Serbia, RS commemorate Croatia exodus

Serbia and the Serb Republic (RS) are on Tuesday remembering Serb victims who died in western Slavonia during Croatian military's Operation Flash.

Source: Tanjug

According to the data gathered by the Documentation Center Veritas, 280 people were killed and 15,000 driven out of their homes in only 36 hours on May 1 and 2, 1995.

Croatia's military and police forces carried out an aggression against the area that was at the time under UN protection (known as Sector West).

The UN forces were warned of the attack in advance, and instead of preventing it, withdrew to safe locations.

Croatia sent 16,000 members of its forces to attack less than 4,000 members of the military of the former Republic of Serb Krajina. The citizens were asleep and outnumbered four to one at 05:30 CET on May 1, 1995, when their towns of Pakrac and Okučani and their surroundings were attacked and cut off.

This resulted in an exodus, with refugees pouring over a bridge on the Sava River that led to the Serb Republic (RS), in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But as they were escaping, the Croatian forces attacked them from warplanes, helicopters, and with mortar shells and snipers. There were reports of injured people being run over by tanks, or "finished off" with knives.

The Veritas data shows that 283 Serbs were killed or are still listed as missing as a result of Operation Flash, of whom 57 women and nine children under the age of 14.

Those civilians who could not or would not leave their homes were placed in camps, while Serb property and holy places were pillaged and destroyed.

Neither courts in Croatia nor the Hague Tribunal ever raised any indictments for war crimes committed during this attack on Serb areas of western Slavonia. In Bosnia and Serbia, two cases related to the operation are being "analyzed", or are in the phase of "information gathering".

Operation Flash completed the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the region, that saw 67,000 people leave their homes from 1991 until 1995, while in the decade and a half that have passed since, only 1,500, mostly elderly people, returned.

In Croatia, representatives of the state gather in Okučani every May 1 to celebrate the day which they mark as day of victory when they took over western Slavonia, losing 42 members of their forces during the operation.


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