by Branko Todorovic
On 27 January 2005 the whole world marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the notorious World War II death camp, where the Nazis murdered over a million and a half people, most of them Jews. Bosnia-Herzegovina was represented by Borislav Paravac, a member of the presidency, an open supporter and follower of the Chetniks who, working in close collaboration with the fascists, committed during World War II great crimes in the area of former Yugoslavia. As their ideological progeny, the SDS - of which Paravac is a member - planned and implemented the ethnic cleansing of the non-Serb population of Bosnia-Herzegovina, including the establishment of concentration camps for them.
The world has not forgotten the Nazi crimes, nor should it ever do so. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, however, what the local fascists did in 1992-5 is being forgotten or excused. For by what other name should one call those who conducted pogroms and murdered those whose only ‘crime’ was their ethnic or confessional identity? What is the difference, indeed, between Omarska, Keraterm, Tarčin and Čelebići and the camps of World War II? What is the difference between the Chetnik or Ustasha ideology and that of German fascism? It exists only in the extent of the means available to them to realise their monstrous aims. It exists only in the quantity of their victims. From the ideological point of view, however, they all equally pursued a policy of deportation and execution of people of different ethnicity and faith.
This is why it is so shameful that Bosnia-Herzegovina should have been represented at the commemoration in Auschwitz by a man who supported and still supports an ideology responsible for grave crimes committed against the civilian population. Paravac’s presence at Auschwitz demonstrates that our government is deeply anti-civilisational, that it is based on violence and crime, hatred and fear, inhumanity, hypocritical lies and manipulation, on a lasting and mutually sustained pact between our domestic fascists, who claim to be guardians of patriotism. It is to be hoped, however, that the visit to Auschwitz will have prompted Paravac to ponder also on the crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that in July this year, ten years after the crime of Srebrenica, he will go to Potočari and bow down before the innocent victims. But there still remains the question: whom did Paravac represent at Auschwitz? Would it not have been better for Bosnia-Herzegovina if its citizens had been represented by survivors of the camps from World War II and the last war. Paravac should never have gone to Auschwitz.
Translated from Nezavisne novine (Banja Luka), 29 January 2005. Branko Todorović is president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Republika Srpska