Zagreb Initiative to Memorialise Murdered Croatian Serbs Praised

4. February 2022.15:32
Civil rights organisations welcomed Zagreb city council’s decision to add the Zec family, a Serb couple and their daughter killed by Croatian police during the war, to a register of names of people who should have streets named after them.

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Zagreb mayor Tomislav Tomasevic at the commemoration of the Zec family’s deaths. Photo: Tomislav Tomasevic/Facebook.

Branka Vierda of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights praised this week’s decision by a Zagreb City Assembly commission to add the names of the Zec family, who were murdered in 1991, to a register of names of people who could be memorialised by having a street or public area in the Croatian capital named after them.

Vierda said that it was “necessary as a reminder, a warning, that such a thing should never happen again – that people were killed just because they were of a certain nationality and a reminder that those responsible were not prosecuted”.

In one of the most notorious incidents of the Croatian war, police officers killed Serb civilians Marija and Mihajlo Zec and their 12-year-old daughter Aleksandra in Zagreb in December 1991.

The two alleged perpetrators, who initially confessed, were put on trial, but then acquitted after the court was allegedly subjected to political pressure.

Croatian MP Rada Boric said on Tuesday that the Zec family and recently-deceased whistleblower Ankica Lepej, who exposed the secret wealth of 1990s President Franjo Tudjman’s wife, were added to the register of people to be memorialised in the capital by the city committee that decides on the naming of streets and settlements.

“We will try to find an adequate public area to pay our respects to our brave fellow citizen [Lepej] and commemorate the tragic death of the Zec family. Both namings will serve as a reminder [of the need to] strengthen democracy and the politics of nonviolence,” Boric said.

The council has to respond to the naming committee’s proposal within 30 days or it will be automatically accepted.

Vierda said that the Youth Initiative for Human Rights has repeatedly proposed that the names of the Zec family be listed for memorialisation – in 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2021 – and that this week’s decision represents “the first step towards our long-term goal that a public area will bear their names”.

In December last year, the new Left-Green mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomasevic, attended the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the murder of the Zec family.

It was the first time that any mayor of the capital has participated in the commemoration, held on Mount Sljeme, where the victims were killed, and organised by the Anti-Fascist League of Croatia, the Serbian National Council, which represents the interests of Croatia’s Serb minority, and the NGO Documenta.

Addressing the commemoration, mayor Tomasevic said everyone knew what had happened there 30 years ago and who the perpetrators were, but that no one has been held accountable for the crime.

“It’s tragic that in 30 years, no mayor of Zagreb has ever commemorated this crime, effectively letting it be forgotten,” he said.


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