Production of enemies

Večernji list, March 15, 1993, Reactions

Zagreb Women’s Lobby

Embroilment over Croatia’s Concept of National Demographic Development had its culmination over one instance that Dunja Ujević is being “pedantically” tacit about. The Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Bern is that instance. The Concept was delivered to the Embassy together with a commentary by the group Antigena which states that its possible adoption will – limit the human rights of women in Croatia. However, the Croatian Embassy in Switzerland fiercely denied it and called the Concept an “ordinary forgery”

An article by Dunja Ujević under the heading “‘Flying Dutchwomen’ rape Croatia” was published in Večernji list on March 2. The headline lacks originality, the method is well-known and tried; by combining lies and half-truths together with denunciations spheres are being created and enemies of the state and national traitors pursued. Since the feminist lobby was also publicly attacked in the subheading and since Neva (and not Nela) Tolle, a member of the Zagreb Women’s Lobby, was libelled in the article, we are forced to react in order to correctly inform the public.

The article, a typical mixture of “information” and comments which is explicitly prohibited under the Law on Media, reports a number of incorrect data and unverified facts in an attempt to spread slander and political defamation. Another “international feminist conspiracy against Croatia” – very popular these days – but this time based in Switzerland, is being established on the basis of false premises. 

Child-bearing machines

In her article Dunja Ujević writes that: “Switzerland has recently been flooded by fliers where organizations under the name ‘Women’s list’ from Basel demanding urgent aid for Croatia” because “in Croatia laws are being drafted where women will be used as ‘child-bearing machines’ for the purpose of ethnic growth...”

Dunja Ujević is spreading misinformation! Switzerland was never flooded by any fliers; rather the public was given the results of well-documented research. The authors of the research are not members of the “Women’s list” from Basel (new misinformation!), but the Swiss national feminist organization “Nogerete”.
What and how did the members of “Nogerete” research? This is a somewhat longer and for our chronically uninformed public rather complicated story.

In short, “Nogerete” carefully examined Croatia’s Concept of the National Demographic Development Program and its vagueness which was drafted by the Croatian Government as a part of its National Development Program last year in May. This document, co-created by Catholic priest Ante Baković, proposes, among other things, the following: “fight against abortion”, “fight against anti-life birth-rates”, “pro-life publications of the Ministry of Reconstruction” with the aim of “transforming today’s families into families of the Croatian future with three or four children”. Just as it was predicted in the “new family policy of the Republic of Croatia”: “To make the noblest vocation in Croatia be the Mother – educator!” and by this “suppress the state of non-marriedness”, etc.

Who, then, is fabricating the use of women as “child-bearing machines” for “ethnic development”? The Croatian Government or Swiss feminists?

An entirely precise answer is: neither the Croatian Government nor Swiss feminists but Dunja Ujević who is “quoting” nonexistent formulations and ascribing them to the Swiss women. But even the Government is not innocent.

Defamation activities

It is a fact that at the end of October last year, a letter by the women’s group “Antigena” from Zurich signed by Barbara Thurnher, its member and not the “head” (that fascination with heads and top officials) of “Women’s List” from Basel, as Dunja Ujević wrote, was sent to various addresses in Switzerland.

B. Thurnher’s memo states that “women in Zagreb are being attacked on streets, raped, shot at and attacked with knives on daily basis and constantly, even though Zagreb is not and has never been on the front line. In short: sexism is collecting its extreme harvest in the shadow of the nearby war”.

The text, however, nowhere reports that “Muslim women, rape victims were raped in Zagreb” as Dunja Ujević “quoted”. Such a conclusion is solely the result of her extreme falsificatory-defamatory activities.

The embroilment over Croatia’s Concept of National Demographic Development had its culmination over one instance that Dunja Ujević is being “pedantically” tacit about. The Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Bern is that instance. The Concept was delivered to the Embassy together with a commentary by the group Antigena which states that its possible adoption will – limit the human rights of women in Croatia (decision on child-bearing, the right to work, the right to choose standpoints, etc…). The Croatian Embassy in Switzerland, in its letter dated December 10, 1992 and signed by the Ambassador, has fiercely denied this and called the Concept an “ordinary forgery”. They have also asked the Swiss women’s groups to “correct their mistake” and to verify such claims at competent institutions in the future.

The Swiss women, taking their advice, verified the data once again and the women’s section of the “Christian Peace Service” sent a photocopy of the Government’s Concept and basis for creating the National Demographic Development Program (with the Government seal and signed by the then Prime Minister dr. Franjo Gregurić) to the Embassy. Thus this phantom document has been proven to exist. As a result, the “Nogerete” group has composed a detailed and documented report about the Croatian diplomatic mission and its instructions on the desirable “patriotic” conduct of Swiss women as well as the political defamation of Neva Tolle and women’s organizations from Zagreb. In the report they have included a letter by the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia dated February 15, 1993, in which after having received a photocopy of the document, they marginally acknowledge its existence.

Superficial and malevolent

This, then, is that “flyer” which Dunja Ujević received (delivered, retold “in details”, “incorrectly” translated) or just “composed” and out of which she managed to produce an unheard of (mis)information hodgepodge full of petty-political slanders.

“Women’s list” from Basel, whom Dunja Ujević associated with the “rape isn’t a matter of nationality” poster which appeared at a “scandalous international women’s summit in Zagreb...”, has been involved in this entire “affair”. It is not known whether the women from Basel participated at the meeting, but the poster was carried by members of a radical Austrian and not Swiss women’s group! Incidentally, the meeting in Zagreb was organized by German activists together with the Government and city authorities.

Dunja Ujević has been equally incompetent in her investigative journalist ventures. Notwithstanding the political evaluations of Neva Tolle and the anti-war campaign, the sentence that “Mrs. Neva Tolle launched an anti-war campaign on the principle of equal guilt of the warring sides” is not just a lie but also sounds grotesque in light of the fact that Neva Tolle joined the Croatian National Guard in the Fall of 1991 and was on the front lines for several months.

As far as Dunja Ujević’s ambitions to interpret literary metaphoric content and to retell the texts by Dubravka Ugrešić is concerned, we have noticed that this does not come easy to her, just as with her journalism. Since the Croatian public has no access to the original (Dubravka’s stories are never translated, only “retold”), it is really tragic that even Dunja Ujević does this in her superficial and malevolent manner. Besides, that what is allowed in literature (subjectivity, ellipses, metaphors, selection of facts to show one’s own experience) is absolutely unprofessional in journalism.

Really, from where does Dunja Ujević get her courage to write at all?