Kolinda Grabar Kitarović goes out of protocol and makes surprise visit to Ahmići

Kolinda Grabar Kitarović goes out of protocol and makes surprise visit to Ahmići

Out official protocol, Croatian president Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, visited on Thursday the village of Ahmići, where Bosnian Croats military wing, the Croatian Council of Defense (HVO), in just one day in 1993 committed one of the worst war crimes in the Bosnian war.

On that day, early in the morning, HVO soldiers attacked the village and brutally killed 116 villagers. Among them were 33 women and children, with the youngest victim  three-month old baby. Many of the victims were tortured and slaughtered. It is recorded that UN Protection Forces (UNPROFOR) unit entered the village after the massacre and many of them got sick when they discovered the bodies. Ahmići was a village with Bosniak (Muslim) majority, surrounded by villages inhabited mostly by Croats.

Grabar Kitarović’s visit came after she faced criticism during the meetings in Sarajevo, the day before. However, the meeting with representatives of associations which gather families of the victims killed in Srebrenica 1995 raised controversy at the press conference. Media asked the president of the Association “Mothers of Srebrenica and Žepa enclaves”, Munira Subašić, if she asked the Croatian president why she doesn’t want to visit Ahmići. The answer took everyone in the country by surprise:

“I don’t know for Ahmići and don’t want to talk about it. Srebrenica and only Srebrenica”, said Subašić, making other Bosniak victims and their families irrelevant.

Although this statement triggered angry statements, it was a sign to Grabar Kitarović to change her official protocol and do what no president of Croatia had done since the end of war. Without any kind of public announcement, she went to Ahmići and laid a wreath at the monument dedicated to the victims.

“In Ahmići and Križančevo Selo I expressed my reverence for the victims of war in Central Bosnia. We must do everything possible to prevent any mother to ever again cry for her child or husband lost in the war in this region. This is a permanent task of all of us and future generations”, wrote Grabar Kitarović on social networks.

Ahmići mosque imam, Mahir Husić, said that the Croatian president thanked for hospitality and paid tribute to the victims.

“This is a very important message from Grabar Kitarović, who is calling for peace and coexistence in this region. She laid flowers and prayed for the souls of the victims”, Husić said.

Although the war crime in Ahmići was processed at the courts, the crime in Križančevo Selo, Ahmići’s nearby village, was never prosecuted. This was the main Croat village that was the object of revenge of Bosniak Army soldiers for the events in Ahmići. Just a few months after the massacre in Ahmići, the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (loyal to Alija Izetbegović and Bosniak authorities) attacked the village and killed a number of inhabitants. There is no record of the accurate number of victims and this case was never processed at the court. Grabar Kitarović also visited this village and laid a wreath at the monument of the victims.

Croatian president will finish her BiH tour with the visit to Posavina, a region in the North of the country near the river Sava, where villages with Serb or Croat majority are neighbours. The truth is that many war crimes were committed in this area and the question is – will Grabar Kitarovic visit, for example, Sijekovac, where the victims were Serbs?/IBNA