Wednesday, 30 November 2011


This morning, there was a march through the centre of Luton town and a gathering at the other end of the town centre. Members of a number of trade unions (or syndicates) participated in the march, and there were featured speeches at the gathering. Flags were waving, placards were held, whistles blowing, even some bagpipes playing, and workers' solidarity was there for all to see and hear. And I was there to offer my mere presence and support to their worthy cause and struggle!

I saw these unions represented by their placards and/or banners:

  • Unison (they brought those long banners and some held triangular ones)

  • UCU

  • Unite the Union (they brought their red banner with their name on it in white)

  • Coalition of Resistance

  • ATL (they brought their wide, yellow banner)

  • TUC (they pinned up a wide, pink poster saying "Pensions Justice" on it) [Corrected 2nd December 2011]

  • NUT (National Union of Teachers Luton branch brought their own wide, navy blue banner with a white dove holding a branch in its beak)

  • PCS

  • GMB

  • Luton Trade Union Council (recognised by a wide, red banner with their name on it in yellow)

  • NAPO (I saw a couple of them holding FDA leaflets).

I saw a long line of people arriving in the march (I was merely a spectator of that). The bagpipes mentioned above, plus drums and kilts, were all courtesy of the Luton Irish Forum, who were at the front of the march. I saw Gavin Shuker, the MP for the Luton South constituency, somewhere in the middle of the initial march (his speech was read out at the gathering). I saw three Socialist Workers placards there. And I saw one guy wearing a flourescent jacket with the Green party logo on (there were a few others wearing flourescent jackets, some with symbols of the unions mentioned above).

Based on my observation, I estimated about 200 people present at the gathering to hear the various speakers. The speeches were mainly about public sector cuts and how unfair they were on public sector workers, who were not responsible for the economic crisis we are in, yet could lose their jobs if the government gets its way. Also, there were speeches about teachers (who are particularly on strike today) and pensions ("It's not our fault we're living longer", to quote one of the speakers). A few Tory politicians' names were mentioned in a not so favourable context, one of them being George Osborne MP, "hiding in Brussels". And there was one poignant speech by a 68 year old trade union member, who said he was hoping to retire at 65 but couldn't, and certainly won't be able to under this "bloody government"! Not only that, he said was hoping that his four grandchildren would look after him in his old age, but with things the way are, it looks like he will have to provide for them instead!

The speeches finished at 12:50pm and the crowds started to slowly disperse from then on. Returning to the scene of the gathering, I found a white unite balloon on the ground, and took it home as a souvenir of the day (I just felt like it at that moment)!

Friday, 25 November 2011

21,000 Kosovo Serbs and counting seek Russian citizenship — an Anarchist perspective

Last week, we heard news that over 20,000 Serbs in Kosovo are seeking Russian citizenship (read here). This news has come about not long after recent clashes had occurred at the border posts between Serbia and Kosovo, which occurred after local Serbs in the mainly-Serb north of Kosovo had placed barricades in response to Priština's imposition of Kosovan state customs officers (read here). However, most of those Serbs applying to become Russian citizens live in various enclaves further south from the major clashes in the north (read here). Also, away from the border crossings, a shooting incident occurred between ethnic Serbs and Albanians in the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica (or simply Mitrovica), in which two Serbs got injured and a third got killed (read here).

As far as Serb nationalists are concerned, this is a painful reminder of how the Serbian people are losing their country bit by bit. And what adds fuel to their anger is how the government in Belgrade seems to be doing nothing about it. For me as an Anarchist Serb, however, I view this as a failure on the part of both states: a failure on the Serbian state, that its own citizens have lost faith in the country they recognise as their own to the extent that they're seeking another country's citizenship; and a failure on the Kosovan state, for not being able — or perhaps willing — to integrate these people, who still don't consider that region to be outside of Serbia, let alone recognise it as a separate country! And generally speaking, I see this as another failure of the whole concept of the nation state, another in a long list of failures and disasters stretching back to the 19th century as far as the Balkans are concerned, and especially over the course of the last 20 years in the former Yugoslavia.

Nation states are supposed to be states for one specific ethnic group, whose leaders and army will protect them within defined borders, even though many people within those borders do not belong to the ethnic group that that state is named after, and thus represents foremost. These people are considered ethnic minorities in relation to the majority population in such a state. And as it happens, all Balkan states have numerous ethnic minorities living within their borders.

However, wars have occurred when, in one country, one ethnic minority, led by hardline nationalists, seeks to unite their home region, in which they constitute the majority, with the neighbouring state that bears their ethnic name, which they see as their mother country. By uniting their homeland with their mother country, they would be increasing its borders, landmass and population, while "liberating" themselves from the state their homeland is already a part of, which they usually accuse of having treated them really badly in the past on the basis of their ethnicity! What I've just described to you is often regarded as "irredentism", of which there are many examples in Balkan history, and Kosovo is one of them.

But — and this is a BIG but — even in such regions, in which one ethnic minority actually constitutes the majority, there will also be ethnic minorities, who live there among the majority population of that particularly region in that country. And quite often the case will be that one of those ethnic minorities in such regions may actually constitute the majority population in that country as a whole! And it's precisely that ethnic minority that will demonstrate strong allegiance to the country their home region belongs to, even though they don't consititute the majority population in the region they live in!

In Kosovo, there have been ethnic tensions between the majority Albanians and minority Serbs for decades, tensions that not even the former Communist régime at the time could properly resolve, yet caused many Serbs to leave their homes in the autonomous province for central Serbia. Following Tito's death, Kosovo Albanian students lead huge protests calling for Kosovo's status to be raised to that of a republic within the Yugoslav federaton. Then came Milošević, who practically revoked the province's autonomy and made life very hard for the majority population in that province, to say the least. And in time, came a war which caused two waves of ethnic cleansing: the first wave was experienced by Albanians, and the second by Serbs and other non-Albanians; each wave being traumatic for either group(s). And let's not forget the smaller wave of ethnic cleansing that occurred during the 2004 pogrom against Kosovo Serbs in the full view of the then KFOR, which should've protected them. And finally, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 (which I wrote about back then here), and has since been recognised as an independent and sovereign state by well over 80 states around the world. Needless to say, Serbia has refused to recognise Kosovo's independence since its proclamation.


So have relations between Serbs and Albanians improved since independence? Well, I can't really answer that question, since I neither live there nor have I ever been there. Though from what I've heard, Serb and Albanian gangsters seem to be getting on really well there and have done so for years, despite Kosovo's political instability! (Read here)

In the sporting world, Kosovo Albanian sportspeople wish to showcase their sporting talents in internatonal competitions while representing Kosovo, though failing that, they may choose to represent Albania or another country — so long as it's not Serbia! (Read here)

Recently, we've had clashes at the border in the north, and now, there are 21,000 plus Kosovo Serbs, who wish to become citizens of Russia! This, in my Anarchist opinion, demonstrates a failure on the part of both the Serbian and Kosovan state, as explained above, but also as another example of the numerous failures that have come about due to the whole concept of the nation state, fuelled by ethnic nationalism. Nevertheless, nationalists under various banners will continue to justify the existence of their own native — or chosen — nation states, while dismissing others they bear a grudge against!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Commemorations in Varivode and Gošići, marking the 16th anniversary of the murder of Serb civilians following 'Oluja'

See the original article on eBritić.com in English and in Serbian
Yesterday, representatives of Croatia's ethnic Serb minority came to the Dalmatian villages of Varivode and Gošići to show their respect to the mainly elderly Serb victims, murdered by Croatian forces after 'Operation Storm' (Operacija Oluja). Nine Serb civilians of advanced years in Varivode lost their lives on 28th September 1995, while seven Serbs were killed in the village of Gošići on 27th August 1995. Like other unfortunate elderly people in nearby villages and elsewhere in the former Republika Srpska Krajina, they chose to stay behind in their homes during Oluja, instead of joining their relatives in the refugee columns fleeing Krajina, believing they would be spared on account of their age.

Slobodаn Uzelаc, ethnic Serb vice prime minister for regional development, reconstruction and return, said, “The names of those who were killing Serb civillians are not known, but their profiles are known and who they are.”

“They usually say, and incorrectly so, that Croatian Defenders (hrvatski branitelji) did this. Those people did not defend Croatia, instead they disgraced it, [by] committing a crime for political and personal reasons!”, asserted Uzelac.

Milorad Pupovac, leader of the largest Serb minority party serving the interests of that ethnic group in Croatia and president of the Serb national assembly (Srpsko narodno vijeće) in that country, explained that, “those guilty have neither been apprehended nor punished, because there was no desire for it. Nevertheless, there was time and a desire to focus on those who weren't guilty [of anything], only so they can hinder them from returning to their homes!”

“They were killed only a month and a half after Oluja”, Pupovac said in Varivode. “But 16 years later, those guilty are still not apprehended or punished, just like [nobody has been apprehended or punished] for the murders in Gošići, Mokropolje, Biskupija i Golubić (near Knin).”

He also highlighted that, “Remembrance of the victims of the war cannot be prevented, nor can anyone deny [someone else] the right to commemorate.”

Read more in Serbian/Croatian:
  • — Anonimnost i sloboda zločincima na dar
  • — Komemoracija pobijenim Srbima u Varivodama i Gošićima

  • Memorial to Serb victims in Varivode

    Monday, 26 September 2011

    Homophobia in the Balkans

    It is widely accepted as a given by a lot of people in today's world, that in every nation on Earth, regardless of ethnicity, religion or social class, there will always be some men and women who are born homosexual or bisexual, and some people born transgendered or intersexed. It has been established by many scientists in the last century (see here), and observed and speculated for many centuries before by Buddhist thinkers (see here), that these sexual orientations, gender identities and physical conditions collectively represent gender non-conformity among humans.

    Persecution of homosexual people has occurred on numerous occasions throughout human history, often religiously motivated, but also motivated by other ideals, such as national pride or racial supremacy. In the last one to two hundred years, however, understanding of the nature of homosexuality among humans has greatly increased, and its widespread presence in human societies and cultures has received greater acknowledgement in the field of anthropology and other sciences (see here). This scientific recognition, that homosexuality and other forms of gender non-conformity are inherently natural phenomena, has provided essential factual support for LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender) activism all over the world, helping to tackle homophobic prejudices and attitudes in various societies.

    One way of dealing with homophobia in society is to encourage more gay people to "come out of the closet" — or simply "come out" — by openly declaring themselves as "gay", "lesbian" or "bisexual". However, this can be a very difficult thing to do — if not extremely dangerous — depending on personal circumstances. Nevertheless, to encourage greater visibility for LGBT communities and its members, "gay pride parades" are organised in various cities in different countries around the world to gather as many gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans people and straight supporters in one place to show a united front against homophobia in a given society. But what gay pride marches or parades in countries like Serbia and Croatia have shown to have in common is the level of far-right counter-protest, whose participants arrive to create an unpleasant atmosphere — or a nasty scene — at such venues, and the level of police protection that has to be afforded to these manifestations to protect the participants of such gay pride events from excessive violence against them!

    Last year in October, there were 1000 marchers in a gay pride parade in Belgrade, not all of them gay or lesbian. But there also arrived 6000 far-right, anti-gay protestors to disrupt that parade and cause violence! A ratio of 1 to 6! And to prevent those 1000 threatened, gay pride marchers from being physically attacked by the 6000 strong, anti-gay counter-protestors, there had to be around 6000 armed policemen stationed in between them! And even that armed contingent didn't prevent anyone from getting hurt or any buildings from being vandalised. (Read here and here, and see pictures here.)

    But more recently in the Croatian city of Split this past June, the ratio between the gay pride marchers and anti-gay counter-protestors was even more stark. On the one hand, there were 300-400 peaceful marchers waving rainbow flags and holding placards promoting greater acceptance of homosexuals in society; on the other hand, there was a cordoned off crowd of an estimated 10,000 far-right, anti-gay counter-protestors, shouting homophobic abuse and even raising their arms to make the Nazi salute! A ratio of 3 or 4 to 100! (Read here in Croatian; read here and here in English.)

    In this article, I wish to discuss the homophobic attitudes that I have encountered while sharing company with other people from the former Yugoslavia, where I come from, and while surfing the net visiting various Serbian and Croatian sites and forums. Although these attitudes are not unique to the Balkans, they are, nevertheless, very prevalent over there and among members of diaspora communities in more liberal Western countries, that are more "gay-friendly" than their home countries.

    Scientifically natural, socially acceptable, or neither?

    Around the world, there is a revulsion among many heterosexual people towards homosexuality, particularly towards male homosexuality due to health and hygiene concerns regarding anal sex, even though this sexual activity is not exclusively practiced by gay male couples. This revulsion encourages the opinion that homosexuality is inherently "unnatural", i.e. not supposed to occur, or that it is a "disease", specifically a mental one, which can cause harm to one's general health. This opinion of it being a "disease", even an "incurable" one, is still very common among people in Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans, despite health organisations like the Serbian Medical Society (Srpsko lekarsko društvo) openly declaring in 2008 that homosexuality is NOT a disease (read here and here in Serbian).

    Having said that, many homophobes do acknowledge that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon, i.e. some people are naturally predisposed to it, but nevertheless, they don't accept it as something normal, i.e. proper or appropriate. Moreover, homosexuality is considered by many homophobes to be a form of "sexual deviance". As such, you will hear many comments from many people in Balkan countries who compare it to paedophilia, and even to necrophilia, both of which are without a doubt abhorrent. However, the intention behind equating homosexuality with these two paraphilias and others is to create a moral parallel between homosexuality and the various paraphilias as being "equally repulsive", both physically and morally.

    “No marriages for poufs or lezzas; no gays near my kids!”

    A lot of people around the Balkans are morally quite conservative (some even nationalistic), and culturally quite traditional (some particularly patriarchal). And even though being homosexual is not a criminal offence in any Balkan country anymore, there is huge opposition towards giving gay couples the right to officialise their relationship through marriage. Such equal treatment for gay marriages, setting it on a par with straight marriages, opponents believe would undermine the foundation of traditional marriage between a man and a woman for reproductive purposes.

    But more seriously, there is profound opposition towards allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children or have their own with the aid of surrogacy. Opponents believe that such a gay-friendly policy would go a step "too far", and would actually be highly "inappropriate" for children. In fact, many people think that gays should be kept away from children entirely, lest they "corrupt" them with their "immoral" lifestyle. Fot that reason, many parents actually would go as far as forbidding anyone, whom they knew was gay, from going anywhere near their children, even if it was a close relative, let alone their next-door neighbour! Therefore, it makes perfect sense to them that children should never be raised by gay or lesbian couples, as living with two fathers or two mothers constitutes an "improper" family setting for children to grow up in, which could "confuse" them in the long run. This fear that homosexuality can be "taught" or "spread" easily goes hand-in-hand with the strongly-held belief mentioned above that homosexuality is "unnatural" and/or a "disease". And the opinion that homosexuals should not be allowed around children can also go hand-in-hand with the belief that homosexuality is somehow "equal" to paedophilia.

    Zero-tolerance towards “provocative” homos in their midst

    A lot of heterosexual people in the Balkans are not homophobic at all; in fact, a lot of them do have gay friends and some even have gay relatives, whom they've accepted as such, instead of completely rejecting them. However, there are some straight people who are not actively homophobic as such, but rather passively so. For instance, they won't mind knowing that there are gay people living in close proximity to them, so long as they keep quiet about their "undesirable" sexual inclinations in public, i.e. they must always avoid discussing their love life and sex life with easily-offended straight people, who are "normal", and thus "acceptable", compared to them. This very common attitude among Serbs, Croats and others in the Balkans, is arguably more "moderate" compared to the more extreme views mentioned in this article.

    Therefore, what gets on the nerves of these easily-offended straight Serbs, Croats etc. is when gays rights activists in their countries organise events like the Pride Parade and are actively seeking equal rights with the majority straight population, which they consider a "provocation", i.e. an "affront" to the accepted norms of society. Being so irritated as they are by these "provocative" gays, they wonder what the whole point of holding such "gay parades" is, considering that they as straight people don't hold corresponding "straight parades". In their own words, these easily-offended heterosexuals resent what they feel as having the gay lifestyle "rammed down their throats"; they don't want to hear about what gays "get up to in bed" or otherwise do when they're together, and they certainly don't want their children being "exposed" to such discourse either! As far as they're concerned, gays should just put up and shut up; they should keep their "undesirable" habits to themselves, and leave "normal" straight people out of it!

    Suspicious foreign influence “promoting” homosexuality

    Apart from the conservative morality, there is a stong sense of nationalism among the various Balkan nations, as alluded to further above, that has risen to fever pitch since the collapse of Communism in Europe, and has lead to a number of wars throughout the former Yugoslavia during the '90s. Therefore, it's quite easy for xenophobic attitudes to find their appropriate place in this populistic, far-right milieu, especially in Serbia, which has experienced foreign intervention on its territory at the end of the '90s.

    With regards to gay rights issues specifically, the solidarity demonstrated by LGBT activists around the world, including those in Balkan countries, is perceived by far-right advocates and supporters in the Balkans as evidence of some kind of "concerted effort" by gays and other "sexual deviants" within a well-funded international "gay lobby" to infiltrate society, influence it to its detriment by "promoting" homosexuality as a natural and normal part of everyday life (something that they wholeheartedly reject), and even seeking equal rights with married straight couples, thus encouraging moral "decadence" and "degeneration" throughout society! (Read here (homophobic article) and here in Serbian.) But most "conclusive" of that suspicion of all, more so than those "provocative" gay rights activists within those various LGBT organisations active in Balkan countries, are: one, the human rights activists, who detail discrimination and attacks against LGBT people and speak up for their rights, as they are particularly suspected of being linked to and funded by liberal Western sources; and two, pro-EU liberal politicians in the region, who want their countries to follow the course of "Euro-Atlantic integration", who likewise defend gay rights activists' "freedom of expression" et al., and likewise are suspected of being linked to and funded by liberal Western sources themselves. Such support from human rights activists and pro-EU liberal politicians "confirms" the far-right's suspicion that there is detrimental foreign influence present in their countries, that "promotes" the toleration of "immorality" as something perfectly acceptable, and in so doing could undermine the fabric of society in their countries completely!

    “Brave” patriots versus gay “pussies”!

    It is well known that nationalism goes hand-in-hand with machismo, i.e. a sense of manliness. And given that there have been recent wars in the region, it's important for a man to be seen as a "true Serb" or "true Croat", who will be "brave" enough to fight for his people, i.e. be counted on to not let his people down should a conflict arise in the future. Therefore, being a "true Serb" or "true Croat" is equal to being a "true man". But for some reason, gay men are suspected of having no willingness to fight, and therefore considered "cowards", who can't be relied upon to fulfill vital patriotic duties. That's why, for a straight Serbian or Croatian man, to be considered "gay" by other men is like an "attack" on his manhood and personal pride. Any man who is considered "gay" is perceived to be not much of a man, and therefore not much of a Serb or Croat. So much so that to link "gayness" with one's highly-esteemed national identity is perceived as an "insult" to the nation's pride. Therefore, it's not surprising that websites with names like "Gay Serbia" (see here) are understandably offensive to anyone who considers himself a patriotic Serb! (There is a Croatian site that represents lesbians in Croatia called "CroL" (see here) . Perhaps patriotic Croats are likewise offended by that website's name?!)

    Apart from "provocative" pro-gay websites, it's not difficult to find homophobic graffiti, posters and stickers on the walls of many buildings, containing hostile messages like: „Marš Pederi iz Srbije!“ ("Poufs, get out of Serbia!"); or morbid ones like: „Beogradom krv će liti, gej parade neće biti!“ ("[Through] Belgrade blood will pour, the gay parade will not be [held]!"). Other than messages on walls, among the far-right, Nazi-saluting crowd of protestors that gathered round to intimidate the small number of marchers during Split's recent gay pride mentioned above, there was one particularly threatening taunt being jeered at them: „Ubij, ubij, ubij pedera!“ ("Kill, kill, kill the pouf!"). But what is more shocking than the messages that are seen and heard in the region is how a lot of ordinary straight people in those countries consider the violent counter-protestors as the "good guys" in these stories, rather than the LGBT marchers, who bravely venture out to openly express a fundamental part of their personal identity.

    Homophobic defense of the family and “sound reason”

    In both Serbia and Croatia and elsewhere in the Balkans, there are very vocal right-wing and far-right individuals and organisations, that spread anti-gay rhetoric and promote negative views of LGBT people. One constant accusation they make against LGBT activism is how its promotion of their "alternative lifestyle" somehow constitutes an "attack" on the family as a pillar of society. Clerics from both the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Croatia, and other right-wing organisations linked with them, have also voiced their religiously-inspired condemnation of homosexuality and gay marches, and have voiced their defence of the traditional family setting in the face of growing gay rights activism (read here in Serbian).

    You will also find that a lot of very homophobic, right-wing straight people in Balkan countries feel "under attack" or "discriminated against" for being "normal" by gays and those of a liberal persuasion (read here in Croatian). In fact, homophobic outbursts and rhetoric are widely commended by such people as "healthy" and "reasonable" reactions to the "sick" and "immoral" promotion of LGBT "propaganda" and gay-friendly liberalism that supports it! And to top it all off, they resent any liberal politician from parties supportive of joining the European Union, who is vocally sympathetic to gay rights and promotes tolerance of homosexuals and other "sexual minorities" in their countries, with the intent of encouraging their societies to be more tolerant of diversity, and thus increase their countries' eligibility to join the EU. Homophobia, therefore, represents a morally-righteous defense to save the nation's "sound reason" (zdrav razum in Serbian and Croatian) from pro-EU, pro-gay, politically correct liberalism in their countries!

    Not easy being a “sexual minority” in the Balkans

    LGBT individuals enjoy a lot of acceptance in Western countries, and enjoy a strong presence in Western media. LGBT individuals in Balkan countries, on the other hand, are widely ignored, ridiculed or even demonised by much of the heterosexual majority population, and thus lack a strong presence in those countries' media. If they wish to openly disclose their sexual identity regardless of who's listening, they have to be very brave and have a lot of very supportive friends and/or relatives for comfort and security. Otherwise, they have to guard that aspect of who they are with their lives, and constantly be careful of what they say in public, be it around close friends and family or strangers.

    Like much of life in the Balkans, politics permeates and divides people into two opposing camps: fervent nationalist currents against aspiring Euro-Atlantic integrationism. And the issue of homosexuality and LGBT rights likewise finds itself in this battle of ideas between right and left, that polarises Balkan society: between conservative nationalists (considered "primitives" by their opponents!), who play the homophobic card; and liberal pro-Europeans (considered "traitors" by their opponents!), who play the gay-friendly card! Nationalist and religious groups condemn left-leaning governments and organisations for sympathising with the "provocative" and "immoral" demands of "sexual minorities", when they could otherwise be dealing with far more "serious" issues(!); while pro-European and secular organisations condemn far-right groups for spreading homophobic intolerance branded "hate speech", that later leads to scenes of intimidation and violence branded "hate crimes". It is in this contentious political climate and tense social environment that LGBT people in Balkan countries find themselves, and without a doubt, it's not easy for them.

    Monday, 19 September 2011


    I'm an Anarchist, and I'm not particularly fond of state symbols. But I love this flag, which quite blatantly represents a thorn in the eye to all nationalist Croats and Serbs, who want to remain hateful of and separate from one another!

    Read more about this bold flag of friendship here (in Croatian) and here (in English).

    Wednesday, 14 September 2011

    Serbian support for Gaddafi? Why???

    First of all, let me say: LIBYA AL-HURRA!!!

    Like many people around the world, I am glad that the Libyan people are finally ridding themselves of over four decades of Gaddafi's dictatorial rule over them. Although the fight ain't over, and although I'm not keen on military interventions by alliances like NATO, at least the widely-feared mass slaughter of civilians by Gaddafi has been prevented.

    However, being a Serb, I've noticed that many of my fellow Serbs are not supportive of the Libyan rebels, but of the dictator that they're fighting against. This seemingly strange Serbian support for Gaddafi is very noticeable online, and on Facebook, you will find a group called Support for Muammar al Gaddafi from the people of Serbia, which numbers, as I'm writing this, almost 75,000 fans! And believe you me, there are many other Facebook groups similar to that one!

    The question, however, is why there is all this Serbian support for the now toppled Libyan dictator?

    Well in that above-mentioned group, they have slogans like "Podrška prijatelju!", or "Support to [our] friend!" Of course, like any popular Facebook group, they have pictures conveying their views. There is one picture with "SerbiaLybia" underneath a caricature of an impressive Gaddafi at the UN, with "Say 'NO' to Western Imperialism" at the top of it! And then there's another picture saying, "SUPPORT COLONEL! SERBIAN PEOPLE". What is more revealing about their support for Gaddafi is their utter contempt for various democratic activist organisations throughout Eastern Europe and beyond. They mock the "Otpor/Pora" symbols, used by various anti-government opposition groups in countries like Serbia, the Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, for their remarkable similarity to one another; as such, they perceive them all as being funded by a common Western source, or simply put, "paid by the West".

    But more pertinently, these Serbs see the bombing of Libya as being morally equal to the 78-day bombing of their country Serbia by NATO in 1999, in response to Milošević's own crackdown on Kosovo Albanian rebels. And it was during that time that Colonel Gaddafi himself, among very few around the world, voiced his personal opposition to that bombing campaign of Serbia by the Western alliance. Therefore, it's not surprising that such Serbs support Gaddafi, a dictator reviled by many in Libya and throughout the world, rather than the rebels, whom they believe are full of Islamists serving some sort of Western interest in the region.

    Some Serbs admire Gaddafi for being a friend of Yugoslavia's Marshall Tito, especially since many people from the then Communist Yugoslavia travelled to countries like Libya to work at numerous construction sites. Other Serbs are not so keen on Gaddafi because of his friendship with Tito, since they are of a more anti-Communist persuasion. But what both sets of Serbs agree upon, whether pro-Tito or anti-Tito, is their opposition to the West's intervention in the country's civil war on behalf of the rebels over there; they resented the West's intervention in the Yugoslav conflicts during the '90s, and likewise they resent this one in Northern Africa for the reasons shared above.

    Thursday, 25 August 2011

    A polemic against my article "I'm a Croatian Serb!"

    This is the polemic against my article I'm a Croatian Serb!, as posted in the Facebook group Ja Sam Iz Cetnicke Familije/I'm From a Chetnik Family by Dušan Ivančević. My quotes are in italics, while his responses are immediately below each:

    In regrds to the article "Croatian Serbs"

    “The identity of these Serbs has been forged by history and to a great extent by the politics of various rulers from different eras.”

    Is the author trying to say that the Krajina Serbs became just that because of history and politics? That they weren’t Serbs at some point in time?

    “Fundamentally, it is based on Orthodox Christian faith and culturally represented by numerous customs and traditions, many of them originating from Orthodoxy, while others vary upon region.”

    Can we assume that the author is saying that, Krajina Serbs are not really Serbs but they are of people who are primarily Orthodox? Notice how the name SERB was left out of the phrase Orthodox Christians.

    “My people are primarily descendants of Orthodox pastoral warriors (referred to by various names, including ‘Vlachs’, ‘Rascians’ and even ‘Illyrians’)”

    This statement confirms my questions regarding the author’s intent.

    “brought over and settled into the designated Vojna Krajina by the Catholic Habsburg Monarchy in order to repel further attacks and invasions by the MuslimOttoman Turks into central Europe. Our earliest recorded sightings in modern-day Croatia can be traced to the Middle ages, while our presence continued to grow since then thanks to multiple waves of Orthodox Slavs arriving from the Islamic Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries.”

    According to many ancient historians, Serbs were settled in Southern Lika and Northern Dalmatia long before the Croats came to those regions. The author is clearly saying that this was Croatian land that a Catholic Empire gave to the Serbs.

    “It was brought to Yugoslavia in 1941 with Nazi Germany’s invasion of the country, bringing with it fascist régimes like that of Ante Pavelić and his Ustaše, who committed a horrendous genocide upon Serbs and other non-Croats within their puppet-state known as the ‘Independent State of Croatia’.”

    The Germans did not bring the Ustaše. The Ustaše were already existent in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and were supported by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

    “Like the Nazis throughout Europe, the Ustaše also ran concentration camps within their puppet state, the most notorious one being the Jasenovac concentration camp, in which the death toll has been variously estimated between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands.”

    This statement glosses over the number of Ustaša victims which I would consider an open door for revisionists.

    “This apocalyptic war also divided Serbs into two rival camps: the communist, multi-ethnic Partisan movement, under the leadership of Marshall Tito, and the anti-communist, Serb-dominated Chetnik movement, formed out of the remnants of the Yugoslav Royal Army.”

    This is also incorrect. The Yugoslavian Army in the Homeland was far more multi-ethnic than the Partizan paramilitary which consisted of about 95% Serbs, while the remainder being the head of the CPY were Croatian. These percentages of Serbs vs. Croat in the Partizan paramilitary did not change until 1943, when Italy capitulated, and hordes of Ustaše, both Croatian and “Bosnian” massively began switching over to the Partizan side.

    “Both of these camps fought against the Ustaše, but also against each other, often pitting brother against brother, and even father against son. The war ended with the Partizans’ complete victory over German and Italian occupiers and over all rival forces in the country.”

    Not true. Very few battles were fought between Partizans and Ustaše and practically none with the Germans . The battles were almost entirely Partizans and Ustaše or Partizans and Nazis against Mihailovich’s forces. Furthermore, the Partizans did not achieve complete victory over German occupiers. The Red Army did. Italy capitulated in 1943 to the Allies, not the Partizan paramilitary.

    “I understand why Serbs and Croats talk, write and think in the conflicting ways they do. All this affects me very deeply as I am also a Serb from Croatia — or a ‘Croatian Serb’ — even though I don’t live there for most of the year.”

    I’ve yet to hear a combatant from Lika or Dalmatia from that war consider themselves Croatian Serbs.

    "The intention on the part of the ethnic Serb ‘rebels’ (as they were labelled by the Croatian media at the time, and still are today) was to either stay within the Yugoslav federation, or along with Serbia form a ‘Greater Serbia’, for which they received political and military support from Slobodan Milošević’s régime in Belgrade. A year earlier, ethnic Serbs showed their opposition to Croatia’s aspiration to seceed in protests that have been branded the ‘Log revolution’, for their use of timber to blockade roads connecting Serb-populated areas to the rest of Croatia. In relation to the outside world, the Republic of Croatia received international recognition, whereas Republika Srpska Krajina received none. Nevertheless, full-scale war erupted in August ’91, which brought about the displacement of over 100,000 Croats and other non-Serbs from their homes. This displacement, accompanied by destruction of property, violence and even murders of civilians, is considered an act of ‘ethnic cleansing’, as its aim was to remove ethnic Croats from the region. However, the Krajina-Serb authorities justified this act, claiming it was necessary for the “protection” and “security” of the ethnic Serb population in that same region. “

    In this entire paragraph there is not one mention of Croatian pogroms against Serbian civilians prior to the out brake of war.

    21 August at 06:44

    This is my response to his polemic reposted at the General Mihailovich blog:
    Alan Jakšić said...

    Dušane, thank you for taking the time to read my article about Serbs from modern-day Croatia or Croatian Serbs. About its two versions: I originally received a fair amount of stick for using the term "Croatian Serbs" in the original. So when the article got published in Britić, I intended to edit it as quickly as I could, so as to reduce the frequency of that disputed term therein.

    Just to clarify a few things: My article about Serbs from Croatia, or Croatian Serbs, is supposed to serve as an introduction to the issues that concern this population, to which I personally belong. It's not meant to be a in-depth, detailed look at our entire history and our customs.

    I understand your concern when you complain that, "…there is not one mention of Croatian pogroms against Serbian civilians prior to the outbreak of war", and that, "This statement glosses over the number of Ustaša victims which I would consider an open door for revisionists". But like I mention above, my article is merely an introduction with the aim to inspire further interest and research into issues that concerns Serbs in Lika, Dalmatia, etc. That's all.

    You criticise my use of the word "bring" in the sentence: "It was brought to Yugoslavia in 1941 with Nazi Germany’s invasion of the country, bringing with it fascist régimes like that of Ante Pavelić and his Ustaše…". However, I never in the slightest suggested that the Ustaše weren't already extant within Yugoslavia prior to the German invasion; just that the Nazis invaded and the Ustaša régime was established following their arrival. That's it.

    You also feel the need to correct me when you explain: "The Yugoslavian Army in the Homeland was far more multi-ethnic than the Partizan paramilitary…" However, I never suggested that the Yugoslav Royal Army was always Serb-dominated, and thus never multi-ethnic; just that it was Serb-dominated, which, by the end of the war, was certainly true. And I doubt that you will doubt that!

    Nevertheless, if you feel the need to comment about any article on my blog, feel free to leave a comment at my Balkan Anarchist blog, so I can respond to you quicker.


    Wednesday, August 24, 2011 12:37:00 PM


    My article was shared on that same Facebook group on 20th August, 19:30. You can read various comments by some of its members, some slightly positive, while others rather negative. The main criticism being the term "Croatian Serb" itself (discussed previously here), while another commentator branded me an "anti-C[h]etnik" and warned other Serbs to not allow "those who want to make fools of us by trying to cause infighting amongst ourselves".

    Like they say, you can't please everyone all the time!

    To read my amended Britić article mentioned above, click here: Being a Serb from modern-day Croatia

    Friday, 19 August 2011


    Here is a parade of BEAUTIFUL BALKAN PEOPLE — specifically the womenfolk among them — as seen on YouTube!

    Starting with my own people…




    MONTENEGRINS (There are many in Montenegro who don't identify as Serbs; however, to see those who do, please refer to the above video SERBS):

    SLOVENIANS (Many of them don't consider themselves to be a Balkan nation, but I added them just so they wouldn't feel left out of this beauty parade!):

    MACEDONIANS (There are many in Macedonia who don't identify as Bulgarians; however, to see those who do, please refer to the below video BULGARIANS):





    ROMA (a.k.a. Gypsies):


    And finally, an entry from outside the Balkans…


    Saturday, 13 August 2011

    What's wrong with saying "Croatian" Serb?

    Recently I published an article about Serbs like myself from Croatia, called I'm a Croatian Serb! I received a few positive comments about it. However, I received a lot more comments from fellow Serbs criticising me for using the term "Croatian Serb" in an endorsing kind of way. The comments, via Facebook, were mainly in these veins: "I never use that term", "Nobody I know uses it", "We shouldn't divide ourselves according to this place and that place; we should just be Serbs", and "Nobody says "Serbian Croats" or "Serbian Albanians", etc, so why should Serbs from Croatia call themselves "Croatian Serbs"?". Some of them were in a mild tone, while others were more accusatory.

    But more bizarrely, there was someone, I guess in Australia but also via Facebook, who told me that their wife thought that I was an "ass", and that, "if next time [I am] in Croatia [I] could stop by the ruins of her and her grandparents' house and then feel the need to call [my]self a Croatian Serb"! So someone I've never seen before, someone who's never met me in their lives, thinks I'm an "ass"! What a virtual slap in the face!

    So I wrote and published a LENGTHY article, concisely describing the tragic history of Croatian Serbs and their varied present-day circumstances, and I even added a number of pictures next to the paragraphs, so nobody would get bored or tired while reading it. And what do most of the comments about my article concern themselves with? With the term "Croatian Serb"! What an intellectual slap in the face! And for what, exactly? For that DAMN label "Croatian Serb"!

    So the question is why were these commentators so offended by me positively calling myself a "Croatian" Serb?

    Well, you could be forgiven for saying that these critics are just being "shallow" for being fixated on labels, but this isn't just about labels. You see, it's also about people's personal experiences, i.e. their war-time memories, which they live with even today. And like I mentioned in the article that bears that term in its title, we Serbs from modern-day Croatia were caught up in a war that pitted us against the state of Croatia, which seceeded from Yugoslavia; our community was overwhelmingly opposed to independence for Croatia from the Yugoslav federation, and a war ensued between the Serb "rebels" (a label used by the Croatian media) of the short-lived state 'Republika Srpska Krajina'. And like I explained before on this blog, the war ended tragically for my people, the Serbs of Krajina in August '95. So bearing the recent history in mind, it's really not surprising AT ALL that many Serbs from modern-day Croatia do not wish to be labelled "Croatian Serbs".

    So how did I cope and respond to this barrage of criticism? Well, I suppose I coped pretty well with it, and I even responded quite wittily to the more accusatory comments on my account. Surprisingly though, I wasn't the slightest bit shocked at being called an "ass"; I'm really not that bothered that someone on the other side of the planet thinks I'm an "ass" based on my rather positive use of the term "Croatian Serb". At least I mean something to someone I've never met, however unflattering it may be for me! And besides, you can't please everyone all the time, now can you?!

    What really got to me more than anything was when that critic in Australia raised the issue of victimhood experienced by my fellow Serbs during the recent war in Croatia and further back in World War Two; apart from what his wife suggested (i.e. stopping by the ruins of her and her grandparents' house), he also suggested that I, "visit the grave of her relative that was crucified back in WWII by Ustasa, and the graves of those who were burned alive inside of a church in Glina in 1942". What was being suggested was this: that by endorsing the term "Croatian Serb", I'm showing "disrespect" to Serb victims from the last two wars, who've suffered at the hands of those who fought for some kind of Croatian state. That suggestion I found DEEPLY offensive, as many of my own relatives were murdered by Croatian fascists (Ustaše) during WW2, just because they were Orthodox Serbs, and many of my relatives' houses were burnt, bombed and looted in the recent war (as for my house, it got looted and later settled in by Bosnian Croat refugees).

    However, this dispute, to me, represents a poignant example of the division between Serbs like me, who didn't live through the recent war in Croatia, and those hundreds of thousands of Serbs, who unfortunately did. For me, it is easier to say things like, "I'm from Croatia", or even "I'm a Croatian Serb", whereas for them it's not so easy. I'm sure a lot of them who live in Western countries like me do say that they're from Croatia to people who know very little about the Balkans, but I guess they will probably stop short of referring to themselves as "Croatian Serbs", all things considered.

    Also, it's important to know that we Serbs are a nation always on the alert of any sign of division, that could lead to some degree of disunity. And indeed, some of the criticism I've faced has hinted at that possibility, however justified that was or not. And although a lot of these Serbs do hold very right-wing, nationalistic views, I don't believe it would be the least bit fair of me, as a left-wing anarchist, to dismiss them for doing so. Yes I'm angry at the intransigent Serb nationalists, who continue to promote the idea of a "Greater Serbia", despite its disastrous failure during the '90s! But nevertheless, my heart is always with those who've endured war and suffered loss, whether material or human, and especially with those from my hometown of Gračac and its nearby villages.

    I put a lot of effort into writing an article about an issue, that is very close to my heart, i.e. my fellow Serbs from Lika, Dalmatia and other parts of war-torn Croatia. I wanted to discuss my people's tragic past and their varied present-day circumstances. I wrote about our refugees in Serbia, our returnees to Lika and other regions, and mentioned the presence of our people in the diaspora. And yet because of that one LOUSY label — that one GOD-FORSAKEN name — all my effort has been in vain, and my honest desire to discuss this issue has fallen on deaf ears … at least among fellow Serbs! So what has this taught me? Well, it's definitely taught me how one term like "Croatian Serb" can put a stop to a conversation quicker than you can say "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"! That's what!

    Tuesday, 9 August 2011

    I'm a Croatian Serb!

    I am an ethnic Serb born in Croatia, and having ancestry from that country as well makes me a 'Croatian Serb'. I come from Lika, a mountainous region on the Adriatic sea, but you can also find Croatian Serbs in other parts of Croatia like Northern Dalmatia, Kordun, Banija and Slavonija, and there is a large population of Croatian Serbs in the country's capital Zagreb.

    Ličanin, a man from Lika, in traditional costumeThe Croatian Serb identity has been forged by history and to a great extent by the politics of various rulers from different eras. Fundamentally, it is based on Orthodox Christian faith and culturally represented by numerous customs and traditions, many of them originating from Orthodoxy, while others vary upon region. My people are primarily descendants of Orthodox pastoral warriors (referred to by various names, including 'Vlachs', 'Rascians' and even 'Illyrians'), brought over and settled into the designated Vojna Krajina by the Catholic Habsburg Monarchy in order to repel further attacks and invasions by the Muslim Ottoman Turks into central Europe. Our earliest recorded sightings in modern-day Croatia can be traced to the Middle ages, while our presence continued to grow since then thanks to multiple waves of Orthodox Slavs arriving from the Islamic Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries.

    Jasenovac Memorial Park, site of the infamous Jasenovac conentration camp run by Ustaše during World War TwoNowadays, Croatian Serbs in Croatia and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia have to face a number of political issues, most of which are contemporary and recent in origin, and include the legacy of wars, which have taken their toll upon them during the 20th century. The legacy of one war, that has left a deep scar on their psyche and even shaped it for generations since, is that of the Second World War. It was brought to Yugoslavia in 1941 with Nazi Germany's invasion of the country, bringing with it fascist régimes like that of Ante Pavelić and his Ustaše, who committed a horrendous genocide upon Serbs and other non-Croats within their puppet-state known as the 'Independent State of Croatia'. Like the Nazis throughout Europe, the Ustaše also ran concentration camps within their puppet state, the most notorious one being the Jasenovac concentration camp, in which the death toll has been variously estimated between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands. This apocalyptic war also divided Serbs into two rival camps: the communist, multi-ethnic Partisan movement, under the leadership of Marshall Tito, and the anti-communist, Serb-dominated Chetnik movement, formed out of the remnants of the Yugoslav Royal Army. Gradina monument over Gračac commemorating both World Wars (© 2009 Milan Ralis)Both of these camps fought against the Ustaše, but also against each other, often pitting brother against brother, and even father against son. The war ended with the Partizans' complete victory over German and Italian occupiers and over all rival forces in the country. However, fifty years later came the recent war in Croatia, with many of its roots in the previous world war. This war tragically ended with more than half of the Croatian Serb population previously residing in Croatia in refuge, many of whom fled or were expelled from their homes.

    Croatian Serbs who have returned to their towns and villages in Croatia following the war — or who have otherwise stayed there throughout the war — have to live daily with the legacy of the recent conflict. Living in the UK as I do, I don't have to confront this legacy that often. However, whenever I visit my homeland in Croatia, I notice it wherever I turn, a reminder of a conflict that I had no part or say in. And whenever I switch satellite channels to watch Croatian TV or visit relevant websites on the net whilst on the other side of Europe, I understand why Serbs and Croats talk, write and think in the conflicting ways they do. All this affects me very deeply as I am also a Serb from Croatia — a Croatian Serb — even though I don't live there for most of the year.

    Slobodan Milošević and Franjo Tuđman, war-time presidents of Serbia and Croatia respectivelyTo cut a long story short, this is what happened in the early '90s: during the ethnic tensions that blighted Yugoslavia during the early 90s, the democratically-elected Croatian president Franjo Tuđman (pictured right) declared independence for Croatia from Yugoslavia in 1991 with the support of the majority of ethnic Croats through one national referendum. However, in direct opposition to Croatia's separatism from Yugoslavia, the likewise democratically-elected ethnic Serb leaders from various regions in Croatia also declared their own state in the form of the 'Republika Srpska Krajina' (named after the historical Vojna Krajina mentioned above), with its capital in the North Dalmatian town of Knin, following a number of local referendums with the support of the majority of ethnic Serbs. The fullest extent of the short-lived war-time Republika Srpska KrajinaThe intention on the part of the ethnic Serb 'rebels' (as they were labelled by the Croatian media at the time, and still are today) was to either stay within the Yugoslav federation, or along with Serbia form a 'Greater Serbia', for which they received political and military support from Slobodan Milošević's régime in Belgrade. A year earlier, ethnic Serbs showed their opposition to Croatia's aspiration to seceed in protests that have been branded the 'Log revolution', for their use of timber to blockade roads connecting Serb-populated areas to the rest of Croatia. In relation to the outside world, the Republic of Croatia received international recognition, whereas Republika Srpska Krajina received none. Nevertheless, full-scale war erupted in August '91, which brought about the displacement of over 100,000 Croats and other non-Serbs from their homes. This displacement, accompanied by destruction of property, violence and even murders of civilians, is considered an act of 'ethnic cleansing', as its aim was to remove ethnic Croats from the region. However, the Krajina-Serb authorities justified this act, claiming it was necessary for the "protection" and "security" of the ethnic Serb population in that same region. One section of the long column of ethnic Serb refugees fleeing their towns and villages in August '95.After years of intense fighting in certain areas, and numerous war crimes committed by both sides, the war ended tragically for the Serbs of Krajina in August '95, when the Croatian army conducted 'Operation Oluja', a military operation with the aim of capturing and bringing under Croatian rule the western territories of that short-lived state. It was during that time that a huge exodus of around 200,000 Serbs fled across Bosnia into Serbia towards Belgrade during the sweltering summer of that year, accompanied by intimidation and sporadic killings of Serbs in those long refugee columns, and of Serbs who stayed behind in their homes hoping they would be safe. Prior to 'Oluja' was 'Operation Bljesak' in May '95, which was similarly followed by the displacement of at least 15,000 ethnic Serbs. On both sides, there were numerous fatalities, many more wounded and incapacitated people, many psychologically traumatised people, and many people still unaccounted for, i.e. "missing, presumed dead".

    One of many destroyed Serb homes in the war-torn parts of Croatia (OSCE)As the land that was under Krajina came under Croatian military control thanks to 'Oluja', thousands of Serb houses located within that short-lived state were willfully destroyed: set on fire, grenaded, vandalised, and often looted and ransacked. Those houses that weren't heavily damaged, as was the case with my own property in Lika, were later handed over by Tuđman's régime to Bosnian Croat families, themselves refugees from the Bosnian war, with the aim of permanently altering the demographic structure of towns previously inhabited by ethnic Serb majorities.

    One of many houses being rebuilt in Gračac, Lika (© 2009 Ricky Yates)Since the war ended, many Serbs have returned to their towns and villages, either to legally reclaim their homes from these Bosnian Croat settlers or to formally apply for them to be repaired or rebuilt by the local authorities. However, in terms of which age bracket most returnees belong to, they have mainly been elderly people, who have nowhere else to go but wish to spend the remainder of their lives in the places they were born and grew up in. It's rarer for younger generations of Serbs to choose to return to these same places, where they were also born, to reside there permanently, especially since there is very little in the way of job opportunities for them to take advantage of. The war-torn regions of Croatia are both physically devastated and economically ruined places, and much of the inhabitants of such regions, known as 'areas of special state concern', live on financial handouts provided to them by the state.

    Croatia's political elite in Knin, 5th August, 2011 ( returning to their homes now under Croatian sovereignty, ethnic Serbs return to a society that openly disregards their suffering during that war — or at least doesn't treat it as equal to that of Croat suffering. The exodus of my people in 1995 at the same time as 'Oluja', which included many of my own relatives from Lika and elsewhere, is considered to be an act of ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless, the victory that 'Oluja' brought by eliminating the state of Krajina is celebrated as a national day of "thanksgiving" every 5th August, marking the end of what in Croatia is officially called the 'Homeland war'. Furthermore, there are still some Croats who question the nature of this exodus of Serbs from Krajina, claiming it was "self-inflicted" and refusing to consider it as equal to the previous ethnic cleansing inflicted upon Croats a few years earlier. Most importantly, the Croatian state has repeatedly denied any responsibility for this exodus; instead, they blame the ethnic Serb rebel leaders of Krajina for organising "evacuations" of the civilian population under their protection.

    The flag of the former Yugoslavia shattered ( to the ruthlessly destructive and mutually unforgiving nature of that inter-ethnic war as described above, it's not surprising that there is so much resentment between Croats and Croatian Serbs even 16 years after the conflict ended. However, it is the Croatian Serbs who are receiving the most condemnation, and collectively so. Their significantly-reduced communities are largely ignored, whereas their identity is actively maligned, and everything they hold dear is regularly trashed; their cultural symbols and political views are despised and ridiculed, and even their present-day presence in Croatia causes bitterness in some Croats. So thorough is this break-up and alienation, that anything that links Serbs and Croats together, such as their shared language which was previously officially named 'Serbo-Croat', has been denounced and banished, condemned to oblivion.

    Anti-Serb graffiti in Croatia, bearing the Ustaša 'U' symbol and the slogan 'Srbe na Vrbe', meaning '[Let's hang] Serbs [up] on Willows' (© 2010 of this atmosphere of hate, many Serbs — including people who are partly Serb from mixed marriages — feel they have no other option but to keep quiet about their Serb identity and ancestry, even making sure they avoid referring to themselves as "Serbs" in public, lest they attract the wrong kind of attention to themselves. Ironically though, such Serbs resort to such secrecy in a country that is these days considered to be home to a democratic society, in which minority rights are protected by law and everyone has the right to free speech — not to mention that Croatia aspires to join the multi-national European Union!

    Milorad Pupovac, ethnic Serb representative in the Croatian Sabor (parliament)Following Tuđman's death in 1999, the situation for the Serbian minority in Croatia has improved in a number of ways, particularly in terms of their representation in Croatian public life and media. The most prominent political organisation is the Independent Democratic Serb Party, and its vice-president Milorad Pupovac appears regularly on the news and other TV programmes. Prosvjeta is a cultural society headed by Čedomir Višnjić that hosts a number of Serbian cultural manifestations during the year in different parts of the country, and holds many public forums discussing various issues of concern to Serbs in Croatia. Then there is the Serbian Democratic Forum lead by Veljko Džakula, a non-governmental and non-profit organization founded in 1991, which is dedicated to the promotion of minority rights, the reintegration of returnees and the strengthening of local communities.

    Many young Serbs, the generation that witnessed the war as children, regularly return to visit during the summer. But, as explained above, most of them so far have not chosen to return to reside there, due to the lack of job opportunities for them to be able to afford to live there. However, there's also something else that I've personally noticed while visiting my homeland in recent years, that I feel is very important to mention: not only are ethnic Serb communities significantly reduced in number, they are also broken in spirit; not only is the Serb population of a particular region much smaller in comparison to 20 years ago, the sense of community spirit that used to exist among them before the war is at best fundamentally weakened today, or at worst completely lost. Nevertheless, relations between Serb returnees, local Croats and Bosnian Croat settlers are generally good, as each community wishes to maintain a pleasant atmosphere with others in the same locality.

    A collective centre in Krnjača, Serbia housing Serb refugees from Croatia ( of Croatia, Serbia is home to the largest Croatian Serb population in the region, thanks to war-time circumstances. Upon their arrival in 1995, after travelling for days within those miles-long columns, they were placed in refugee camps across Serbia, which are known there as collective centres. A number of them were also settled in Kosovo, as part of Milošević's plan to increase the ethnic Serb presence in the largely ethnic Albanian province. However, Croatian Serbs are largely concentrated in the north of the country, particularly in Novi Sad, the provincial capital of Vojvodina, and in the country's capital Belgrade. They can be also found in large numbers in many towns and villages throughout Vojvodina, and in towns close to Belgrade like Batajnica and Zemun.

    A collective centre in Nova Pazova, Serbia housing Serb refugees from Croatia (
    For years, Croatian Serbs in Serbia lived with 'refugee status', and a small number of them still do today. Although this status provided them with certain rights protected by their host country with regard to their circumstances, it has also served as a reminder to them of their war-time loss and their continued exile from their homeland, while other Serbs have shown resentment towards these refugees from Croatia for receiving "special" treatment from the state. The vast majority of them have found permanent accomodation, whereas some are still residing in the very same refugee camps they were originally placed in all those years ago. Nevertheless, those who have chosen to stay in Serbia rather than return to Croatia have integrated into life over there, especially the younger generations who came over as children at the end of the war.

    Many Croatian Serbs have left Serbia to find a better life in wealthier Western countries like Germany, Austria and many others in Europe, while many others have gone further afield to the USA and Australia, settling amongst Serbs living there from other parts of the Balkans. And apart from the recent waves of migration, there is a generation of Croatian Serbs from an earlier wave made up of those who fought in the Chetnik army in World War Two against both the fascist Ustaše and the communist Partizans, mentioned earlier in this article. They fled Yugoslavia following the communist victory and settled in Western countries, destined to live a life of political exile among other Chetniks. Nevertheless, they started new lives in their new surroundings, eventually starting families with Serb or non-Serb wives. Their descendants also live there today, well integrated into Western society, but with various degrees of identification with their ancestors' homeland. Therefore, as a result of two war-time periods in the 20th century, the Croatian Serbs today constitute a very significant portion of the wider Serb Diaspora.

    Born in modern-day Croatia, scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, the greatest Serb ever!
    As you can see, I belong to a people that, although has endured wars for generations, has been especially traumatised by the past century's bouts of warfare. Twice within the last hundred years, we have seen our communities reduced under devastating circumstances caused by destructive politics. And yet, we are the people who spawned the world famous scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, without whom our modern world would not be as modern as it is! From our people also came other renowned Serbs, like geophysicist and engineer Milutin Milanković, actor and musician Rade Šerbedžija, singer-songwriter Arsen Dedić, Serb Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, and many more famous Serbs with roots in modern-day Croatia. There are many Croatian Serbs around, and I'm one of them!


    Acknowledgements go to Ricky Yates ( for allowing me to use his picture of the house under re-construction (shown above), taken in my hometown of Gračac in 2009 during his trip around war-torn parts of Croatia (which you can read about on his blog).

    Sunday, 15 May 2011

    My land's only borders lie around my heart!

    From the musical Chess

    No man, no madness —
    Though their sad power may prevail —
    Can possess, conquer, my country’s heart;
    They rise to fail!

    She is eternal;
    Long before nations’ lines were drawn,
    When no flags flew, when no armies stood,
    My land was born!

    And you ask me why I love her,
    Through wars, death, and despair.
    She is the constant,
    We who don’t care.

    And you ask me would I leave her — But how?
    I cross over borders, but I’m still there now!

    How can I leave her?
    Where would I start?
    Let man’s petty nations tear themselves apart!
    My land’s only borders lie around my heart!

    Such beautiful patriotic lyrics from Tim Rice's musical Chess, which tells the tale of a world chess championship between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Yet in my humble, Anarchist opinion, at least a couple of this song's lines are somehow compatible with Anarchism's views of the world! Consider the following:
    • “…Long before nations’ lines were drawn, When no flags flew, when no armies stood…”
    These two lines hark back to a "pre-state" time, when none of the attributes of modern states existed, in which the song's protagonist, chess player Anatoly Sergievsky's “eternal … land was born!”

    In all fairness, the song is apolitical — dare I say rather anti-political. Consider Anatoly's “country’s heart”, which he declares is something that “No man, no madness … Can possess, conquer”. That's not to say that “their sad power” can't prevail elsewhere, though; as far as Anatoly's concerned, “Let man’s petty nations tear themselves apart!”

    Nonetheless, the final, heart-rendering line reads:
    • “My land’s only borders lie around my heart!”
    …by which the protagonist completely disregards the political borders men “tear themselves apart” over, in favour of his own heart-felt sentiments towards “her”, his land. And Anarchism has nothing against sentiments of belonging. Afterall, “She is the constant”, whom the chess player loves “Through wars, death, and despair”. And even though he does “cross over borders”, he's nevertheless “still there now!”

    Saturday, 16 April 2011

    Gotovina and Markač convicted, Čermak acquitted

    Yesterday, Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity (including murder, wanton destruction and plunder of public and private property), were both found guilty of eight out of nine counts of war crimes, and sentenced to 24 years and 18 years respectively. While general Ivan Čermak, likewise accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, was acquitted of all charges against him.

    The judgement brought forward yesterday recognises that a “joint criminal enterprise”, with the aim to permanently remove Serbs from the region of the short-lived Republika Srpska Krajina, actually existed. And along with the three above-mentioned accused, a further four members were part of this enterprise: Croatian President Franjo Tuđman, Minister of Defence Gojko Šušak, and generals Janko Bobetko and Zvonimir Červenko. This enterprise “amounted to or involved the commission of the crimes of persecution, deportation and forcible transfer, plunder, and destruction”.

    The charges Gotovina and Markač were convicted of were these:

    • Count 1: persecution as a crime against humanity;
    • Count 2: deportation as a crime against humanity;
    • Count 4: plunder of public and private property as a violation of the laws or customs of war;
    • Count 5: wanton destruction as a violation of the laws or customs of war;
    • Count 6: murder as a crime against humanity;
    • Count 7: murder as a violation of the laws or customs of war;
    • Count 8: inhumane acts as a crime against humanity; and
    • Count 9: cruel treatment as a violation of the laws or customs of war.
    They were both, however, cleared of Count 3: inhumane acts (forcible transfer) as a crime against humanity.

    The crimes against Serbs, which these three defendants were accused of not preventing or sanctioning, occurred during Operation Storm in August 1995, a military action during which the Croatian army brought under Croatian control land that was previously under Krajina since 1991. By doing so, they brought about near-complete defeat to the Krajina Serb rebels, reducing their break-away state to only a portion of land bordering Serbia. As stated in the Judgement summary here, the case against these three defendants concerned itself with the question of, “whether Serb civilians in the Krajina were the targets of crimes, and whether the Accused should be held criminally liable for these crimes”.

    What is most most revealing, in my humbe opinion, is Gotovina's own words at the Brioni meeting at the end of July 1995. Responding to Tuđman, Gotovina was quoted as saying: “A large number of civilians are already evacuating Knin and heading towards Banja Luka and Belgrade. That means that if we continue this pressure, probably for some time to come, there won’t be so many civilians just those who have to stay, who have no possibility of leaving”.

    The first sentance quite clearly shows that he was aware that many Serbs had already “evacuated” their homes and “headed towards Banja Luka and Belgrade”. However, the second one shows that it was also very clear to him that if they “continue this pressure” during the operation scheduled to be executed within days of him saying all this, more Serb civilians — and he does use the word “civilians” — would leave, except for those who “have to stay, who have no possibility of leaving”. This quote basically shows that Gotovina was clearly aware that any military action, which they were about to take, could lead to a great deal of the ethnic Serb population within Krajina leaving their homes in response to such “pressure”.

    The court's chamber established that, “the motive underlying these legal instruments (i.e. “related to property which came into force after Operation Storm”), as well as their overall effect, was to provide the property left behind by Krajina Serbs in the liberated areas to Croats, and thereby deprive these Serbs of the use of their housing and property”. Therefore, the “the imposition of restrictive and discriminatory measures with regard to housing and property, considered in conjunction with deportation and other crimes against Krajina Serbs, constituted persecution”.

    The court's chamber also established that, “the forcible displacement committed by members of the Croatian military forces and Special Police, by the unlawful attacks on towns in the Krajina on 4 and 5 August 1995 and by the commission of other crimes later in August 1995, constituted deportation. Among the many Serbs who left the Krajina during and after Operation Storm, the Chamber concluded that at least 20,000 were deported in this manner in August 1995”.

    With regards to the shelling of Benkovac, Gračac, Knin, and Obrovac on 4th and 5th August, it was found that this action “constituted an indiscriminate attack on these towns and an unlawful attack on civilians and civilian objects”. And again about my hometown Gračac in Lika and near-by Donji Lapac: “Special Police members took part in the destruction of a substantial part of Gračac on 5 and 6 August … [T]hey also participated in the destruction and looting of Krajina Serb property in Donji Lapac on 7 and 8 August 1995.”.
    On a personal note: as a Croatian Serb from one of the affected places mentioned above, I'm pleased to hear that the humiliating and degrading ordeal experienced by my relatives and their fellow Serbs while fleeing their homes in August '95 has been legally recognised as part of a “joint criminal enterprise” to have my people removed. This judgement is a legal recognition that the suffering my family and my people endured then was unlawful, and what occurred to their property after their departure was likewise a form of persecution.

    Amnesty International welcomes this judgement as “the first step to truth and justice for many victims of crimes committed during ‘Operation Storm’ in Croatia in 1995”, which furthermore shows that “even the most high-level perpetrators of crimes under international law cannot evade justice”.

    However, I am also aware of the perceptions of many Croats, who don't want to treat the suffering of my people as equal to the suffering of their people, and who see this as the Hague merely being “fair” on the Serbs at the “expense of the truth”, thereby bringing into question the validity of the court, no less!

    A big demonstration has been held on Ban Jelačić square in the capital Zagreb, where they had a huge TV screen for the public to see the verdict. Devastated protestors shouted “Betrayal! Betrayal!”, accused former president Stipe Mesić, former prime minister Ivo Sanader and current president Ivo Josipović of being “war criminals”, and that the war is “still on”! And one former war-time minister admits that his name is on a list of war criminals, but that he'd rather be on that than in government!

    (Funny how they branded president Josipović a “war criminal”. He himself is “shocked” by the conviction, and is “convinced that a joint criminal enterprise in the defense of Croatia didn't exist”. He also declares that, “Today, regardless of the conviction, the Homeland war will remain a just and defensive war, in which we retained our freedom and democracy from the aggression and the policies of the criminal régime of Slobodan Milošević”.)

    Infuriated by the conviction, one former Croatian soldier from Zadar has smashed a shop window, severely wounding himself in the process. And bizarrely, one former Croatian general attorney has even accused Great Britain for this conviction! Of course, none of this helps when you have a prime minister like Jadranka Kosor, who tells you that “protests cannot change anything”!

    There is no doubt that the defense team, which represented the two convicts and the acquitted Čermak, will appeal the conviction against Gotovina and Markač. But surely all these court cases dealing with traumatic war-time experiences, the politically-charged interpretations of recent history based on those experiences upheld by ordinary people who endured them and promoted by omniscient politicians who peddle them, and the all-round bad blood between nations should teach all us Balkan folk, whatever our ethnic or religious identity and however many blows history has dealt us, that statism is ultimately pointless and war is not worth anyone's blood. In my Anarchistic and Pacifistic opinion, states, along with anything that justifies their continued existence, and wars, along with anything that justifies their constant occurence, should belong to the past!
  • See the eight-paged ICTY's Judgement Summary quoted extensively in the above article in italics:

  • Further ICTY literature:
  • Also see the ICTY's Press Release (condensed version of the above Judgement Summary):
  • Amended Indictment against Ante Gotovina:
  • Amended Indictment against Ivan Čermak and Mladen Markač:
  • Friday, 1 April 2011



    If you've read somewhere about British Serbs being "the worst offenders when it comes to calling in sick during the year", and if you've even seen "figures" showing 19,000 Serbs each year skiving off work, then be under no illusion that it was a JOKE!

    There’s no such thing as “ethnic sick leave”, the BuDWaLUa quango or its “chief executive” Dirk Bena! And the table showing those figures comparing Serbs with Scots, Irish, Welsh and Italians, is FALSE! None of it's true; it's a JOKE!

    Personal admission: I came up with BuDWaLUa as the quango’s acronym, basing it on the Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian word budala, meaning “fool”! As for the chief executive’s name Dirk Bena, his surname is based on a dialectal word from Lika and the surrounding regions bena, likewise meaning fool; however, I chose his first name based on its similarity to an even ruder word – but you don’t have to worry yourselves about it! ;-) And finally, statistics, damn statistics! The table showing those figures comparing Serbs with other ethnic groups was invented by me! It is ALL an April Fools' joke!

    However, the truth is – this is the truth, honestly! – there really is a magazine called Britić, which caters for the UK’s ethnic Serb population. Its chief editors really are called Stan Smiljanić and Aleks Simić. And it was Stan who “briefed” me on the details of this plan for the magazine’s April Fools’ joke, which I gladly took part in! Svaka ti cast, Stane!

    So, once again…

    British Serbs guilty of “ethnic sick leave”

    British Serbs guilty of “ethnic sick leave”

    British Serbs are officially the worst offenders when it comes to calling in sick during the year, it has been revealed.

    Surprising statistics published in a report today show an unmistakable correspondence between British Serbs’ ethnic holidays and the days of the year they most often call in sick to work.

    The figures displayed on the chart below are based on decades of research by Britain’s union of Determined Workers against Lateness and Unauthorised absence (BuDWaLUa), which aims to tackle the problem of lateness at the workplace and absences during the working year. Dirk Bena, chief executive of the above quango, stated in a press conference publicising his report’s findings this morning, “What we are presenting here is a prime example of what our organisation brands ‘ethnic sick leave’. And what our startling figures show is that members of our country’s ethnic Serb community are by far the worst offenders of this workplace malpractice, topping the polls way above other communities, such as the Irish, Scots, Welsh and Italians.”

    “Over the last 15 years, we have observed consistently on 7th and 14th January, days on which Serbs celebrate Orthodox Christmas and New Year’s day respectively, are the days on which at least 19,000 British Serbs each year without fail – and despite the global recession! – report a sickie to their employers!”, explains Mr. Bena. “However, there are also many other days they call off sick during the year, but with less regularity than the first two, e.g. St Sava’s day on 27th January, St Nicholas’ day on 19th December, and St George’s day on 6th May”, which Serbs celebrate 13 days after the same patron saint’s day is celebrated throughout England.

    Figures courtesy of Britain’s union of Determined Workers against Lateness and Unauthorised absence (BuDWaLUa), showing ethnic groups in the UK, and the days on which they were absent from work over the last five years, taking into account the recent global recession:
    Statistics from BuDWaLUa, published today

    Such news is received very grimly and indignantly by members of the British Serb population and by various organisations throughout the country representing this community, which has felt much maligned by the national media over the past twenty years. Quick to jump to the defence of his fellow ethnics is Stan Smiljanic, chief editor of the British Serb magazine Britić.

    “These figures are such an exaggeration!”, thundered Stan. “And as such, they merely follow a trend of negative and defamatory press seen and felt over many years by us British Serbs!”

    Stan’s colleague Aleks Simic, on the other hand, calmly insists, “Instead of engaging in stereotyping people like this report does, our pioneering magazine Britić, which aims to promote Serb culture and language within the UK amongst our various members, including people from the earliest migrations of Serbs from the Balkans into this country following World War Two and in subsequent decades, wants to create understanding, inspire appreciation and encourage tolerance of our unique community and our fascinating customs by the rest of the Great British population.”

    To see Stan Smiljanic and Aleks Simic’s response to this report in full, visit the Britić website.