Zero Tolerance for Ustasha Insignia at Bleiburg Commemoration

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 8, 2018 – The Honorary Bleiburg Platoon (PBV) on Tuesday presented measures and a code of conduct adopted in cooperation with the Catholic Church and state authorities in Austria in order to maintain the dignity of Saturday’s commemoration of the victims killed in the Bleiburg field and during ‘Way of the Cross’ in the wake of the Second World War.

During the commemoration, every form of displaying any kind of textual, photographic, verbal or any other sort of political message is strictly forbidden, the PBV told a press conference, announcing zero tolerance toward Ustasha and Nazi symbols.

Wearing any type of uniform, parts of uniforms or military insignia or their imitation, particularly those related to the Axis Powers or their allies during WWII are banned.

Any disturbance of the peace, shouting, singing or any other type of inappropriate behaviour will be punished, particularly during the procession and Mass, and the sale and consumption of alcohol is banned during and after the procession and commemoration.

Those attending are obliged to respect Austrian law, while Austrian law enforcement authorities and PBV officials will be responsible to see to it that the Austrian laws are complied with. Anyone who won’t respect the law will be taken away and charged accordingly.

This year, the Austrian Office for Aliens, whose officials will also be attending Saturday’s commemoration, will immediately deport any individuals who violate Austria’s reputation and they will be banned from entering Austria for a defined period.

Austrian authorities will video record the entire commemoration and once it is reviewed, if it is determined that anyone acted in violation of the law, relevant procedures will be instigated against them.

PBV underscored that the intention was to held the commemoration in a dignified manner and prevent any irrational or provocative behaviour by individuals who want the commemoration to be banned entirely. “That will be met with zero tolerance,” the chief coordinator preparing the commemoration and PBV’s representative in Croatia, Bože Vukušić said.

There mustn’t be any incidents related to showing or expressing support in any way, of the Nazi or Ustasha regime, it was said. “We accepted that not just because it is according to Austrian law and church regulations but also because it is in the interest of the dignity of the central commemoration,” Vukušić said.

He underscored that this is the first time that the commemoration has attracted attention in Austria because the media has presented it as being controversial, “even though the number of real rioters is insignificant compared to the number of pilgrims who come to pay respect to their ancestors.”

Vukušić believes that despite the insignificant number of rioters the commemoration has become a “big topic in Austria,” for political reasons and that politics has put pressure on the local bishop in Klagenfurt, Alois Schwarz, who is responsible for issuing permission for a religious event to be held in his diocese.

“Someone brought him five photographs of rioters, one of whom was showing Hitler’s salute, a few were wearing imitation Ustasha uniforms and one praised Hitler on Austrian television,” Vukušić said.

Bishop Schwarz then gave PBV an ultimatum that everything has to be done so that these events aren’t repeated during the commemoration and that Austrian police have to treat that as public space.

President of the PBV supervisory committee Vladimir Šeks said that the commemorations were held in accordance with the Croatian Constitution and Austrian state and religious laws. PBV organisational committee has taken all the necessary steps together with the Austrian side so that the commemoration is held in a dignified fashion, free of any political connotations. We want to prevent those in Austrian political circles who are attempting to ban the commemoration altogether and who have described it as “the last neo-Nazi gathering in Europe.”

The commemoration is set to start at 11 a.m. at the local cemetery and then proceed to the Bleiburg field where the official commemoration will start with a live telecast on the national broadcaster Croatian Radio Television.

Mass will be celebrated by Zadar Archbishop and president of the Croatian Conference of Bishops Želimir Puljić, and a prayer for those of Islamic faith will be prayed by Imam Idriz Bešlić.

The prayers and commemoration will be conducted to mark the 73th anniversary of the tribulations of fleeing Croatian Ustasha soldiers and civilians who were disarmed and handed over by allied forces in Austria to Tito’s partisans at the end of the Second World War. Many of them were executed on a mass-scale by Yugoslav Partisans without trial in the Bleiburg field and during death marches back to Yugoslavia.


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