Croatia | 12/31/2021

Croatia 2021 December

Key Developments


Bleiburg ban in Austria

A group of experts working for the Austrian Interior Ministry presented a report to government officials in Vienna proposing a complete ban on an annual gathering of Croats near Bleiburg in southern Austria which commemorates surrender of Ustasa troops to the Allies and the Yugoslav Army.

This commemoration is often called the largest fascist gathering in Europe because it was visited by thousands of Ustashophiles and is sponsored by the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia.

The annual event at Loibacher Field near Bleiburg has been accused of being a gathering point for Croat nationalist extremists because some participants display symbols of the Nazi-allied Ustasa movement, which killed Jews, Serbs, Roma people and others during World War II under the rule of the Independent State of Croatia, a Nazi-backed puppet state.

The Austrian Interior Ministry expert group’s report said that the Bleiburg commemorations violate the country’s obligations under the treaty that re-established its independence in 1955. The treaty prohibits Nazi and fascist organisations.

HOS ban in Austria

At the beginning of December, the Austrian government also banned the display of the insignia of the Croatian Defence Forces, HOS, which contains the slogan of the fascist Ustasa movement.

Ustasha memorial graveyard in Zagreb

Parliamentary committee for war veterans’ affairs endorsed a proposal to establish a military graveyard in Zagreb for soldiers who fought for the 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia.

The soldiers of the World War II fascist Ustasa and Home Guard forces should be described in the new memorial graveyard as members of “the Croatian army”, the committee suggested – a proposal that drew strong criticism from anti-fascist associations.

Marko Francisković sent to prison

Marko Francisković, who was given a suspended prison sentence in January 2017 for the unauthorised possession of firearms, ammunition and explosive substances, addressed at COVID protests in Zagreb and Šibenik, telling the crowd that this protest are “a large gathering of Croatian warriors ready for the liberation of Croatia”.

Marko Francisković and Natko Kovačević were taken into the police custody on December 3rd on suspicion that during recent COVID protests they incited demonstrators to commit acts of terrorism. They are suspected by the police of having disseminated the plans via social networks to incite people to physically assault other citizens, including office-holders in the government and the parliament. The suspects are also charged with the plans to occupy the compounds of the national broadcasting service (HRT) in Zagreb and to use violent methods to fight against Croatia’s institutions and forcibly change the country’s constitutional order and democratically-elected authorities.

Croatian police ill-treatment of migrants

The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee has called on EU external border state Croatia to stop police ill-treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in its borders. The alleged ill-treatment consisted of slaps, kicks, blows with truncheons and other hard objects (for example, butts/barrels of firearms, wooden sticks or tree branches) to various parts of the body