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Mate Boban (1940 ball_white.gif (858 bytes) 1997)

Radovan Karadzic's BROTHER IN CHRIST

b.gif (411 bytes)oban was born in 1940 at Sovic, a hamlet near one little bit bigger hamlet (Grude) that at the time did not even have a church. After World War II, the inhabitants of that area were stigmatized for having participated in the Fascist's movement. Boban became a member of Communist's Party of Yugoslavia as early as 1958, helped by the fact that his immediate family background was not a Fascist one. His fellow students hardly recall him today for he was an average, unambitious sort of person, in his grey suit with the obligatory Communist party button pinned to his lapel.

Most of the people who in 1992 were to become Boban's first collaborators were very successful communist activists too:

ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Bozo Rajic was party secretary in Mostar
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Jadranko Prlic was vice-president of the last communist government of Bosnia
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Susak's brother was secretary for National Defence in Siroki Brijeg (Susak was a big Croatian disident and his brother was a Serbian man of a faith)?
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Tomislav Obrdalj was charged for 20 years of jail. In jail he spent only 10? - Somebody gave him, later, a high position in "Vitex"-company, Jozo Jozic's wife was his secretary ... He was the president of HDZ Sarajevo?
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Dario Kordic was secretary for National Defence in Busovaca
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Branko Kvesic Boban's deputy minister of police for a long while was an investigating judge in Mostar notable for his zeal in pursuing kids who sang Ustashas' (fascists') songs
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Bruno Stojic minister of police had a similar biography
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Pero Markovic was party secretary in Capljina
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Jozo Jozic was party secretary in Sarajevo
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Vlado Soljic was party secretary in Siroki Brig
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  Velentin Coric was party secretary in Citluk
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  and many more ...

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In 1966 Mate Boban became director of a publishing company (Napredak -Imotski).
In the course of the following twenty-odd years he was to be local party secretary, representative of tobacco company (Tvornica duhana Zagreb) - and for a short time also a jailbird?

He had ended up behind bars in connection with the unexplained fate of a truck-trailer full of sugar that had vanished somewhere between Split and Imotski. Others talk darkly of property loans ... His political colleagues, later made up a story that he had gone to a prison for a visit to Pavelic's grave in Madrid (Pavelic was a boss of a Croatian's Nazi-puppet state during the World War II). People from Boban's home village, however, swear that he had never even been to Spain. The essence of the story is the same anyway: Mate Boban was not a nationalist until that time; and that was a time when the price of nationalism started to rise on the market.

In the summer of 1990, when it was clear that communism's day was drawing to a close, Boban was quick off the mark in collecting and founding a party The Herzegovinian Democratic Union.
When a different and more effective organization was established in Sarajevo (Croat Democratic Union - CDU), Boban was quick too, he joined that new party and became one of its deputies to the Bosnian parliament.

At the end of 1991 Tudjman judged that Kljuic had ceased to be obedient and would not go along with what he and Milosevic had agreed at Karadjordjevo (the partition of Bosnia and the territorial expansion of Croatia to the frontiers of the 1939 Banovina). Vlado Santic, Iko Stanic and Ignjac Kostroman were sent to Sarajevo to move Kljuic's out because he suddenly had become a "traitor to the Croat people"? The actual Kljuic's political liquidation took place at an CDU-Bosnia conference at Siroki Brig, where almost everyone he had himself put in place now turned on him with insults and threats. Mate Boban took over as the new president of the party, whether because he had been most vociferous in the attacks on Kljuic or because he found most favour with Tudjman. His appointment marked the beginning of a period when Croat relations with the Bosniaks cooled, whereas a progressive reconciliation was effected with Karadzic's TrueSerbs.

Boban was simply carrying out a policy crafted in Zagreb, but he was the author of some of the most appallingly racist and chauvinist statements about Islam and Muslims; he ruled over a para-state where there were concentration camps, where a policy of apartheid was implemented, and "ethnic cleansing" of Bosniaks was carried out. Boban finished the war against Karadzic's TrueSerbs very speedily and replaced it by collaboration, so that all available forces could be mobilized for the struggle against Bosnia.
Boban himself once said:
"We are bound to the Serbs by brotherhood in Christ link.gif (84 bytes)  but nothing at all binds us to the Muslims"

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Once Jergovic told to Boban (in June 1993), that the war with the Bosniaks is undoubtedly leading the Croats to a catastrophe. He told him that:
"The only things beyond doubt are the national interest and what President Tudjman says".
Boban's loyalty and obedience were limitless. He considered Tudjman the only person beyond question in Croatian history. If you expressed any opinion differing from Tudjman's, it would not make Boban display anger or any other emotion, or provoke him to argue back; instead you would simply find yourself up against a silence.

After the Americans made it crystal clear that they had no intention of making peace with Boban's para-state HercegBosna; - with iron discipline, amid applause and a few tears, Mate Boban awaited his dismissal. He admitted to feeling betrayed and abandoned.

Boban's career might have remained on the margins of our recent history, and he might have been remembered only as a grey, obedient servant, in his grey suit with the obligatory Communist party button pinned to his lapel if it had not been for the episode with the Catholic Church. Boban did indeed exceed his authority.

It all began in 1992, before the start of the war against the Bosniaks, when Boban sent two letters to Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Bosnia, and requested him:

ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  to organize the emigration of Bosnian Croats to parts of the country where, according to the plan, they would form a majority
ball_white.gif (858 bytes)  the seat of the archbishopric should be moved from Sarajevo to Travnik

These recommendations received no positive response.

What ensued was an extraordinarily insulting campaign, both in Herzegovina and in the regime press in Zagreb, in which Puljic was branded as a traitor and "Muslims' Archbishop".

The affair became still more dramatic when Boban dispatched his notorious letter to Cardinal Kuharic. The Croat Church leaders found his letter - intolerable and unacceptable.

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On the morning when the news of Boban's death was announced, Voice of America speculated that he might have been killed. Sometimes death can come in a quite banal fashion, as he plays with his grandchildren (just like in that Coppola's movie).

Nevertheless, his death has not made much of a splash in the world at large. Only two television stations, those of Zagreb and Pale, have accorded particular significance to it. Zagreb's programme "MOTRISTA" claimed that Mate Boban:
"devoted his whole life to the well being of the Croat people in Bosnia", (even that with a vanished truck-trailer full of sugar);
while still greater respect was paid to the departed from the TrueSerbs, they said:
"One of the great warriors against the expansion of Islam in Europe has died".
The most striking thing about the terms in which they bid farewell to their former political brother, however, was not that they should have been addressed to some Croat but the status they accorded him as an eminent European?

Quite exceptionally, death comes at the right time.
But when that happens, doubts always arise.
After all, from the viewpoint of the Croatian regime Mate Boban could not have died at a better moment,
since at The Hague of late his name has being mentioned more frequently than that of General Blaskic himself,
while in Western media and diplomatic circles Boban is quite regularly referred to as a key link connecting Ahmici, Dretelj or Stolac with Zagreb.

(by the article of Miljenko Jergovic)

(text changed without permission of author)
2000, Community of Friends of Stolac


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