A mural in the centre of the eastern Bosnian town of Foca celebrating World War II-era Chetnik leader Dragoljub ‘Draza’ Mihailovic, which had upset war victims, was defaced with black paint by unknown perpetrators on Monday, media reported.
Since the mural was painted in 2019, the Association of Victims of War Foca 92-95 has been asking for its removal, together with other murals depicting genocide convict and Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic as a hero.
“I just heard about that, and it gives hope to see that there are people who are bothered by these murals,” Midheta Kaloper Oruli, the president of the association, told BIRN.
“We hope that the other murals will be removed, or at least painted over,” Kaloper Oruli added.
The Mihailovic mural was painted metres away from the Partizan sports hall, which Bosnian Serb forces used as a detention facility for women, children and elderly people who were arrested in Foca and surrounding villages in 1992, at the beginning of the war in Bosnia.
The detainees were kept in unsanitary conditions and subjected to starvation, physical and mental torture, and sexual abuse.
During WWII, Mihailovic’s Chetnik forces were accused of committing war crimes. He was executed for high treason and Nazi collaboration by the Yugoslav authorities in 1946, but rehabilitated by a Serbian court in 2015.
About 18,000 people currently live in Foca, a town located on the River Drina in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity. Before the war, according to the 1991 census, the population was 35,000.
Currently more than 91 per cent of the town’s population are Serbs and about seven percent are Bosniaks. Three decades earlier, the population was about 50 per cent Bosniak.