The Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) condemns a series of violent incidents we have witnessed in several towns in Vojvodina in the last couple of days and demands urgent reaction of the prosecutor’s office, as well as a condemnation by the Provincial Government, the Government of Serbia and the President of Serbia.

On February 1, in the vicinity of a deserted factory near Šid, an incident occurred where, according to N1, several persons wearing Chetnik insignia attacked the volunteers of No Name Kitchen, an organization taking care of migrants. 

Also, in the last couple of days, disturbing anti-Semitic and Nazi graffiti appeared in Novi Sad, in the neighbourhood called Satellite. Earlier, very similar graffiti were sprayed in the campus of the Novi Sad University and near the “Family” Monument at the Quay of the Victims of the Raid. Novi Sad Information Portal 021 reported that the writing of neo-Nazi messages could be noticed at the University campus and at the Quay of the Victims of the Raid in Novi Sad in the last couple of weeks. 

The last event in the series is the demolition of premises of the Croatian Club in Novi Slankamen. In addition to broken windows, four Cyrillic S letters in a traditional cross of Serbian nationalists were written on the building. YIHR welcomes prompt reaction of the police which arrested yesterday (February 4) R.V. (51) under suspicion of inciting national, racial and religious hatred and intolerance by breaking the windows

YIHR supports statements made by the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV) and by the coalition of the Civic Vojvodina and the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV) on this occasion and calls on other political actors to step out and condemn these acts of violence.  

Especially disturbing is the incident in Novi Slankamen, because the persecution of the members of the Croatian community in Vojvodina began in this very place, after taking down the Croatian flag from the building of the Croatian Farmers’ Club on May 1, 1991. According to the Humanitarian Law Centre’s Dossier “Crimes against Croats in Vojvodina”, in the months following May 1991, the Croats in Novi Slankamen were exposed to threats and intimidation by Mihajlo Ulemek and a group of people around him. They were threatening the Croats over the phone, throwing bombs in their yards and shooting the houses and business premises they owned. 

According to the HLC’s Dossier, in June 1991, Croatian woman B.V. who lived in Novi Slankamen, was taken away from her office to Novi Banovci, the Stara Pazova municipality, where she was raped. In 1998, the Sremska Mitrovica District Prosecutor’s Office raised charges against Mihajlo Ulemek, member of the Serb Volunteer Guard (SDG) from Stara Pazova, for raping B.V. in 1991. However, in 2003, the District Prosecutor’s Office dropped charges against him, but failed to explain such decision.

Historical revisionism of the Second World War, anti-migrant demagogy and attacks on national minorities directly result from the impunity of the incitement of hatred, violence and war crimes in Serbia. This is also a consequence of Vojislav Šešelj’s politics of crime, which Igor Mirović, President of the Government of Vojvodina, and Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia normalize and legitimize with their silence

The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and the Ombudsman are at the moment the only two institutions to condemn these attacks. After the reaction of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, the majority of graffiti were removed yesterday; the Ombudsman requested detailed information on measures the police took in relation to the attack in Novi Slankamen and reminded of the earlier warnings this institution had made with regard to anti-Semitic graffiti and messages. 

Believing that the advocacy of equality is not the task of these two institutions only, but of a broader range of institutions and citizens, YIHR strongly demands that other state authorities show some dignity and punish those responsible for the series of violent incidents in Vojvodina, so that Serbia would not have to live the consequences of the “Serbia to the Serbs” policy after the elections.