On Thursday, January 31, 2019, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented its eleventh dossier on possible perpetrators of war crimes during the armed conflicts of the 90s in the former Yugoslavia. The Dossier “Crimes against the Croats in Vojvodina” shows that in the period 1991-1995, in the territory of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, there was a campaign of intimidation and pressure on Croatian civilians, with the aim to force them to leave their homes, and Serbia as well.
Opening the event, the director of the HLC legal programme, Ivana Žanić, stated that evidence was presented in Dossier about threats, intimidation, destruction of property and the disappearances and murders of Croats throughout Vojvodina. The main inspirers of the campaign of intimidation and persecution of Croats were members of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), led by Vojislav Šešelj, as well as various groups associated with this party. In this persecution of Croats, members of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP) also participated, including the State Security Service (RDB). Šešelj explicitly called for the persecution of Vojvodina Croats in his speeches, advocating for the forced removal of as many Croats from Serbia as of Serbs forced to move from Croatia. At that meeting in Hrtkovci, on May 6, 1992, Vojislav Šešelj said that there was no place for Croats in Vojvodina, which is why Serbs from Hrtkovci should “get rid of them” as soon as possible. After this speech, a campaign of intimidation began, which resulted in the departure of around 450 Croatian families from Hrtkovci. Žanić concluded that there is nothing surprising about the absence of any reaction by state organs to the statement made by Vojislav Šešelj after the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had convicted him of persecuting Croats from Hrtkovci – that he would gladly repeat his war crimes – since the current political officials of Serbia were mostly members of the SRS at the time when the Croats were expelled from Vojvodina.