The State to sanction the glorification of Dragoljub “Draža” Mihalović

We condemn the public memorial service and the participation of representatives of the municipality of Nikšić in the memorial service organized by the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) for the collaborationist Dragoljub “Draža” Mihailović, as well as a series of dangerous extremist and anti-civilization messages that were announced on that occasion. Any form of public glorification of the Chetnik leader, who, among other things, through his commanders led the operation of ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the area of Bijelo Polje, Pljevlja and the surrounding area, incites national and religious hatred towards Bosniaks and Muslims in Montenegro and beyond. Any promotion of Chetnik ideology offends all citizens of Montenegro who want to live in a civil society in which the human rights of all are respected.

We remind that the memorial service was held for the leader of a military formation that, due to its crimes and open collaboration with fascist and Nazi occupation forces, was delegitimized by all allies, and even by the King Petar Krađorđević and the Yugoslav government in exile. In a statement given via Radio London on 12 September 1944, the last King of Yugoslavia called on all Chetnik units to cease cooperation with the occupier, announcing on that occasion: “All those who rely on the enemy against the interests of their own people and its future, and who would not respond to this call, will not succeed in getting rid of the traitor mark, neither in front of the people nor in front of history.”

Until that moment, the Chetnik units had committed one of the biggest criminal campaigns during the entire Second World War on the territory of Yugoslavia. According to the instructions given on 20 December 1941 by Mihailović himself, during 1942 and during the winter of 1943, Chetnik units from Montenegro killed several thousand Muslims in the area of northern Montenegro and eastern Bosnia. In January 1943, Mihajlović’s commander Pavle Đurišić reported that 400 adults and 1000 children and women were killed on the right bank of Lim, and 33 Muslim villages were burned. Only in the campaign that lasted from 5 to 13 February 1943, Pavle Đurišić informed Mihailović: during the operation, the complete destruction of Muslim life was attempted, regardless of gender and age…victims – among Muslims about 1200 fighters and up to 8,000 other victims: women, old people, and children. We note that according to the post-war list of victims, only in region of Pljevlja, was confirmed the killing of 1,501 Muslims by the Chetniks.

Chetnik units also cooperated with the occupier during all major actions against members of National Liberation Army, as well as during repression of the civilian population. In today’s wave of revisionism, concerns the fact that in the last few years during the commemoration of the crimes in Doli and Velica, it is avoided to mention the participation of Chetnik units in them.

Additionally, during World War II, Chetnik units collaborated with the most notorious regime in the former Yugoslavia, the Ustasha regime of the Independent State of Croatia (NFH). Tragically, they participated in the attack on Kozara and later assisted in the transport of the Serbian population from Kozara to Jasenovac. In the end, the majority of the defeated Chetnik units withdraw towards the NDH and Zagreb.

The rehabilitation of Dragoljub Mihalović in Serbia due to an unfair trial, cannot in any way justify the mass crimes committed by his units, especially against the civilian population.

We call on all social actors, who hold to human and civil anti-fascist values, to clearly oppose not only the revision of history, but also the promotion of a public narrative that aims to erase the essential difference between the victors in the Second World War and the collaborators of Hitler’s fascist coalition, all with the aim of reviving a large-national extremist ideology.

It is especially important that the descendants of members of the Chetnik movement accept the historical facts, that not all Chetniks were criminals, but that their commanders were, and that their ideology was and remains disastrous. The same applies to millions of Germans, Italians, Japanese, Croats, and others who are descendants of soldiers of the former fascist coalition. It is necessary to prevent the repetition of historical mistakes.

The Constitution of Montenegro prohibits any evocation and incitement of hatred and intolerance, the Criminal Code prohibits evocation of national, racial and religious hatred as a criminal offense, and the Law on Public Order and Peace also prescribes corresponding misdemeanors, hence we expect the representatives of all competent state bodies to act and react in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

Human Rights Action (HRA)
Centre for Civic Education (CCE)
Center for Development of non-governmental organisations (CDNGOs)
Queer Montenegro
NGO Prima
Center for Monitoring and Research (CeMI)
Center for Women and Peace Education (ANIMA)
Women Rights Centre (WRC)
Association Spectra
Center for Democratic Transition (CDT)
European Association for Law and Finance (EALF)
Media Center
Center for Investigative Journalism (CIN CG)