Against projected oblivion of crime of deportation of refugees from Montenegro

This May, we commemorate 21 years since the war crime committed against Bosnian refugees in Montenegro in the 1992. At least 66 refugee Bosniak-Muslim civilians were illegally arrested in Montenegro at that time, and handed to, for them, the enemy army of Bosnian Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina as hostages. Only 12 of the deported people managed to survive torture in concentration camps. The remains of most of the victims have not yet been found.

This war crime has still not been punished in accordance with international and domestic law, but, in front of all of us, instead of the justice, a “projected oblivion” by the authorities is being conducted. The first instance criminal court for the second time ruled that the case was not a war crime for which the defendant or others can be held responsible. Those who ordered and those who were able to prevent crimes were never prosecuted, even though the former president Momir Bulatović confessed to the court that the case was the “state error”.

There have been two years since we officially submitted an initiative to the President of the Parliament Ranko Krivokapić and to all heads of parliamentary groups, to proclaim the 27 May a Day of commemoration for the victims of refugees deportation in 1992 from Montenegro. We submitted another initiative to the Prime Minister of Montenegro Igor Lukšić, Minister of Interior Ivan Brajović and Culture Minister Branislav Mićunović, as well as to the President of the Municipality of Herceg Novi Dejan Mandić – to raise a memorial for the victims of refugees deportation in 1992 in front of the building of the Police Department in Herceg Novi, thus supporting the will of families of victims deported. Last year an initiative was directed to Montenegrin police to issue an apologize because of the exercise of police forces during the deportation of refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Nothing yet has been made of these initiatives up to this day. A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Culture, Danica Nikolić notified last year that “the Ministry of Culture and colleagues from other departments are going to do everything so that the memorial is finished as soon as posible”. President of the Parliament, Ranko Krivokapić, publicly supported the initiative to establish a day of remembrance, but he had never put it on the Parliaments agenda. Similarly, the President of the Municipality of Herceg Novi, Dejan Mandić, has stated his opinion that the city is not ready for that memorial, and moreover, has not enabled the Municipal Assembly to discuss this issue ever.

On 11 July 2011 the Prime Minister Igor Lukšić has, in Podgorica, opened a »monument for victims of civil wars 1991-2001« – a nameless memorial that does communicate nothing about what has happened in that decade, who are victims, of which crimes, and who is responsible for them? Therefore, this monument can in no way be considered as a response to our initiative.

Although the Government agreed to pay compensation to the victims’ families, Montenegro awaits 21 years after the crime of deportation without a criminal conviction that a war crime has been committed against refugees, without evidence of individual responsibility, and with no monument and day of commemoration for the victims of the crime.

This May too, we appeal again:

  • To stop denying the war crimes committed against the Bosnian civilian refugees in Montenegro;
  • To determine the crime responsibility of executants and originators as well, namely those who knew about it, but did nothing to prevent it;
  • To set up a memorial plaque in front of the Police Department in Herceg Novi in memory of the victims and as a warning for future generations of police officers that they should not carry out illegal orders;
  • To establish a day of remembrance for the victims of deportations in the 1992.

On Monday, 27 May 2013 at 10 am, we will commemorate by standing and laying flowers in memory of the victims of crimes committed against Bosniak civilians in Herceg Novi, and remind the Montenegrin public that crimes in Herceg Novi must not be forgotten.

Anima – Centre for Women and Peace Education Kotor, Ljupka Kovačević, Head Coordinator
Human Rights Action, Tea Gorjanc-Prelević, Executive Director
Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director
Aleksandar Saša Zeković, member of the Council for Civic Control of Police

This press release is supported also by following NGOs:

NGO Number 19, Mirsad Kurgaš, Executive Director
Centre for Women Rights, Maja Raičević, Executive Director
Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights, Velija Muric, Director
Prima NGO, Aida Perović-Ivanović, Executive Director