Thursday, February 02, 2006

Crimes against humanity after Second World War in Slovenia: Impunity as norm

Slovenia is small, beautiful and picturesque country, where one can ski in the morning and surrender oneself to the luxury of the Adriatic Sea in the evening. There are many lakes, steep mountains, woods and forests in Slovenia - covering more than sixty per cent of the country. But it is deep in those woods and forests where the darkest history of Slovenia lies. In the months following the of Second World War the Slovene Communists brutally massacred twenty thousands of fellow Slovenes, who chose not to join Resistance movement led by Slovene Communist Party, and over two hundred thousand of Croats and Serbs. Their remains are spread all over Slovene hills and valleys, so far more than four hundred sites, where slaughters took place, were found. Perpetrators, who ordered and controlled those heinous crimes against humanity, still roam freely on Slovene streets. Others who were indirectly involved are nowadays denying any knowledge of crimes ever being committed or they attempt to justify them as just another aspect of victor’s justice. When one addresses the crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Slovenia, impunity is still the norm.

The second world war on the territory in Slovenia was not only resistance fight against the German and Italians but also a classic civil war that pitched brother against brother, father against son, friend against friend, and neighbour against neighbour. The Slovene communist during their 45-year rule portrayed the war in heroic terms as a struggle of good against evil, in fact there were few cases of black or white but many shades of grey. In Slovenia the communists branded as enemies and killed not only dedicated fascists but also young conscripts who had little choice but to don Axis uniforms. The killings were often carried out in summary fashion without any attempt to separate real enemies from confused conscripts or to properly treat the defeated forces as prisoners of war, even after the formal end of hostilities.

What message is Slovenia giving to its young generations? The message is that crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity may go unpunished without any court proceedings ever addressing it. It is commendable to address the human rights violations in Sudanese Region of Darfur as Slovene President has done, but is not far-reaching to do that, when the Slovene judiciary and also executive have avoided dealing with blatant human rights violations in Slovenia over sixty years ago. One Slovene self-proclaimed “international criminal law scholar” even submitted that those heinous crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes) cannot be punishable since they at the time were not included in Slovene criminal code. That statement undermines the basic underpinnings on which Nuremberg and Tokyo trial were held just after second world war.

Last year a person who was second ranked official of Secret Police of Slovene Communist Party was indicted was crimes against humanity and war crimes after II world war. As said in there are in Slovenia 430 hidden places (forests, caves, fields, etc.) with remains of people killed in two years after II world know. The thing that is unbelievable and unacceptable is that no one has wanted so far to address the accountability for those heinous crimes. All older legal scholars deny that crimes ever happened so it is on young scholars to address those crimes and bring perpetrators. But it is difficult since the perpetrators are old and dying and so are the witnesses and victims who survived. Most of documents and orders were destroyed or went missing so it is difficult to find any paper documentation. But at least the first criminal procedure is about to start. If you ask me the best solution would be to have truth and reconciliation commission but it is hard to imagine how effective would be sixty year after crimes were committed. To be continued.

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