Subject: Croatian Helsinki Committee on Dinamo
Date: 01 Dec 1997
STATEMENT No. 61
Within its regular activities of monitoring and promoting human
rights, the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (CHC) has been
closely watching the human rights situation in sports and sports
activities in Croatia. Namely, we are of the opinion that sports are an
important and unavoidable factor in developing and nurturing of
interpersonal relationships, an activity which enables diverse forms of
freedom of expression as well as articulation of different interests.
Sports are the territory where one can easily test the true atmosphere
of the society as well as monitor the development of interpersonal
relationships, but also human rights.
The Committee wishes to warn the public with this statement
about the human rights violations in the case of the fans of the Zagreb
football team "Croatia" (which used to be called "Dinamo"), i.e.
"Dinamo" (now "Croatia").
First of all, we would like to express our regret at the fact
that the discussion about the name of a team has political connotations
and thus a significance unusual for a democratic society. The fans who
want to keep the old name of the team, "Dinamo" are automatically
stigmatised as Yugo-nostalgics, neo-communists he like because this
was the name that the actual team "Croatia" had during communist times.
However, on the other hand, a large number of "Dinamo" fans
identified themselves with the significance of the name that the club
had earned during the communist regime, when they were, by cheering for
"Dinamo" expressing their resistance to the communist regime and
greater-Serbian concept of Yugoslavianism. We are forced to express our
regret that the Croatian President himself, on many occasions, used the
"Dinamo" case especially for attacks on his political opponents, but not
with those citizens who wanted to leave nothing but sportsmanship to
Public officials, journalists, intellectuals and also the
ordinary citizens-fans have protested on many different occasions
against this"politization" of the name "Dinamo" and their own
stigmatisation because of their support for this name. However, this did
not stop at public and intellectual debates.
Numerous fans of the former football club "Dinamo", now
"Croatia", have come to ask for help and protection from this Committee
because of the abuse of the basic human right to freedom of expression.
They have especially expressed their sorrow and dissatisfaction at the
unreasonable and repressive attitude of the representatives of the
Ministry of Interior Affairs and the protection agency "Sokol", which
was hired by the "Croatia's" Club management. The fans claim that the
representatives of the Ministry of Interior Affairs abused and beat
them, interrogated them and took away their private property - such as
their club's insignia, flags, signs, scarves, caps, cushions for the
chairs and even their sweaters. They were pressured to stop expressing
their wish for the club to be named "Dinamo" again.
However, these mostly young people, but also many older ones,
were victims of repression for the sole reason that they want their
club, the fans of which they are, to keep its old, recognisable name
The Committee is sending a group of its activists to attend and
monitor football games in order to check the allegations and complaints
of the citizens-fans. Besides, the Committee wrote to the Croatia's
Football Club's Management in order to warn them "that such conduct is
utterly unacceptable, above all because it amounts to an open violation
of freedom of expression".
We claim that such a behaviour of the Club Management, which
persecutes its own fans because of expressing their feelings about the
name "Dinamo", is a flagrant example of undemocratic behaviour and
violation of fundamental human rights.
The Committee proposed a meeting to be held between the
representatives of the CHC and the Club's members in order to find a
common solution for stopping further persecution of the football fans,
warning that unless this is done on the contrary the CHC will be forced
to internationalise the problem, not only through international sports
organisations but also through various other institutions and
Since the Club Management did not reply to the CHC letter, the
Committee demands that the Club Management and the members of the
Ministry of Interior Affairs, and other protection agencies inform the
public according to which law provision is it possible to take away
citizen's private property. We would like to emphasise that such a
behaviour of the police can be considered as a massive and organised
crime, which is subject to a special legal proceedings and demand an
We have noticed recently that the members of the Ministry of
Interior do not actively participate in taking away of the club's
insignias from the citizens, however with their passive behaviour
towards such actions they in fact tacitly support such a behaviour.
The Committee reminds that the citizens of this country, in
accordance with its Constitution, have a right to express their
opinions, political and other attitudes. Such a form of t repression
represent a serious violation of the international human rights
Therefore, we call on the citizens to keep on expressing their
views and demands - freely and without fear - that the club the fans of
which they are and to which they belong be called as they want it to be
called, and that they take to all their games those insignia by which
tpress their human and sports feelings. At the same time, they
should be careful that among those objects are not those that could hurt
other fans, players or security officials, and that by wearing them they
do not offend the feelings of other citizens-fans. Therefore, we call on
all those fans whose any private property will be taken, to ask that
person their name and in case it is a police officer, their number. We
would also like to ask the fans to send these information to the
Committee so that the persons who violate the positive laws of the
Republic of Croatia could be sanctioned.
The Committee is using this opportunity to inform the public,
the Croatia Club Management and the representatives of the Ministry
Interior of the Republic of Croatia that the CHC activists will attend
the football game "Dinamo" ("Croatia") - "Atletico Madrid" and monitor
the behaviour of the person in charge of the security at the game.
We expect that the members of the Ministry of Interior help the
activists of NGO's for human rights in monitoring and observing
possible human rights violations. We hope that they will themselves
intervene in prevention of such violations in accordance with their
legal jurisdiction. The CHC activists will monitor the behaviour towards
the citizens fans at this game as well as at all the future ones. This
is our common obligation based on the international documents which were
ratified by the Republic of Croatia, the Constitution and other valid
laws of the Republic of Croatia.
Zagreb, November 25, 1997
For the CHC:
Ivan Zvonimir i ak