Letter from Serbian Patriarchate

FYI: the latest from the Serbian Patriarchate...

of the Holy Synod of Bishops
Serbian Orthodox Church
May 19, 1995

The Holy Synod of Bishops, from its session of May 18, 1995, and during the
course of the session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops, issues the following
statement with regard to the tragic events in Western Slavonia as well as the
subsequent events they precipitated on the territory of Republika Srpska.

1. We are witnesses that the Orthodox Serbs of the Diocese of Slavonia, their
bishop, their clergy, their churches, monasteries and villages in Western
Slavonia, from the first days of May, this year, fell victim to genocide, a
continuation and completion of the genocide begun in 1941 in the same
regions, inflicted upon the same population. At the beginning of the century,
some one half million Serbs populated this region of Austro-Hungary, the
so-called "small Serbia," according to census figures. The remaining
approximately 32,000 Serbs, in 46 villages, with six of their parish priests,
and the Bishop of Slavonia, Lukijan, and including the districts of Okucani,
the martyred town of Jasenovac, Stara Gradiska and Pakrac, were attacked on
May 1 and 2, and subsequent days, by the regular Croatian police and army
with full military compliment of ground, artillery and air power, that
mercilessly decimated them by cross-fire, systematically cleansed them, and
persecuted them into expulsion .
The consequences of this brutal violation of basic human rights and trampling
of an international convention cosigned by the Republic of Croatia are the

a) The Diocese of Slavonia, which existed without interruption since the 16th
century, has met final destruction. The bishop, in exile now with his clergy,
is without a single parish;

b) The priest Sava Pocuca, while saving children and parishioners, was
sprayed with seven bullets; the woman whom he took into his car to drive to
safety was killed, and he is in critical condition in a Banja Luka hospital;

c) On May 11, the priest Lazo Dejanac, having escaped to Bosnian Krajina,
died from the hardships he endured;

d) The nuns of the Monastery of St. Ann were expelled; their whereabouts are
unknown; the monastery was looted;

e) On the basis of current testimonies, approximately four to five thousand
men, women and children were killed (about 500 alone on Bela Stena). The
corpses of the victims were then systematically disposed of, cremated, the
bloody traces of which were cleansed before officials of the UNPROFOR and
other international humanitarian organizations were allowed access to the
sites of the crimes. Search parties with specially trained dogs are still
searching for remaining Serbs hiding in the Slavonia forests. A sizable
number are still surrounded, while others have been captured and are being
moved from one prison camp to another and endure hardships and personal

f) About 12,000 men, women and children are now refugees in Republika Srpska,
in the area from Bosanska Gradiska to Banja Luka, and further to Serbia.
These are people who have lost everything: their homes, their properties,
their centuries-old hearthstones.

g) Concurrent with the destruction and eviction of the Serbian population
from Western Slavonia, the Croatian army bombarded the Republika Srpska towns
of Bosanska Gradiska, Bosanska Dubica, Donja Gradina (where alone, as part of
the WWII Jasenovac concentration camp complex, some 365 thousand mostly
Serbian men, women and children were once killed), and the village Draksenic
(which had been destroyed and the inhabitants slaughtered during World War
Two). Ten buildings in Bosanska Gradiska were destroyed by the May, 1995
bombardment, and the children Nemanja (age 9) and Diana (age 5) Mojic were
killed. (Diana's head was pulverized between slabs of concrete and  could not
be found. The children's stepfather was killed, their mother's legs were
amputated, and one of her eyes was gouged out.)

2. Following all this and as a consequence of the brutal attack upon the
Serbs, reprisals occurred from the Serbian side, starting with the senseless
shelling of Zagreb, and including irrational and vindictive acts of
despondent and maddened refugees against the Roman Catholics in Bosnian
Krajina: The Monastery Petricevac was demolished, resulting also in the death
of a priest (the Monastery evokes infamy from the Second World War among the
Serbian people because of Friar Majstorovic, the director of the Jasenovac
concentration camp, who by his own hand killed 2,700 Serbs); The sisterhoods
of two convents were evicted; several churches were demolished; and, what is
most terrible, a parish priest and a nun were burned to death in one of them,
while an old man and woman were killed by unknown individuals in their home
in the parish of Motike. The most recent senseless act in that vengeful
despondency was the demolition of the parish church in Trn (on the 18th of
May this year).

Evil is evil, no matter who committed it or upon whom it was committed. It
may have an explanation, but not a justification. Reminding all evildoers of
this truth, including those who commit evil in vengeance and despondency, the
Holy Synod at the same time expresses its dismay at the systematic silence of
the international media regarding the terrible tragedy that fell upon the
innocent population of Western Slavonia, the tragedy of a crime equivalent to
genocide, and the revealing only of the aftereffects of that crime, a crime
that continuesx.

One thing is clear: Until the root causes of all the evil taking place on the
territories of former Yugoslavia are acknowledged, it will be impossible to
find the paths leading to the understanding and resolving of the misfortune
shared by all our peoples.

+ Patriarch Pavle
May 19, 1995