The outcome of the armed conflict in the former SFR Yugoslavia, between 1991 do 2001, is the violent death of 130 000 persons. Over 10 000 are still classified as missing. Serbia’s officials and institutions have, from the beginning of the armed conflict to this day, with very few exceptions, denied the involvement of the SFR and Serbian armed forces in the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They have also denied the existence of any war crimes on the territory of Serbia in relation to these armed conflicts.
As an antithesis to the practice of forgetting the atrocities of war, the platform ratusrbiji.rs strives to inform and educate about the existence of secret mass graves, concentration camps and torture, murders and persecution of minorities, forced mobilization, paramilitary units’ crimes, as well as the human rights breaches in the Presevo valley between 1991 to 2001. The platform does this through connecting court-determined facts, official data of state and international institutions, testimonies of witnesses, survivors and victims’ families, as well as public information gathered by civil society organizations in Serbia.
The platform ratusrbiji.rs was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany. The content and opinions featured on the ratusrbiji.rs website are those of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, and may not reflect the official stance of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.
At the very beginning of the war, several questions arose: who was at war with whom, why did the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) fight the war on the territory of Croatia and Slovenia, whose army the JNA actually was and whether Serbia was officially at war. On July 2 1991, while the war in Slovenia was still going on, several hundreds of recruits’ parents barged into the Serbian Parliament shouting “treachery”, “bring our children back”, “get out, get out”, “you’re incompetent”.1Parents, mostly mothers of the recruits, made several requests, including that all soldiers from Serbia withdraw and return from Slovenia and Croatia, that the JNA set up reserve units composed of persons older than 30 and send such units to Slovenia instead of young recruits. If that was not possible, the mothers requested that international peace troops ensure ceasefire. They also requested to stop sending recruits from Serbia to Slovenia and Croatia and for Veljko Kadijević, at that time Federal Defence Secretary, to be held responsible. Finally, this (self) initiative board of mothers requested that all requests were fulfilled within 24 hours and that it was guaranteed by the Serbian President Slobodan Milošević whom they demanded “to come to the Parliament right away”.2
The same evening, conscripts from Serbia headed to the border of Vojvodina and Croatia.3The next day, citizens blocked a mobilised unit of reservists in Loznica.4General confusion at the JNA and a poor response to the conscription in Belgrade only deepened the crisis.
After ten days of war in Slovenia in June 1991, a decision to withdraw the JNA was made. However, the conscription continued. Men fit for military service started being returned from some border check-points in Serbia; although they had valid passports, they were not allowed to leave the country. In mid-July 1991, reservists on leave rallied in Pančevo. In particular, they complained of anxiety and apprehension, and requested it was explained to them whether the JNA existed and whether only them or the reservists from other Yugoslav republics were defending the country.5
In July 1991, the Federal Secretary for People’s Defence (SSNO) and JNA General Veljko Kadijević signed an order to discharge unfit officers from the JNA, to court martial the deserters, and to stop traditional conscription in favour of voluntary enlistment, at the same time discharging “waverers, defeatists and those who don’t want to fight”.6
In the coming months, negative narrative towards non-Serb population in SFRY intensified in Serbia, in particular owing to the politics of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and Slobodan Milošević, President of Serbia at the time. However, even this did not help get a better respons to conscription.
During September 1991, while the war in Croatia was well underway, thousands of reservists returned to their homes: around 2000 reservists from Kragujevac returned to their hometown from Šid, a town only a few kilometres away from the Croatian border, while 600 reservists from Valjevo returned home from Herzegovina. On September 20 1991, confusion and fear took their first victim. Miroslav Milenković, a construction worker and one of the reservists from Gornji Milanovac, shot himself in the head in Šid while standing between the two groups of reservists – those who put down their weapons and did not want to fight, and the others, who took the weapons and were getting ready to leave for Tovarnik (Croatia). One of the remarkable moments of the conscription crisis but also of the entire war took place on September 23 1991, when a reservist from Valjevo, Vladimir Živković, drove a tank from the border near Šid, where he was deployed, and parked it in front of the Yugoslav Federal Parliament in Belgrade, thus expressing his protest against the war in the territory of former Yugoslavia.7 For this act, he was arrested by the military police as a deserter and sentenced to imprisonment of one year.
In October 1991, reservists’ rebellions were spreading in the towns across Serbia: in Kikinda, Novi Sad, Leskovac, Velika Plana, Svilajnac… Nearly 400 reservists in Niš refused collectively to go to the frontline in Croatia; four reserve officers took 67 soldiers from Bač and returned them back to Aranđelovac; around 500 citizens of Hungarian nationality from Subotica fled to Hungary fearing forcible mobilisation; the reservists from Čačak blocked the Ibarska magistrala road; nearly 150 soldiers out of 200 in total from Dalj left the frontline; 200 reservists returned to Topola.
In November 1991, a riot took place at a military range Pasuljanske livade (Paraćin municipality), when the Kragujevac regiment refused to go to the frontlines. They were joined by the reservists from Velika Plana, Svilajnac, Topola and Smederevo. On November 18 1991, reservists’ parents from Kragujevac protested demanding that their sons were returned home.
The largest reservists’ rebellion thus far happened in January 1992 – in Sokobanja, Zaječar, Negotin, Niš, while 700 reservists from Gornji Milanovac refused to go to Eastern Slavonia. President of the Sokobanja Municipality supported them and promised that no one would go to war in Croatia before it was declared that Serbia was at war.8Once the state of SFRY ceased to exist, the JNA ceased to exist too.
Around 500,000 refuges of Serbian nationality left Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the entirety of war in these two states and found refuge in Serbia. Most escaped between May and September 1995, after Croatian military operations Storm and Flash. In the period of 1993- 1995, with the support of state authorities – the Yugoslav Army and Serbian police, the refugees were exposed to forcible mobilisation. From 1993, the state of Serbia was not officially a party to the wars in the territory of former Yugoslavia, while the JNA disintegrated in May 1992. For this reason, classical conscription was not carried out in the way it had been done at the beginning of the conflicts in the summer of 1991 until May 1992. Forcible mobilisation of refugees represents the violation of the Refugee Convention, as well as the Law on Refugees of the Republic of Serbia. At the sessions of the FRY Higher Defence Council (VSO), the state and military leaderships were aware of this and were looking for ways to legalise their action in the years to come.
The 16 th session of the VSO in Belgrade on December 25 1993, was attended by the Presidents of Serbia and Montenegro, Slobodan Milošević and Momir Bulatović, as well as the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) Zoran Lilić, chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army (JA) Momčilo Perišić, FRY Defence Minister Pavle Bulatović, and head of the Military Cabinet of the President of FRY Slavko Krivošija.9 There, Momčilo Perišić mentioned the serving of military service by conscripts and recruits who came from the territory of the Republic of Srpska and the Republic of Srpska Krajina. As he said: “there are a lot of problems here because they are not there and can’t serve the Yugoslav Army there, and here many are not registered, while those who were registered do not have citizenship.”10His proposal was that all those who did not want to return to the Republic of Srpska and the Republic of Srpska Krajina should be registered and serving the Yugoslav Army. He mentioned the number of 3265 recruits and 19,765 conscripts. Slobodan Milošević called conscripts military deserters and proposed that they were sent to serve the Republic of Srpska Army. He also called them criminals who wanted “to stroll around Belgrade and Serbia and it makes no sense that volunteers leave here to fight wars for them.” Since the VJ could not arrest refugees, Perišić asked if the Serbian Interior Ministry and Montenegrin Interior Ministry could do that instead, for which he was granted permission from Slobodan Milošević and Momir Bulatović.
At the next session of the VSO, held in Belgrade on January 10 1994, Momir Bulatović proposed that the Governments of the Republic of Srpska and of the Republic of Srpska Krajina should send a request to the FRY Government requesting that all conscripts who belonged to the two armies were extradited there; otherwise, the presence of the Yugoslav Army seal could bear serious consequences and because of that international humanitarian organisations could stop sending humanitarian relief for refugees.11
What was agreed at the VSO meeting had already started being carried out in practice. As soon as at the beginning of 1993, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reported on the armed gangs in Vojvodina who were picking up refugees from the Republic of Srpska Krajina from the streets and sending them by the truckloads to the front lines. Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights Tadeusz Mazowiecki and his associates reported of a group of 500 Bosnian Serbs who came to the refugee centre in Sremska Mitrovica in March 1993, where all effectives were singled out and sent to the battlefield; it is also said that the officers of that refugee camp must have been aware of this event.12
Massive arrests of refugees from Croatia and BH started on the night of June 11-12 1995; it was done by the Serbian Interior Ministry with Yugoslav Army’s assistance. The police drafted refugees who had a refugee status and regulated residence, even the citizens of FR Yugoslavia who had previously worked in BH and Croatia, refugees who had recently turned 18 and who were called up to serve in the Yugoslav Army, as well as men whose military records issued in the Republic of Srpska Krajina stated that they were relieved from serving army for health reasons.13The Serbian Interior Ministry issued a statement denying that forcible mobilisation was taking place, and stated that they only performed the check-ups of persons who were not citizens of our country and did not have permanent or temporary residence permit or refugee status. In that respect, it was established that a number of persons from the Republic of Srpska Krajina and the Republic of Srpska was residing illegally in the Republic of Serbia and “are engaged in crimes, misdemeanours, harassment of citizens, fights and other offences”.14
The refugees were taken from reception and collective centres, private homes, workplaces, from the streets, bars and restaurants, pupils’ and students’ homes, rows of refugees, high school prom celebrations.15In this largest conscription wave, between 2000 and 4000 persons were drafted and taken against their will to the police stations and other facilities in Serbia and subsequently sent to the front lines in BH or the Republic of Srpska Krajina.
These facilities include the police building in Volgina Street in Zvezdara (Belgrade), where refugees from Croatia and BH were taken; according to several witnesses, they were not allowed to call their families nor did they know what was to happen to them. After the arrest and imprisonment at the police stations, forcibly mobilised refugees were transferred to fire stations across Serbia (in Prokuplje, Smederevo, Čačak, Pančevo, Leskovac, Jagodina), which served as collective centres.16 The largest collective centre was the Fire Station in Sremska Mitrovica, from where they were transported to the border and handed over to the military and police authorities of the Republic of Srpska and the Republic of Srpska Krajina.17
One of the most notorious camps for forcible mobilisation was the Training Centre of the Serb Volunteer Guard (SDG) in Erdut (Eastern Slavonia, Croatia) under the command of Željko Ražnatović Arkan. Forcible mobilisation intensified especially after the Operation Storm in August 1995, when around 200,000 Serbs fled Croatia. In that period (August-September 1995), Serbian Interior Ministry handed over 5000 refugees to the SDG.18 Upon arrival to the camp, the refugees were humiliated and called “traitors of the Serbian people” and “drunkards” by the members of the SDG. Next, they had to hand over all their personal belongings and a list of those brought in was made. After the registration they would be taken to have a headshave and sent to sleep.19 Every morning at the camp would start with the Serbian anthem “God of Justice” (Bože pravde), raising of the Serbian flag and a speech by Željko Ražnatović. After that, the refugees had to do hard physical exercises. Those who could not sustain the pace were punished by having to carry a flagstone with words “Mister Discipline” written on it; some were handcuffed to a tree, others were put in a dog house where they had to bark and say that they are “just regular mongrels”.20
Having finished the training and torture, a large number of refugees was sent to the positions of the Serbian Army of Krajina in Eastern Slavonia and Baranja and to the Republic of Srpska Army in BH. According to the data of the Humanitarian Law Centre, at least 54 refugees lost their lives or went missing after returning to the areas were armed conflicts were taking place.21 Some of them were captured by the enemy forces (BH Army and Croatian army) and exchanged as late as in December 1996, when they managed to return to their families.
Although it is not possible to determine the exact number of persons forcibly mobilised in the period of 1993 1995, it is believed that during the summer of 1994 alone, around 10 thousand refugees were drafted.22Only a handful talked publicly about their trauma. The Vojvodina Civic Centre (VCC), through the project titled “Stolen Freedom”, collected media articles, reports and testimonies of refugees who were forcibly conscripted.
Dušan M. was born in Banija and worked at the Sisak Metallurgy Factory before the war. Upon arriving to Serbia in August 1995, he settled with his family in the village of Ada in Vojvodina. “We arrived to Ada on August 18 1995. We were accommodated in a local school, about a dozen of us. In the next few days, we managed to organise well, the women would cook and clean, and we would go and get food and other supplies in Ada. On August 24 1995, in the morning, the police came to the schoolyard of the primary school in Ada and asked for our documents. I was the only man present. When I gave them my refugee card, they told me I had to come with them for some routine questioning. We went to the Ada police station, where I was kept for a few hours. Several other men were there, all from Krajina or Bosnia. After those few hours, a bus arrived and they put us onto that bus. We were asking where they were taking us and one police officer said that an order arrived that we had to return to the positions. We were taken to Erdut and to the Serb Volunteer Guard Training Centre. Upon arrival Željko Ražnatović Arkan awaited too; he took some of the people out of the row and started yelling at them, asking why we left Krajina and who was now going to fight the Croatians. We spent five days in Erdut and some of us were seriously harassed and tortured in that period. After five days, I was supposed to be transferred to Bršadin with one unit, but I ended up in Pačetin on the front line between Croatia and Eastern Slavonia. I was in a mortar unit and I was operating a 120mm mortar. Soon I was allowed to make a short telephone call to my family in Ada. I spent three and a half months in Pačetin. On several occasions I talked with Goran Hadžić, at that time the President of Eastern Slavonia, who was suggesting that we call our families so that they come and move to Lipovača, a village near Pačetin, into deserted Croatian houses. After three and a half months I was released and went to Serbia to look for my family whom I found in Mol, a village in the Ada municipality.”23
Đuro, also one of the refugees from Croatia following the Operation Storm, described the torture he survived at the Serb Volunteer Guard’s Training Centre in Erdut: “Upon being arrested and asked several questions regarding the place and time of my arrival to Serbia, they sent me to Zrenjanin, from where I was transported to the Serb Volunteer Guard’s Training Centre in Erdut in a bus filled with Serbs from Krajina. I spent the next eight days there. I can never forget those eight days in Erdut. Upon arrival, I walked down the gauntlet of soldiers who were kicking and punching me. They were telling me that I was a traitor the whole time and that because of me and those like me Krajina failed. On the same day, they cut my hair really short, almost bold. Torture continued in the days to come. More than 7000 people were at the camp during the time I was there, from all the regions of former Krajina. All were frightened and tortured. After eight days, I was transferred to Beli Manastir, from where I was immediately driven to Novi Čeminac. There, I and other people who were forcibly mobilised served to fill the army of Eastern Slavonia. The positions of the Croatian army were some 200 meters far across the Drava. I spent more than three months there. In that period we were not allowed to call our families or go visit them. They were always calling us traitors and telling us that we deserved what was happening to us. I was worried about my family, my daughter who should have gone back to school, I was always thinking about them. After three months I was returned to Serbia. I lost ten kilos during my stay there. And after I left, I was constantly thinking about the torture I had been put through, the kicking, name-calling, spitting. It was hard for me to return to my daily activities.”24
Barbara N. came to Serbia in 1991 together with her children because there were already some hints about the war. They had a refugee status and lived at their relative’s in Novi Sad. Her husband Ljubomir only came to Serbia in 1993 and was conscripted on June 13 1995. In the statement she gave to the First Municipal Court in Belgrade, she said that his vehicle was pulled over by the police at the Futog Road and he was taken to the Town Transportation Company (GSP). She was at home and since they did not have a telephone, he could not call her, but called their son who was working for their friends. The next day, she went to Sremska Mitrovica. There was a Fire Station there and a group of people in black uniforms. She did not see her husband, there was a bus with 8-12 young people in it. She contacted some people, trying to get information about her husband, they were even pointing guns at her, and it seems that the Commander said that if he was not fit, he would be returned. After that she went to the Military Administration in Novi Sad and found out that he was not taken by the army, but by the police. After that she was waiting for a long time to get some information, and her husband called her for the first time from Bruvno and then from Knin, She did not have direct telephone contact with him because at that time they did not have a telephone, but he was calling a friend, leaving messages for them to send him money and parcels. The husband later called from Željava, and that was all for one and a half months. Later the Operation Storm began and they had not had any contact with him since then, and they did not know what had happened. When her husband was calling their friend, he never went into details, they were just basic, short conversations. She tried to get information about her husband, she was going to the Red Cross in Belgrade every day, but she got nothing reliable. Her husband is considered dead today and she knows from other people that at one moment they were attacked by the Croatian and Muslim forces in Željava, where he was actually deployed. She heard from a friend Savo J., who was the last to see her husband, that one part of the group was captured by Muslim forces, while the other part, where her husband was, tried to escape, but obviously failed. She left Serbia and moved to Poland in 2002 where she now lives with her sons.25
Nada K., a witness in the trial before the First Municipal Court in Belgrade, said that her husband Đuro K. was forcibly mobilised on August 24 1995. Having arrived to Serbia, they settled in a collective centre at a kindergarten in Vranje. Early in the morning on August 24, four police officers calling out a list of names of all men fit for military service. They were told that they had to follow them to the Military Administration for some check-ups. The wives and children of the men who were taken went to the police station, but were not allowed in. However, because of their insisting, the doors were opened and they saw municipal president and police officers telling the men that they had to go to the battlefield. They were taken by buses and only a month later Nada found out that her husband was in Erdut, where he was working in the kitchen.26
Serbian authorities have not yet admitted the existence of or the responsibility for forcible mobilisations in Serbia during the 1990s. Mirjana Marković, one of the founders and first president of the Yugoslav Left and Slobodan Milošević’s wife, wrote in the Duga magazine: “One part of fighters for the Serbian cause in Bosnia and Serbian Krajina lives in Belgrade, they have not spent even a day in the war and do not plan to do so. They mostly came from the areas where the battles are fought and they did it on time, before the beginning of the war or in the first days of the war. To Belgrade, as well as to other towns in Serbia, they came with their children, with their money and with their ambitions – to take over economic and political, and social positions in Serbia in general, those that would make them first-class citizens, out of category…”27 The state media, under control of the governing Socialist Party of Serbia and its president at the time, only continued the work of the state leadership, that is, spreading stereotypes about refugees as profiteers and deserters. On June 16 1995, the Politika daily wrote that: “Krajišniks are coming to help” and that: “buses filled with conscripts from Serbia are coming to the Republic of Srpska Krajina”, voluntarily.28Particularly interesting was the behaviour of the Commissariat for Refugees, whose main task was to protect the refugees. Head of the Commissariat, Bratislava Buba Morina used every media appearance to deny that there was a forcible mobilisation of refugees going on.
The state of Serbia has never apologised to the refugees and their families for damages inflicted on them. Some of them have started court proceedings against Serbia, that is, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The Law on Contracts and Torts of FR Yugoslavia provides a possibility of initiating court proceedings, i.e. filing claims for compensation of non-material damages to all persons who have suffered mental anguish, fear or physical pains.29 Legislator’s aim was to allow the persons who have sustained some of these types of damages to alleviate the suffering they have been through or are still exposed to by the financial compensation awarded to them.30
The first suits were filed as early as in April 1996, when the HLC filed a claim on behalf of eight forcibly mobilised refugees. The judgment was passed in December and the court found that “the defendants sustained damages in the form of mental anguish, during the time they spent on the territory of the Republic of Serbia – because they were taken away, in the presence of their family members, and due to obvious threat of the use of force in the event of resistance; because of uncertainty of their position during the first days of their imprisonment, because of the failed hope that they had found refuge and safety on the territory of Serbia, because of brutal actions at the collective centres they were exposed to from the moment of being handed over by the Interior Ministry of the Republic of Serbia, because of the forcible transportation to the battlefield, forcible participation in the battles, fall into captivity, and torture and humiliation they had been exposed to until the exchanges.”31
However, all suits that were filed after 2000 were dismissed by the Supreme Court of Serbia, barred by the statute of limitations. This is especially problematic because a large number of refugees was forced to fight for their bare existence due to a very bad economic situation in Serbia, and did not have the means for court proceedings or the information that compensation claims for non material damages should have been filed within the general statute of limitation provisions for this type of damages.32
With regard to forcibly conscripted refugees and family members of those who lost their lives in the armed conflicts after the conscription and who filed the compensation claims against the Republic of Serbia within the statute of limitation period, only 1000 out of nearly 10,000 succeeded to initiate the proceedings. The Humanitarian Law Centre in Belgrade filed 121 compensation claims on behalf of 721 persons.33 The International Aid Network (IAN) filed 42 compensation claims on behalf of 51 persons.
The responsibility of the Republic of Serbia has been undoubtedly established in the proceedings for compensation of the forcibly mobilised persons. Some of the witnesses in these proceedings were police officers who claimed to have known that forcible conscription of refugees was taking place, but that such decision came from higher levels of government.34
Through forcible mobilisation, the Republic of Serbia violated the Law on Refugees of Serbia that was in force at that time. Article 1 of this Law provides that “persons who, due to the events of 1991-1998 and their consequences, left or were persecuted from former Yugoslav republics to the territory of the Republic of Serbia, and cannot, or do not want, out of fear of persecution or discrimination, return to the territory they left, including persons who have opted for integration, shall be provided with care, in accordance with the provisions of this law, for the purpose of meeting their basic subsistence needs, and assistance in the process of integration.”35
The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, signed by both SFRY, and FRY as its successor, provides in Article 33 the prohibition of expulsion or return (refoulement), that is: “no Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”36
No indictment has ever been raised against Željko Ražnatović Arkan for torturing and abusing forcibly mobilised refugees. Only an indictment for crimes committed in Sanski Most in Bosnia and Herzegovina in September 1995 was raised against him by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. Željko Ražnatović was murdered in Belgrade on January 15 2000.
Apart from the initiative of several anti-war activists and people who were speaking up publicly about the regime of Slobodan Milošević during the 1990s, no specific steps have ever been made towards the memorialisation of events from the period of the conscription crisis 1991- 1992.
Famous journalist and columnist of the Vreme magazine, the late Stojan Cerović wrote about forcible mobilisation: “All I want to say is that Belgrade lacks a monument which would properly commemorate and remind of the drama and misery of these years. Monuments from the First or Second World War, those from the Serbian Uprisings or from the People’s Liberation War (NOB), the House of Flowers or The Victor, none of them is appropriate for that. And I will not agree with anyone who thinks that there is nothing to commemorate here and that it would be best not to remember… Therefore, my proposal is a monument to the Unknown Deserter. At the very beginning of the war for the disintegration of Yugoslavia, while the JNA was trying to mobilise conscripts across Serbia and Montenegro, and while various national armies and private guards were emerging, I thought that it would be best and smartest to avoid uniform, refuse weapons or desert. This was done in various ways by thousands of people in Belgrade and Serbia, and it is the biggest thing we here should be proud of in future… Before that, human virtue was forced to withdraw. Decency and righteousness were demobilised; the reason, truthfulness and humanity deserted. No one and nothing calls either these people or these values to return yet. Such monument would give them credit and honour, although Slobodan Milošević would never place flowers on it. After all, he would not have to, because this is not about a monument to the dead, but to those who refused a call to kill or be killed in his war.”37
Janja Beč Nojman, sociologist, proposed in 2013 to build a monument to deserters in Novi Sad: “My initiative is to erect a monument to deserters in Vojvodina. To mark that such things were happening in this region in the time of suffering, war crimes and genocide. I think that it is time to talk about how many people refused to go to war. When I have recently initiated the idea for a monument to deserters at one gathering, no media reported about that. These silences are always horrible. True heroes of these wars, of all wars, are the deserters.”38
How we as a society today remember the forcibly mobilised refugees and the suffering they were through, together with their families, can be described in one word – silence. Apart from a few individuals, a few media and citizens’ associations, who publicly spoke about the forcible mobilisation of refugees, the official narrative of the state has not changed much since the 1990s. Two laws confirm this thesis: the Law on Civilian Victims of War and the Law on War Memorials currently in force in the Republic of Serbia.
The Law on the Rights of Civilian Invalids of War in Article 2 provides that “a civilian invalid of war shall be a person who has suffered physical harm of at least 50% due to a wound or injury that has left visible traces, inflicted by abuse or deprivation of liberty by the enemy in time of war, during war operations, from remaining war material or from enemy sabotage or terrorist actions”.39 Consequently, this means that refugees who were forcibly mobilised cannot gain the status of civilian invalids of war because they were not deprived of liberty by the enemy, but by the Serbian Interior Ministry, and because they did not suffer physical harm of at least 50% due to a wound.
In the Law on War Memorials, Article 2 stipulates that “a war memorial, military cemetery, individual tomb, tombstone, memorial ossuary, memorial chapel, memorial church, monument, public memorial, memorial plaque, place of suffering, famous landmark and other reverence symbols of significance for nurturing the tradition of Serbian liberation wars.”40The memorialisation of forcible mobilisation or a monument in memory of deserters is not in accordance with this article of the Law, and thus the state of Serbia institutionally confirms that it does not want to remember these people.