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Dr. Drago Stambuk: Speech at the Holy Mass for Vukovar Victims, Tokyo 2008
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic
Published on 11/16/2008
Dr. Drago Štambuk in his speech in Tokyo at the Holy Mass for Vukovar Victims, November 16th 2008, said that "... Vukovar's treatment by the Serbian forces onslaught from August to November 1991, when up to 15,000 missiles would fall daily on this beautiful baroque town, turned its citizens into martyrs and town into a waste land. The lives of the inhabitants were conducted inside cellars..."

15,000 Serbian grenades daily were falling on the city of Vukovar during three months

Vukovar in November 1991, after three months of continuous Serbian shelling and bombing of this Croatian Baroque City.


About Vukovar

Vukovar is the city from the eastern part of Croatia, located on the western bank of the Danube. The river helped transform the town into an important trading center, surrounded by fertile agricultural plains. A beautiful Croatian city of Vukovar was completely destroyed during the aggression against Croatia in 1991.

The town, with civilians only, had for months warded off the Yugoslav Army and Serb paramilitary attacks on the city. The town has been continuously bombed, with up to 15,000 grenades falling on it daily. Terrified inhabitants had to lead the life in cellars under the ground.

Around 2,000 self-organized defenders valiantly defended the city for 87 days, but in spite their heroic defence it was destroyed and overrun beyond recognition on November 18, 1991. Vukovar is notorious for the devastation it suffered, the worst in Europe since the 2nd World War.

After the fall of the city nearly 300 Vukovar's hospital patients were massacred. They were buried with the other captured and killed civilians in more than 24 mass graves. Aggression on Vukovar, which was also a classical example of ethnic cleansing, took 3050 lives of its citizens and forced 22,000 of them to exile.

Dr. Drago Štambuk, Croatian ambassador in Japan, speaking in the church of St. Ignatius in Tokyo at the Holy Mass for the Vukovar victims.



Your Excellencies, dear Apostolic Nuncio Bottari de Castello, dear professor Hollerich, dear faithful, friends, konichiwa,

The time of the year has come when all Croats feel cold in their bones, the hushed silenced cold that we do not know fully how to deal with. It's the cold of Vukovar, the town that in November 18, 1991, ceased to exist but has transformed itself in our imagination into a ghost city of sacrifice and suffering.

What are the facts that we need to know to understand why we are here at this Holy Mass together, praying to God while asking for forgiveness and absolution from sins of those who transgressed against the City?

Vukovar's treatment by the Serbian forces onslaught from August to November 1991, when up to 15.000 missiles would fall daily on this beautiful baroque town, turned its citizens into martyrs and town into a waste land. The lives of the inhabitants were conducted inside cellars and their heroic deeds of self-defence have turned into legend and myth which has sustained our grief.

Vukovar, the annihilated city, for three months was systematically pounded, and when its heroic resistance came to its end, many massacres, even the massacre of 300 hospital patients, where executed with such unbelievable cruelty, that they are still reverberating in our mind and will be felt as long as our memory lasts.

The City of Tokyo went through its own Calvary at the end of the World War Two and each year we ambassadors are gathered by the Governor to commemorate Tokyo’s bombardment. That's why the great Japanese capital and its citizens can embrace and understand the tragedy of our Croatian city and be on the same wave length regarding Vukovar's destruction and suffering. The time comes when we do need, for the sake of recovery, to lean our wounds against other humans' wounds and start the healing process of strengthening each other, through companionship and compassion.

Wounded do understand the wounds of the other wounded, and people who went through suffering relate to each other in the most empathic way and that's the reason why I chose, for Vukovar Fall Day successive commemorations in Japan, the cities of Nagasaki (2006) and Hiroshima (2007), as well as Tokyo today.

Being in Japan and recalling nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as Tokyo burning,  I pose a question : How is it possible that Vukovar tragedy could happened after Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo devastation? How could another beautiful city with its civilians be annihilated in the way for which the world has repeatedly said: No more, and never again!

If we don't reeducate ourselves we'll be repeating the same terrible mistakes again and again. Out of desperation and the deep sense of inadequacy of our human race - we call on God, the Protector, the Comforter and the Corrector of our nature to help us heal our inadequacies, to change our hearts that will stand locked in one line with the rest of humanity.

I call on everyone present here to help in replacing the old mindset with the new one educated by the lessons of our infamous history.

I ask our Lord to bless all those who learn, truly and humbly, from Vukovar experience - that the time is more than overdue  for saying: No, resolute and decided No - to any repeated suffering on our Planet, to any other destruction of the cities and citizens.

We pray to you, Lord, to help your weak children, to become strong in following the way of your son, Jesus Christ - in bettering our nature and lighting our souls!

Dear friends,

The line between evil and good runs through each human heart, not between the nations, and is shifting all the time. The World with its light and dark, resides in each and unique human being.

I thank you for sharing with us the Remembrance day for the Vukovar victims and their tragedy, and for all the misdeeds that we know of, and can relate to, in our lives and in our countries, the sufferings we have known and will learn about. As Christians, the people of spirituality and of good will, we pray for peace so to reach the state of forgiveness for those who trespassed against us. Even more, to be able to ask our fellow humans to forgive us our trespasses against them. We pray to our One and Only Lord, the Mighty and Eternal God, to have mercy on us, and to help us to elevate our souls, redeem our deeds, to strengthen our love that we share among ourselves, to be worthy of being called God's children.

I thank you all for praying together for Peace in our hearts that will flow into Peace among us.

We'll either love each other and stand together or will meet an inglorious end.
Let's open our hearts, let's love and be loved.
In this shrinking World if we don't expand our hearts and embrace each other, the mankind will not survive.

Domo arigato gozaimashita.

Dr. Drago Štambuk
Ambassador of Croatia in Japan

Konichiwa - Good day, Dobar dan
Domo arigato gozaimashita - Many thanks, Hvala lijepa

Dr. Drago Štambuk in front line with Apostolic Nuncio Bottari de Castello and with professor Ivan Pavić, rector of the University of Split.

Dr. Drago Štambuk with Apostolic Nuncio Bottari de Castello.

Dr. Drago Štambuk with Mr. Seigo Kitamura, Vice Minister of Defense of Japan.


U Tokiju služena sveta misa zadušnica za vukovarske žrtve

Tokyo, 16. studenoga 2008.

Dana 16. studenoga 2008. održana je sveta misa zadušnica za vukovarske žrtve i molitva za mir u svijetu u crkvi Svetoga Ignacija u Tokiju. Nakon organiziranja svetih misa zadušnica za vukovarske žrtve u Urakami katedrali u Nagasakiju 2006, te u Memorijalnoj katedrali za mir u Hirošimi 2007, Veleposlanstvo Republike Hrvatske u Japanu organiziralo je i treću uzastopnu svetu misu zadušnicu za vukovarske žrtve, ovaj put u Tokiju, uoči Dana pada Vukovara 18. studenoga.

Na početku mise koju je predvodio prorektor tokijskog katoličkog Sveučilišta Sophia, profesor moderne povijesti, isusovac Jean-Claude Hollerich i u kojoj je sudjelovalo preko 1000 vjernika, nazočnima se obratio hrvatski veleposlanik u Japanu dr. Drago Štambuk. Govorio je o tragediji Vukovara i o paraleli sa razaranjem japanskih gradova Nagasakija, Hirošime i Tokija, kao i o potrebi da se nauče i implementiraju lekcije iz prošlosti eda čovječanstvo ne bi ponavljalo iste zločine. Zborio je i o sućuti i ljudskom povezivanju koje proizlazi iz ovakvih komemoracija, a snaži odnose Japana i Hrvatske. Za granicu Dobra i Zla kazao je da prolazi ljudskim srcem, a ne među narodima, te da se stalno mijenja. Istaknuo je potrebu oprosta i mira kao preduvjeta opstanka čovječanstva. Homiliju koja se odnosila na vukovarsku tragediju održao je Jean-Claude Hollerich, u kojoj je naglasio potrebu središnjeg mjesta Isusa Krista u životima ljudi, te o praštanju i nadi. Na koncu mise apostolski nuncij u Japanu Alberto Bottari de Castello pozvao je nazočne da primjer Vukovara i drugih žalosnih mjesta u svijetu, poput Konga i Darfura, uvrste u svoje molitve i promijene svoja srca primjerom Kristove patnje.

Svetoj misi uz hrvatskog Veleposlanika i spomenute svećenike nazočili su i zamjenik ministra obrane Japana Seigo Kitamura, mnogi veleposlanici, rektor Sveučilišta u Splitu prof. dr. sc. Ivan Pavić, s prorektorima prof. dr. sc. Rokom Andričevićem, prof. dr. sc. Draganom Bolančom i prof. dr. sc. Željkom Domazetom. Također su misi prisustvovali i predstavnici hrvatskoga karate tima koji sudjeluje na Svjetskom karate prvenstvu u Tokiju, Hrvati koji žive u Japanu, među njima i nogometaš Edi Bosnar, te brojni japanski novinari.

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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