Ratko Mladic Monument Erected in His Bosnian Hometown
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The 3.5-metre-high mural monument depicting Ratko Mladic uniformed and saluting, which was recently installed in his Bosnian hometown Kalinovik, has been strongly criticised by war victims’ groups and rights campaigners.
Serbian handball player Vlada Mandic, who erected the mural, told media that he considered Mladic, who was convicted of genocide by the Hague Tribunal but has launched an appeal, to be a “Serb hero”.
Aleksandra Letic of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska said the Mladic tribute shows “the actual image of the society we live in” and suggests that “coming to terms with the past has not even begun”.
“The mural of Mladic does not come as a surprise, because we live in a society in which war criminals are glorified on all sides and monuments erected at various locations, victimising the victims again,” Letic said.
The mayor of the municipality of Kalinovik, Milena Komlenovic, told BIRN that no permission has been requested for the Mladic tribute.
“Nobody asked for a permit. Nobody contacted us,” Komlenovic said.
Kemal Pervan, president of the Kalinovik 92 Association, which represents war victims, said the mural of Mladic was an indicator that, even though so many years have passed since the end of the war, there are still no possibilities for Bosniaks who fled because of the war to return to the Kalinovik area.
“There is no return for Bosniaks. Five families have returned so far. This [Mladic tribute] also represents a way of obstructing the return process,” Pervan said.
“I am not surprised by the mural. However, we cannot build a monument in honour of killed civilians [in Kalinovik] because the municipality does not want to give us a permit,” he added.
The former Bosnian Serb military chief’s son Darko Mladic, who lives in Belgrade, told Serbian media that his father enjoyed widespread popular support.
Speaking about the tribute monument in Kalinovik, Darko Mladic said that it demonstrated that “we should not be ashamed of our heroes, but we should reward them for what they did for the people during those difficult years”.
The Hague Tribunal in November 2017 sentenced Mladic to life imprisonment for the genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica, terrorising the civilian population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.
He was also found guilty of persecuting Bosniaks and Croats in several municipalities around the country, including Kalinovik.
Both the defence and Hague prosecutors have appealed against the verdict. The final judgment is expected to be handed down next year.