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30 Years After Ovcara

By Robert Hand,
Senior Policy Advisor

On November 20, 1991, after the fall of the city of Vukovar in Croatia, militant Serb forces removed 265 ill and injured Croats from a hospital. They were taken to the nearby Ovčara farm southeast of Vukovar, where they were abused before being shot and killed, with their bodies dumped in a mass grave. In addition to wounded members of the Croatian armed forces were civilians, including some women and children.

The Helsinki Commission strongly supported the international effort to prosecute those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in the former Yugoslavia, including those most responsible for the crime at Ovčara, which took place early in a series of conflicts associated with Yugoslavia’s disintegration throughout the 1990s.  Many obstacles stood in the way, but after years of persistent effort justice prevailed. However, malicious acts supporting territorial aggression continue in the OSCE region and elsewhere.

When remembering Ovčara, it is important to acknowledge the brave few in Serbia—civil society advocates, political activists, journalists, lawyers and judges, and everyday citizens—who consistently have refused to associate themselves with the terrible crimes committed in their name in the 1990s, and seek to this day not only justice but a needed acknowledgement of reality in the face of continued denial and revisionism. A wider acknowledgement led by those holding power today will mean a better future for Serbia and its neighbors tomorrow.

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Briefings

Russia’s Ecocide in Ukraine: Environmental Des...

Jul 16, 2024

In the ten years since Russia launched its war of aggression against Ukraine, Ukraine estimates that Russia has inflicted some $60 billion in damages to Ukraine’s natural and man-made environments and pushed Ukraine to the brink of ecological collapse.  Vast swaths of Ukraine are contaminated with landmines, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals.  Hundreds of thousands […]

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Press Releases

CSCE Leadership Welcomes New Executive Branch Commis...

Nov 07, 2023

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Hearings

Hamas’ Hostages, Putin’s Prisoners, and Freeing Inte...

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Press Releases

Hearing: Has the United Nations Failed Ukraine and t...

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Hearings

Has the UN failed Ukraine and the World?

Sep 23, 2023

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Hearings

Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner

Sep 20, 2023

Stream here: HEARING: Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner – YouTube Vladimir Kara-Murza, a father, husband, and a freedom fighter, has been in detention for over five hundred days and is currently being transferred to a prison in Siberia. As he is being moved, his family has lost all contact with him and are faced with worry […]

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Articles

United States Demonstrates Global Leadership on Ukra...

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Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Chair and Co-Chair Lead Delegati...

Jul 10, 2023

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Press Releases

MICHAEL GEFFROY APPOINTED HELSINKI COMMISSION GENERA...

Jun 15, 2023

WASHINGTON—Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, today announced the appointment of Michael Geffroy as General Counsel to the Commission. “The Helsinki Commission welcomes Mr. Geffroy. His rich national security, legal, and military background, as well as his service at senior […]

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Press Releases

CHAIRMAN WILSON LEADS BIPARTISAN DELEGATION TO GERMA...

May 12, 2023

WASHINGTON—From May 1st to May 7th, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) led a bipartisan U.S. delegation to Germany, Poland, and Ukraine to coordinate support for Ukraine and examine current wartime challenges. The delegation consulted with high-ranking government officials and civil society actors regarding ongoing military and humanitarian responses to the Russian invasion. Chairman […]

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Press Releases

BIPARTISAN UKRAINE VICTORY RESOLUTION INTRODUCED IN ...

Apr 26, 2023

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Press Releases

Steven Schrage Appointed Helsinki Commission Executi...

Mar 24, 2023

WASHINGTON—Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, today announced the appointment of Dr. Steven P. Schrage as Helsinki Commission Executive Director. “The Helsinki Commission welcomes Dr. Steven Schrage to its already impressive team. His rich foreign policy experiences and academia background […]

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