Centre for Civic Education (CCE), within the edition ‘Dealing with the past in Montenegro’, after ‘Morinj’ and ‘Kaluđerski laz’ cases, has published two new publications, integrally presenting material from court proceedings in the cases of ‘Bukovica’ and ‘Deportation’.
According to testimonies collected by human rights organizations – torture, search, looting, harassment and abuse of Bosniaks/Muslims were carried out during the stay of a large number of reservists of the Yugoslav army, Police of Republic of Montenegro, as well as members of paramilitary formations at the territory of Bukovica in Pljevlja. During these actions, from 1992 until 1995, according to the data from expelled people from Bukovica, six people were killed, two persons committed suicide as the consequence of torture, 11 were kidnapped, and about 70 were subjected to physical torture, which included extreme forms of humiliation and rape. At least eight houses were burned, as well as a mosque in the village Planjsko, and almost all households robbed. This resulted in the expulsion/fleeing of 90 families, with about 270 members.
‘Deportation’ case refers to the illegal arrest at the territory of Montenegro, and then extradition of at least 66 Muslim refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the army of Bosnian Serbs in May and June 1992. Besides them, 33 Serb refugees were arrested in the same action. Most of deported Muslim refugees were executed, while only 12 of them managed to survive extradition. On the other hand, deported Serb refugees were not treated as hostages, nor is it known that any of them were killed.
It is important to note that, despite the inadequate prosecution of the commanders and perpetrators of these two crimes, Montenegro has acknowledged their commission, paying compensation to the victims and their families.
It is difficult to emphasize enough the necessity of final processing of ‘Bukovica’ and ‘Deportation’ cases for the sustainable future of Montenegro. The fact that these cases were not resolved carries particular weight for Montenegrin society because it burdens the entire society with responsibility for war crimes. In addition, it damages the international reputation of anti-war society, but also undermines the essential civilization values of our society, especially those related to the protection of citizens and refugees. Finally, it also hinders effective processes of transitional justice and dealing with the past.
Dealing with the past is an urgent need of Montenegrin society, not because of commitments undertaken through international documents and the EU accession process, but as the basis for solid and long-lasting inter-religious and inter-ethnic reconciliation within the country. Until that happens, all the rhetorically proclaimed civic and multi-ethnic essence of Montenegro remains endangered.
By consolidating key and authentic documents from two additional war crimes processes in Montenegro, the CCE aims to contribute to ending of the negative practice of inadequate war crimes prosecutions, creating the necessary institutional framework, but also to encourage constructive dealing with the past.
These publications were released within the project ‘Facing the past for the future’ with the support of the Embassy of Canada.
Milos Vukanovic, Programme Advisor