Novi Sad, the “administrative center” of Vojvodina, an “autonomous province” in Serbia, the so-called “Serbian Athens”, boasting four official languages: Serbian, Hungarian, Slovakian and Ruthenian. A city with different names in different languages: Novi Sad, Újvidék, Nový Sad, Novi Sad, Neusatz, Neoplanta… 2021 European Capital of Culture, 2019 European Youth Capital… Actually, it’s a city that has become a national-chauvinist small town instead of a multicultural central European capital.
The residential area of Liman in Novi Sad. Bronx or Bronx? Are they also so protective of their “sanctities” in Bronx, NYC…
…as they are in the residential area of Liman, allegedly the most urban part of Novi Sad, a former epicenter of various avantgarde movements and a sanctuary for the liberal middle-class?
The idea stretches all the way to Sremska Kamenica, which is also protecting the sanctities and which, as we discover on the football ground (where else?), will be next year in Knin:
All this, however, is just a foreplay in comparison with the glorification of the main executor of the genocide in Srebrenica, a person who received a first-instance verdict of life in prison for this and numerous other crimes. In the Novi Sad-born interpretation by anonymous authors, this monster is a “Serbian hero”…
…despite being found guilty of oppression, extermination, murders, deportation, forced relocation, terrorizing, illegal attacks on civilians and hostage-taking. Hence, it’s logical to ask what was used to fertilize the flowers on this window in Novi Sad:
During the four-year-long trial against Mladić in the Hague, which began on May 16, 2012, there were 592 witnesses, as well as around 10,000 pieces of evidence. The court also considered 2,000 adjudicated facts. This is all available to the public, should they wish to hear and see it.
Novi Sad, on the other hand, has its own truth. Namely, Novi Sad mocks the victims of genocide and uses the color of human blood to write the name of its “hero”:
Before the genocide, the forces of the Army of the Republic of Srpska had created an atmosphere of insecurity and intolerance in Srebrenica. When they entered the town, they separated the men, including some 12-year-olds and those older than 70. The court established without any doubt that thousands of men were killed systematically. Their bodies were then thrown into mass graves. When they realized that the “primary” mass graves would be discovered, the “glorious warriors” led by Mladić and Karadžić and their assistants used excavators to dig out the bodies and move them to secondary mass graves, again with excavators. The bodies were subsequently moved to tertiary mass graves… The remains of a single person were often found in three different mass graves. However, Novi Sad believes that the person who masterminded the whole process deserves to be an idol whose name should be written in red, which apparently doesn’t bother the local residents enjoying the comfort of their renovated, warm family homes. What do they think, what are they hoping for?
The charges against the “glorious hero” Ratko Mladić were pressed on July 11, 1996, on the first anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica. He had managed to hide from justice, “heroically” and fully supported by the Republic of Serbia, for 15 years, before he was finally arrested in the village of Lazarevo, in Vojvodina, whose name some individuals wanted to change into “Mladićevo” after that.
Among numerous proofs in the trial against Mladić for the crimes committed all over Bosnia and Herzegoina in continuity between 1992 and 1995, which culminated with the crimes in Srebrenica, for the siege, terror and killing of the citizens of the Olympic city of Sarajevo, for the crimes in the Drina region – from Bijeljina to Foča – for the crimes in Ključ, Kotor Varoš, Sanski Most, Vlasenica, Prijedor…, there was also evidence from Tomašica, the largest mass grave in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of many mass graves that “hero” Mladić left behind. Three concentration camps, Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje, were set up in the summer of 1992 on the territory of the very same town of Prijedor. More than 3,000 people ended up in the camps, many of whom were killed and buried in the nearby mass graves, including Tomašica.
How have we become so indifferent to pass by the graffiti glorifying a war criminal undisturbed and completely accustomed to them? How come we are aware of one genocide, but not the other? How come we are disgusted by one, but we celebrate the other? Novi Sad, it seems, “sleeps a deep and lifeless sleep”, and so does its famous “anti-graffiti unit”, whose alleged task is to paint over hate graffiti.
Who knows, they might wake up one day…
Text and photo: Dinko Gruhonjić, video: Svetlana Paramentić, assistant: Divna Prusac