Australians of Serbian heritage have expressed outrage after the RSL, along with Victoria Police, prevented descendants of Serbian Chetniks from participating in last Thursday’s ANZAC Day Parade march in Melbourne.
The decision came as a huge shock to approximately 20 Chetnik descendants and veterans who for over 40 years, have marched alongside Australian and New Zealand veterans on ANZAC Day. Only two Chetnik veterans in their 90s were permitted to participate in the parade and were escorted via car, a far cry from a traditional march whereby elderly veterans are often honoured by being pushed along in wheelchairs by their children or grandchildren.
As reported by ‘The Weekend Australian’, the RSL made the following statement: “In Melbourne this Anzac Day, some descendants were asked to remove themselves from the march, as their eligibility was not clear to the organisers,”. Victoria Police subsequently stated: “parade participation protocol was not met”.
At this stage, it’s unclear whether or not an administrative error was made, although other Chetnik veteran/descendant groups were able to march as per usual across other states.
Two separate Croatian-Australians claimed credit for the ban, one of whom distastefully referenced a Serbian war-song listened to by Mosque terrorist Brenton Tarrant, in a defamatory bid to discredit Chetnik Veterans. It is unclear whether either individual played a role in the ban.
Who were the Chetniks?
The Chetniks were a Serbian Nationalist Movement that first took form in the 19th century as a means of opposing and fighting Ottoman-Islamic occupation, they were known for their expertise behind enemy lines and unwillingness to surrender. The Chetniks fought alongside the allies in both WW1 and WW2 with the common goal of defeating Germany.
In 1944, under Draza Mihailovic, a team of Chetniks were exposed to mortal risk during a rescue operation to evacuate 422 US and 80 Allied troops who had been shot down by German forces deep within occupied Germany territory, the operation was known as the ‘Halyward Mission’ and to this day it stands as the largest rescue operation of American airmen in history. Mihailovic was later awarded the “Legion of Merit” from US President Harry Truman.
Why do Chetniks march alongside ANZACs?
As reported by “The Weekend Australian”, an RSL spokesman explained that the ANZAC Day march is not solely for Australian and New Zealand veterans but also for allied veterans, and where appropriate, their descendants. The Chetniks most definitely fall into the category of allied veterans.
After the end of WW2 and the allied-led liberation of POW camps, many Chetnik Veterans were brought to Australia and granted an opportunity for a better life. Since then, Chetnik veterans and their descendants have marched alongside Australian and New Zealand veterans on ANZAC day in honour of their allegiance to the allies, the sacrifices they made and their unwavering commitment to defeating Nazi Germany.
Morgan Jonas is an Australian patriot, you can follow him on twitter here.
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