The Slovenia Times

Memorial to the erased unveiled in Ljubljana

A memorial to the erased unveiled at the new Rog Centre.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

A memorial to the erased was unveiled in Ljubljana on 24 October to serve as a reminder of the suffering of almost 25,700 people descending from other parts of the former Yugoslavia who were removed from the permanent residence register in 1992, losing a series of rights stemming from the status.

The memorial is made in the shape of the upper part of the letter ć, which is often present in the last names of the people who originate from parts of the former Yugoslavia other than Slovenia.

It makes the centrepiece of the new Park of the Erased, which is located in the courtyard of the Rog Centre, a former bicycle factory turned into a new hub for creatives.

A series of speakers addressing the unveiling ceremony underscored that the memorial should serve as a reminder of one of the worst mass violations of human rights in the independent Slovenia the likes of which should never happen again.

The memorial does not solve any problem, but it is a patch on the "bleeding wound of the erased", said one of the victims of the erasure, Katarina Keček.

Moderating the event alongside her, Ratko Stojiljković said that as a child of the erased he had faced institutional racism since 1992, which left a strong mark on Slovenia's school and social systems until this day.

"This is a memorial meant to be used, for children to climb it, to take pictures at it, neither too big nor too small to make everyone in the park feel good," said Renata Zamida, director of the Rog Centre.

Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan said it was not to the credit of the state that it took "30 years to tackle the ordeal of the erased". She pledged to work for the injustices still suffered by the erased to be fully redressed as soon as possible.

Marking the 30th anniversary of the erasure last year the then President Borut Pahor apologised for the act on Slovenia's behalf, which is seen as a gesture ending the period of denial.

Now the memorial gives "the collective memory its symbol and image", Nataša Posel, director of the Slovenian chapter of Amnesty International, said.

Amnesty International is one of several NGOs which say the issue of the erased has still not been fully resolved and Posel called on the government to adopt legislation to tackle the matter.

The NGOs argue the damages paid to the erased cannot compensate for the loss of jobs, pensions, education opportunities, or the chance to purchase their homes under favourable conditions.

When Slovenia declared its independence in 1991, the precursor to the National Assembly passed a package of independence legislation, including a foreigners act and a citizenship act.

Under the latter, citizens of Yugoslav republics other than Slovenia who were registered as permanent residents in Slovenia had to apply for Slovenian citizenship in half a year.

Those who failed to do so were removed from the country's register of permanent residents in February 1992 and they fell under the provisions of the foreigners act.

The Constitutional Court declared the erasure unlawful in 1999 and again in 2003, ordering the National Assembly to restore the erased status of permanent residents from the day of the erasure.

A law passed in October 2003 that was to make that possible was defeated in a referendum in April 2004, but the Interior Ministry then started restoring the status to those concerned directly based on the Constitutional Court's decisions. More erased were made eligible in legislative changes passed in 2010.

After the European Court of Human Rights ordered Slovenia in 2012 to put in place a compensation scheme, a law to that effect was passed in 2013, coming into force in June 2014.

The law gave the erased the option of settling for a lump sum of €50 for every month they were erased, or taking legal action to claim higher compensation.

The erased had until 18 June 2017 to file applications or lawsuits with official data as of February 2022 showing that €26.6 million had been paid out based on the lump-sum applications, and €1.8 million based on court rulings until the end of 2021.


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