To mark the twentieth anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, the Women in Black are organizing a peaceful action “Peaceful Bike Ride” Belgrade-Srebrenica, in order to remember the victims of the genocide in Srebrenica.
We are organizing this action in the name of solidarity with and responsibility towards the survivors of the Srebrenica genocide. Through this action we are reminding male and female citizens in the places that we will be passing through, as well as in the whole of Serbia, about the role of the Serbian State in the war crimes committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and especially in the Srebrenica genocide.
The peaceful bike ride Belgrade-Srebrenica 2015 has an international character, and male and female participants from various countries have collectively shown their support for a culture of remembering and for peace.
Within the context of these activities, the Women in Black want to promote the peaceful bike ride in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac and Zrenjanin.
However, the youth centres in Kragujevac and Novi Sad have refused to allow the Women in Black to use their public spaces, which are under the ownership of the municipal assemblies of Kragujevac and Novi Sad respectively.
Individuals in responsible positions from the youth centre and the student cultural centre in Kragujevac have given the Women in Black the explanation that “for this theme there is no public interest”. They have also stated that a group of students declined to attend, threatening those working in the centres that they would interrupt the discussion. In Novi Sad, the youth centre also refused to allow the Women in Black to use its space.
This practice of denying the use of public spaces owned by the Serbian State amounts to a negation of the rights of Serbian citizens, including the Women in Black. This is a constitutional violation, and the decisions taken by the youth centres – as cultural institutions – clearly demonstrate their political position, which is a persistent engagement in denial, minimization, negation and relativization of the genocide in Srebrenica.
This blatant and unambiguous political position attests to the persistence within Serbian State institutions of an unacceptable stance towards their own citizens, and towards the genocide in Srebrenica. Specifically, these instiutions have disregarded the facts which the judgements of the Hague Tribunal and the International Court of Justice have confirmed, and they have disrespected the victims of the genocide and the families of the survivors.
We demand that competent cultural institutions of the State of Serbia put a stop to the political exclusion of different opinions, and that they respect and uphold our constitutionally-guaranteed right to hold public forums relating to the commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. We also demand that they put an end to the politics that underpinned and created the climate in which genocide was made possible, and that they stop their own denial.
Belgrade, 12 June 2015, Women in Black