members of their own people could bear so much responsibility for much of what happened during the 90s. Hence, why the Hague was very unpopular among many Serbs for a very long time and still is among right-wing sections of the public. And it's also the classical cliché of the mother who can't believe that her son, her sweet little baby boy she brought into the world and raised with love and care, could commit a crime like murder or rape.

    But there's another reason, and it's based on our history. We Serbs were many times the victims and collectively so, be it victims of the Ottoman Turks for over four hundred or of the Croatian Ustaše in the first half of the 20th century. That's not to say that even in those times members of our nation haven't victimised others, of course they have. But still, what our people went through during those times has left its own mark on our collective psyche.

    And it is this very psyche, the many times persecuted Serbian soul, that psychopathic individuals like Radovan Karadžić, who practically destroyed Bosnia's multicultural society - though not on his own, obviously - could manipulate by grossly influencing people to seek revenge against their neighbours for those evil deeds that were committed by members of those nations sometime against the Serbs in the Balkans' long and bitter past.

    This again is something we must learn from. People who've suffered like the Serbs have during history are very prone to seek revenge for the things that have happened to them in the past, in particular against those people whose members committed those actions in the first place. It is a very tragic example of what is often called the "viscious cycle of revenge".

    Considering which, thanks to Karadžić and the atrocities committed by his inferiors, now many Bosniaks want to avenge us Serbs for what happened to them during the 90s, which is something that deeply upsets me as a person and to some extent as a member of the Serbian people, and no doubt many other Serbs feel this way too. What's also sad is how these are people with whom we were not long ago actually developing a common Yugoslav identity before this dreadful conflict in Bosnia. And it's understandable that I feel this way, since nobody who is sensible and conscientious enough in this world would want whole nations to bear hostility towards their nation; nobody wants other people to hate their people.


    ======================================================================

    And so, I shall end this already very long blog post with this.

    If someone were to ask me how I felt about what my Serbs, the Croatian Serbs, went through during the first half of the 1990s, I would answer them by saying, "heartbroken". Heartbroken that those leaders who led my people have, thanks to their politics, contributed to the current situation my people are in, ie. not by their centuries-old "hearths" as we call our lands, but in Serbia and other parts of the world. And after all our grandparents and great-grandparents went through during the Second World War, the genocide committed by the Ustaše against their communities and families, my people certainly didn't deserve all this.

    They're MY people, and they shouldn't have gone through what they did. Many of them don't agree with my views and they have every right not to agree. And yet, being a Croatian Serb and having this blog which I write in an international language, I feel it necessarily to try and spread at least some awareness of the problems my people face. And I would also like people who are interested in the Balkans and/or concerned with the break-up of Yugoslavia and its aftermath to read my views about what my people, the Croatian Serbs, are going through on an online web log like this.

    So with this blog, I shall try to be my people's voice, be it "alternative", that I hope they will eventually understand (!), and when it comes to the crunch, should push come to shove, show their support for!

    EDITED: 14th FEBRUARY.