Open letter of Initiative for RECOM to Pope Francis

Pope Francis
Casa Santa Marta
00120 CittàdelVaticano

Your Holiness, Pope Francis,

We are writing to you in the name of the 2,050 members of RECOM, the Regional Commission for the establishment of facts about war crimes and other serious human rights violations committed in the former Yugoslavia from January 1, 1991, until December 31, 2001. These members include associations and organisations as well as individuals from associations representing victims, veterans, families of victims and missing persons, human rights organisations, artists, journalists and other individuals from Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Slovenia. They joined together motivated by the idea that a Regional Commission from the previously mentioned states should be founded, which will determine the facts about the war crimes committed, the identities of and the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 130,000 war victims. So far, more than 580,000 individuals from the region have supported the initiative with their signatures.

We remember the words of the late Pope Saint John Paul II, who on his first Apostolic Journey to Bosnia and Hercegovina in April 1997, called on all people to work towards a peaceful co-existence in Sarajevo, Bosnia Hercegovina and in the whole region of the former common state of Yugoslavia.

Your words of support for all those who have suffered injustice, your sincere grief for all victims, and your conviction that every person has the strength to contribute to the process of building peace and making co-existence based on justice and truth possible give us the strength to persevere in our own commitment to create a culture of co-existence with respect and compassion for all victims in the region of the former Yugoslavia.

As a figure of religious authority who cares very deeply about peace in the world, you can understand very well the importance of mourning the victims of the other communities. How can this become our common culture? We are asking for your help with this. We are asking you to support us, and to call on all believers, politicians and all citizens of Bosnia and Hercegovina and the neighbouring countries to stand by all those who have suffered. We are asking you on the occasion of your visit to Sarajevo in June, 2015, to support the Regional Commission which seeks to establish the facts about the war crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, as well as other initiatives which foster regional cooperation.

Our initiative is supported by some of our politicians and some important institutions of the European Union and the United Nations. However, the churches and other religious communities, which have an enormous potential and which are also obliged to build a stable society, have only given us declarative support. They lack the necessary sensitivity to deal with this extremely important question in our region. For this reason, we ask you stand up for this noble idea and to extend a helping hand – with which we will be safer and more confident in our commitment to fulfilling this important task.

We are aware of and confident in your great concern for social justice and for all who are disempowered and disadvantaged in the world. We are confident that you will support our and other similar initiatives which cross ethnic and confessional borders to create trans-ethnic and trans-religious solidarity. This is the only way every individual nation in the region as well as the region as a whole can have a future.

Please receive our most sincere greetings and best wishes for a successful Pastoral Journey to Sarajevo.

Very Respectfully,
In the name of the Coalition for RECOM,

Dimitar Anakiev, Initiative of the Erased People, Slovenia
Bekim Blakaj, Humanitarian Law Centre, Kosovo
Prof. Dr. Zidas Daskalovski, Macedonia
Prof. Dr. Zdravko Grebo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dinko Gruhonjić, Association of Independent Journalists in Vojvodina, Serbia
Nataša Kandić, Project RECOM, Serbia
Dženana Karup Druško, Association for Transitional Justice, Responsibility and Remembrance in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Adriatik Kelmendi, journalist, Kosovo
Mario Mažić, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Croatia
Dino Mustafić, director, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mr. Sc. Drago Pilsel, journalist and theologian, Croatia
Prof. Dr. Žarko Puhovski, Croatia
Vesna Teršelič, Documenta, Croatia
Duško Vuković, journalist, Montenegro
Daliborka Uljarević, Centre for Civic Education, Montenegro