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Serbian genocide

Sir, - The demand by some in Congress that Turkey acknowledge the Armenian genocide evokes a wry smile from this Serb ("Armenians: Call slaughter 'genocide,'" October 22). Another genocide has never been properly acknowledged, spawning repercussions aplenty. I refer to the WW2 butchery of hundreds of thousands of civilian Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia, whose only political ambition in 1941 was to lie low given that Serbia proper was under brutal German occupation, and whose only crime was their national and religious identity. It was summed up by the Ustasha regime's deputy leader Mile Budak, who decreed in June 1941 that a third of Serbs were to be killed, a third expelled, and the rest converted. Surviving Serbs were forcibly converted en masse to Catholicism.

There should have been no surprise when the Krajina Serbs objected, in 1990, to being railroaded into a secessionist Croatia led by Franjo Tudjman, who was unrepentant about the Ustasha's misdeeds. Yet most outside observers accused the Serbs of unnecessarily dredging up the past.

Tudjman's 1989 Wastelands of History, a revisionist whitewash of the Ustasha, was dismissed as an unfortunate slip of the tongue, and his proud boast during Croatia's first free elections that his wife was neither Serb nor Jew deemed a mere indiscretion, while his subsequent withdrawal of the Serbs' constitutional status as one of Croatia's two historical nations was brushed aside as a petty detail. Worse still, the renaming of Croatian streets after Budak went unremarked. No wonder the Krajina Serbs took up arms.

The Krajina Serb nation was ethnically cleansed in 1995. It is owed an apology, and not just by Zagreb.


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