21 9 2021
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THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE WAR CRIMES IN BRČKO

     On the occasion of the day of remembrance of the victims of Brčko in the past war, the Association for Social Research and Communication (UDIK) reminds the public of the monstrous crimes that took place in the pre-war municipality of Brčko.

During the war against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brčko was a corridor connecting the eastern and western Republika Srpska. It was the only connection between the western parts of the Republika Srpska and Belgrade.

In 1992, Brčko became known for the brutal killing of Bosniak and Croat civilians. On April 30, 1992, the Sava Bridge between Gunja in Croatia and Brčko in Bosnia and Herzegovina was demolished. With this act, the occupation of the city by the JNA and the activities of paramilitary formations began. After the demolition of the Sava Bridge, difficult days arrived in Brčko with the opening of dozens of camps to which Bosniak and Croat civilians were taken, and where mass executions took place.

Thus, on the initiative of the local self-proclaimed authorities led by the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), the Luka concentration camp was established, in which detention and war crimes against the non-Serb population from the area of this municipality were systematically committed. The Luka camp was closed in August of the same year, due to pressure from the international community, and the detainees were transferred to the Batković camp near Bijeljina. Apart from the Luka camp, some of the execution sites were: DTV Partizan, Hadži-paša mosque, Hotel Posavina and the Brčko Police Department.

Slobodan Milošević, Vojislav Šešelj, Biljana Plavšić, Radovan Karadžić, Momčilo Krajišnik, Goran Jelisić and Ranko Češić were tried before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes in Brčko. Goran Jelisić aka Serbian Adolf was sentenced to 40, Ranko Češić to 18, Momčilo Krajišnik to 20 and Biljana Plavšić to 11 years in prison. They were convicted of crimes against humanity, but were acquitted of genocide despite the fact that they intended to partially destroy the national group of Bosniaks and Croats, i.e. that Jelisić and Češić committed numerous murders of detainees with genocidal intent.

In 2015, UDIK published the book “War Crimes in Brčko (’92 -’95) – Verdicts”, which documents twelve cases before the courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina for war crimes committed in Brčko and two cases (Džemal Zahirović and Fikret Smajlović) for war crimes committed in the Batković camp near Bijeljina against the Bosniaks of Brčko.

The verdicts of the courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the ICTY are sufficient proof that there is a need in Brčko to erect a monument to civilian victims of the war who were killed only because of belonging to one of the peoples. The verdicts confirm that the captured civilians were tortured, beaten, abused, raped and killed, in extremely humiliating ways, and the crimes against civilians were committed by members of military and police groups, over which the convicts had control at the time. Victims of abuse were not provided with medical assistance, and the crimes left lasting consequences on the lives and health of victims and their families.

Although there are several memorials dedicated to the suffering of civilians in Brčko, there is still no official memorial to be erected by the local government in any of the public areas. There are only three monuments dedicated to the suffering of the armies that operated during the war in Brčko.

For that reason, we believe that a monument should be erected in the center of Brčko, with the names of all killed victims from the area of the pre-war municipality of Brčko, which would, above all, have an educational character for all citizens and visitors of Brčko. Also, the monument should testify to the possibilities of reconciliation, understanding, and distancing oneself from the criminal past and politics of any nation. Only in this way will we break the policy of denial and the policy of forgetting crimes.

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