Desposal of Sreten Ugričić: An unprecedenter scandal
At a “telephone session” and under urgent procedure Serbia’s government deposed Director of the National Library Sreten Ugricic for “having supported an assassination of Serbia’s entire leadership.” The House of Human Rights and Democracy (Civil Initiatives, YUCOM, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Belgrade Center for Human Rights and Policy Center) strongly protest against this decision that brutally violates fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Statements by Minister of Interior Ivica Dacic on the occasion cannot but cause deep concern as testimonies of blatant misconduct and the pressure on institutions, notably cultural ones, from the executive power, which seriously undermines basic constitutional provisions.
Threatening an intellectual with jail because he has put his signature under a petition is impermissible in a democratic society – freedoms of speech and expression cannot be subject to arbitrariness by the police even though their highest in authority is also a deputy-premier.
A hue and cry the media raised about the article penned by Montenegrin writer Adrej Nikolaidis and consequent persecution of Sreten Ugricic indicate much deeper motives behind these lynch calls. Such stigmatization of “foreign and domestic enemies” associates 1990s.
Such a scenario only fuels nationalistic hysteria and xenophobia aimed at a ban on any public criticism in the upcoming election campaign – to all appearances, an unscrupulous one.
The House of Human Rights and Democracy demands the government to respect fundamental freedoms it declaratively advocates. We also insist that Minister of Culture and Information Predrag Markovic brings into the open his opinion about Mr. Ugricic’s deposal that was scandalous by all means.
Finally we call upon the Public Prosecutor to have his say about this case for he is duty-bound to act against hate speech and any abuse of the freedom of expression. Unless the Public Prosecutor takes legal action we demand the government to urgently withdraw its shameful decision on Mr. Ugricic’s deposal.