NATIONAL FEDERATION OF CROATIAN AMERICANS
For Immediate Release Contact: Erik Milman
NFCA CALLS ON HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH TO WITHDRAW REPORT ON
Washington, D.C. (September 9, 2003). The National Federation of Croatian
Americans (NFCA) called on Human Rights Watch (HRW) to withdraw its report
concerning Croatia which appeared earlier this month. The report, entitled “
Broken Promises,” criticizes Croatia for failing to take steps to assure the return
of displaced Croatian Serbs.
In a letter addressed to Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of HRW, NFCA
President John Kraljic pointed out that the report relies, in part, on information
provided by Savo Strbac and his Veritas organization based in Belgrade.
According to Mr. Kraljic, Strbac served as a local and circuit court judge in the
area of Zadar, Croatia prior to 1991. Strbac’s role in jailing dissidents
during Communist rule remains unexplored.
More importantly, Strbac had been a government official with the Republika
Srpska Krajina (RSK) “which engaged in the total expulsion of all non-Serbs from its
territory and the mass executions of innumerable Croats.” Strbac was quoted in a March
1995 story by Agence France Presse as having stated that "[i]t's out of the
question for us to return to Croatia. Our final goal is union with other Serbs
(in Bosnia and the Republic of Serbia).”
Mr. Kraljic noted that this goal underlies the motives of Veritas, an
organization which news reports have linked to the Serbian secret service and the
Serbian government. A review of Veritas’ Bulletin includes such titles as “Da
se ne zaboravi Srpska krajina” (Let the Serb Krajina Not Be Forgotten) and
other titles “commemorating” the RSK.
That Strbac uses human rights issues as a cover for his activities is
eloquently seen by a quote from Nedeljni telegraf, a Belgrade newspaper, where Strbac
stated that the process in the Hague against certain Croatian generals is a “
chance for the Serbs, because this is a brilliant opportunity to use
legitimate means to revive the RSK.” In other statements made to the Serbian news
agency SRNA, Strbac made clear his ultimate goal to see the President of the
Republic of Croatia, Stipe Mesic, as an indictee before the judges of the Hague.
Mr. Kraljic further noted in his letter to HRW that Strbac and Veritas have
been the subject of pointed criticism by non-government organizations, including the
Croatian Helsinki Committee, concerning their routine exaggeration of the number of
Serbian victims of crimes allegedly committed by Croatian armed forces.
Mr. Kraljic wrote that the NFCA views “with complete dismay [the fact] that
international institutions dedicated to promoting human rights and
international law, such as Human Rights Watch, are providing legitimacy to those like
Strbac and Veritas which are nothing better than propaganda organizations.
There is no question in our minds that neither Strbac nor Veritas are to be
trusted for anything in light of the murky circumstances surrounding Veritas’
founding, the actions taken by Strbac both in Communist Yugoslavia and the RSK, and
Strbac’s and Veritas’ undisguised call for the restoration of an ethnically
pure Serbian state on Croatian sovereign territory.”
Mr. Kraljic concluded his letter to HRW by calling for the organization to
withdraw its report “and have it reissued using independent sources unrelated
to schemes promoting the return of war and death to Croatia.”
The NFCA ia a Washington, DC based national umbrella organization that
represents over 20 Croatian American groups and 130,000 members.
CC:email@example.com ,firstname.lastname@example.org ,email@example.com ,firstname.lastname@example.org ,email@example.com ,firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ms. Leicht,
Related to "fresh" Human Rights Watch report on Croatia
(http://www.hrw.org/press/2003/09/croatia090203.htm), let me ask the following:
I am a Croat, born in Split, Croatia. I am currently abroad and I would like to go back to Croatia but I
can not find a job for which I am qualified. Even if I find it, I can not secure a simple place to live
with it - unless I take a loan for which I would have to pay off an average Croatian salary every month
for next 20 years.
Did anyone in your watchful organization ever considered to find out how many Croatians in Croatia can
not find a job and can not do anything to secure a place to live?
You might also add to this pool those Croatians abroad, like myself, that would like to go home but have
no opportunity to make living there (although they e.g. did not kill and bombshelled civilians).
Eventually you might care to express your concern about our human rights too.
Since you did not care about HUMAN rights in Croatia during communist rule nor during Serbian occupation,
this might be a chance for you to make up for those great omissions. Please consider starting to protect
HUMAN rights in Croatia, rather than Serbian rights. Croatian government is breaking them daily - and
regularly in coordination with (or even under pressure of) "western democracies". However, I hope you
consider Croatians, Hungarians, Romanians, Italians, Bosnians and others - humans too. And their rights
worth protecting too.
Following your own twisted ways, one would expect that you will also report about status of human rights
of Croatians and other non-Serb nationalities in Serbia and Montenegro. For the organization of your
"caliber" it should not be too difficult to realize their rights are wildly violated. Much more than
human rights in Serbia on average. And far more than Serbian rights in Croatia. And again these people
did not kill and bomb shelled civilians in Serbia or anywhere else.
However, on your web page related to Serbia and Montenegro (http://www.hrw.org/europe/fry.php) not only that you do not say a word about these violations of human rights - but you make a step further - and put your report on Serbs in Croatia at the top of the page - related to Serbia and Montenegro. So that reader who wants to see if there are any problems in S&M can quickly realize that everything is fine in that
country and real problems are in Croatia - and those problems are related to rights of Serbs only.
Amazing. I simply love those of your kind. One can just hope s/he does not ever need your protection.
I sincerely hope your "eyes" will one day reach longer than you are instructed to, paid for or in the
best case - just allowed to.