Inmates of Yugoslav Political Prison on Croatian Island Commemorated

Two Croatian NGOs, the Ante Zemljar association and Documenta - Centre for Dealing with the Past, held a commemorative event on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners on Goli Otok (Naked Island) in the Adriatic Sea off Croatia's northern coast.

They said they wanted to remember "the Goli Otok prisoners and all the victims of political violence in Croatia, Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe during the period of the Cominform [a Soviet-dominated international organisation of Communist countries], marked by the brutal violence of the state against individuals".

After Yugoslavia broke ties with Stalin's USSR in 1948, the Yugoslav state under President Josip Broz Tito jailed people suspected of still supporting the Soviet leader.

The Goli Otok political prison held some 16,500 people, 413 of whom died there. They were either killed, died due to the grim conditions, or committed suicide.

After 1956, it became a prison for ordinary criminals and teenage delinquents and was finally closed in 1988.

The issue remained a taboo topic in Yugoslavia until the 1980s.

"We did nothing to mark the suffering of former inmates and that is our shame, it is a shame for this state and all its citizens. Therefore, once again, we are asking for this place to be protected and marked with dignity before the last witness is gone from this world," Darko Bavoljak from the Ante Zemljar association, which works to preserve the memory of Goli Otok prisoners, told Tuesday's commemoration.

The two NGOs said the site should be permanently protected and turned into an "island of memories, education and educational tourism that is suitable for this place".

"Particularly worrying is the fact that on May 31 this year, a...

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