Mark the 30th anniversary of the crime of Deportation of Refugees with a monument to the victims and Remembrance Day

The NGOs Human Rights Action (HRA), the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) and the Center for Women’s and Peace Education (ANIMA) expect from the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Aleksa Bečić, and the Assembly of the Municipality of Herceg Novi, Ivan Otović, to include timely initiatives for raising monuments and proclamation of the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Crime of the Deportation of Bosnian refugees into agenda of the assemblies they preside, so Montenegro can,  for the first time, officially mark the thirtieth anniversary of the crime next May. 

Today, there are four months since we submitted to the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Aleksa Bečić, the Initiative to declare May 27 the Day of Remembrance for the victims of the 1992 deportation of refugees from Montenegro. We have not received a response to this initiative. On 14 September, we submitted to the new President of the Municipal Assembly of Herceg Novi, Ivan Otović, the Initiative to erect a memorial to the victims of the deportation of refugees in 1992 in Herceg Novi, thus supporting the wish of the families of victims expressed more than ten years ago.

Through the Monument and the Remembrance Day, Montenegro should pay tribute to the victims and provide a lasting reminder of the crime against refugees that must never be repeated. We expect that the new authorities, which claim to be more democratic and more committed to human rights than the previous ones, within their competencies, through this specific example, contribute to the establishment of a culture of remembrance.

We remind that Mr Bečić stated on 27 May 2021: “Today, on the 29th anniversary of the deportation of Bosnian refugees from Montenegro, we feel great sadness for everything they and their loved ones went through during those unfortunate years at the territory of our state. Conviction of crimes and reverence for victims is the only way to heal the wounds from the past. The least we can do is to make sure that such crimes are not forgotten, and that similar things are never repeated. “

A public opinion poll, conducted by the HRA a year ago, indicated that 82% of Montenegrin citizens believe that the place of every war crime should be marked with a memorial plaque or monument to the victims, and 73% that for a better future it is necessary to nurture memories of events that we would rather forget.

Together with former member and president of the Council for Civil Control of Police, Aleksandar Zeković, our organizations submitted for the first time in 2011 initiatives for the erection of monument and Remembrance Day our organizations submitted for the first time in 2011 to the Prime Minister Igor Lukšić, Interior Minister Ivan Brajović and Minister of Culture Branislav Mićunović, as well as the then President of the Municipal Assembly of Herceg-Novi, Dejan Mandić. We have repeated these initiatives every year since then, but to this day they have not been accepted.

In May and June 1992, at least 66 Bosniak refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina were illegally arrested on Montenegrin territory and then extradited to the hostile Bosnian Serb army in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Only 12 people deported from Montenegro managed to survive torture in concentration camps. As a rule, the refugees deprived of their liberty were brought to Herceg-Novi Security Center, which served as a collection centre, from where they were transported by bus to Foča concentration camp on 25 May and to an unspecified location in eastern Bosnia on 27 May, where they were killed. The remains of the victims have not yet been found. Most victims of this crime were compensated in civil proceedings, while the Montenegrin court acquitted all inductees of war crimes against civilians in criminal proceedings, citing that the accused allegedly did not have the necessary capacity to answer for war crimes because Montenegro was not officially a party to the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Court of Human Rights is conducting proceedings against Montenegro for ineffective investigation and prosecution of this crime.

Human Rights Action (HRA)
Centre for Civic Education (CCE)
Center for Women’s and Peace Education (ANIMA)