Feral Tribune Demostrations Reminder

Miroslav Visic (visic@nyc.pipeline.com)
Thu, 19 Sep 1996 01:27:04 GMT

>----- Forwarded message ("Ivo Skoric" <iskoric@igc.apc.org>) -----<

Neither East Nor West, the NYC activist group that supports
alternative and opposition voices in the Communist
/ex-Communist world, will hold a protest in support of the
editors of Feral Tribune, the Croatian satirical opposition
weekly, on Friday September 20.

WHEN: Friday, September 20, 4:30 to 7:00 PM
WHERE: Croatian consulate, 369 Lexington @ 41st

INFORMATION: Anne-Marie Hendrickson 718-387-0480 Bill
Weinberg 212-631-1115 Bob McGlynn 718-499-7720 Ivo
Skoric 212-369-9197


The story:


By OGB News Service

Croatia's independent satirical weekly Feral Tribune is under
attack by the regime of President Franjo Tudjman. Along with
the Arkzine, Feral Tribune is a lonely voice of dissent in
militarized Croatia--and Tudjman's machine is trying to shut it
down under a far-reaching new law controlling the press. Two
editors may face imprisonment just for lampooning Tudjman.

This is just the most blatant of many moves aimed at
silencing Feral Tribune. In May, Nevenka Kosutic, Tudjman's
daughter, sued the struggling paper for 3.5 million kuna, or
$635,000. The paper claimed that she set up a profitable
business using government connections. This is the latest in
a series of reports in the independent media that Tudjman's
family and friends have enriched themselves while much of
Croatia lives in or near poverty.

That same month, charges were brought against Feral Tribune
editors Viktor Ivancic and Marinko Culic under a new law that
forbids journalists to "offend" leading officials: the amended
section of Article 71 of the Croatian Penal Code which, among
other offences, forbids publishing or broadcasting information
deemed untrue and which can injure the "honour and
reputation" of senior public officials. Article 71 also mandates
up to three years' imprisonment upon conviction.

The Prosecutor-General's Office on May 16 sent the editors a
court summons on charges of making President Tudjman "an
object of libel and slander" in an article criticizing his
suggestion that the remains of World War II Croatian fascists
be reburied alongside their victims. This is but one of many
statements by Tudjman minimizing the genocide perpetrated
against Serbs, Jews and Roma ("gypsies") by Croatia's pro-Nazi
Ustashe regime, which established its own death camp at
Jasenovac. Tudjman also recently stated that many of the
thousands buried at Jasenovac were actually killed by the
anti-fascist resistance--a dangerous and cynical distortion of

These charges add to a growing number of libel cases brought
against journalists in Croatia since Articles 71 and 72 of the
Croatian Penal Code were amended in March 1996 to allow
public officials greater freedom in charging media outlets with
libel. A libel suit filed by HDZ leaders against the independent
weekly "Globus" has been pending since 30 May. On 14 June,
the trial against Culic and Ivancic was unexpectedly adjourned
on its first day until 25 September.

Ironically, Ivancic and Culic face slander charges for calling
Tudjman "a follower of Generalissimo Franco" when Tudjman
himself had upheld the late Spanish dictator as an example of
a man "who enabled normal development of democracy in
Spain" by having "the courage and wisdom to say that both
the Spanish Communists and Phalangists have fought for
Spain, albeit under different flags."

Tudjman's troops in neighboring Bosnia have just carved that
country up in a cynical deal with the rival strongman
Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia (and the connivance of the US,
UN, NATO and EU). Last year, Tudjman attempted to shut
down Feral Tribune on "pornography" charges for printing a
cut-and-paste photo of Tudjman and Milosevic in bed

Feral Tribune was originally a satirical insert to the Split
newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija. In 1993, Slobodna Dalmacija
was "privatized" to a group close to the Tudjman circle, and
the independent-minded editors were all purged. Feral Tribune
became an independent weekly, led by the old editors from
Slobodna Dalmacija who refused to toe the Tudjman line.

That same year, 34-year-old editor Ivancic was drafted into the
Croatian military--the only editor in Croatia to face
conscription. Since then, some 15 lawsuits have been
launched against Feral Tribune, totaling nearly $1 million.
Most have been brought by Croatian police and military
officers accused by Feral Tribune of war crimes.

Ivancic and Culic are the first journalists to be prosecuted
under the new law prohibiting criticism or satirical
commentary on the president, prime minister, parliamentary
speaker or chief magistrates. International media
organizations and Croatian opposition groups have
condemned the law, which imposes a sentence of up to three
years' imprisonment upon conviction for libel and up to six
months for slander. "Feral Tribune", however, is not the only

On 3 September 1996, the ruling Croatian Democratic Union
(HDZ) brought charges against both Veljko Vicevic,
editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper "Novi List", and
columnist Tihana Tomicic. The same day, the HDZ brought
similar charges against Ivo Pukanic, editor-in-chief of the
independent weekly "Nacional", and columnist Srecko

The charges against "Novi List" stem from a recent column by
Tomicic in which she compared the political climate in Croatia
prior to its first 1990 elections to the situation in Germany
just before Adolf Hitler was elected to power. Although no
issues were specified, the charges against "Nacional" singled
out Jurdana, known for his frequent columns criticising HDZ

All of these journalists were charged with violating Article 71
of the Croatian Penal Code. Tudjman's ruling party, the
Croatian Democratic Union, is now attempting to buy out the
country's only independent radio station, Zagreb Radio 101,
much as Slobodna Dalmacija was bought and silenced three
years ago. Ironically, Radio 101 was the first electronic media
in former Yugoslavia which offered Tudjman a microphone
(Wall Street Journal, 07/25/96, front page, by Mark Nelson).
And Feral Tribune's Ivancic, Novi List's Vicevic and Nacional's
Pukanic face imprisonment.

Time to act is now.