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Our advocacy efforts recognized by the City of Zagreb

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Our dedication and efforts to preserve the memory of the Zec family members, Mihajlo, Marija, and twelve-year-old Aleksandra Zec, have resulted in significant steps towards achieving responsible standards for commemorating civilian war victims.

In December 1991, the Zec family members were killed, becoming unfortunate victims of violence by members of the reserve unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, known as the "Merčepovci." Despite the acknowledgment of the crime, none of the direct perpetrators have been held accountable for this horrific act to this day. However, it is worth mentioning that, with a final verdict, the commander of the mentioned unit, Tomislav Merčep, was convicted for failing to prevent the torture and killings of Serbian civilians, including the Zec family.

Through youth education and advocacy activities directed towards relevant institutions, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights has been striving for years to prevent the Zec family from falling into oblivion.

Signs of positive progress in preserving the memory of the Zec family became evident at the commemoration in December 2022, where Mayor Tomašević promised to install a memorial plaque at the site of the tragic event.

In mid-2023, on Aleksandra Zec's birthday, May 8, members of the Activist Network of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights addressed the mayor with specific guidelines in line with international standards for preserving the memory of civilian war victims. These guidelines, derived from the Recommendations for Commemorating Civilian War Victims entitled "Inclusive Memory," were first presented to the mayor in December 2021, before his first participation in the commemoration for the murdered Zec family members.

This year's commemoration marked the fulfillment of the mayor's promise, who, after thirty-two years since the murder of Aleksandra, Marija, and Mihajlo Zec, decided to install and participate in the unveiling of the memorial plaque, the first physical symbol of lasting memory of these civilian war victims of the nineties.

It is important that the City of Zagreb has recognized the importance of collaboration with civil society in making such important steps in building an inclusive memory policy. Our recommendations, which were used in the development of this initiative, were publicly acknowledged, highlighting the role we played in achieving this significant advancement in preserving the memory of the Zec family.

We share a part of the original text published on the official website of the City of Zagreb:

"The informational memorial plaque is the first part of the entire memorial project that will be a permanent reminder of the Zec family at this location. The Youth Initiative for Human Rights deserves great credit for setting up the memorial, as they, on May 8, the symbolic date when Aleksandra Zec would celebrate her birthday, addressed the mayor with guidelines on how to appropriately preserve the memory of the murdered Zec family members."

Achievements like this are crucial for building a future where crimes motivated by interethnic hatred will not be tolerated.

In 2024, we will continue to educate young people about this tragic case to create a safe environment for all citizens, regardless of their minority status in society.

We express our gratitude to the City of Zagreb and Mayor Tomislav Tomašević for fulfilling the promise and installing the memorial plaque in the Adolfovac area, as well as other relevant institutions and organizations that supported this effort for a permanent tribute to the Zec family.

We will closely monitor the construction of the announced comprehensive memorial project and fulfill our watchdog role, ensuring that the city authorities fulfill this promise as well. Additionally, next year, we will continue our long-standing advocacy for a public space in Zagreb, the city where the Zec family lived, to be named after Aleksandra Zec.



Program Impact4Values is co-funded by the Office for Cooperation with NGOs of the Government of the Republic of Croatia.


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