“Always a whistle, never again a rifle”
The protest “Always a whistle, never again a rifle!”, organized by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), was held last night in the park in front of the building of the Serbian Presidency.
The protest, according to the Initiative, was designed as a protest whistle against state support to war criminals, waging new wars and repression of human rights activists. “Reason of the protest is a continuous campaign of promotion of war criminals and the announcement of new wars, which has been revived by publishing books by Nebojsha Pavkovic and Vladimir Lazarevic by the Ministry of Defense,” the Initiative said. The protest was announced on Tuesday after the decision of the Misdemeanor Appellate Court confirming the judgment for eight activists and activists of YIHR because of the violations of public order and peace during last year’s public discussion of the Serbian Progressive Party, on which The Hague convict Veselin Shljivanchanin was speaking. The Initiative reminded that their activists, during a tribune held in Beshka in January of last year, showed a banner saying “War criminals to shut up so that we can talk about victims” and blew into whistles, which is the reason why they have been prosecuted for violating public order and peace. Also, according to the testimonies of the Initiative activists, in front of the place where the set “big boys” were held, they were beating up the activists and damaging their car, on which medical reports exist. After the incident, the reactions was followed by the SNS and top government officials who declared activists as “hooligans” and that they needed to be “brought to justice”, and their message stating that the voice of victims should be heard, and not the voice of criminals, was proclaimed as “fascist breakdown of individuals”.
Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation, Milan Antonijevic, said that the crowd would like to send a message against a final verdict because representatives of the YIHR “have given a clear stance on war crimes at a tribune which is not a place for those who have been convicted of war crimes”. “For this reason, they first came to the verdict of the state top, and later of the courts themselves. I think this is not a good message when we are talking about European integration, when we talk about the values that are being sent to young people. Indeed, all the verdicts of domestic and foreign war crimes tribunals must be respected, and such message must come from all state authorities,” Antonijevic said. As the following possible legal steps for convicted activists, Antonijevic referred to a constitutional appeal, but also the possibility of appearing in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which he considered as standard steps when domestic court judgments are contrary to human rights, Constitution and international regulations. Program Coordinator of the Balkan Transitional Justice Balkan Transitional Justice, Jovana Prusina, one of the persons to whom the verdict was confirmed, assessed that this verdict is an example of “unexpected efficiency of domestic judiciary “, since they are relatively processed shortly.