Izbrisani / The Erased

I was meaning to write up this one a while ago, but things just kept happening. Namely, The Erased, a human rights fiasco which affected almost 1% of entire Slovenian population. 18.000+ people, mostly from former Yugoslav republics, who for one reason or another failed to get their papers in order after Slovenia declared independence were removed from all official databases. They were in effect – erased.

The Erased in Brussels

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) ran a fine peice on the issue a couple of weeks ago (you really should listen to it) which gives a fair account of the issue which is – needless to say – highly divisive as the Constitutional Court has ruled in 2004 that the erasure was unconstitutional, but the parliament has failed to address the issue properly. And not just this parliament and this government. The erasure happened in 1992 and every single government since has turned a blind eye or made only a token effort to solve what was increasingly becoming a social and not just a political problem. Naturally, the government doesn’t see it this way (note that the document pre-dates Janša’s government).

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

32 thoughts on “Izbrisani / The Erased”

  1. I listened to it. It sounded almost like a school assignment, so naive the narration, so clean the information. I miss that kind of unbiased, bona fide reporting in our media, but probably it’s just the distance of the reporter and her media house – which BTW I always find quite curious: why would a Canadian want to make or listen to a piece like this, happening in a nutshell country on the other side of the world. Indeed, I feel like a peasant talking like this, but nevertheless.

    As for the content itself, I feel deeply deeply ashamed for being a Slovenian.

  2. Well, the issue is so politicised in Slovenia, that we don’t actually talk about solving the Erased’s problems anymore, but rather about solving the issue of the Erased. As if we were dealing in car spare parts.

    The piece itself is indeed a text-book example of clean cut information. Every sentence is there for a purpose and I especially like the American shool of radio which advocates presenting the atmosphere as well. You won’t hear “sounds of the city” on Slovenian radio. Hell, they don’t do short documentaries on Slovenian radio at all! 🙁

  3. I am one of the 18.000 erased people. At the time I had 14 years. I was born in Ljubljana and went to school there and I speak slovenian language perfect even today.
    I was only 14 when this happened. This slovenian ethnic cleansing ruined many lives. I consider this issue the same as the Nuremberg Laws which nazis proclaimed in 1930-ies.
    This is ethnic cleansing in the most hypocrat way…
    Slovenia should be ashamed…
    This issue should be solved immediately and Slovenia should pay for the sufferings of the Erased. This will happen eventually. The longer the wait, harder for Slovenia will be…

  4. I feel deeply ashamed o of Slovenia not recognizing this people what they really are. Quislings… people if the war in 1991 wouldn’t turn victorious for Slovenia would start mass murdering, raping, robing as they have done in the rest of the former Yugoslavia. And now, some of them are returning to Slovenia to get rewarded for they betrayal. And the remains of communist leadership are just buying votes by betraying the country again.

  5. Zeljko,

    Did you ask your parents why did they refuse Slovenian citizenship at that time?

  6. @justice: “these people” have little to no relation with the war of independence. If I remember correctly, less than 2,5% were connected to the Yugoslav army in any way, shape or form, but mostly as civilians working for the army (cleaners, cooks, etc.). So you can hardly say that slightly more than 500 people posed a threat. Any sort of a threat.

    Secondly, this is not about citizenship. It is about permanent residence. Yes, they were able to get the citizenship, but no one was forcing them. Would you take Croatian or Austrian citizenship if you lived there, even though you’re (I assume) Slovenian?

    And thirdly: this is about government not doing its job. Seventeen years ago those 25.000 people should have at the very least been transfered from one record (former YU-citizens with permanent residence) to another record (foreigners). Instead, they were erased from one record and never entered into the other.

  7. So if this whole fiasco is not about citizenship but about permanent residence, where’s the problem exactly? If they wanted to live in Slovenia but not having a slovenian citizenship, then it’s only logical that they have another citizenship. But they DON’T. So, in the end, it’s all about getting the money from Slovenia EVEN THOUGH the taxpayers aren’t exactly to blame for this but are expected to pay.

    Well fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you. I don’t understand – if they weren’t present in Slovenia when this took place and weren’t able to do the necessary things, where were they? If they wanted to live here and be considered as Slovene citizens, why didn’t they took care of that? And I refuse to believe stories about vacations.

    Is there any proof that the Erased were, in any way, prohibited or intentionally disabled to do the proper paperwork, and that it was entirely Slovenian’s government’s fault?

    Geez. The easiest thing is to wail and cry after the damage is done and maybe even demand money.

  8. Basically, the problem is that as the deadline to settle their papers expired, these people were not transferred from a List of Persons with permanent residence to a List of Aliens as is should have happened, but were – quite literally – erased.

    And most of them were very much present when it happened. It’s just that they didn’t know about it until their IDs were confiscated from them.

    And to answer your question about whether it is the government’s fault: Of course it is. No one disputes that the erasure took place. There are even written instructions testifying to the fact that it was a premeditated act. And it was later declared unconstitutional. So, yes – it is entirely the government’s fault.

  9. Pengovsky:
    They had the chance. Even more, they were all informed and invited to take care of permanent residence. And they all refused to.
    in 1991 I haven’t applied for permanent residence in Switzerland or Germany or any other country for that matter. Does this give me the right to get permanent residence in these countries? Does this give me the right to demand money from these countries? Does this give me the right to demand free property from these countries? I don’t think so.

    The goverment did more than it’s job. All those people were individually informed to take care of those things. Once again I repeat the simple fact: They refused to do so.

    All these talk about “erased” is pure and simple bullshit. A creation of sich and harm wishing imagination.
    But I admit something: here is money to be made or better put stolen from taxpayers and therefore… there are many of those so called erased. Including those warcriminals who were killing people in Slovenia during war. This is undisputable fact.

    One thing is funny though. As soon there was talk from leading coalition about money “compensations” the so called erased started to jump out of thin air. From 17000 to over 25000 in a few days.

    And those word about confiscated ID are pure and simple lie.
    I would to know of one single case of such action. But I think it is a correct action to invalidate documents which are no longer valid. My passport was invalidated due to expiration. Do I demand money? No. Do I demand free apartments? No. I just took care of new documents in due time.

    It is a sad fact that currnet government is just trying to buy new voters at the expense of hardworking taxpayers, who are already living on the verge of hunger.

    But some sick individuals are taking perverted pleasure of this by supportting this “erased” fraud.

  10. Zeljko
    So what’s the problem then? Did you just smell money and want to jump on the train?

  11. Justice…

    What are you talking about? What money? I was only 13 years old at the time….The FACT is that this issue is a HUGE emberassement for Slovenia and Slovenia will have to face it eventually…sooner or later…..one way or another..

  12. Slovenia has faced the issue and finally started resolving it thanks to the determination of one tough lady a couple of weeks ago… I hope the author if this blog will not hold it against me if I offer a link here to my own post on the issue of the ‘erased’:

    I believe I was part of a great majority of Slovenians who’d heard a lot about the issue but never really took the time and effort to explore it well enough to understand it beyond the pathetic attempts of a handful of politicians to exploit it for their political gain. The post that I shared the link to is the result of my choice to become better informed. Perhaps, “justice” would do well to do the same.

    Justice *is* being served. Finally.

  13. Zeljko

    What is an embarasment. An embarasment is that Slovenia still tolerates people that are badmouthing Slovenia over and over again.
    And don’t act stupid even though I am inclined to believe you are. Just to refresh your memory, your words:

    ” …and Slovenia should pay…”

    How much do you want? You can put in euros… or better in umber how many hardworking taxpayer families will suffer famine for that.

  14. Justice…

    You cannot treat several thousand regular citizens as “Agressors” and JNA rebels etc etc…yes, Slovenia created ethnic cleansing in the most hypocrat way…

    Was I as a 14 year old boy a danger for Slovenia? hahaha cmon give me a brake….

    And how many youngsters and inocent mothers were among erased..countless…

    I am not stupid as you may imply..I am succesfull international artist whose paintings hang in WTC in NY.
    If I hadnt been erased, now Slovenia would be ritcher for one SLOVENIAN international artist….yes, I suffered cause of what Slovenia did to me..but I suffer no more…

    LAhko se tudi v slovenscini pogovarjamo ..sam bols je v anglescini..naj bere ceu svet in vidi vaso sramoto…

  15. @Justice:

    Tolerate? You call erasure of 25,000 “tolerance”?

    You call unlawfully depriving them of things like health care and ability to work (basic human right, btw) for seventeen years tolerance?

    And please, refrain from using cheap populism like “famine”. Remember that the very same people who now scream of how the taxpayers will be worse off, were only a year ago talking about how’s there’s no economic crisis and that there’s no problem as long as loafs of bread are sticking out of garbage bins.

    Choice of language is yours. English, however, is preffered. For various reasons…

    Please try to keep things civil. I’m watching this debate and will intervene if things get out of hand.

    thanks for the link 😀

  16. Zeljko

    Get you story straight, because I do not understand. Your mother has Slovenian citizenship (you said so), therefore you are by default entitled to it. So my opinion, you are just lying about some injustice.

    Nobody I repeat nobody was deprived of anything. I will try to put in a simple terms. Because I didn’t apply for permanent residence (insert any country) 17 years ago, it is hard for me to expect I would be entitled to use the benefits of their healthcare or to get work permit. I guess permanent residence is a necesarry condition for that. And those so called erased refused to get it in time.

    And yes I to see thrown away food in garbage bins although not whole loafs… and I also see people picking up that food.

    My words are not “populism”, they are facts.

    P.S. I would rather have an honest man than an “international artist” preying to exploit others.

  17. Justice..

    My mother and father were born in Bosnia..but Serbian origins. They divorced when I was just a baby.
    Mother stayed in Slovenia, my father moved to Serbia where I live today. My mother received slovenian citizenship some 10 or 15 years ago..I dont remember the exact year.
    I am not lying. Even with my mother who has slovenian citizenship I didnt have a smallest chance to obtain slovenian citizenship…and that was in year 2000…we went together to Upravna Enota in Ljubljana…we tried with lawyers also…no luck..I was treated just as every other alien/ non-slovenian..like a stranger…..I dint have a chance! I provided them all documents I had…elementary school booklet from Ljubljana etc etc…but this is history now….and it cannot be undone….
    Shame is done….ethnic cleansing has been made…I was erased when I was just 13 or 14 years old….was I a treat to slovenian society? And how many children went through the same ethnic cleansing?

    Shame and hipocracy….those slovenian politicians who proclaimed this ethnic cleansing should answer before international tribunal for ethnic cleansing….

  18. @Justice:

    It is entirely possible. People eligible for Slovenian citizenship were among the Erased too. Tragic, no?

    As for being deprived: They didn’t have to apply. That’s the whole point. They were a special category, which the state arbitrarily, without any legal cover simply erased from the records. It didn’t transfer them to “legal aliens” or something. They simply ceased to exist.

    And if you read dr. filomena’s link, then you know that your words are about as far from “fact” as humanly possible.

    P.S.: so an artists cannot be an honest man? What’s up with that?

  19. @Zeljko: Ethnic cleansing? Now you are taking it too far. Erasure was arbitrary and unlawful, but it wasn’t ethnically oriented. Ethinc Slovenes without papers were erased as well.

    There are perfectly appropriate legal instruments to deal with this kind of government malevolence.

  20. Pengovsky

    You are invited to provide us with just one casi in support of your words. Just one would be sufficient.

  21. Pengovsky

    Trying to avoid answering question because you don’t have an answer?

  22. @justice: Quite to the contrary. I’m desperately trying to figure out what exactly I’m suppose to provide an example of. Please, be so kind as to elucidate with references to specifics…

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