August 5, 2014
The 19th anniversary of Serb exodus from Croatia in Operation Storm was marked in Serbia and the Serb Republic (RS) in Bosnia on Monday [August 4, 2014].
In St. Marko's Church in Belgrade, Bishop Jovan of Slavonia headed the memorial service honoring slaughtered Serb civilians and soldiers. The memorial was co-served by priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In the speech delivered after the service, Bishop Jovan said that nobody can say that they seized Lika, Banija and Kordun from Serbs for as long as Serbian holy sites still stand there and called on Serbs to return to the territories.
In addition to several hundred banished Serbs and Serb refugees from Croatia, the service was attended by Serbian Interior Minister Nebojša Stefanović, Belgrade Deputy Mayor Andreja Mladenović and presidents of associations of Serb refugees and Serbs banished from Croatia.
A group of refugees came to attend the service in traditional Serbian folk costumes and some of them wore banners with messages calling for faster exhumation and identification of victims' remains and for return of property and other Serb rights in Croatia.
To mark the anniversary of Serb exodus in Operations Storm and Mistral, a memorial service was held in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Banja Luka, RS, after which wreaths were laid at the local cemetery to honor the victims.
Addressing reporters after the commemoration, adviser to the RS minister of labour and veterans' affairs General Milan Torbica said that Operation Storm aimed to conduct an ethnic cleansing in the Republic of Serb Krajina (RSK).
Drawing from the experience of Serbs from the Republic of Serb Krajina, we need to protect the RS, he said.
President of the Documentation and Information Center Veritas Savo Štrbac noted that the authorities are still looking for 1,900 out of the 7,000 Serbs slaughtered during the civil war in Croatia in the period 1991-1995.
He underscored that Operation Storm conducted by the Croatian armed forces has all the characteristics of genocide and expressed the hope that the ruling of the International Court of Justice will confirm this in late 2014 or early 2015.
During the military operation Storm in the territory of the RSK in Croatia, which was under UN protection at the time, around 2.000 Serbs were killed or reported missing, among whom 1.192 or 62 percent were civilians. In the continuation of this action in neighboring Bosnia, entitled Operation Mistral, the Croatian armed forces, in conjunction with the Fifth Corps of the Bosnian Muslim Army, killed another 655 and expelled about 125.000 Serb residents from 13 Bosnian municipalities.
Aside from the verbal condemnation of the crime, the UN Security Council did not pronounce any sanctions for Croatia. The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia established that joint criminal enterprise was committed in Operation Storm, the aim of which was ethnic cleansing of Serbs, but it acquitted two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač, of the crimes so nobody was held responsible for the crimes to date.
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