New violence as the consequence of relativising crime

We strongly condemn the attack on the activists of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), the Youth Initiative for Human Rights from Serbia and the forum ZFD at the pro-fascist promotion of the book of war criminal Vojislav Šeselj in Belgrade.

On Wednesday evening, 5 February, promotion of the book ‘There was no genocide in Srebrenica’ by a war criminal, leader of the Serbian Radical Party and MP of the Serbian Parliament, was held in Belgrade’s Stari Grad municipality. Six human rights activists came to the promotion with the intention to distribute to audience the HLC dossier ‘Crimes against the Croats in Vojvodina’. They were prevented from doing so, and on that occasion Nataša Kandić, the founder of the HLC, and Nataša Govedarica, director of the ForumZfD office in Serbia, were physically attacked, knocked to the ground by the participants of that promotion and then pushed out of the building.

The promotion of another book at the state institutions in Serbia, denying in several thousand pages that genocide was committed in Srebrenica, despite several final verdicts by international and national courts, confirms that the relativising war crimes in Serbia is not an incident but, unfortunately, dominant and accepted approach.

Hence, it is of utmost national and regional importance that courageous and valuable effort of our colleagues to raise a voice against dangerous manipulation of facts and negation of human rights.

Denial of the Srebrenica genocide, which was determined by the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Hague Tribunal) and national courts in multiple judgments, represents hate speech that is not protected by freedom of expression.

This incident emphasises the need to establish RECOM (Regional Commission for the establishment of facts about war crimes and other serious violations of human rights from 1991 to 2001), which we and our colleagues from Serbia and region of the former Yugoslavia have been advocating for over a decade. Establishment of facts about the wars committed in the former Yugoslavia and critical review of the past, establishment of justice for victims and punishment of perpetrators are necessary basis for building long lasting peace in the region and also defence to detrimental nationalism and fascism.

Daliborka Uljarević, Centre for Civic Education (CCE)
Tea Gorjanc Prelević, Human Rights Action (HRA)
Rade Vujović, Association of History Professors of Montenegro (HIPMONT)
Milka Tadić Mijović, Centre for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro (CIN MNE)
Ana Novaković Djurović, Center for Development of non-governmental organisations (CDNGO)
Milena Perović Korać, Monitor’s Center for Democracy and Media (MCDM)
Ana Nenezić, Center for Monitoring and Research (CEMI)
Maja Raičević, Women’s Rights Centre
Ivana Vujović, Juventas
Sabina Talović, Bona Fide
Ervina Dabižinovic, ANIMA
Stevo Muk, Institute alternative

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