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Rehabilitation of Draza Mihailovic Revises History

Press release

20 September, 2010


The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia warns that a judicial rehabilitation of Draza Mihailovic would equal a revision of the World War II and Serbia's attitude towards anti-fascism. It would not only politically revaluate collaborationism of the Tchetnik movement but also further promote the Greater Serbia project this movement had staunchly advocated. Besides, Mihailovic's rehabilitation needs to be seen in a larger context, notably against the developments from 1990s till present time. The crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia in 1990s were committed in the name of the Greater Serbia project propagated by Draza Mihailovic. His rehabilitation may complicate the relations in the region as it would testify that the Greater Serbia project is still alive. And in Serbia proper, it may further aggravate the situation in Sandzak where Thetniks have committed mass crimes against Bosniaks during World War II.

Rehabilitation of the Tchetnik leader would be yet another proof of Serbia's failure to establish a value system that indisputably defines it as an anti-fascist country. Serbia has excluded itself from the anti-fascist coalition at the time of Vojislav Kostunica's premiership. The role of partisans in WWII has been deliberately marginalized, whereas the one played by Tchetniks glorified. In Serbian textbooks the Tchetnik movement is interpreted as a "right-wing" anti-fascist movement. Such an interpretation is a historical forgery. The tepid public response to this forgery testifies of the society's prevalent mindset and notably the one of its elites.

When Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Serbia in 2009, October 20 was reaffirmed as the Liberation Day of Belgrade and only so under the pressure from the Russian side. It is more than humiliating for a society when someone "from the outside" has to restore the dignity to ex-Yugoslavia's anti-fascist movement.

At the same time, glorification of the Tchetnik movement follows in the footsteps of the anti-communist hysteria in Serbia, under the auspices of which the Greater Serbia project is affirmed as the only idea and the sole ideology of the Serb political thought. In Serbia, anti-communism equals anti-Titoism, which nothing but negates Yugoslavia's federalism. By denying Titoism and AVNOJ borders between republics of ex-Yugoslavia, Serb nationalists are actually after recomposition of the Balkans: an idea resulting in war crimes and eventually taking almost the entire Serb political, military and police leadership to the tribunal in The Hague.

Now that the sabotage of Kosovo's independence failed, Serb nationalists are once again directing their energy towards Bosnia-Herzegovina. The judicial rehabilitation of Draza Mihailovic would only prove that Serbia had not abandoned its aspirations towards Bosnia-Herzegovina. The systematic endeavor to have the past revised leads to general confusion, notably among younger generations that are insufficiently capacitated to differentiate facts from forgeries.

The international community - EU and Council of Europe above all - needs to pay due attention to such trends in the Serbian society. Rehabilitation of Draza Mihailovic would only take Serbia further away from European values and membership of EU.



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