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In a new report on religious freedom, the United States warned of the glorification of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), the reduction of Ustasha crimes and anti-Serb feelings in Croatia in 2016.
In the regular annual report on religious freedom in the world for 2016, including Croatia, the State Department mentions former Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic and director Jakov Sedlara as persons whose views on the Ustashe regime have provoked special criticism of Jewish and Serbian religious communities and non-governmental organizations.
Washington highlighted the commemoration in the Jasenovac death camp in a report released on Tuesday that those are the events reflecting the state of religious freedom, which was boycotted by Jewish and Serbian leaders, accusing the then government of diminishing Ustasha crimes.
The US administration also writes about the march of 5,000 people to the Council for Electronic Media, which suspended the Z-1 television program because of the talk show, in which the host urged viewers to stay away from the Orthodox Church in Zagreb, because "Chetnik vicars" could go out and "slaughter" innocent passers-by.
Football game between Croatia and Israel is also mentioned when the fans cheered with Ustasha greeting "Ready for Homeland", as well as the controversial documentary by Jakov Sedlar "Jasenovac - The Truth".
Sedlar says the real number of those killed in the Ustasha camp is between 20,000 and 40,000, while the American Holocaust Museum estimated that it was between 77,000 and 99,000 victims, the report says, adding that Jewish representatives had condemned the film, and the Minister of Culture Hasanbegovic has praised it, reports Hina.
Several non-governmental organizations, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), criticized Hasanbegovic's appointment as culture minister, arguing that he praised the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime and diminished crimes from that period, according to the State Department.
Official Washington also cites the organization's criticism at the expense of the Zagreb County Court, which abolished the convicting verdict to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac for cooperation with the Ustasha regime of 1946. "Efraim Zuroff, the director of the SWC's Jerusalem office, said it was absolutely shameful and terrible, that this is an attempt to rewrite history", the report says.
The State Department also mentions the concern of the Serbian Orthodox Church due to growing social intolerance and the fact that there were 20 vandalistic attacks on its property in 2016, five less than a year earlier. Only two perpetrators have been found against whom the trial is underway, the report says.
Washington also warns that the Croatian government has not solved any major demands of the Serbian Orthodox Church for the return of property, including Osijek, Vukovar, and Vinkovci, as well as requests for the return of Jewish property seized during the Second World War.
- The current law does not allow individuals whose property is kidnapped during the Holocaust to seek compensation in court if they have changed their citizenship in the meantime. Jewish property owners are more likely to suffer more than others - the State Department reports and they urge Zagreb to speed up the resolution of the problem.
(Telegraf.co.uk / Tanjug)