The Storm Anniversary: Commemoration in Serbia, national holiday in Croatia

The state ceremony of the Day of Remembrance of all Serbs who died and were exiled in "Storm" will be held tonight at 8:00 PM on Freedom Square in Novi Sad.

Izvor: Tanjug

Thursday, 04.08.2022.

10:25

The Storm Anniversary: Commemoration in Serbia, national holiday in Croatia
Ilustracija, foto: EPA-EFE/MIRO LELAS

The Storm Anniversary: Commemoration in Serbia, national holiday in Croatia

The anniversary of the military-police operation Storm, during which the largest exodus of Serbs since World War II was recorded at the beginning of August 1995, will also be marked as a national holiday in Croatia this year - the Day of Victory and Homeland Gratitude and Veterans' Day, while in Serbia that crime that goes unpunished will be marked with a commemorative rally in Novi Sad.

As President Aleksandar Vučić announced, the anniversary of this Croatian military-police operation will be marked in Novi Sad, on Freedom Square, today at 8 p.m. Croatia traditionally organizes the central marking in Knin, where President Zoran Milanović will host a reception for war commanders today. On that occasion, Milanović will present decorations, medals and promote some members of the Croatian Armed Forces, his office announced.

The precise protocol for the anniversary of the operation "Storm" in Knin has not yet been published, and for the first time this year, several civil sector associations held a half-hour anti-war action on Wednesday on Ban Jelačić Square in Zagreb in memory of the killed and expelled Serbs during and after this military - police operation.

According to the data of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of Serbia, more than 1.700 Serbs were killed and disappeared in the military-police operation "Storm", and more than 250.000 were expelled.

While for the Croats the "Storm" is a reason for celebration, for the Serbs it is the most massive and one of the cruelest ethnic cleansings that happened in the wars in the former SFRY.

Operation "Storm" began on August 4, 1995 with the offensive of the Croatian army and police and units of the Croatian Defense Council in the territory of the then Republic of Serbian Krajina, i.e. Banija, Kordun, Lika and northern Dalmatia, despite the fact that the area was under protection of the United Nations.

While columns of refugees in cars, trucks, tractors and other agricultural vehicles entered Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian army entered the abandoned Knin, where it raised the Croatian flag on August 5.

About 130.000 members of the armed forces from the Croatian side took part in the action. At the Hague Tribunal, Croatian General Ante Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years in prison for the crime against Serbs in "Storm", but he was acquitted in November 2012.

Along with Gotovina, Croatian generals Mladen Markac and Ivan Cermak were tried at the Hague Tribunal for persecutions, deportations, murders, crimes against humanity, looting of property, violations of the laws and customs of war. Cermak was acquitted in the first instance, while Markac was sentenced to 18 years in prison. However, the Appeals Chamber overturned that verdict and acquitted him of the charges.

Due to the war crimes committed in the "Bljesak" and "Storm" operations, the war crimes tribunal in The Hague was preparing an indictment against Franjo Tudjman, who died in 1999. In April 2001, The Hague investigators questioned the former Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Army, Petar Stipetić, but after an investigation, he was cleared of suspicion for crimes committed during the actions "Medački dzep", "Bljesak" and "Storm".

In the 25 years since the "Storm", the Croatian judiciary has brought three indictments for war crimes against the Krajina Serbs, against a total of seven members of the Croatian military and police units. The trials resulted in two guilty verdicts, one of which is final. In Croatia, this anniversary of the "Storm" will be marked in the shadow of the first indictment brought by Serbia against the Croatian pilots who bombed the column of Serbs on the Petrovac road.

The indictment accuses the Croatian pilots of crimes against Serbian civilians in the column near Bosanski Petrovac and in Svodna, near Novi Grad.

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