Events marking Vukovar Remembrance Day and the 24th anniversary of the suffering of that eastern Croatian city in the country’s 1991-95 war of independence started on Tuesday evening with a ceremony outside the city hospital where 3,470 wounded people had been treated during the siege of the city by the JNA and Serb paramilitary troops in 1991.
On Tuesday evening, candles were lit and prayers were said in the hospital’s yard. Candles were lit and flowers were placed along the main streets of many Croatian cities and towns on Tuesday evening, too. Central commemorative events are scheduled for Wednesday.
Vukovar Remembrance Day is observed in memory of 18 November 1991 when the city’s defence lines were broken after a three-month siege by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitaries. The besieged city was defended by around 1,800 members of the National Guard Corps, police and volunteers of the self-organised Croatian Defence Force (HOS), organised into the 204th Croatian Army Brigade.
After the ravaged city fell into the hands of the JNA and Serb paramilitaries, around 22,000 local Croats and members of other ethnic groups were expelled and several thousand Croatian soldiers and civilians were taken to Serb-run prison camps.
Numerous crimes were committed against the defence forces and civilians, including the massacre of 200 soldiers and civilians from the Vukovar Hospital who were taken from the hospital on November 19 and killed at a former farm at Ovcara, outside the city, and were buried in a mass grave.
According to data from the Vukovar Hospital, 1,624 Croatian soldiers and civilians were killed and 1,219 were wounded during the siege of the city. Around 3,600 Croatian soldiers and civilians were killed in the aggression on and subsequent occupation of the city.