UNESCO Called to Prevent a Ban on Traditional Singing Festival

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, August 23, 2018 – The Serb cultural society “Prosvjeta” and the Serb National Council (SNV) said on Wednesday that they had notified UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee of attempts to ban a festival of traditional “ojkanje” singing and threats sent to participants in the event promoting that traditional form of folk singing, inscribed on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The two associations said that they had notified UNESCO on Wednesday “of activities aimed at banning a festival of ojkanje singing in Petrinja” since those activities were continuing and some festival participants had cancelled their participation due to threats.

Prosvjeta and the SNV said they sent their letter to UNESCO also “because the relevant state institutions are not doing anything to stop the discriminatory, segregational and threatening activities against festival participants despite their appeals for defusing tension, restoring tolerance and respecting the shared cultural heritage of Croats and Serbs.”

“With this statement and the notification to UNESCO, we are expressing our commitment to the international obligations Croatia has as a member of UNESCO and our responsibility for compliance with our own constitution, the Constitutional Law on the Rights of Ethnic Minorities, anti-discrimination legislation and the criminal law,” reads the letter signed by Prosvjeta president Mile Radović and SNV president Milorad Pupovac.

An association of veterans from the 1991-95 Homeland War from Petrinja has opposed plans by Serb cultural societies to hold a festival of ojkanje singing in that town.

Ojkanje, the oldest form of folk signing in Croatia, was inscribed on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2010.

The local veterans have said the festival can be held in some other town but not in Petrinja as ojkanje is not part of the town’s tradition.


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