THU, 23 FEB 1995 21:23:30 GMT
Parapolice or Nazi groups?
AIM, Ljubljana, February 19, 1995 In the past few days in Slovenia, with absolutely no doubt, the scandal with the newly-established three-man groups has come to the centre of interest. This is a new initiative of two extremist rightist parties - the parliamentary Slovenian National Rightists' party headed by Saso Lap, and the non-parliamentary party of Matjaz Gerlanc from Velenje, who does not even in the name of his party try to conceal what it is all about - the Party of Slovenian National Social Alliance. Both parties have recently informed the public that they had organized special groups of three young men who would take care of security of the Slovenians, that is, of individuals, members of their parties!
Although both parties have similar, extremely nationalistic, that is chauvinist stances, with strong elements of fascist doctrine, Gerlanc and Lap are not together in this. The first three-man group was organized by Gerlanc's National Social Alliance in order to, as they said, "reveal violence against threatened Slovenians". These young men are circling the streets of Maribor already. Just a couple of days later, Saso Lap, President of the Slovenian National Rightists known for black clothes being his favourite, appeared with the same idea and announced foundation of an organization called the "Slovenian Hawks". It is registered as a sports and recreation society which will take care of personal safety of party leaders, and when needed - as they claim - they will deal with "protection of Slovenians from the increasingly violent Southerners". To a complaint that he has established a party militia, Lap answers that their hawks will defend them only in tha case the police does not wish to or cannot intervene. "Youngsters like to shoot. Why let them shoot just like that? Within the Society, they can do it under control, on organized shooting-ranges, which is proper. This will keep them away from alcohol, drugs, crime", Lap declared for the journal "Republika". And while the three-man groups of Matjaz Gerlanc are already patrolling the Maribor bus-station and the surrounding streets and restaurants, Lap's "hawks" will begin their action on the first day of spring, on March 21.
When the media published the first news on paramilitia and even party militia, the official police did not get too excited. If it were not for such a vehement reaction of the public, it probably might not have publicised its stance concerning it at all. Namely, in the first television report on the activities of the Maribor three-man groups, we could hear Maribor policemen speak with benevolence about their "new help", and a day later we learnt from the media that the quick and strong young men were supported even by the newly-elected mayor of Maribor, Alojz Krizman, who belonged to the rightist political option. The chiefs of the state police finally reacted with a press conference, but failed to distance themselves entirely from such phenomena, but told the journalists the sad story about being still in the dark whether patrolling of self-organized three-man groups was legal or not. Namely, the Ministry of the Interior is still "investigating" whether, from the aspect of human rights, it is legal to have someone follow people and spy on them without being registered for such an activity pursuant to the Law on Detective Activities and the Law on Internal Affairs! If interpreted correctly, their statements indicate that unless they attack someone, the three-man groups do not disturb the police in any way. Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrej Ster expressed his concern that the appearance of three-man groups might instigate organizing of "counter-groups", which again might cause conflict situations. The only state leader who is highly concerned about this phenomenon is the President of the state, Milan Kucan, who received Minister Ster and State Secretary, Slavko Debelak, for consultations and stressed his expectations that the police was capable to protect the citizens and secure peace and order in the state.
This is, finally, the main key for resolving a normal system in a state. Each state with the rule of law has an organized police for this activity, and so does Slovenia. It is true that Slovenian police has been faced with a serious crisis in the past two years, because politics has penetrated into its ranks too, so that - especially in the period of the conflict with the Ministry of Defence when Janez Jansa was the Minister - instances of leaking information occurred, double espionage, illegal bugging and similar unacceptable cases. A part of the police even got involved in arms smuggling, four young policemen participated in the criminal act of an assault on an Austrian citizen in Austria(!), although he was actually a suspicious arms tradesman, men at the head of the criminal service were constantly replaced, and even ministers of internal affairs seem to be just "passing through".
The other problem Slovenian police is faced with are difficult financial conditions it operates in. While in former Yugoslavia, policemen, or militia-men at the time,had apartments at their disposal, received comparatively large salaries and similar, their standard of living it quite low nowadays and therefore, they quickly become liable to bribery and can, therefore, easily become pray of blackmailers. If information that Ministry of Internal Affairs has been in the hands of Christian Democrats for some time now is added to this, and that Minister Ster and Archbishop Alojzij Sustar have recently met, when the latter felt the urge to warn the Minister that "spiritual upbringing of attendants of the secondary police school" should get some attention (!), it is clear that ideology and politics are still refusing to let go repressive agencies. If nationalism is added to it, and there is no environment immune to it, it is quite clear where this can all lead to.
A very important fact should not be forgotten, however: if a policeman comes under any influence, the institution he workds in, meaning the state itself, can reprimand, punish and even discharge him. But when the right to protection, defense and similar are taken over by self-organized groups, this becomes a very serious problem. This is, in fact, the first step towards the dissolution of the legal state. Slovenia and the Slovenians still recall such groups, primarily from the period between two world wars when various pro-fascist rightist militias (for instance, the Slovenian Orjuna, and even the "squadri fasch" in neighbouring Italy) terrorized people of different nationalities and opinions. Apart from the Jews, Romanies and others, the Slovenians were the targets of their attacks, too. If the extremist rightist organizations are allowed to begin terrorizing non-Slovenians in any way, people who have come to Slovenia from the former Yugoslav space, escalation of cases will soon appear, such as the one which recently occurred in Austria when four Romanies were killed. Helsinki Monitor, the organization which follows protection of human rights in Slovenia claims that so far there have been no aggressive physical assaults on members of other ethnic groups, but that there are many cases of threats. It all begins with threats, and that is why caution and timely reactions of state agencies becomes highly significant.