Vesna Terselic
( 1998 , Croatie )

...for their dedication to a long-term process of peace-building and reconciliation in the Balkans.

Do we have enough energy for a clearer commitment and decisive action? Do we have the creativity? Do we have the courage and will to act?


Vesna Terselic, born in 1962, was largely responsible for founding the Croatian Anti-War Campaign (ARK) in 1991 and has been for some years its National Coordinator. After studying at Zagreb University she became involved in street theatre and then, intensively, with environmental issues.

Contact

Vesna Terselic
Documenta Ð Center for Dealing with the Past
Human Rights House
Selska cesta 112c
HR-10000 Zagreb
CROATIA

http://www.documenta.hr/eng/

Biography

Vesna Terselic, born in 1962, was largely responsible for founding the Croatian Anti-War Campaign (ARK) in 1991 and has been for some years its National Coordinator. After studying at Zagreb University she became involved in street theatre and then, intensively, with environmental issues.

Katarina Kruhonja was born in Osijek in 1949. She is Director of the Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights in Osijek in the East Slavonia region of Croatia. She is a physician and was the senior, nationally recognised, specialist in nuclear medicine in Osijek hospital. The Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights was founded in 1992, and was initially part of the Croatian Anti-War Campaign (ARK). It became formally independent of ARK in 1993, but is still a ‘collective member’ of it.

ARK is now a network of about 15 local and specialised organisations, a peace movement that is also the strongest and most active part of emerging civil society in Croatia.

ARK is concerned with, among other things, education for non-violent conflict transformation, human rights protection, social reconstruction and reconciliation, support for refugees and displaced persons, help for the unemployed and the bereaved and those severely traumatised by war, the promotion of conscientious objections and the promotion of a civil rather than a military service corps. There are now well over a dozen centres where different aspects of these activities are pursued.

Vesna Terselic, born in 1962, was largely responsible for founding the Croatian Anti-War Campaign (ARK) in 1991 and has been for some years its National Coordinator. After studying at Zagreb University she became involved in street theatre and then, intensively, with environmental issues.

Katarina Kruhonja was born in Osijek in 1949. She is Director of the Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights in Osijek in the East Slavonia region of Croatia. She is a physician and was the senior, nationally recognised, specialist in nuclear medicine in Osijek hospital. The Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights was founded in 1992, and was initially part of the Croatian Anti-War Campaign (ARK). It became formally independent of ARK in 1993, but is still a ‘collective member’ of it.

ARK is now a network of about 15 local and specialised organisations, a peace movement that is also the strongest and most active part of emerging civil society in Croatia.

ARK is concerned with, among other things, education for non-violent conflict transformation, human rights protection, social reconstruction and reconciliation, support for refugees and displaced persons, help for the unemployed and the bereaved and those severely traumatised by war, the promotion of conscientious objections and the promotion of a civil rather than a military service corps. There are now well over a dozen centres where different aspects of these activities are pursued.

The Centre in Osijek is also making a major contribution to peace building in the region. From its activities several independent peace groups have been established. The main activities of the Centre are to do with protection of human rights; peace education, organising seminars and workshops for primary school teachers and children; and post-war peace building, including psychosocial support to the wounded population and preparing the ground for the return of displaced persons and refugees. Then there are a number of projects intended to bring people together and rebuild confidence across the ethnic divides.

As a result of work facilitated by Terselic and Kruhonja, in March 1996 three organisations from Serbia and eight others from Croatia came together to form the ‘Coordination of Peace Organisations for East Slavonia, Baranja and West Sirmium’, which has made a major contribution to the prevention of a massive movement of Serbs out of the region, their integration in the Republic of Croatia, the prevention of incidents and violence and the processes of rebuilding trust between divided ethnic groups.

In order to initiate the process of dealing with the past and the establishment of factual truth about the war, the Center of Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights Osijek, the Center for Peace Studies, the Civic Council for Human Rights, and the Croatian Helsinki Committee established DOCUMENTA, a Centre for Dealing with the Past, in 2004. The key reason for establishing this centre was the experience of suppression and falsification of war crimes and other war events in the younger history of the Balkans. Vesna Terselic is the director of DOCUMENTA.

The commitment of these two women, and the many organisations and activities which they have helped to inspire, has significantly increased the prospects for a transition in the area from war and ethnic division to democracy, justice, non-violence and peaceful cohabitation.

 
 

FAQs about Vesna Terselic

asked in 2005

1. What was your biggest success?

  • planting a seed of non-violence through peace education programmes
  • organising mediation trainings for police, judiciary and community mediators and establishing community mediation centers
  • campaigning against a monument to Nazi collaborator Jure Francetic and making the government act upon the Constitution of Croatia and remove it
  • starting documenting war crimes together with our regional partner organisation Humanitarian Law Center from Belgrade and another organisation from Sarajevo

2. Do people in Croatia generally approve of your work? Who are your opponents and why?

Some strongly approve and some fiercely disapprove. Between them are people who either committed or have approved of war crimes.

3. What is the focus of your present work?

  • gathering documentation and research on war events and war crimes
  • establishing a searchable data base on war crimes
  • monitoring judicial processes related to war crimes
  • creating a network for the support of victims and witnesses
  • deepening public dialogue and initiating public policies which stimulate dealing with the past

4. Why not work towards reconciliation and stop looking backwards? Why not leave behind war crimes and the whole violent part? Let’s forget about it…

I believe that without dealing with the past we cannot break the cycle of violence. Each victim has a name. Families of killed need to know that we acknowledge their suffering and regret the murder of their relatives. Stories of war crimes need to be prosecuted. We can hope for a process of recovery or healing to start if survivors receive material and psychological support and if names of victims are written in a memorial to all victims in sign of our common reflections of killings and mourning.

5. Why don’t you focus on the needs of your living neighbours?

Because the consequence of war crimes is individual and collective traumatisation which is being transferred from one generation to the other. Wounds do not heal without systematic effort on addressing past crimes.

Something got frozen, something got damaged in human hearts and souls. Dealing with the past processes could help to remove obstacles to our full growth and development.

6. What effect has the RLA had on your work?

It made it much more visible.