In Vukovar and around the country, Croatia marks the 25th anniversary of one of the major events of the Homeland War.
Croatia will on Friday mark the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Vukovar and the occupation of the town, and the central event will be a traditional memorial walk which will pay homage to all the victims of Vukovar. The walk will include numerous veterans, guests and high-ranking state officials. It is expected that up to 100,000 people might attend the events.
The three months long resistance of Vukovar defenders against aggressor forces of the Yugoslav National Army and Serbian paramilitaries ceased on 18 November 1991. The battle for Vukovar, according to military experts, was the largest and the bloodiest battle of the Homeland War. It was a 87-day siege which ended in a defeat of defenders, with heavy losses to the attackers and widespread destruction of Vukovar. In the battle, between 2,900 and 3,600 people, soldiers and civilians, lost their lives. During and after the battle, Serb forces committed numerous war crimes against Croatian soldiers and civilians.
The memorial walk from the Vukovar hospital will this year follow the traditional route and end at the Memorial Cemetery of the Homeland War Victims, where the official state and other delegations will lay wreaths and light candles. The procession will be led by Vukovar defenders. Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava called on all patriots to come to the town and to honour the victims of Vukovar with dignity. It is expected that about 30 various commemorative events will take pace. For veterans’ associations who have announced the arrival of their members to Vukovar, the Ministry of Veterans Affairs has organized a special train from Zagreb.
The tribute to the victims of Vukovar will be paid at the Memorial Cemetery of the Homeland War Victims, where 423 Croatian war veterans are buried, as well as 310 civilian war victims, 163 deceased disabled war veterans, and 57 family members of killed veterans.
In 1998, remains of 938 victims of the aggression on Vukovar were exhumed from mass graves at the Memorial Cemetery, and they are now marked with 938 white marble crosses. According to data of the Association of Parents and Families of Captured Veterans, 291 persons from Vukovar are still missing.
The government on Thursday held a session in Vukovar, which was almost entirely devoted to Vukovar and the events marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the city. The government signed agreements related to the reconstruction of municipal infrastructure in the town, including the reconstruction of the Vukovar Water Tower, one of the symbols of the battle, which the government will co-finance with 18 million kuna.
On Saturday, 19 November, events paying tribute to the victims of the nearby Borovo Naselje will take place, while on Sunday the victims of Serbian concentration camps and victims of the mass grave at Ovčara will be remembered. Ovčara is the site where in 1996 the remains of 200 people were exhumed. Following the fall of Vukovar, members of the Yugoslav National Army and Serbian paramilitary units took wounded soldiers and civilians from the Vukovar hospital and executed them at Ovčara.
Events marking the anniversary will take place all over Croatia as well.