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“The importance of raising awareness about wartime events”

Đakovo, Gospić |

Representatives of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) in Croatia today visited the Antun Gustav Matoš Grammar School in Đakovo as well as the Gospić Vocational Secondary School and Grammar School in Gospić on behalf of the Tribunal’s Youth Outreach Project. More than 90 students had the opportunity to find out more about the work and achievements of the Tribunal, the reason it was established and the principles it operates under.

Special attention was given to cases that specifically deal with Croatia, including the trials of Gotovina et al., Blaškić, Jokić, Babić and Martić. During the presentations in Gospić YIHR representatives informed the students in detail about the events that occurred in September 1993 in the “Medak pocket”. Two Croatian generals, Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac were charged with committing crimes in that area that is in the immediate vicinity of Gospić.

Although born after the war in Croatia, the students followed the presentations with great understanding and were mostly interested in the war crimes committed in their local area, as well as war crimes trials before the national courts.  

One of the students from Đakovo commented: "Although we have learned a lot, I am of the opinion that members of our nation perpetrated very few crimes that were committed in self-defence". A fellow student did not agree with him, adding: "that there is no justification for committing war crimes, all have to be brought to account for their actions"

In their evaluation of the presentation, students on several occasions expressed their opinion that the only way to build trust and peace among the recently warring nations is cooperation among the young people in the region. They have noted that one of the biggest contributions of the ICTY is raising awareness about wartime events and the individualisation of guilt.