Scandalous ruling of Croatian High Misdemeanor Court

The Jewish non-governmental organization B´nai B´rith in Croatia, the lodge Gavro Schwarz, would like to convey its deep concern about the recent scandalous ruling of the Croatian High Misdemeanor Court. Namely, the Court ruled in favor of use of the notorious Ustasa´s movement salute “Za dom spremni” (For Fatherland-ready!) in the song of Marko Perkovic Thompson.

B´nai B´rith is a world-wide organization with a long tradition and reputation, with own observers sitting in the United Nations and in the Council of Europe. The goals and tasks of this non-governmental organization are set among others to caution and point at, where and when necessary, the rise of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and restoration of fascism. Accordingly, the B´nai B´rith Croatia considers it to be its duty to express the concern when the Croatian High Misdemeanor Court has, with the recent affirmative ruling on notorious Ustasa´s salute, created a possibility for the Croatian society to develop an inadmissible sympathy toward Ustasa movement, its shameful activities and crimes committed during the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) from 1941 to 1945.

All Ustasa´s enactment of racial laws, decrees, and edicts, were concluded by the salute: For Fatherland-ready! They came through the history to the present day and cannot be denied. These were the documents, that ordered in one way or another, looting, requisition of properties, or massive killings of people only because they were Serbs, Jews or Roma people– in a word, genocide. With the salute For Fatherland-ready!  Ustasas tortured and committed mass killings at concentration camps and execution sites of Jasenovac and Jadovno. To use the salute For Fatherland-ready! today, after seventy-five years from fascist crimes that resulted in Holocaust, no matter if it were a part of the lyrics in a song, indicates how there are still those to whom the fascism is the matter of interpretation.

The modern Croatian state, as embodied in its Constitution, is founded on the values of antifascism. So, when a state institution like the High Misdemeanor Court rules in favor of some fascist symbol or value, it damages the perception of Croatia world-wide and in Europe, where Croatia belongs, and where the symbols and values of fascism are strictly forbidden by laws.

The issue of the Ustasa´s salute For Fatherland -ready! has been stirring the public reaction for some time. A part of the Croatian public expected the Prime Minister or the President of the state to react to the issue respecting the Constitution. Unfortunately, both of them have never expressed strait reaction, but have for political ambitions or personal beliefs sided with interpretations of historians or academics or formed bodies which were to advise them, thus delaying and twisting the answer to the issue.

It is expected from the authorities, and there is a public pressure as well to encourage educational curricula in teaching school children what went on in Ustasa reign, especially under the salute or hail For Fatherland-ready! Unfortunately, the affirmative ruling of the mentioned Court only helps the salute to gain more legitimacy, and helps the warming up of nostalgia for the long gone Independent State of Croatia (NDH). Sadly, a number of contemporary politicians enthusiastically go along.

It is encouraging that a considerable part of the public opinion is against the ruling of the Croatian High Misdemeanor Court, and that the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia reacted by stating that the scandalous ruling is against the Croatian Constitution. This gives hope for a brighter future in Croatia, the future where there will be tolerance and where its citizens can look forward to living in a country of freedom.

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