State incapable of protecting its citizens from ‘Zavetnici’ and other extreme right wing organizations

— 05.04.2016.

‘Seven thousand’ assembly was banned in July last year, accompanied by insufficient explanation of Serbian Ministry of Interior.


Nevertheless, operational report (security assessment), delivered to the YIHR following the decision of Commissioner for information of public importance, clearly states that “separate physical attacks on the participants of the gathering organized by Youth Initiative for Human Rights are to be expected”. State, once again, proved to be unable and unconcerned to protect its citizens from the organizations of extreme right and to facilitate enjoyment of the right to peaceful assembly for everyone.

In the report is concluded that all other assemblies were organized in order to devise a ban of the ‘Seven thousand’ assembly. This is already a routine practise of right wing organizations usually exercised before the Pride parade. The fact that this conclusion made by operatives of Ministry of Interior (MoI) led to banning of the ‘Seven thousand’ assembly, demonstrates the unity between government’s politics and extreme right organizations. As a protest against the banning order, but first and foremost in order to honor victims of Srebrenica genocide, citizens gathered in front of the Presidency and lit candles for victims of genocide.

Anita Mitic, director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights was charged with misdemeanor for organizing an unregistered assembly. ‘Zavetnici’ and members of Serbian Radical Party were not penalized for organizing unregistered and previously banned gatherings.

Given that MoI took no action to follow up on the threats made against participants of the ‘Seven thousand’ assembly, YIHR believes that the banning order was not motivated by safety concerns, but was prompted by purely political reasons. The State banned commemoration of Srebrenica genocide in order to cede the entire public space to the exponents of the idea of the ‘Great Serbia’ and for genocide denial, war crimes justification and war criminals protection.

This pattern of behavior, in YIHR’s view is a manifestation of support to this ideology, since actions of state institutions depict state politic much better than statements made by high ranking officials. Prime Minister Vucic’s statement,  where he declaratively distanced himself from the politics he had represented 20 years ago, politics currently promoted by Seselj, ‘Zavetnici’ and other extreme right wing organizations, stands in sharp contrast to behavior of state institutions, primarily Ministry of Interior.

During the press conference last week, while answering to YIHR’s question, Prime Minister Vucic disassociated himself from the ‘Great Serbia’ concept. Nonetheless, it is essential for this political shift to become visible in reality. Diverting from the criminal politics needs to occur in all aspects of the society, in internal and foreign policy, education, academia, entire public space. This process has to be strongly and genuinely supported from Nemanjina Street.

YIHR expects from the state to take action and support commemoration of genocide victims which will take place in Belgrade again this year. First step in that direction is to put an end to violence and intimidation exercised by extremists.

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