Prebilovci – Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik said on Saturday in Prebilovci that Srpska’s institutions would assist in building the church in memory of terrible suffering of the Serbs in this village, and would also provide support for revival of life throughout the Neretva valley.
Dodik noted that Prebilovci was a martyr village and that the fact that the criminals had committed the crime even against the dead, by mining their bones, spoke of the horrible crime that had happened here.
“I am sorry that the Serb national being so far has not had the strength to recognize the significance of this place. We have found the strength now and, thanks to Bishop Grigorije and the good people in Herzegovina and whole of Republika Srpska, we will have this church consecrated by next summer,” Dodik said after visiting the construction site of the church in Prebilovci.
Dodik said that Medjugorje and some neighboring places had had the same population as Prebilovci before the World War II, while there was only about a hundred households in Prebilovci nowadays, which made it obvious that the intention had been to drive away and exterminate the Serbs.
“But, here we are. Even the presence of these 15 children says there is still life here. As far as I and Republika Srpska are concerned, we will do everything in our power to make the truth about Prebilovci known. We will engage in providing this village with necessary infrastructure, in reconstruction of homes and helping these people,” said Dodik.
President Dodik recalled that the story of Prebilovci had been for years ignored by Federal authorities who presented only one-sided story on suffering, while the suffering of Neretva Serbs at the beginning of the 1990s had been completely forgotten.
“This is why it is important for us to exist here and mark important events and dates, and build life,” said Dodik, adding that in this sense it is evident that Church is an irreplaceable institution, and therefore its role should be strengthened.
The Bishop of the Zahumlje-Herzegovina and the Littoral, Grigorije said that those who do not believe in impossible are cursed people, and that blessed is the one who believes that God can do what humans cannot.
“These children here, fifteen of them, show us that God believes in our lives more than we ourselves do. All we have to do is take part in God’s goodness and everything will be fine,” said Bishop Grigorije.
He thanked President of Republika Srpska and all the good people who are helping with the construction of the church in Prebilovci.
“God willing, we will organize a great gathering here next year, because this place, where one of the greatest suffering after Jasenovac and Donja Gradina took place, deserves it,” bishop Grigorije emphasized.
He noted that, apart from the construction of the church, it is important to rehabilitate the village and agriculture which used to flourish in this area. “It is important for us to be able to rely on Banjaluka and Belgrade, but it is clear that we here have to roll up our sleeves,” said Bishop Grigorije
Famous director Emir Kusturica, who visited Prebilovci with President Dodik, stressed that this is a sad history that the Serbs are letting slip through their fingers.
“It is only occasionally that we remember the foundation of our national being, which is the suffering. This church represents a place of suffering of our people, but also the revival of memory,” said Kusturica.
Miladin Ekmecic, a returnee to Prebilovci, thanked President Dodik, on behalf of the residents, for all he had done for Prebilovci and the people. “We are glad not to be forgotten by either the Church of the institutions of Republika Srpska. The church that is being built with the help of Srpska’s authorities is of great importance for Prebilovci,” said Ekmecic.
He added he had always hoped that life would return to Prebilovci, but that he could not believe it would come so fast and while he was still alive.
The church in Prebilovci is being constructed at the location of memorial ossuary where the bones of over 4,000 Serb victims from the Neretva valley had been laid during World War II, and which was mined in 1992.
Bones which have been found and collected at this location after the Serbs had returned will be laid in the crypt of the church.
After his visit in Prebilovci where he was welcomed by a hundred of residents of this returnee village, President Dodik visited Zitomislic Monastery.