The Slovenia Times

Day of remembrance for victims of communism cancelled


Just hours before Slovenia was due to mark National Day of Remembrance for the Victims Communist Violence on 17 May, the government revoked a decree by its predecessors that served as the legal basis for the commemoration, triggering sharp criticism from the right and talk of a "new civil war".

In a brief statement after a correspondence session, the Robert Golob government said that that the memorial day had been declared without a "public and expert debate".

The national memorial day was declared by the Janez Janša government by decree on 12 May 2022, when it was already in caretaker capacity, and just days before its term ended.

Its reasoning at the time was that communist violence left thousands of dead on Slovenian soil between 1941 and 1946, while affecting hundreds of thousands more in the subsequent decades of communist rule.

The date was picked in memory of the killing of 49 people, including 44 Roma, in the Iška Gorge, south of Ljubljana, in 1942.

The declaration of the memorial day was met with criticism on the left, which argued at the time that the underlying desire was to embroil the nation in an endless culture war.

The decision by the current government was expected given that the Social Democrats (SD), the junior coalition partners, said last week that the decree should be repealed since it is "mostly about revisionism and does nothing to reconcile the people."

Janša, president of the Democrats, decried the government decision as "abhorrent" and said it amounted to "an announcement of a new civil war" and "insult to all those who have at least a shred of sympathy for fellow humans."

He accused the government of rehabilitating communist crimes and annulling "exceptional reconciliation efforts by a generation that made Slovenia democratic and independent."

The government is "once again ready to fill pits and mining shafts with those who think differently," he said in a reference to mass graves of opponents of communism who were killed after the Second World War.

The Freedom Movement, the party of Prime Minister Golob, denounced Janša's comments as a call to violence and to renewed divisions and intolerance.

"We don't comment on statements made on social media, but the call to violence is just too much," Borut Sajovic, the leader of the deputy group of the Freedom Movement, said, adding there could be just a step from calls to violence to events such as those seen in the Balkans.

Matej Tonin, head of the Christian democratic New Slovenia (NSi) wrote on Twitter that many people alive today had suffered under communism and many lost their loved ones.

He feels this is not about being on the right side of history, it is about fundamental values and respect for the dead. "Alas, the current government is not capable of such open-mindedness."

Coinciding with the cancellation of the remembrance day, several civil initiatives made an appeal for the state to set up a public register of victims of communist violence.

New Slovenian Testament and three other associations campaigning for the recognition of the victims of reprisals by the Communists during and after the Second World War presented their appeal to Eva Irgl, the chair of the parliamentary Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities, along with a list of 14,901 persons killed.

They appeal to the government to bear all Slovenians in mind and to "stop destructive slide into tolerance of the crime". As the first step the state should set up a public register of the victims of communist violence.


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