Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Article: Facing the Past (Croatia)

Some interesting points of data:

According to the survey, more than two thirds of the polled citizens
said that “it is important to face the past”, although 30% believe that
for them it carries negative meanings, 41% were neutral, while only 23%
of the polled citizens said that facing the past is a positive notion.

Three in four citizens (76%) believe that proper identification of
victims on both sides, as well as the circumstances of their suffering
is mostly important or very important. Also, over a half of the citizens
don’t know how many people died in the war.

A huge majority (well over 95 percent) have heard about the destruction
of Vukovar, killing of prisoners in Ovcara Farm, or the bombardment of
Dubrovnik. Fewer people have heard about the killing of civilians during
and after Oluja Offensive (68%), or the confiscation of Serb property in
Croatia (58%). However, 85% have heard and know about the torture of
prisoners at Lora military prison. More than 80% of the general
population believe that all of the above should be considered war crimes.

One half of the polled citizens (49%) believe that the Hague Tribunal
contributed to start investigation of crimes committed by the Croatian
side. 56% of the citizens followed the trial of Milosevic, while 43%
followed the trial of Mirko Norac for crimes committed in Gospic. Almost
the same number of citizens (29 to 32 percent) followed the trials for
war crimes in Ovcara and the trials for crimes committed in Lora.

Three in five citizens (63%) believe that the main purpose of
prosecution of war crimes is to find out the truth about the war and
wartime events; 39% believe that it serves to prevent future crimes,
while 30% believe that satisfaction and justice for the victims is its
main purpose.

Full Article

It would be interesting to see what the results of the survey would be in Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo as well.


observer said...

The Belgrade Center for Human Rights conducted a similar survery in Serbia in 2005. Unfortunately, it noted that the percentage of Serbian citizens who believed certain atrocities were committed by Serb forces in Bosnia and Croatia has decreased since 2001.

Shaina said...

thanks for the info.
Is there any reason given why the number has decreased?

observer said...

As to why the trend toward denial seems to be growing in Serbia, that's a difficult question to respond to given the limitations of qualitative research. However, some have suggested that the ICTY has not helped the situation by allowing first Milosevic, and now it appears Seselj, transform their trials into prolonged campaign commercials for their political surrogates in Serbia.

However, the same survey did note that as of 2005, 73 percent of respondents agreed with the statement 'a war criminal is a war criminal regardless of nationality.'

Anyway, the BCHR's findings are available at:

Bg anon said...

I havent heard of this survey but it is a worrying fact that younger (particularly uneducated or the offspring of those ethnically cleansed) people in Serbia dont like to look at the victims of Serb actions.

I would say that this facing the past thing has been largely unsuccesful in Serbia and all the other former Yugoslav republics.

Above all because of the media (with the exception of B92, although they now ignore generally ignore the issue seeking commercial viability). Investigative journalism of the type that uncovers war crimes of the past have has also been too rare.

But I also hold NGO's responsible to some degree for not creating the right type of projects that may impact on ordinary people. Instead they have tended to alienate ordinary people (whose minds they need to change) and appeal to the usual middle class city crowd, who are already persuaded of the need to face the past. Easy to face the past when you were the one that opposed the 'sins' of that past!

If the right type of projects were proposed to funders IMO they would not be refused by donors.

I would also say that the government has to do its job in educating children at school. Again they need not ram issues down childrens throats as fact but they do need to include opinions from a wider variety of sources which will help in giving children a more balanced (and less one sided) viewpoint of past events.