Day of Remembrance of Missing Persons in the Croatian War of Independence (Dan sjećanja na nestale osobe u Domovinskom ratu)

“Voice of Croatian victim - Wall of pain” monument in Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb (Glas hrvatske žrtve – Zid boli)
“Voice of Croatian Victim – Wall of Pain” monument in Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb – Image by Jutarnji list

The Day of Remembrance of Missing Persons in the Croatian War of Independence is a memorial day in Croatia. In Croatia, it is called “Dan sjećanja na nestale osobe u Domovinskom ratu”. On this day, we remember everyone who is considered missing in the Croatian War of Independence. Since it is memorial day, it is a working day.

The Croatian War of Independence ended almost 30 years ago. However, we’re still looking for the remains of some people who were killed and the ones who have been missing since the war.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Croatian War of Independence

The Croatian War of Independence, also called the Homeland War, was a war between Croatia and joint forces of Serbian extremists in Croatia, the Yugoslav People’s Army, and Serbia and Montenegro. It was fought between 1991 and 1995.

The Croatian War of Independence was a defensive war for the independence and integrity of the Croatian state. The war ended with the victory of Croatia, as well as the complete defeat of Serbia and Yugoslav politics.

The war had many repercussions including:

  • More than 12.000 Croats were killed
  • Many people have been declared missing and their fate is still unknown
  • More than 180.000 residential buildings were damaged or destroyed
  • Many Croats were forced to leave their homes in the occupied territories
  • At the end of 1991, ~550.000 Croats were expelled from their homes
  • ~150.000 Croatian refugees left Croatia

Current situation on missing persons from the Croatian War of Independence

Until today, 82% of missing persons from the Croatian War of Independence have been found. The lack of information makes it difficult for the Croatian government to make any significant progress on those who remain missing.

Until 2020, 242 possible sites of disguised mass and individual graves of missing persons were collected. Field research was conducted at 205 sites. The remains of 124 persons were found and exhumed during this research. The remains of 184 victims were finally identified and buried according to the wishes of their families.

In 2020, the Croatian government was still looking for 1.869 missing persons from the Croatian War of Independence for whom the burial place is unknown. Their families are still waiting for answers. It is especially important to find the remains of bodies that were moved from primary to secondary graves.

In 2019, Law on Persons Missing in the Homeland War was enacted. It is called “Zakon o osobama nestalim u Domovinskom ratu” and it is available here.

This law defines that the Republic of Croatia is responsible for resolving the cases of all its missing citizens from the war. It also prescribes rewards for those whose information can help to solve cases of missing persons.

People who possess any relevant information about missing persons or hidden graves from the Croatian War of Independence are invited to share it with the Ministry of Croatian War Veterans (Ministarstvo hrvatskih branitelja) or other competent bodies.

How the Day of Remembrance is marked

This memorial day was marked in 2020 for the first time. Since it is not a national holiday, it is a working day. [Read: Croatian national holidays]

Until 2020, on August 30, Croatia has been marking only The International Day of Missing Persons. From now on, we are marking both events on the same day.

In 2020, a tribute to the missing persons was paid at the Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb, in front of the monument “Voice of Croatian Victim – Wall of Pain” (Glas hrvatske žrtve – Zid boli). This monument was built by notable Croatian sculptor Dušan Džamonja.

In black marble, 13.500 names of killed Croatian veterans and civilians of the Croatian War of Independence are engraved.

At the congress hall at Zagrebački velesajam in Zagreb, a conference in memory of their unfortunate fates was held. It was called “The right of the family to the truth – the right of the missing to identity” (Pravo obitelji na istinu- pravo nestalih na identitet). Andrej Plenković, Croatian Prime Minister, and Tomo Medved, the Minister of Croatian Veterans, spoke about persons missing during the War.

Similar ceremonies were organized in previous years when Croatia celebrated only the International Day of Missing Persons, in different cities around the country. In 2019, the International Day of Missing Persons was marked in Vinkovci, in front of the memorial cross at the city cemetery.

In 2018, this happened in Karlovac in front of the monument to the killed Croatian defenders “Four Rivers”, and in 2017, the event was held in Osijek.

View other holiday posts


Sources:
https://vlada.gov.hr/vijesti/plenkovic-trazenje-nestalih-nikada-nece-prestati-biti-prioritet-hrvatske-vlade/30243
https://www.enciklopedija.hr/natuknica.aspx?ID=15884
https://mup.gov.hr/policijske-uprave/medjunarodni-dan-nestalih-osoba-243170/239410

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.

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