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Women’s Solidarity for Peace and Justice

Women in Black Network-Serbia activists will travel to Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina in order to participate in the Srebrenica Women's Civic Association's monthly vigil.

Our Participation in a Peaceful Protest in Tuzla

As they do on every eleventh of the month, The Women of Srebrenica Civic Association of Tuzla, is organizing a peaceful protest as in remembrance of the tragedy in Srebrenica and to demand truth and justice on May 11th.
This time, they will be joined in their peaceful protest by Women in Black Network—Serbia activists from different parts of Serbia, including Belgrade, Novi Sad, Zaječar, Leskovac, Vlasotince, Velika Plana, and Dimitrovgrad.
As we have since the beginning of the aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina, and especially since the largest crime committed in our name—the genocide in Srebrenica—we will express our support, respect, solidarity, and compassion with the families of the victims.  We admire the women of Srebrenica, who have transformed their pain, suffering, and desperation into actions for a just peace in the Balkans.  We wish to express thanks because our friends, women from Srebrenica, always welcome us with warmth, understanding,  and the wish to we build a just peace in the Balkans together, despite where we come from, despite the suffering which was inflicted on them by the regime of the state we come from.

Since the beginning of the genocide in Srebrenica, we have protested in the streets of Belgrade and Serbia.  Every year, we have gone to the commemoration in Potočare.  Approximately 100 Women in Black activists attended the trial of members of the Scorpions paramilitary unit in the Special Court in Belgrade (from December 2005 to April 2007), offering emotional and moral support to families who were also attending the trial.

On the occasion of our participation in the vigil in Tuzla, we repeat:
- The Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević directly participated in planning, organizing, and perpetrating the genocide in Srebrenica.
- After the fall of the Milošević regime, there was no break from criminal politics.  The Serbian government has continued to deny, relativize, and minimize its responsibility for war crimes.  Such policies lead to the clear fascization of Serbia.
- The Scorpions’ verdict is not only a miscarriage of justice but insults the dignity of the victims, their families, and the entire democratic public in Serbia.  Unfortunately, it shows that The Special Court participates in covering up evidence about the direct responsibility and involvement of the Republic of Serbia in the genocide in Srebrenica.
- The verdict of the International Court of Justice did not satisfy justice, but that did not lessen the guilt and responsibility of the Serbian regime.  Therefore, we will continue to pressure the authorized institutions of the Republic of Serbia towards complying with its obligations under the ICJ.

Women in Black Belgrade
May 10, 2007

A New Wave of Repression Against Women in Black

the domestic after effects of The Women Peace Coalition's recent statement supporting the independence of

Kosovo
February 19, 2007

After the publication of a joint statement by the Women’s Peace Coalition (which consists of The Women in Black Network—Serbia and The Kosovo’s Women Network) which included the organization’s opinion about the proposal for Kosovo’s final status, the Belgrade daily newspaper Kurir responded in the way they are known for.

If we consider the fact that this daily paper openly supports the so-called anti-Hague lobby and that it is controlled by certain secret police structures which decisively reject any attempt at normalization in Serbia and support the country’s isolation, Kurir’s interest in our statement could be interpreted as an announcement of a new wave of repression against Women in Black.

This interpretation seems to be appropriate, especially in light of the behavior of Kurir journalist Jelena Jovanovic displayed towards Coalition members in a telephone conversation held on February 17th 2007. Speaking to Stasa Zajovic, the Serbian coordinator of the Coalition, she stated, among other things, “though you are non-governmental organization you can’t demand that the will of the majority of the population in Kosovo is respected.” She cited unidentified sources when making this claim. She also said that this demand is unconstitutional and is punishable with prison.

When Jovanovic called Igballe Rogova, the Kosovar representative of the coalition, in Prishtina, she said “if you ask for Kosovo future status outside of the state and legal framework of Serbia, you maybe sentenced to 3 to 15 years in prison.”

The article itself, published on February 18th 2007, is entitled ‘Prison.’ It is subtitled ‘Members of Ceda’s coalition and Women in Black may face up to 15 years in prison, according to the current Constitution, for advocating for an independent Kosovo.’ Among other things, the article stated, “By proposing that Kosovo should be excluded from Serbia, the ’sub-branch’ of the non-governmental organization Women in Black called The Women’s Peace Coalition agreed with what members of the Liberal Democratic Party coalition and Albanian representatives from south Serbia said in Parliament during its first session. All of them face up to 15 years imprisonment according to the current Serbian Constitution! The public prosecutor should perform his or her official duty and initiate criminal charges against this organization and its leaders.”

It is not realistic to assume that this journalist expressed an individual opinion, since that is not the practice of the Kurir newspaper. She likely acted on instructions from those power centers which want to further destabilize the Balkan and further alienate Serbia (from Europe).

Stasa Zajovic                                                                             Igballe Rogova
Women in Black Network in Serbia Coordinator               Executive Director

 

On November 29, 2005 WiB Leuven received a report of Amnesty International and sent an e-mail to everyone we had written before :

“Ref our emails on this painful history  from October / November 05
In the 6th paragraph of this pressrelease: 
A women's organization opposed to Serbia's involvement in the Balkan wars, Zene u crnom, (Women in Black) was subjected to a criminal investigation on suspicion of involvement in organized prostitution, allegations which Amnesty International considers transparently unfounded”.

Thanks for your efforts
Warm greetings
Marianne van de Goorberg
Lieve Snellings
Women in Black Leuven Belgium

 

On October 24, 2005 Stasa Zajovic spent two hours meeting with Luc Liebaut, the Belgian Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro.  They discussed the current political situation in Serbia and the threats facing Women in Black -Belgrade specifically.  Stasa thought that Ambassador was quite supportive and she plans to keep him updated as events unfold.

The Belgian Embassy will follow the situation

 

Second writing action of WiB Leuven to support WiB Belgrade:

emails (Dutch): Bart Staes, Anne Van Lancker, Karin Jiroflee, Hannes Swoboda (delegatielid Commissie Oost-Europa Europarlement)

Leuven 22 oktober 2005
Beste …….

Enkele dagen geleden ontvingen we van Women in Black Belgrado een bericht (zie hieronder) dat de hetze tegen hen nog steeds aanhoudt. Bedankt voor je inspanning voor deze zaak tot nu toe maar kan je de druk, indien mogelijk, nog wat opvoeren ?
Vriendelijke groeten
Marianne van de Goorberg
Lieve Snellings

To the delegation of the European Commission in Serbia-Montenegro:
Mr Olli Rehn, Commissioner of Extension of the EU /  Mr John White, the European Agency for Reconstruction, Operational center in Serbia and Montenegro /Mrs Therese Sobieski, Head of Unit, Directorate C ‘Other Western Balkan', Unit 2 - Serbia & Montenegro / H
annes Swoboda, Member of the delegation of South-East Europe /  The delegation of the European Commission in Serbia-Montenegro.

Dear Madam 

Women in Black Leuven Belgium would like to draw your attention to the situation of Women in Black Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro.This movement is since more than eight months the target of harassment especially from the Police of Belgrade, the Ministry of Interior and the Minister of Justice.

The 9th of September we sent a letter to the Ambassador of Servie and Montenegro to Belgium in Brussels (attachment l).
The 10th of October we sent another letter but until now we didn't hear anything from him.
A few days ago we received another call for help from Women in Black Belgrade , the repression is still going on (attachment).
Can you take the appropriate measures on European level  in favour of this peace movement ?

Hope to hearing from you soon
Best regards
Marianne van de Goorberg
Lieve Snellings


CONTINUATION OF REPRESSION AGAINST WOMEN N BLACK

On 17 October 2005 during morning working hours, an officer of the Ministry of Interior (MUP) of the Savski venac department visited the Women in Black (WiB) office, this time with the alleged motivation of “establishing better cooperation between this association and the Ministry of Interior”.

To this aim, questions were posed to WiB activist Ljiljana Radovanovic about the number of employees, length of the stay of persons in the Women in Black space, about coordinator Stasa Zajovic , and more.

We consider that this type of visit is not a form of care nor protection, rather solely intimidation; control through fear and agitation. Instead, MUP ought to protect us when we request it, or when we are subjected to various forms of violence during our activities.

Since the beginning of our activities in 1991, Women in Black have been exposed to various forms of repression.We had hoped that such repression would end with the fall of the dictatorial regime of Slobodan Milosevic, which unfortunately did not occur. Namely, since December 2003, with the beginning of the government of Vojislav Kostunica, we again became interesting and dangerous for the security forces, most likely because of our permanent campaign against denial of the criminal past and for the punishment of criminals.

Since the beginning of 2005, we have been exposed to organized campaigns which have included repressive administrative methods (interrogation, being called for questioning, constant police visits to the Women in Black office, investigation, infringement trials, financial control, etc.), as well as all other forms of agitation, physical attacks, and provocation (in particular from neo-Nazi groups, and “patriotic” citizens).

Due to other, worse pressures which represent a clear attempt at discrediting as well as criminalizing Women in Black, we began an international campaign with which we are turning the attention of relevant international nstitutions and civil society networks to demand that the government of this country (before all the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, and the government president) to put an end to the organized campaign against Women in Black.

Women in Black Belgrade
17 October 2005

 

Action Women in Black Leuven on behalf of Women in Black Belgrado, September 2005

letter (English) to the Ambassador of Serbia and Montenegro to Belgium in Brussels , the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior in Belgrade , the the President of Serbia and Montenegro Belgrade.

e-mails (Dutch) naar: Minister Bourgois - Minister De Gucht – Minister-President Leterme – Bart Staes - Ann Van Lancker – Karin Jiroflee – Saïd El Khadraoui

letter:

Leuven , 9th of September 2005

Women in Black Leuven ( Belgium ) would like to draw your attention to the harassment of Women in Black Belgrade.

As you may know, Women in Black is a feminist non-violent, anti-militaristic movement which started in Jerusalem in 1988 as a protest against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Women in Black Belgrade started in 1991 and in large part due to the efforts and determination of them, Women in Black became a world-wide movement against all forms of violence and state oppression. Its characteristic activity is a weekly silent vigil and educational workshops.

It has recently come to our attention that Women in Black Belgrade has been charged with organizing prostitution in their city. This charge was filed in February 2005 by a local man, known to the police and the community for his recurrent violent behaviour. Yet despite the prima facie absurdity of the charge, the police investigation has dragged on for the past six months with no conclusion. During this time the coordinator of the Belgrade Women in Black, Stasa Zajovic, and other activists have been repeatedly interrogated, and the movements files have been repeatedly examined. In addition, the original complainant has made numerous personal threats to members of the organization.
May we draw your attention to the fact that Stasa Zajovic is nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace 2005 ! That Women in Black Belgrade already was nominated for this same Nobel Prize some years ago.

Women in Black Leuven is asking that the charge against Women in Black Belgrade and Stasa Zajovic be dropped forthwith. We ask that action be taken to prosecute the author of these false accusations, and that the local police put an end to its continuous phone harassment and threats. 
By official inaction, the police and Ministry of Interior are discrediting and criminalizing a group whose sole purpose is the promotion of non-violence and democratic process.


Sincerely
for Women in Black Leuven , Belgium
Lieve Snellings
Marianne van de Goorberg

Dear Friends,

As we have written in the last report from Women in Black , in the entire year of 2005 from time to time the police came to the office to investigate and ask different questions, as well, the Coordinator of Women in Black, Stasa Zajovic was asked few times to come to investigative interviews in the police station. We support our friends to write a letter in which you say:
1. that you are informed about police investigations that was carried out in Belrgrade with Women in Black in the last year, . That Women in Black Belgrade is an organisation which is part of the larger Network of Wome in Black Against War.
2. That Stasa Zajovic, the Coordinator of WIB, nominated for Nobel Prize for Peace in a Project 1000 Women for Nobel Prize for Peace, is constantly investigated for alleged organising network of women in prostitution.
3. That you demand that the police investigation be stopped, and be given public explanation for the pressures and attempts to criminalize Women in Black.
4. That our interpretation is that the police pressure on Women in Black is a way of criminalisation of those civil society actors who aim to work on confronting the past, that these are attempts to prevent the condemnation of war crimes committed during the 1990s by the Serbian regime and to prevent the process of democratization of the country. You can write this in english, and send us the copy of the letter.

On the following addresses:
President of Serbia: Kabinet predsednika dr Vojislava Kostunice Beograd, Nemanjina 11 tel: 3617-719 faks: 3617-609 predsednikvladesrbije at srbija.sr.gov.yu
Ministry for Interior Affairs: Ministarstvo unutrasnjih poslova Beograd, Kneza Milosa 101 tel: 3062-000 lokal 30-03 faks: 3617-814 www.mup.sr.gov.yu muprs at mup.sr.gov.yu
Ministry of Justice: Ministarstvo pravde Beograd, Nemanjina 22-26 tel: 3616-548; 3616-549 faks: 3616-419; 685-672 www.mpravde.sr.gov.yu kabinet at mpravde.sr.gov.yu

THANK YOU In sisterhood and solidarity, Women in Black, Belgrade

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last updated: 11th of May 2007
© 2005 Vrouwen in 't Zwart Leuven