Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past organized today a press conference on the occasion of the Initiative of the Association Goli otok "Ante Zemljar" for the declaration of the Goli otok for a memorial site, a place of remembrance for all the convicts of the former camp.
At the press-conference held in the House of Human Rights in Zagreb spoke Mr. Furio Radin, President of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities, Mr. Darko Bavoljak, President of the Association Goli otok "Ante Zemljar" and Ms. Vesna Teršelič, Head of Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past. They called on the Government of the Republic of Croatia to solve the problem of declaring Goli Otok a memorial area, a place of remembrance for all convicts of the former camp.
The long-standing initiative of the Association Goli otok "Ante Zemljar" for institutional positioning of the future memorial center on Goli otok has once again been updated in light of the "Project 100" of the State Office for State Property Management, which set out to collect proposals on how to put into operation a hundred state-owned properties.
"We expect from the Croatian government to put this topic on parliament's agenda as a matter of urgency, as there is no reason for further delay. The government can stop the deterioration of the memorial area," said Vesna Teršelič, head of “Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past”.
"It is unacceptable that the injustice towards detainees continues and that new generations do not have the opportunity to learn on the spot what happened there," she said. Although parliament supported the initiative back in 2005, three successive governments, she added, were responsible for destroying what was left on Goli Otok. It is incomprehensible, she said, why the Ministry of Culture does not enter european-level tenders for the realization of the project because it is also about detainees from Italy, but also from other post-Yugoslav countries.
"This is a debt that we have towards citizens, but others are also interested in it, especially when we know that there are special lines in European funds that can be applied to so that the project can be realized," Teršelič said.
She warned that the economic dimension of the programme should also be seen, and the primary one is that Croatia allocates funds from the budget funds for the necessary conservation and the beginning of the renovation of buildings, taking into account that in addition to the memorial complex, tourist facilities should be considered.
"The common denominator of all those imprisoned on Goli Otok is not "cominformists" or "communists" or "leftists". If we were to find a common denominator for all those who were imprisoned there, it would be “the disobedients", said the chairman of parliament's Committee for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities, Furio Radin.
"This is mostly the problem of the left – the problem of conflict within a totalitarian system. This totalitarian system was declared for a left-wing system and therefore this problem needs to be solved by the left today," Radin said.
Mr. Darko Bavoljak, President of the Association Goli otok "Ante Zemljar", expressed his belief that Goli otok should be a warning and a way to show how people should not be treated.
Since the arrival of the first group of convicts to Goli Otok, 65 years have passed. Between 1949 and 1956, more than 16,000 people were sentenced for a period between six months to two years, and a smaller number of people even for longer periods under charge related to the Cominform.
According to the "Ante Zemljar" association, more than 13,000 people served the sentence in slave conditions on Goli Otok, while the rest of convicts were imprisoned in other prisons and penitentiaries across Yugoslavia. It is believed that 400 people did not survive the imprisonment.
Following the call of the State Office for the State Property Management, Documenta - Center for Dealing with the Past expressed its interest to participate in the development of a project that would include the revitalization of Goli otok as a cultural and historical heritage and in the form of a memorial tourist complex.
Documenta's expression of interest represents a support to the Association Goli otok "Ante Zemljar" and as such it had been forwarded to the State Office for the State Property Management.
Report / Documenta Center for Dealing with the Past, integrating parts of Hina's report from today's press conference.