The Youth Initiative for Human Rights demands that the judicial authorities prosecute and the executive authorities unequivocally condemn the actions of Vjerica Radeta, as well as of Vojislav Šešelj, who are grossly disregarding victims and offending victims’ families by publicly denying the genocide in Srebrenica.

This week, such expression of evil is summarized in Monday’s tweet of Vjerica Radeta, who, triumphing over the death of Hatidža Mehmedović, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica Association, repeated old Radicals’ mantras that the said association was “a business association” and that Hatidža’s sons and husband were actually alive regardless of the fact that their remains had been found in several mass graves.

In that respect, YIHR maintains its previous requests. We demand that the National Assembly and the Members of Parliament:

  • Terminate the MP status of Vojislav Šešelj as convicted war criminal;
  • Terminate the MP status and all parliamentary duties of Vjerica Radeta;
  • Change the Declaration on Srebrenica by naming the crime in Srebrenica for what it is – genocide. 
  • Amend Article 387, Paragraph 5 of the Criminal Code of Serbia in order to prohibit the denial of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide as established in verdicts of all international courts, including the current ones, as well as the work of the Nurnberg court, and not only when they are established in final and enforceable decisions of the courts in Serbia and the International Criminal Court.

We demand that the Republican Prosecutor’s Office initiate criminal proceedings against Vjerica Radeta and Vojislav Šešelj based on their public statements since the beginning of 2018, especially having in mind Vjerica Radeta’s tweet of July 23 and Vojislav Šešelj’s participation in TV show “Cyrillic” at the Happy Television titled “Truth and Myth about Srebrenica – 23 years later” on July 9, 2018.

We demand that President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić clearly state whether they are supporting what is said in Vjerica Radeta’s tweet and, if not, to express respect for the fight of victims’ families for truth and justice about the Srebrenica genocide, the fight fought by Hatidža Mehmedović till the end of her life. There is no a third way. Remaining silent or ignoring such behavior and statements do not mean being neutral, but amount to tacit support which is heard very loudly and which opens additional room for the glorification of crime and impunity.

Although this act was publicly condemned by Minister Rasim Ljajić, whose political party proposed that one street in Novi Pazar should be named after Hatidža Mehmedović, as well as by Minister Zorana Mihajlović and President of National Assembly Maja Gojković, we believe that the condemnation of the disrespect for victims must be accompanied by clear condemnation by the Prime Minister Brnabić, as well as by President Vučić, because it was Hatidža Mehmedović who welcomed him in Srebrenica on July 11, 2015 and symbolically gave him the Flower of Srebrenica as a The absence of urgent reaction of the Prosecutor’s Office and Justice Minister, as well as of Prime Minister and President of the Republic, was used by Vojislav Šešelj on Friday to relativise  Radeta’s tweet and then to call the Mothers of Srebrenica “swines” and announce that he would “fight fiercely against Radeta’s recall”. symbol of remembrance of the victims. 

YIHR welcomes the proposal of the Democratic Party MPs who request the recall of Vjerica Radeta from the position of the Vice President of the National Assembly of Serbia due to hate speech, as well as the request of an LDP MP not to hold sessions of the Parliament until Radeta resigns or is recalled from all parliamentary duties. Further, YIHR supports the requests of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and Women in Black to criminally prosecute Radeta for the incitement of national, racial and religious hatred and for racial and other discrimination. As a reminder, after managing to escape justice for three years in spite of international wanted-notices, Vjerica  Radeta and Petar Jojić are awaiting trial for charges that include threatening, intimidating, offering bribery and otherwise tampering two witnesses at the trial against Vojislav Šešelj. By the decision of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), the case was passed on to the judicial authorities of Serbia, but the final decision of IRMCT is pending upon the appeal of the Prosecutor’s Office, which objected the trial in Serbia.

However, this tweet, as well as numerous declarations by Vojislav Šešelj, does not amount to hate speech only, but hate speech as a means to deny the Srebrenica genocide,  which is still normal in public discourse in Serbia, since the article of the Criminal Code of Serbia, which is supposed to criminalize the denial and promotion of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, is non-applicable in this case, as it does not refer to the ICTY verdicts which established genocide in Srebrenica in 14 cases. 

YIHR reminds that the said Vjerica Radeta’s tweet is not an isolated incident, but a peak of the campaign waged by the Serbian Radical Party, under the leadership of Vojislav Šešelj, since its beginnings and especially since April 11 this year, when Šešelj was effectively convicted of war crimes. Thus he and his party are using every opportunity (from Hrtkovci, the “Miredita-dobar dan” festival, through the review of the proceedings against the Prime Minister Đinđić’s assassins, the commemoration of Srebrenica and judgment for the rebellion of the Special Operations Unit) to reaffirm the regime criminal practice in Serbian society, using hate speech to deny crimes committed in war. Even more intimidating is tacit support of the governing coalition which either keeps silent in the manner of Vulin’s “silent pride” or reacts mildly and sporadically.

We demand that current executive authorities clearly condemn war crimes and those who deny them. Condemnation of war criminal Vojislav Šešelj with regard to the tweet of Vjerica Radeta as the exponent of such policy may serve as an actual test that would confirm that government authorities have distanced themselves from “the Ratko Mladić Boulevard”.