Ex prison camp inmates to Israeli Ambassador: Don't let Dragan Covic deceive you

NEWS 08.08.2022 17:43
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Source: F. Z./N1

Former prison camp inmates in Mostar wrote to the non-resident Israeli Ambassador to Bosnia, Noah Gal Gendler, urging him to reconsider his position after he expressed support for electoral reform in BiH based on a model backed by the leader of the Croat Democratic Union in the country (HDZ BiH).

The head of the Association of former Prison Camp Inmates in Mostar, sent the letter after Israel’s Embassy issued a statement in which it touched upon the issue of electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina and welcomed the proposal of changes to the election law backed by Bosnian Croat parties.

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“War crimes, ethnic cleansing and organization of prison camps, the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) and the leadership of the so-called para-state creation, the ‘Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna’, was characterized by the Hague Tribunal as a joint criminal enterprise,” Hajdarevic’s letter said, adding that the entire leadership of Herzeg-Bosnia was found guilty and sentenced to several years in prison.

It said that one of the politicians mentioned in the Israeli statement, the leader of Bosnia’s Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH), Dragan Covic, was part of that system as the director of the company “Soko”.

Covic “used his position at the time to bring Bosniak nationals to forced labour in the company ‘Soko’,” the letter said, noting that there is credible evidence for this.

“I believe that considering the experiences of your people, this sounds very familiar and evokes numerous associations. Dragan Covic never publicly dissociated himself from that, nor from the crimes identified in The Hague Tribunal, but on the contrary continued to support convicted criminals, such as Dario Kordic, as well as extremists who still promote the Ustasha salute ‘Za dom spremni’,” Hajdarevic stressed.

He wrote that the camp inmates from Mostar are surprised by the support given Israel’s Embassy expressed for Covic.

“The proposals advocated by the HDZ, presented as so-called ‘legitimate representation’ and ‘endangerment of the Croats’, which you supported, are classic manipulation in order to reach the fulfilment of wartime goals that they did not fulfil in the war, and now they would like to implement them in peace. They advocate additional ethnic divisions and threaten the rights of minorities, including the Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he wrote.

He then pointed out the ruling in the ‘Sejdic-Finci case’ against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“One of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights came after a lawsuit filed by the respected Jakob Finci, president of the Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, due to the impossibility of Jews being elected to important state positions. Dragan Covic and his HDZ have been preventing the implementation of that judgment for 13 years. Dear Ambassador, do not be manipulated by Dragan Covic's silver tongue. Don't let him deceive you and take you on the wrong side. It is clear to us that you appreciate the fact that in Mostar the names of the streets that bore the names of Ustasha criminals were changed, but they did not make that change because they really felt like doing it, they did it due to strong pressure from various associations. You must know that this is not the merit of Dragan Covic, but of us, ordinary, normal citizens from Mostar and all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who exerted constant pressure to remove these shameful relics of Nazism,” the letter reads.

Hajdarevic pointed out that it took three decades to achieve this and that this has only been done now in order for Covic to secure support for his electoral model in BiH which would “introduce a new apartheid and threaten the rights of people living as minorities in certain areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Covic’s model would not only fail to eliminate discrimination against Jews but would threaten their rights further, Hajdarevic wrote.

“I am convinced that you will not allow yourself to be dragged into that dishonourable narrative and that you will certainly take into account the views of the Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina when forming your future positions. I will not remind you of the centuries-old presence of Jews in Bosnia and Herzegovina, all the historical circumstances that followed their life in our country, as well as when and who threatened their rights and who protected them. I believe you know all that very well,” the letter said.

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