During today’s meeting with the President of Montenegro, Jakov Milatović, representatives of non-governmental organizations – Human Rights Action (HRA) Tea Gorjanc Prelević, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) Daliborka Uljarević and Tamara Milaš, and Center for Women’s and Peace Education ANIMA Ervina Dabižinović – requested from the President to use his influence for the monument to be erected in Herceg Novi and a National Day of Remembrance for the victims of the deportation of Bosnian-Herzegovinian refugees from Montenegro in 1992 established.
At the meeting with President, Alen Bajrović, whose father Osman was unlawfully arrested in his home in Bijela and deported along with others, also took part. His remains like the remains of many other deported refugees, have not been found to this day. As a result of the Deportation, at least 54 people died and today, on the International Day of Missing Persons, we appeal to the authorities to finally start acting in the direction of establishing justice for the family who, even after three decades, do not know where the remains of their loved ones are. President Milatović expressed special interest in the personal and family story of Bajrović.
Non-governmental organizations HRA, CCE and ANIMA have persistently advocated for the memorialization of the victims of this war crime since 2011 when they first initiated these efforts with the then-human rights violations researcher Aleksandar Saša Zeković, as the families of the victims from Bosnia and Herzegovina expressed for a memorial.
We expect President Jakov Milatović of Montenegro to take this historically significant step and actively support these initiatives.
We remind that in 2022, for the first time, ministers from the Government of Montenegro attended a memorial gathering in Herceg Novi – Minister of Interior Filip Adžić, Minister of Justice Marko Kovač, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Admir Adrović, and Minister without Portfolio Adrijan Vuksanović, as well as Director of the Police Administration Zoran Brđanin.
At that time, after 30 years, family members of the victims heard a public apology from police officials and the Ministry of Interior for the unlawful arrest and deportation of refugees to the Army of Republika Srpska. This fulfilled one of the three initiatives advocated for over a decade by HRA, CCE, ANIMA, and Aleksandar Zeković.
The Minister of Interior, Filip Adžić, publicly supported the remaining two initiatives of non-governmental organizations to erect a memorial at the gathering site and to establish a day of remembrance for the victims of this war crime. However, we have not received any feedback on what Adžić has done to fulfil his promises up to now.
Furthermore, the Municipal Assembly of Herceg Novi put forward the initiative to erect a memorial to the victims of the deportation for voting only once, in June 2015, on the proposal of Dragan Šimrak from the SDP. Only three councillors voted in favour of the initiative – Milica Berberović (SDP), Dragan Šimrak (SDP), and Jovana Šijaković (Izbor).
In 2023, on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the Deportation crime, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazović, and his advisor Đorđe Radulović, Justice Minister Marko Kovač, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Admir Adrović, Deputy Prime Minister for Regional Development and Minister of Capital Investments Ervin Ibrahimović (President of the Bosniak Party), State Secretary at the Ministry of Interior Mersudin Gredić, Acting Chief of the Security Center in Herceg Novi Slobodan Đokić, and State Secretary at the Ministry of Defense Krsto Perović were present. Also, there was the manager of the municipality of Herceg Novi, Dušan Vukić.
Government officials told journalists, among other things, “that Montenegro is no longer running away from the past, but facing it.”
We expect Montenegro, by erecting the monument and establishing a Day of Remembrance, to pay proper tribute to the innocent victims of the Deportation crime and thus clearly demonstrate the commitment to never allow anyone to be deprived of freedom and exposed to mortal danger solely due to their ethnic or religious background.
Tea Gorjanc Prelević, Executive Director of the Human Rights Action (HRA)
Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director of the Centre for Civic Education (CCE)
Ljupka Kovačević, Coordinator of the Center for Women’s and Peace Education ANIMA