Austria to Expand List of Banned Symbols, Including Ustasha Insignia

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, October 4, 2018 – The Austrian federal coalition government on Wednesday sent to parliament a bill expanding the list of banned extremist symbols, including the insignia of Croatia’s World War II Ustasha regime.

The coalition government, consisting of the Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), plans to expand the list of banned symbols that was relatively short under a law from 2014.

The new law, expected to go into force on 1 March 2019, should cover different groups and organisations such as the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organisation, the Turkish Grey Wolves ultranationalist group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Hamas, as well as fascist insignia, Austrian media have reported.

This is a measure against radicalisation and terror, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said after a government session.

Answering questions from the press, he stressed that this did not mean that Austria had a special problem with the Ustasha nor was the measure directed against Croatia. As far as symbols of Fascism and Nazism are concerned, the current Austrian law applies only to the country’s National Socialist past.

Earlier this year, ahead of the annual commemoration of the Bleiburg killings, Kurz told the local media that the government would respond resolutely if Nazi symbols were displayed at the event.

Every year tribute is paid near the Austrian town of Bleiburg to dozens of thousands of Croatian civilians and soldiers of the defeated pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia (NDH) regime who in 1945 wanted to surrender to the Allies but were handed over by the British Army to the Yugoslav Partisans. Some were killed at Bleiburg while many were killed in the following months on death marches known as the Way of the Cross.

Even though the Bleiburg commemoration is held under the auspices of the Croatian parliament, it is always marked by the presence of some Ustasha sympathisers displaying recognisable Ustasha insignia.

This year’s commemoration was therefore held amid increased presence of Austrian police, who were assisted by Croatian police as well as members of the Bleiburg Honorary Platoon. Officials of the Austrian office for foreigners attended the event as well in order to prevent the display of the Ustasha or Nazi symbols witnessed in previous years.


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