Belgrade, 10.7.2023, foto: Srđan Veljović
Belgrade, 10.7.2023, foto: Srđan Veljović

The UN General Assembly has adopted the Resolution on the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the Srebrenica Genocide. There seems to have been very little reflection on this topic in Serbia. Vučić and his entourage declared the victory of the “small liberty-loving country” (sounds familiar?) because the majority in the UN Assembly was not overwhelming. The previously sent messages were repeated – those who voted against the resolution are our friends, those who voted for it betrayed us and we will remember that well. But – what if things are completely different? What if those who proposed the Resolution, and then voted for it, are the actual sponsors of Vučić? Because from Belgrade it sure seems that way.

I want to remind you that consideration of the Resolution was first prevented in the Security Council by Russia’s veto, and then the decision in the General Assembly was postponed until – imagine, what a coincidence! – a week before the elections in Serbia. The so-called government in Serbia (which usurped power by electoral theft) has been campaigning for the local elections for weeks using exclusively national issues. Pollution, killer buses, corruption and environment are not topics worth acknowledging, because we must defend Serbia instead. That script is so tired, and we’ve seen it so many times, that it’s devastating that there are those who watch it as if it were the first time.

The resolution is the backbone of the Progressives’ election campaign. Vučić & Šapić take turns on billboards all over Belgrade, accompanied by the message “Serbs are not a genocidal nation”. The same profound thought is projected at us from the Belgrade Waterfront. Politicians and analysts tour national frequencies; tabloids scream – this is the “to be or not to be” moment of Serbian existence, not just in Serbia, but beyond.

For these reasons, it is hard to believe that the Progressives didn’t actually welcome the Resolution on Srebrenica. We could even assume that the date of adoption was “rigged” according to the Serbian elections. Given that the American ambassador keeps pushing the Serbian opposition to participate in the June elections, in order to maintain the semblance of normality, it is hard to believe that his home country would put a big spoke in the wheels of the regime they openly support.

As for the Resolution itself, its wording gives the whole story a strange tone. It’s almost as if the Resolution was not written to bind Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina or any country that could be associated with the Yugoslav wars. It is impersonal, administrative, yet also a warning – but for someone else. It is quite possible that this someone else is currently Israel.

Namely, the Resolution talks about the past and Srebrenica at the level of general and long-known facts. The central emphasis of the Resolution is more general, on the need for strong opposition to impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or other violations of international humanitarian law; the need to thoroughly investigate and prosecute these acts; the readiness of the international community to take collective action through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, and on a case-by-case basis prevent genocide and ensure accountability for it. It also mentions the importance of regular briefings on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as on hate speech, along with early awareness of potential genocide. All of that really sounds like a sublimated message addressed to someone else, while Srebrenica is only used as a mechanism to convey it.

The only new thing in the Resolution is the establishment of July 11 as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the Genocide in Srebrenica in 1995. Does that bother anyone? It surely couldn’t, if they’re still human and still feel any sense of kinship to other people, especially victims of crimes and their families.

Citizens should be aware that the domestic Declaration on condemnation of the crime in Srebrenica defines much more specifically the legal and political place that the crime in Srebrenica should have in Serbia:

“The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia strongly condemns the crime committed against the Bosniak population in Srebrenica in July 1995, in the manner determined by the judgment of the International Court of Justice, as well as all social and political processes and phenomena that led to the attitude that the realization of one’s own national goals can be achieved by the use of armed force and physical violence against members of other nations and religions, while expressing condolences and apologies to the families of the victims because everything was not done to prevent this tragedy.”

Those who in reality formed the attitude that the realization of one’s own national goals can be achieved through the use of armed force and physical violence are still in power in Serbia. Moreover, they are currently wrapping themselves in Serbian flags, and using usurped media, telling fairy tales about the dangerous Resolution. In reality, they are the ones who are dangerous, especially when they clown around with state symbols.

How is it possible that a large part of Serbia thinks that the adoption of the Resolution is a declaration that the Serbs are a genocidal nation, even though the Resolution expressly states that criminal responsibility for the crime of genocide is individualized and cannot be attributed to any ethnic, religious or other group or community as a whole? The answer cannot be found in the realm of the rational.

A few days ago, Nenad Dimitrijević, speaking about the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the 1974 Constitution, said that at that time the party was the only master of reality. That diagnosis still resonates today. It is still like that – up until the conscious decision to be freed from such a master.

Translated by Marijana Simić

Pešč, 28.05.2024.

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Sofija Mandić je rođena 1986. u Novom Sadu. Diplomirana je pravnica, posrednica u mirnom rešavanju sporova i aktivistkinja za ljudska prava. Radi u Centru za pravosudna istraživanja (CEPRIS), a prethodno je bila angažovana u Beogradskom centru za bezbednosnu politiku i Nacionalnom demokratskom institutu. Generalna je sekretarka Peščanika, sa kojim sarađuje od 2007, kao učesnica u radijskim emisijama, a zatim i kao autorka tekstova. Autorka, koautorka i urednica je brojnih analiza o vladavini prava, stanju ljudskih prava u Srbiji i njihovoj perspektivi. Neke od skorašnjih su: Izbori pred Upravnim sudom 2022 – pregled postupanja i odluka (ur. CEPRIS, 2022), Izveštaj o javnosti rada Visokog saveta sudstva i Državnog veća tužilaca (CEPRIS, 2022), Sloboda izražavanja pred sudom (ur. SĆF, 2021-2022), Rad sudova tokom epidemije zarazne bolesti COVID-19 (OEBS, 2021), Ljudska prava u Srbiji (BCLJP, 2018-2023), Naša urušena prava (FES, 2019), Uslovi za izbor i napredovanje sudija i tužilaca u pravnom obrazovanju (CEPRIS, 2018), Skorašnji Ustav Srbije – rodna perspektiva (ŽPRS, 2017). Kao predstavnica civilnog društva učestvovala je u procesu izrade komentara i mišljenja na izmene Ustava iz 2022, kao i zakona koji proizlaze iz ovih promena. Autorka je knjige „U krugu negacije, godine parlamentarnog (ne)suočavanja sa lošom prošlošću u Srbiji“ (2023).

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