ZAGREB, May 12, 2018 – About a hundred activists from Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Austria gathered in the southern Austrian town of Bleiburg on Saturday to protest against the memorial service in nearby Bleiburg Field for tens of thousands of Croatian civilians and soldiers of the defeated pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia (NDH) who were killed in the aftermath of World War II, saying that they saw the ceremony as “an Ustasha event”.
The Nazi-allied Ustasha movement ruled Croatia during WWII.
Although 23 civil society organisations had announced a large protest rally in Bleiburg, about a hundred people turned out, according to police estimates. Protesters, including members of the Workers’ Front from Croatia, carried placards saying “Nazis Out”. They said that this was a protest against not just fascism but also against capitalism, calling for an international movement against fascism and capitalism.
Aleksandar Dolić of the Workers’ Front said he had come to support local efforts for a ban on Ustasha and fascist events at Bleiburg, and to express his support for “international solidarity with our comrades.” “We are against such gatherings spreading the Ustasha or fascist ideology and that is why we call for a complete ban on this gathering. It’s unacceptable,” Dolić said.
Although a lot of civilians had been killed in Bleiburg Field, including women and children, Dolić said that a ban would be justified because those victims were being politicised.
Austrian police set up a checkpoint at the Dravograd border crossing, checking vehicles and causing delays. People were taken off the buses to have their bags checked and the police also checked the bus luggage storage areas.