Saturday, May 4, 2013

18 years since Operation Flash

BELGRADE - A memorial service for the victims of Operation Flash carried out by Croatian forces in Western Slavonia in 1995 was held at St. Mark's Church in Belgrade on Wednesday. The operation left more than 280 Serbs killed and around 20,000 expelled from the area. 

 The memorial service was attended by members of the Coalition of Refugee Associations, who emphasized that Operation Flash was not legitimate, since its goal "was not only the establishment of Croatia's sovereignty in this area, but also forcible expulsion of the Serb population." According to the Documentary-informative center Veritas, 283 Serbs were killed or went missing during this operation, including 57 women and nine children under 14. After the memorial service, Veritas President Savo Strbac and President of the Coalition of Refugee Associations Miodrag Linta pointed out that so far no one has been held accountable for the crimes. 

 Two years ago, Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutor's Office launched a preliminary criminal proceedings for crimes committed against Serbs during Operation Flash that took place in the village or Medari, "where 23 persons were massacred, including 12 women and three children aged under 11." Linta said that the families of those murdered and expelled want justice to be done, while "we believe that it's finally time for the Serbian government to stand behind the expelled Serbs and enter into a substantive dialogue with Zagreb and prosecute everyone responsible for war crimes." He added that "it is unacceptable for Croatia to become a full-fledged member of the EU on July 1 without us having final verdicts for operations Flash and Storm." In Gradiska, Republika Srpska, where most of the refugees from Western Slavonia now live, people threw flowers and wreaths from the Bridge of Salvation into the Sava River on Wednesday, while a memorial service for the victims was served in the church of the Holy Virgin. More than 160 known burial places in Western Slavonia have not been exhumed yet, and the identification process is progressing slowly. 18 years after the Flash, only around 1,500 Serbs, mainly elderly, returned to Western Slavonia. 

A large number of houses and other property of the expelled people were given to Croatian refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Only two months after Operation Flash, in early August of 1995, Croatia carried out military-police Operation Storm in two sectors protected by the UN. According to Veritas, a total of 1,922 Serbs from the former Republic of Serb Krajina were killed or went missing during the operation, 1,192 of whom were civilians. Photo Tanjug, N.Milosevic

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