Priests: 'We Are Dying. Do You Understand?' (Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia)

Article excerpt

Calling for help in broken nations of former Yugoslavia

NCR recently received firsthand accounts of the sufferings of the people of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Fresh from their embattled countries and on a consciousness-raising tour of the United States, two Franciscan priests visited our office in Kansas City, Mo.

Father Boze Vuleta, professor at the Franciscan seminary in Sinj, Croatia, and Father Franjo Rudman, professor at the Franciscan seminary in Visoko, Bosnia-Herzegovina, a suburb of Sarajevo, spoke of what they called "unconscionable hardships and atrocities." They spoke of Serbian aggression and called upon the Western democracies to end the war.

Addressing current conditions in besieged Sarajevo, Rudman said "one day is long, very long. It is like one year." He added, "I am very hurt, inside myself, hurt in my soul."

The priests were reluctant to prescribe policies for the West to follow. They did say some form of Western military action would almost certainly be required.

The following are slightly edited transcriptions of Vuleta's and Rudman's remarks.

Vuleta: You simply cannot comprehend the scope of atrocities that have been committed in Croatia and are now taking place in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Atrocities are taking place daily as we speak.

You're talking in terms of over 60,000 women and children repeatedly raped by Serbian soldiers. It is rape officially encouraged by the Serbian officers to improve the morale of the Serbian soldiers. And they are raping children as young as 12, 11 and 6.

When the war was raging in Croatia, 4,000 to 6,000 Croatian women were raped. And what's more, they would keep them confined three months after the rape so they would be committed to the birth and wouldn't by law be able to commit abortion even if they wanted to.

Croatia now faces nearly two and a half million displaced people. Croatia provides for about 600,000 refugees from Bosnia. Most of them are Muslims. And Croatia has its own refugees, more than 500,000, from the terrorism.

Western European countries are accepting some in small numbers, but there is little leadership and willingness to accept these refugees. Meanwhile, some 45 percent of the Croatian economy has been destroyed. Bosnia is also almost entirely ravished.

This has been a war of Serbian aggression. Keep in mind that not a single shot has been fired in Serbian territory. …