ZAGREB, December 21, 2018 – The Initiative for RECOM and the non-governmental organisation Documenta – the Centre for Dealing with the Past on Friday presented an interactive map of war victims in former Yugoslavia, from Croatia’s 1991-1995 Homeland War to the 2001 armed conflict in Macedonia.
The acronym RECOM stands for the Regional Commission Tasked with Establishing the Facts about All Victims of War Crimes and Other Serious Human Rights Violations Committed on the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia from 1 January 1991 to 31 December 2001.
Long-lasting research and documenting of human losses is a result of efforts and cooperation between regional documentation centres – Documenta from Zagreb, the Humanitarian Law Centre from Belgrade, the Humanitarian Law Centre from Pristina, and the Sarajevo-based association Transitional Justice, Responsibility and Memory.
The map contains the victims’ names and characteristics because we believe that it is important for people to remember people, Documenta head Vesna Teršelić said, adding that the initiative was designed to contribute to reducing and stopping the manipulation of victims.
The human rights associations working on the research as well as the organisations involved in the RECOM coalition established that around 130,000 people had been killed or had gone missing in all the former Yugoslav wars but not all names have been entered in the map because the research is ongoing.
In Croatia, 17,007 war victims have been recorded, and the map contains the names of slightly more than 4,000 victims because only victims verified by several sources are entered in the register.
Nataša Kandić, the founder of Belgrade’s Humanitarian Law Centre, said that they expected Croatia to be among the countries that would compile the first regional list of war victims in former Yugoslavia and to join, as a member of the European Union, in the European Commission’s open support to the RECOM initiative.
Nives Jozić, human loss research coordinator at Documenta, said that while researching human losses in Croatia since 2009 they had interviewed more than 2,900 members of victims’ families, acquaintances and witnesses and gathered more than 27,000 documents, registering 17,007 victims.
Documenta’s map also contains data collected by the Humanitarian Law Centre on the human loss of Serbian and Montenegrin nationals, namely the names of 2,200 members of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and the army and police forces of Serbia killed in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Information for Kosovo shows that from early 1998 to late 2000, 13,549 people went missing or were killed there.
The project was presented in the context of a campaign to establish a regional commission to determine facts about the victims, perpetrators and war events.
The need for such a commission is greater than ever because a year after the completion of the work of the Hague war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which documented more than 18,000 victims during its work, we can see how important it is, aside from administering justice, to make an additional step towards establishing facts about war victims in former Yugoslavia and building trust, Teršelić said, warning that regional cooperation in that regard is growing weaker and weaker.
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