Ne ponovilo se. Ne zaboravilo se.
Vukovar November 18th 1991 - 2006
Tens of thousands gather for 15th anniversary of Vukovar siege
Sat Nov 18, 8:58 AM ET
ZAGREB (AFP) - Around 25,000 people have gathered to commemorate the 1991 siege and fall of Vukovar, a brutal episode in Croatia's 1991-1995 war of independence from the communist Yugoslav Federation.
Political leaders and Croatians from all corners of the country, each carrying a red rose, took part in a ceremony Saturday in the courtyard of the eastern city's hospital, a symbol of resistance. Others marched towards the city's cemetery to place flowers and candles on the graves of those killed in the siege and its bloody aftermath.
"Vukovar defended Croatia, we are proud to be here," Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said during the ceremonies, shown live on national television. "We have a duty to thank those who gave their lives for the defence of the city."
Vukovar, a city of 44,600, was captured by the Yugoslav army and Serb rebels in November 1991, at the end of a three-month siege. Buildings were razed, more than 1,000 civilians were massacred and 22,000 were expelled.
On Friday a museum dedicated to the siege was opened in the basement of a hospital which came under attack almost daily but has since been rebuilt. "It was very difficult, but our job was to organise everything under these conditions," said Vesna Bosanac, in charge of the hospital at the time.
"We launched appeals to the international community, but there was no political desire to help Vukovar."
After Vukovar was captured, Serb forces took away 267 patients from the hospital. Around 200 of them were then executed at a pig farm in the nearby hamlet of Ovcara. Seven people survived. The others were never seen again, along with 456 of the thousands of people taken to Serbia and briefly imprisoned.
After the war ended, the Vukovar region was put under UN administration and was reintegrated into Croatia in 1998.
Some 18,000 Croats have returned to the city, where they live alongside 10,000 Croatian Serbs. But the two sides do not mix and relations are tense.
Serbian courts sentenced some 15 Serb paramilitaries to jail terms of between five and 20 years for exactions in Vukovar, while three senior officers of the former Yugoslav army are awaiting trial by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague
Formated for CROWN by Nenad Bach
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