Youth Initiative for Human Rights most urgently demands from the President of the city municipality of Cukarica, Srdjan Kolaric, as well as from the councilors in the Assembly of this Belgrade municipality, to urge the cancellation of promotion of the book “For Service to the Homeland” by Veselin Sljivancanin at the Cultural Center “Cukarica”, scheduled for Friday, October 13th. We appeal to the entire democratic public in Serbia to speak up and proactively act in order to stop all glorification of war criminals.
In the days of the expansion of the celebration of war criminals (Lazarevic and Sainovic) by the state leadership, as well as the shameful reaction regarding the acquittal of Naser Oric in Sarajevo, and all that in order to gain political points using the “our heroes – their criminals” narrative, state institutions of Serbia, or better to say Belgrade leadership, once again gave public space to the convicted war criminal. By offering Sljivancanin as a cultural and moral role model, and once again shamelessly treading over the victims of crime at Ovcara, state institutions of Serbia are again defending criminal policy of the 90s. Due to the duty we have towards future generations, and responsible attitude towards a formally proclaimed policy of reconciliation in the region, all the institutions of the Republic of Serbia, and thus all city municipalities as well, are obliged to deflect from war criminals.
We remind leadership of the city municipality of Cukarica that Veselin Sljivancanin, military officer of Yugoslav People’s Army in charge of security, is indicted for extermination, murder, torture and inhumane treatment of a Croat and other non-Serb population who, after the fall of Vukovar in 1991, found shelter in the Vukovar hospital. In 2010, by a final verdict for the crimes committed on November 20th 1991 at the Ovcara farm, Sljivancanin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for aiding and abetting torture. When it comes to the work of Veselin Sljivancanin, this is the only truth that we can talk about.
Instead of institutions that allow such public book promotions, Serbia needs those that respect court-established facts and are ready to clearly distance themselves from war propaganda, by taking over responsibility for contributing to peace and stability in the country and the region.
This wave of celebration of war crimes must be an alarm for all the progressive actors of this society to decisively and clearly demonstrate that the greatest patriotism towards this country is respect for the victims and condemnation of criminals, and not their glorification.