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Jelka Glumicic

"I can't tell when I first acted on what I have always felt strongly about: all human rights to every human being. It seems to me that I had a dream to act in that field as long as I can remember."

Jelka Glumicic was born in 1941 in a small village not far from Karlovac in Croatia. She was the second of four children of her parents, Josip and Maria Brodaric. Her childhood was very humble -- four generations of her family lived at the same time under one roof. Children, seven of them at one stage, slept in one room. Her village was burned down during the Second World War. It was a time of poverty and starvation. This was also when she first tasted the ideas of pacifism, multi-culturalism, and altruism. Members of her family were known anti-fascist activists and helped a number of people in need during the war.
When the war broke out in Croatia in 1991, Jelka Glumicic saw the suffering of people who had not taken part in doing evil in any way. Surrounded by fanatical and violent nationalists she promised herself that she was going to dedicate her life to peace building, not only in her country but also beyond. She believes in the old saying the “actions speak louder than words.”
In 1992, Jelka Glumicic was one of the founders of the Democratic Union, an independent political party in Croatia, headed by Branko Horvat who is a world-renowned economist and a Nobel prize nominee in the field. The party stood for anti-fascism, human rights and gender equality. The Government viewed the party very unfavorably and party members often received death threats if they persisted in their activities.
In 1996, Jelka established the Shelter for the Aged in Dunjak, which accommodated over 30 people over a period of three years. She has established an international volunteer network where over 40 volunteers from Canada, Japan, New Zealand and other countries came to help. In 1997, she established a workshop with a help of Mensen Werken Voor Mensen (People Working For People) from the Netherlands. The workshop managed to do repairs on over 600 homes devastated by war and assisted in cleaning over 200 water sources.
In 1997, Jelka also established a partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to help Croatian refugees return home and to provide them with legal and psychological support. Over 20,000 refugees benefited from this project. Jelka also founded the Financial Support Organization, which helped refugees in organizing and managing their personal finances.
On a daily basis, she has been lobbying and establishing a network of like-minded organizations that are engaged in reconciliation and the prosecution of war crimes in Croatia. She believes that criminals should be made to pay for their deeds and that the country should make sure that the legislative bodies support that effort.
She has been working intensively on initiatives that promote education on how to build a democratic and civilized society. In 1998, she organized a Committee for Women’s Rights that has since established a Help Line for Women and Children who are victims of violence, as well as a shelter. This is the second such shelter established in Croatia.
Together with like-minded organizations, the Committee for Civilian Service that she organized has publicly fought for the right for civilian service in the military. They support the increasing number of young men who do not want to take weapons in their hands. That number has increased ten times since the Committee was founded. The Committee itself has four members who are in civilian duties instead of military service.
She is a member of the board of the Human Rights Coalition of Croatia, the organization that unites Croatian efforts in this area. On behalf of the board, she has established a number of partnerships with like-minded international organizations.
She is working intensively on the improvement of the situation for the Roma community, situated near Karlovac. She strongly believes that this extremely vulnerable society should live in more dignified circumstances with equal educational opportunities not only for their children but for illiterate older people as well.
She has participated and organized a number of public protests and petitions for the recognition of the Croatian anti-fascist activists and landmarks for the Second World War. She publicly spoke on many occasions on this topic and in particular during celebrations of important anti-fascism events. She is a member of the Croatian Anti-Fascism Association.
When asked why she is engaged in the protection of human rights, Jelka says, “I cannot tell when I first acted on what I have always felt so strongly: all human rights to every human being. It seems to me that I had a dream to act in that field as long as I can remember.” She can strongly relate to the American defender of democracy, Thomas Paine, who said: “The world is my home, all people are my brothers, and helping is my faith.”

 

Jelka Glumicic believes in the old saying that “actions speak louder than words.” She also believes in leading by example. In 1992, Jelka Glumicic was one of the founders of the Democratic Union, an independent political party in Croatia headed by Branko Horvat who is a world-renowned economist and Nobel prize nominee. The party stood for anti-fascism, human rights, and gender equality. The government viewed the party very unfavorably and party members often received death threats if they persisted in their activities.
In 1996, Jelka established the Shelter for the Aged in Dunjak and an international volunteer network. She also relates with Tools for Reconciliation, another organization which helps rebuild ruined homes. In 1997, she organized a workshop with the help of a Dutch organization that managed to repair over 600 homes devastated by war and assisted in cleaning over 200 water sources. In 1997, Jelka also established a partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency to help Croatian refugees return home and provide them with legal and psychological support. Over 20,000 refugees benefited from this project. She believes violence harms both the victim and the perpetrator. She has been lobbying and establishing a network of like-minded organizations that are engaged in reconciliation and the prosecution of war crimes in Croatia. Jelka has been working intensively on initiatives that promote education on how to build a democratic and civilized society. In 1998, she initiated a Committee for Women’s Rights with a helpline and a shelter for women and children who are victims of violence. This is the second shelter of such kind established in Croatia. Jelka also organized the Committee for Civilian Service to lobby for civilian instead of military service for conscientious objectors.

 

During the war in Croatia, unspeakable violence was perpetrated on innocent people in the name of nationalism. There was an urgent need for genuine peacemakers.

 

Center for Peace Studies

 

Europe | Croatia

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