The regional network of the organization Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) urged on Aug. 4 the institutions in Croatia and Serbia, 27 years since Operation Storm, to cooperate in the matter of exercising of rights and bringing justice to the victims of war crimes, and top state officials to contribute more seriously, responsibly and courageously to the building of peace and facing with the war past.
“According to the report of the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights from 2001, more than 600 civilians of Serbian ethnicity were killed and more than 22,000 houses burned during and after the Croatian armed forces’ Operation Storm,” reads the statement of YIHR.
It was added in the statement that more than 150,000 Croatian citizens, mainly Serbs, left Croatia out of fear for their personal safety, as well as because of persuading by the authorities in Knin, their property was destroyed or stolen and their return made practically impossible. “According to figures of the Fund for Humanitarian Law, around 10,000 civilian refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were illegally arrested by the Serbian police in summer 1995 and deported to the military authorities of the then Republika Srpska Krajina and Republika Srpska,” the statement reads.
They assessed that forced mobilization, which they described as the most flagrant violation of the U.N. Convention on the status of refugees, and of the Law on Refugees of Serbia, had led to the death of at least 54 people and to grave bodily harm and psychological consequences of a large number of refugees. “In the period from August to the end of September 1995, the Interior Ministry of Serbia delivered around 5,000 refugees to the training camp of the Serbian Volunteers’ Guard of Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan, where the refugees were subjected to mental and physical torture,” stated the YIHR.