From the ruins of Operation Storm

The air was still and the streets of Zagreb bore little sign of life on Sunday, August 5, a public holiday marking the Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Operation Storm of 1995. The capital was bereft of pompous celebrations but Croatian flags hanging over nearly every shop, bar and house marked a crossover of patriotic football jubilations with the anniversary of Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia. Homeland Thanksgiving Day is mostly glorified by Croatian politicians, said Nikola Puharić, Director of Programmes at the Croatia unit of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR). “They push it as the most important holiday and as a message of unity.” Every summer, Croatia-Serbia relations heat up as the former celebrates independence from Serbian aggression , while the latter mourns the humanitarian crisis that unfolded. The 1991-95 Croatian War of Independence claimed 20,000 lives in Croatia. During Operation Storm, which ended the war in Croatia’s favour, over 2,00,000 Serbs were forced to flee the country and hundreds were killed.

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