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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PRESS RELEASE

Embargoed until 00:01 GMT on 14 September 2009

Serbia: Human rights defenders under threat

Human rights defenders are under attack in Serbia and the authorities are failing to protect them, Amnesty International said in a briefing published today.

“Physical attacks and threats to the lives and property of human rights activists are seldom promptly and impartially investigated by the authorities,” said Sian Jones, Amnesty International’s Balkans expert. “Few perpetrators are brought to justice”.

“The lack of political will on the part of the authorities to fulfil their obligations to guarantee human rights defenders their right to freedom of expression and assembly creates a climate of impunity which stifles civil society.”

In the briefing, Serbia: Human rights defenders at risk, Amnesty International reviews the latest attacks against them, including against leading women human rights activists.

“Over the past year women human rights defenders have been attacked in the media including being threatened with lynching. Such attacks are made by parliamentarians, members of ultra-right organizations and members of the security services indicted for war crimes. Other defenders have had their property destroyed, their offices attacked or been beaten by members of neo-Nazi groups,” Sian Jones said.

These defenders include Nataša Kandic, director of the Humanitarian Law Centre, Sonja Biserko of the Serbian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, and Biljana Kovacevic-Vuco of the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) as well as the women’s NGO Women in Black. They have been portrayed in the media as anti-Serb for favouring the independence of Kosovo, and for demanding accountability for war crimes committed in the 1990s in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

The briefing also focuses on those who defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT). Since 2001 the LGBT community in Serbia has been unable to hold a Pride Day parade due to serious threats by right-wing and religious organizations. Such organizations have already made unveiled threats against the organizers of this year’s parade, scheduled for 20 September.

“The LGBT community is marginalized even within civil society and criminal investigations into assaults on LGBT people, even where the perpetrators have been identified, are rarely resolved,” Sian Jones said.

“The Serbian authorities are obliged to protect the rights of all people to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. They must condemn publicly all attacks on and threats to human rights activists, and provide protection and support during the forthcoming Belgrade Pride later this week.”

Amnesty International calls on the Serbian government to implement in law and in practice the principles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, which provides a framework for the protection and support of human rights defenders. The organization also calls on the embassies of EU member states to provide protection and support to defenders in Serbia.

www.amnesty.org


WOMEN SIDE OF WAR


SREBRENICA 10. JULY 2009. BELGRADE


TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE – FEMINIST APPROACH

PUBLICATIONS FROM THE PANEL ABOUT TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

“Will you really close your eyes to this?”

Women in Black, Belgrade lead a protest today in front of the Belgrade City Hall to speak out against the treatment of the Roma community by the Serbian officials, and specifically the planned removal of Roma communities from Zemun to South Serbia. Men, women, and children from the Roma community were joined by around thirty Women in Black activists; as well as representatives from: Swedish Helsinki Committee, Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), Humanitarian Law Fund, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Women’s Reconstruction Fund, and Belgrade Human Rights Center, among others. The protestors chanted: “Stop Racism”, “Stop Fascism”, “Solidarity with the Roma”. And carried peace flags and signs, which included: “Serbia is a concentration camp for Roma”, “Serbia is a concentration camp for the poor”, “Racism, how long will it last?”, “Don’t tear down Belgrade”, “The final solution is killing”, and “Discrimination is the heart of Serbia”. Women in Black handed out flyers explaining the persecution of the Roma communities by the Serbian government, which ended with the question “Will you really close your eyes to this?”

The protest was heavily covered by national media.


Vigil 20, January, 2009

Stop the Siege of Gaza

Today Women in Black - Belgrade held a vigil in Republic Square calling for the end of violence in Israel and Gaza. Around twenty five people participated in today's vigil and many reporters and photographers from the media covered the event. We included signs addressed to the new United States President, President Obama, calling on him to use his new power to end the violence in the region. We have also written a letter, which we have sent to the American Embassy in Serbia, again, calling for an end to this violence.

We shared Yvonne Deutsch's beautiful poem with the Serbian public in a pamphlet, which we distributed during the vigil.

Our hearts and minds are with those in Israel and Palestine. We continue to stand with you in the fight for peace.

 

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Dear all,

I saw this morning pictures from what was called by the sender 'Gaza Concentration Camp'. This horror, this cruelty is done in my name, a Jewish Israeli woman living in West Jerusalem. Israel's crime against humanity in Gaza is done in my name, a feminist peace activist.These killings are done in the name of my loved ones. This suffering is caused in the name of my community.


International Human Rights Day

Women in Black together with Humanitarian Law Center, Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights, Center for Peace and Development of Democracy, Social Democratic Union, Voice of Difference, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Dah Theater and Skart – organized the action to celebrate International Day for Human Rights.

Action started at noon, at the first stop of public bus 26, in Dunavska street, in Belgrade. Central event was the theater play (In)Visible City performed, in the bus 26 by Dah Theater.

During the bus ride, actresses and actors interacted with passengers, reminding them of International Human Rights Days through quiz-questions. Dah Theater actresses and actors recited in ten different languages parts of the Human Rights Declaration and evoked memories of activists who made huge impact are who are not with us anymore – Zarana Papic, Dejan Nebrigic, Jelena Santic, Jelka Kljajic-Imsirovic, Stojan Cerovic, Biljana Jovanovic...

Public figures such as Vesna Pesic, Vesna Rakic-Vodinelic, Zarko Korac joined this theater play in the public bus, as well as representatives of media.

On bus stops through out city, activists of non-governmental organization and Social Democratic Union were getting on the bus to spread promotional materials related with different aspects of human rights as well as Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

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