Eight civil society organizations from Serbia, including Women in Black, who first initiated action in this direction, submitted through Representative Nataša Micic (president of the Civil Alliance and former President of Parliament, as well as former provisional President of the Republic) and Zarko Korac (president of the Social Democratic Union) to the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia the proposed declaration, which condemns all crimes committed in the wars from the Serbian side, and particularly the genocide in Srebrenica, as well as the suppression and relativization of those crimes.
Upon consultation within Parliamentary clubs, it was established that this declaration is supported by the opposing Democratic Party and also by some members of the ruling coalition, namely the Social Democratic Party and Serbian Renewal Movement. It is opposed by the main ruling party, the Democratic Party of Serbia (of Prime Minister Koštunica), and also by the largest opposing party, the Serbian Radical Party (whose president, Vojislav Seselj, is now in the Hague indicted for war crimes), the Serbian Socialist Party (on whose support depends the parliamentary stability of Koštunica's ruling coalition, and whose honored president Slobodan Milosevic is also in the Hague, indicted for war crimes). These three parties have submitted a proposal for a general declaration that would condemn all crimes committed by all sides in the wars, while not mentioning either Srebrenica or genocide. After this unsuccessful attempt at consensus, the chairman of the National Assembly, Predrag Markovic, refused to put the proposed declaration to a vote, explaining his decision by claiming that for such important questions as the condemnation of crimes, there should be an undivided opinion. In this way, adoption of the declaration was avoided.
Due to the fact that the National Assembly does not want to adopt this declaration, Women in Black emphasizes the following:
This refusal confirms the continuation of the politics of "legalism" of Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica as the continuation of the politics of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic (the politics of war and justification of war crimes). That is, the politics of institutionally organized denial of crimes is the continuation of the politics of state-organized crime.
This refusal is not an "incident;" rather it is the logical and "consistent" attitude towards war that confirms that collective responsibility (moral, political, etc.) exists.
This refusal shows that the climate that produced war remains and is being maintained (from negation to the relativization, justification, and minimizing of crimes) by the sources of war in the form of certain cultural patterns, value system, and ideological positions.
Although after the recent public release of the video of the torture and execution of a group of civilians in Srebrenica, an increasing portion of the population that is ready to face the past, but Serbia is still far from the state of mind that will enable effective confrontation with the past and real catharsis. This means that there is still much work to be done to change the dominant climate in the country. Women in Black will mark the 10th anniversary of genocide in Srebrenica on July 10th in Belgrade with the protest "Never Again” to express solidarity with the victims as well as protest against the politics of denial of the criminal past which is being carried out by the current government. Participation in this manifestation has been confirmed by Women in Black activists from Italy and Germany. Members of the Women in Black Network in Italy will, on that day, in cooperation with other peace and feminist group, organize protest vigils in over 10 towns. We are inviting members of the WiB International Network to join this action by organizing vigils in their own communities. Women in Black from Belgrade and other parts of Serbia will travel on July 11th to the central commemoration that will be held in Potocare, near Srebrenica, in order to pay respect to the victims of genocide as well as to express solidarity with their families.
June 15th, 2005