We very well understood the statement of the Ministry of the Interior and Minister Vulin, in which they speak of “pictures of bloody Serbian heads” if the mural is painted over. His paramilitary formations, such as Leviathan, would smash our heads, and his police would not protect us.
We did not give up due to lack of courage, although of course we are afraid of the army of neo-Nazis who have been using violence with impunity for years and threatening violence to anyone who is not to their liking. It is not a measure of courage to take a stand while someone is breaking your head, except among hooligans and criminals – whose value system this government is trying to impose on the whole society; the courage of mature societies and mature persons is reflected in making difficult decisions.
We will not organize the removal as planned because the mural of Ratko Mladić in Njegoševa Street is no longer an ordinary mural. It is now a monument to Ratko Mladić, erected by an unknown author in July this year, but placed under the protection of the state of Serbia on November 5, by the decision of the Ministry of the Interior and Minister Aleksandar Vulin, and the silence of President Vučić and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. It is a logical step after many years of celebrating criminals as heroes by the entire political and state apparatus, and a lack of courage and conscience to take responsibility for crimes committed on behalf of the Serbian people.
It is a monument of the “Serbian world” which Vulin, as the main operative on behalf of the current government in Serbia, very successfully establishes based on the ideology of “Greater Serbia”. That is why the laws of (current) Serbia do not apply here, neither the Law on Public Assembly, nor the decisions of the municipal police on the removal of the mural. The “Serbian World” does not care about the laws of Serbia or the borders between Serbia and the other Balkans countries, the “Serbian World” has the ambition to overrun everything.
That is the crux of our struggle – against the nationalism that is pushing us into new wars. We fight for peace, we fight for human lives, the lives of our neighbors and those whom we will never meet.
There are hundreds of murals and graffiti in support of Ratko Mladić throughout Belgrade and Serbia. All of them are our own responsibility, including the Initiative and all individuals and groups who were prepared to come on Tuesday. However, this monument in Njegoševa St. has become a state responsibility. The Mladić mural there is now a traffic light that shows the true face of state policy – whether there is reconciliation, rule of law, democracy, regional cooperation, European integration. Should it be Zoran Đinđić Boulevard or Ratko Mladić Boulevard?
In their statement, the Ministry of the Interior and Minister Vulin speak with disgust and condescension about our cooperation with activists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Kosovo, while his Government is declaratively fully dedicated to regional cooperation. Neither President Vučić, nor the Government, nor the Ministry of the Interior, and especially the Minister and chief operative of the “Serbian World” Vulin, know anything about regional cooperation. That was explained to him a few years ago by our colleagues from the Youth Initiative in Croatia in an open letter when he voiced his public support after they were detained for removing the “Za dom spremni” post in Jasenovac.
Minister Vulin is also a patron of the Law on War Memorials, which in fact prohibits the honoring of non-Serb victims of war in Serbia. The law protects and promotes the exclusive memory of the liberation wars of Serbia. It prohibits a monument to the victims of Srebrenica, or to those from mass graves throughout Serbia and in Belgrade, even monuments to Serbs or citizens of Serbia who were victims of 1990s Greater Serbia policies – through forced mobilizations, camps, torture. But the monument to Ratko Mladić is legal. It is legal and desirable. And now it has been rendered official, too.
That is why the legal fight is very important to us, and for the court to rule that this ban was illegal and unconstitutional, which we are absolutely certain of. It will not be a consolation for today’s injustice, but it will be a clear signpost for a Serbia of the future that will be based on human rights and democracy.
We thank everyone who supported this idea and action, everyone who participated in the preparation and were key to its realization – primarily tenants and neighbors, but also artists and professional cleaners, as well as individuals and organizations that supported and continued to support this fight.
Always a whistle, never a rifle again!