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Roma Solidarity Movement

Women in Black activities and important documents
related to the implementation of the Resolution 1325

We are addressing the public with a great concern over the racist violence against the Roma population.
Because of the recent crime, when a Roma boy killed his peer, a Serbian boy, Serbian inhabitants of the village Jabuka are smashing the windows of the houses owned by Roma families, the windows of the Methodist church; also, one house is set on fire. All that violence happened in presence of local police officers, who did nothing to prevent violence. Belated response of the Prefect of the Pancevo Police Department and the mayor of Pancevo just enhanced the fear of Roma families, whose members did not dare to go out from their houses in days.
Racist violence against Roma is common. Latest Amnesty International report also notices violation of human rights of Roma in Serbia. Serbian institutions in charge have to show political will in order to prevent political violence against Roma population. International responsibility of members of Serbian institutions is to respect human rights of minorities and to protect security for all the citizens, regardless of their names or their ethnic, racial, religious or sexual orientation or identity.
We call civil society organizations to join us, to react and to put pressure on the government in similar cases, when human rights are violated, because that is our activist responsibility. Also, we are asking the member of the institutions in charge, first of all the Ministry of internal affairs and judicial authorities, to penalize the perpetrators of the attacks.

Women in Black, along with Roma women's groups, will visit the Roma population in Jabuka tomorrow, on the 17th of July, at 10:30 am, in order to show our solidarity and offer our support.
Women in Black
Joined organizations:
Women for peace, Leskovac
SOS Hotline for Women and Children, Victims of Violence, Vlasotince
Reconstruction, Women’s Fund, Belgrade
Voice of the Difference, Belgrade
Labris, Belgrade
Esperanca, Novi Pazar
Regional Minority Center, Belgrade
Roma Association “Danica”, Pancevo
Center for cultural affirmation, Dimitrovgrad
Center for Peace and the Development of the Democracy, Belgrade
Roma Association, Novi Becej
Belgrade, Jun 16th, 2010.

IN MEMORIAM - Biljana Kovacevic-Vuco (1952-2010)
Biljana Kovacevic-Vuco, president of Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM, passed away in Belgrade on April 20th, 2010.

Kovacevic-Vuco was well-known human rights defender and one of the founders of the Yugoslav Action NGO and the independent union Nezavisnost in March 1999.

She was also a member of the Working Group for the Future of former Yugoslavia (established at a conference in Bratislava in July 1999. which was organized by EastWest Institute from New York).

During her long career as a peace movement and human rights activist, Kovacevic-Vuco was the founder of the Human Rights Council of Center for Antiwar Action in Belgrade and head of the SOS helpline for the victims of political, ethnic and workplace discrimination.

She also founded and was secretary general of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Office for Legal Help in Belgrade from 1994 until 1997, president of the Democracy Transition Center executive board in 1997, and founder and president of YUCOM since 1997.

During her career as a lawyer she worked at the Commercial Court in Belgrade from 1978 until 1988 and as a senior associate at the Serbian Supreme Court's criminal and civil departments from 1988 until 1996.

Kovacevic-Vuco represented journalist Zeljko Bodrozic in the only case which Serbia lost before the UN Human Rights Council. Kovacevic-Vuco was a member of the YUCOM expert and lawyers team which won two cases before European Court of Human Rights.

Origin: Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights website.

International Bureau for Laïcite*

Considering that:
- The so-called theory of 'clash of civilisations' between a 'Christian West' on the one hand, and a 'Muslim Orient' on the other, is gaining ground, in total disregard of all people the world over, who have been fighting in favour of a political model founded on principles of secularism,
- In the name of defending the 'right to difference', numerous states are legitimizing differences of rights between citizens depending on their faith, thereby fueling communalisms,
- With the help of religions, governments try to draw people into warlike confrontations
- In addition to fighting against existing disparities between men and women, women have to unceasingly defend their hard won rights, notably equality in the realm of social and professional rights and bodily rights,
- That, in many countries, the rise of different fundamentalisms has come to increase the subordination of women
- Despite a movement towards secularisation and the decline of religions, globalisation of neoliberal policies (favoured by the Washington consensus) that emerged in the 80's, stimulated the march towards privatisation and commoditisation of all human activities, and exacerbated inward looking communalism (the disengagement of the state necessitated the recourse to traditional forms of solidarity, substituing national solidarity with the principle of charity),
- The alliance that a communalized Left does not hesitate to make with religious organisations, in the name of fighting 'western imperialism', is damaging, as is the neoliberal disinvestment by the State from the social sphere that has allowed religious organisations to occupy that space
-The current economic crisis has accentuated inequalities and poverty,
- However, there has been a convergence of secularist, feminist and social struggles, everywhere in the world;

The organisations and persons listed below have come together to set up the International Bureau for Laïcite, based on the present resolution, in order to promote secularism internationally.

1. We affirm our commitment to secularism. The principle of secularism, notably the strict separation of State and religion, guarantees the non interference of religion in the sphere of state authority; as well as a real independance of religious and faith based organisations of civil society vis-a-vis the state. Secularism guarantees to citizens the absolute freedom of conscience: the right to believe, the right to disbelieve, the right to change faith, as well as the right to freedom of expression. Consequently, the right to criticize religions is not to be put into question and it takes precedence above all moves to institute ' defamation of religions and their prophets' as a crime.

2. We affirm our commitment to the principle of equality and the universality of rights. We believe in a republican conception of citizenship, and we reject all systems which, in the name of particularisms, segment the body politic, either by privileging one category of citizens or by excluding it. Therefore we intend to fight against all forms of discriminations, notably those faced by women and the minorities.

3. We refuse the globalized predatory and destructive neoliberal policies which accentuate pauperisation, whose first victims are women and children; state disengagement fosters the retreat of national solidarity in favour of traditional solidarities of 'communal' type. In wake of neoliberalism, we call for the internationalisation of struggles.

On the 9th of December 2009**, we call on organisations and individuals who identify with the principles of this statement to support and sign it, and join us.

To sign up: laicity.info/bli

*After consultation, we finally resolve to use the French concept/word in our name. The reason for it is that the word 'secularism' in English conveys the notion of equal tolerance of the state vis a vis all religions, rather than the notion of separation between 'Churches'/religions and the state as well as the total disinvestment of the state regarding religions, which is enbeded into the French concept of laicite. Rare scholars have been starting to use the neologism 'laicity', but we feel that it is not known to activists.
** On the 9th of Dcecember 1905, France voted the Law of Separation of Churches and State

The founders of the BLI:
Coalition for a Secular State, Serbia
Collectif citoyen pour l'égalité et la laïcité (CCIEL), Montréal
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Development Alternatives with Women for A New Era (DAWN), international network
Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran
Iran Solidarity
Iranian Secular Society
MAREA, feminist journal, Genova, Italy
Parti pour la Laïcité et la Démocratie (ex MDSL), Algérie
Protagoras, Croatia
One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain
Organization for Women's Liberation (OWL), Iran
Secularism Is A Women's Issue (SIAWI), international network
Union des Familles Laïques (UFAL), France
Women's Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights (WICUR) international network
Women in Black - Belgrade (WIB), Serbia
Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML), international network

Zarizana Abul Aziz, lawyer, human rights activist, Malaysia
Samia Allalou, journaliste, Algérie/France
Hakim Arabdiou, militant laïque, France
Soheib Bencheikh, théologien, spécialiste des religions et de la laicité, ancien mufti de Marseille, France
Djemila Benhabib, auteure de Ma vie à conre-Coran, récipiendaire du Prix des écrivains francophones d'Amérique et finaliste pour le prix du gouverneur général 2009
Codou Bop, journaliste, Dakar, Sénégal
Caroline Brancher, co-responsable du secteur féminisme et laïcité de l'UFAL, Paris
Ariane Brunet, co-fondatrice de Urgent Action Fund , Montréal
Sonia Correa, co-coordinator of Sexuality Policy Watch and Research Associate at ABIA (Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association for AIDS (Brazil)), Rio De Janeiro.
Yvonne Deutsch, feminist peace activist, Jerusalem
Lalia Ducos, présidente de WICUR, Paris-Alger
Gigi Franscisco, coordinator of the DAWN international network, Manila, The Philippines
Pierre Galand, président du Centre d'action laïque (CAL), Belgique
Nadia Geerts, initiatrice du R.A.P.P.E.L. (www.le-rappel.be/FR), Belgique
Laura Guidetti, President and co-founder of MAREA, Genova, Italy
Marieme Helie Lucas, Fondatrice du WLUML et coordinatrice de SIAWI, Algérie/France
Hameeda Hossein, co-chair of South Asians for Human Rights and Chairperson of Ain o Salish Kendra, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Ayesha Imam, Sociologist, human rights activists, Nigeria
Harsh Kapoor, founder of South Asia Citizens Web (sacw.net), France/Inde
Sultana Kamal, lawyer and human rights activist, Executive Director of Ain O'Salish Kendra, Dhakha, Bangladesh, former Advisor to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh
Cherifa Kheddar, présidente de l'association " Djazairouna" des Familles Victimes du Terrorisme Islamiste, Algérie
Catherine Kintzler, philosophe de la laïcité, Paris, France
Monica Lanfranco, journalist, co-founder of MAREA, Genova, Italy
Azar Majedi, Présidente de l’OWL, Iran/U.K
Maryam Namazie, Campaigner, Iran/U.K
Fariborz Pooya, Iranian Secular Society, Iran/U.K
Venita Popovic, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mary Jane Real, lawyer and human rights activist, Manilla, The Philippines
Nina Sankari, Présidente de l'Initiative Féministe Européenne (IFE), Pologne
Aisha Shaheed, historian and women’s rights activist,Canada/Pakistan/UK
Mohamed Sifaoui, journaliste, Algérie/France
Fatou Sow, sociologue au CNRS, Dakar, Sénégal
Gila Svirsky, Women In Black, Jerusalem
Lino Veljak, Professor of philosophy, University of Zagreb, founder of PROTAGORAS, Croatia
Vivienne Wee, anthropologist and women’s rights advocate, Singapore and Hong Kong, China
Stasa Zajovic, founder of WIB-Belgrade, coordinator of the Coalition for a Secular State, Serbia

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