Croatia: Human Rights News

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Date: Sat, 3 Oct 1998 10:38:42 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Croatia: Human Rights News

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Croatia: Human Rights News

The Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (CHC) and Citizens
Organized to Monitor Voting (GONG) reached a decision regarding their
mutual co-operation in monitoring and observing elections. Since both
organizations have previous experience in monitoring the electoral
process, we consider our co-operation necessary. In this manner, the
work of non-governmental organizations aimed at building the
institutions of a civil society will be further rationalized. Both
organizations will also monitor the changes that are made to
regulations related to the electoral process and their compatibility
with the international norms which Croatia has pledged to uphold, and
which are the result of Croatia’s efforts to participate in the
general process of European integration.


In Zagreb, September 17, 1998
For the CHC:                                                    For
the GONG:
Mijo PaviÔ                                                      Darko
Juri iÔ
Member of the Presidency                                       

(The full text can be found at CHC and Greek Helsinki Monitor's
websites. Boris) 

Bulletin no. 13
September  7, 1998
Red light for the Teachers of the Serb Ethnicity
"At the beginning of the new school year the mass dismissals of the
teachers and professors in the elementary and high schools started in
the region of Baranja", said Milorad NenadoviÔ - coordinator of the
law firm "Association for Peace and Human Rights in Baranja" from
Bilje. These are mostly verbal dismissals initiated by headmasters of
the schools, who inform the teacher or the professor that there is no
need for him/her to come to the school the next day. The most evident
example of all this is the Elementary School in ġeminac where the
teacher's and professor's posts were advertised in Glas Slavonija from
August 5, 1998. The teachers and professors of Serb ethnicity were
told that they should not come to work again and that the headmaster
could not guarantee any job security for them. Allegedly there is a
petition written by the parents-returnees which asks for the dismissal
of the teachers and professors of Serb ethnicity, however the details
are not known to us - writes NenadoviÔ.
About social problems - open and concrete
The third Summerschool for Human Rights organized by the Croatian
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights was held in Jelsa, on the island
of Hvar from August 23 - 30, 1998 and had as its main aim initiation
of the discussion related to the social crisis faced by Croatia. Among
107 participants of the third Summerschool for Human Rights there were
representatives of the Pensioners and Workers' Unions, Ministries of
the Foreign and Internal Affairs, and numerous other non-governmental
organizations from Croatia and former Yugoslav states. Twenty
lecturers delivered lectures about various human rights violations and
social rights manipulations, as well as the situation faced by the
most marginalised and jeopardized groups who become some kind of
hostages to the state policy...


The Baptist municipality in Donja BaĠuga, which is the biggest in this
part of Croatia is no longer open. A Croat family moved next door to
the Baptist religious rites were being performed by the members of the
Baptist community. This family does not allow the Baptists to continue
with their religious ceremonies and use their premises. The plate on
which it was written "Baptist church municipality" was taken down and
the church was closed.

The village of Donja BaĠuga is notorious for the arson attacks
committed against Serbs returnees in February this year and for the
incident which occurred when the CHC activists came to photograph the
village. They were threatened and their material (photographs) was
taken from them.

Donja BaĠuga is located in the County of Sisak and Moslavina,
municipality of Petrinja and was populated mostly by Serb residents
before the war. Presently there are 12 persons of Serb ethnicity
living there and thirty Croat families - displaced persons from
Derventa. The situation in the village was extremely bad for the Serb
returnees who were harassed and intimidated by the Croatian army,
accommodated in the school building, until June. However today, three
months after the Croatian army left the village, the situation has not
improved at all. There have not been any new cases of arson since
their departure which is significant.  The former monument to the
victims of the fascist regime and partisans who died in the national
liberation war during the Second World War, was completely destroyed
in 1996, and a Catholic chapel was built on its foundations.
Furthermore 10 gravestones and a part of the fence was demolished and
some graves were polluted by faeces.
Human rights violations in July, 1998
A plan for the return of the refugees and displaced persons, which was
brought about by the decision of Parliament on June 26, 1998 has still
not been implemented. In spite of that, a few groups of the returnees
returned to the sector South and North.
There is still a problem regarding the return of the private property
to the Serb returnees as well as their housing rights. The situation
in Karlovac has improved lately although flats  are still empty and
the electrical and water installations have been destroyed and
devastated. The owners often have to break in by force and the police
does not get involved but only directs the owners to file private
complaints. The returnees still wait for a long time to obtain their
documents, flats of the Serb citizens are given to the Croat newcomers
(Kistanje, GolubiÔ, Knin).and the despotism of the local power holders
has continued.

A number of problems regarding the payment of the pensions has
increased, the adoption of the Convalidation Law. During the World
Soccer Championship there have been reported several cases of the
attacks by the recently settled Croats against the local Serb
residents. The aim was to scare off the local Serb residents, mainly
elderly people. The vandals were mostly young and under the influence
of alcohol who used the victory of the Croatian soccer team in order
to give vent to their adolescent  instincts. The police did not
interfere at all and on the contrary during such periods they withdrew
from the streets.

The murder of the couple in the village of Topolja was attributed to
the murderer who stated that he hated all Serbs. The residents of Beli
Manastir, regardless of their ethnic origin, condemned this terrible
crime. The CHC activists  reported that they saw the CDU /Croatian
Democratic Union/ members and HSP /Croatian Party of Rights/ members
who had been visiting Croat residents one by one asking them to sign a
petition against the return of the Serbs. At the same time they had
been told that nobody would move them from the temporarily occupied
houses. Violence, terrorism, housing rights, personal documents and
visas were the most common cases of human rights violations during the
month of July. The regions where these incidents were recorded were:
Karlovac, OkuĠani, Obrovac...
The President of the CHC for Human Rights, Ivan Zvonimir ġiĠak, handed
in his resignation for the post of the President of the CHC.
At the last plenary meeting, during new elections for the post of the
President of the CHC, I. Z ġiĠak announced that he would perform this
function until September of the present year if the situation within
the Committee did not change. ġiĠak's resignation came about after
months of obstructions of the work of the CHC from some members of the
Presidency and the Committee, and the lack of the will to overcome
such a situation.
Open letter by the activists and associates of the CHC
"Stimulated by a sudden but not unexpected resignation of the
President of the CHC, Mr. Ivan Zvonimir ġiĠak, and the information
reported by the media" the members of the CHC wrote the open letter to
all the Croatian media regarding their attitude towards this event.
"In present conditions, where some of the members of the Committee
(one of them is our employee and works at the office), daily obstruct
any kind of intent to reach an agreement, decision or carry out the
normal work of the Committee, ġiĠak's remaining in the Committee as
President, without being really active, would in fact turn us and him
into the hostages of the policy carried out by a small group of
people." The consequences of such a situation would inevitably affect
the work of the office and regional centers and therefore the
Presidency and the Committee members should take responsibility for
the recent situation.
In order to overcome the current problems an urgent Plenary meeting
was called for all members all members of the Committee, activists and
associates of the office, because according to their opinion "this is
a very delicate and demanding work and we cannot and must not carry
out our activities and work without full confidence in the CHC
leadership". The members and the associates give their full support to
I. Zvonimir ġiĠak and express their wish that he continues with them
to fight for the promotion of human rights.

Greek Helsinki Monitor &
Minority Rights Group - Greece
P.O. Box 51393
GR-14510 Kifisia
Tel. +30-1-620.01.20
Fax +30-1-807.57.67

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