Youth Initiative for Human Rights activists will never accept a political reality where peace activists and human rights defenders are silenced, while war criminals are glorified and protected by the entire state apparatus – the President, government, public attorney’s office, courts and local self-government.
While pro-government tabloids feature headlines of Šljivančanin’s war mongering statements, the Initiative will continue to speak of the necessity of building a true, sustainable peace with our neighbours.
We will stand against state support for war criminals, war mongering, politicized judiciary and human rights activists repression on Thursday at 6 pm on the square between the Presidency and Stari dvor (the Old Palace) – the spot from which calls for peace have been made for the past 27 years.
What prompts us to this is the Misdemeanor Appellate Court’s decision to confirm the ruling with which the eight Youth Initiative for Human Rights activists were convicted of disturbing public peace by holding a banner stating “War criminals should be silent so the victims could be heard” and blowing into whistles during Veselin Šljivančanin’s speech at the Serbian Progressive Party panel in Beška in January 2017. The Misdemeanor Appellate Court confirmed the segment of the verdict which deems the fact that the activists were physically assaulted after the event entirely irrelevant for the court and its ruling.
This verdict has confirmed the statements of Serbian Progressive Party officials, namely that of President Vučić as well as that of Nebojša Stefanović, who had, moments after the event, determined that the activists were guilty of breaking the Law on Public Order and Peace.
The State President, Minister of Internal Affairs, and the President of the municipality openly stood by Šljivančanin and accused the Initiative activists in their statements. The convicted activists will make a constitutional appeal for the breaches against their rights to freedom to fair trial and freedom of speech, and will address the European Court of Human Rights if needed.
We restate that we are too young to remember the crimes committed in our name, but determined to never forget them. We do not remember the war-mongering politics that had been instigated for months and years prior to the wars and the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia, yet it is our duty to continue fighting for peace today.