ZAGREB, May 21, 2018 – A total of 393 cases of violence and other forms of incitement to discrimination against Serbs were recorded in Croatia in 2017, compared to 331 such cases reported in 2016, the Serb National Council (SNV) said on Monday.
“We are reporting for the fourth consecutive year that hate speech, calls for violence, various acts of violence, intolerance and historical revisionism are becoming more and more frequent and continue to be tolerated in the public sphere and institutional communication,” SNV president Milorad Pupovac told a press conference in Zagreb. He said that the reason for this was twofold: ultraconservative circles were renewing their campaign and failure by the authorities to enforce the law.
“The Ustasha salute ‘For the homeland ready!’ is just the tip of the iceberg. Spreading this kind of ideology and songs has taken on such proportions that it is posing a serious danger to Croatia’s constitutional values and constitutional order,” Pupovac said.
Tamara Opačić, the author of the SNV bulletin which includes data on hate speech, historical revisionism and violence against Serbs in 2017, said that the increase in anti-Serb incidents in 2017 was not as dramatic as in 2016 when it reached 57 percent.
Eleven physical attacks on members of the Serb community in Croatia or nationals of Serbia, 17 cases of devastation of anti-fascist monuments, 30 cases of damage done to Serb-owned property, mostly Serb Orthodox churches, and at least 107 insults and threats addressed to Serbs, mostly SNV members and journalists with the Serb minority weekly Novosti, were recorded last year.
In addition, graffiti glorifying the fascist and Ustasha ideology and inciting to murdering Serbs were recorded in 30 towns, Opačić said, expressing concern about racist and xenophobic language used by many media outlets and problematic statements by politicians.
As examples, Opačić cited last year’s statement by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović that the salute “For the homeland ready!” was an ancient Croatian salute, a rally by the far-right Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights, campaigns by the conservative non-governmental organisation “In the Name of the Family” and the latest referendum initiative to change the election system.
She criticised the council on the consequences of undemocratic regimes for de facto legalising the use of the salute “For the homeland ready!” and the slow work of judicial authorities in dealing with cases of threats and hate speech.
The SNV presented the results of a survey on the use of the salute “For the homeland ready!” on social networks, which showed that the salute had been used 11,309 times in the first eight months of last year on the Facebook pages of Direktno.hr, Dnevno.hr, Index.hr and Priznajem Hrvat Sam.
Asked if these data brought into question the support of the Serb SDSS party for the government, Pupovac said that the SDSS would support the government for as long as there was the minimum capacity for democratic transformation of society and preservation of democratic values. “The easiest way would be to withdraw from the ruling coalition and then what?” Pupovac asked. “Right now the ruling coalition headed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković provides the minimum prerequisites for maintaining the fight against corruption and undemocratic trends despite the fact that undemocratic trends are gaining strength,” he said.