Letter of Support for Natasa Kandic
Message from Members of the Regional Women’s Lobby for Peace, Security and Justice in South-East Europe on Attacks against Prominent Human Rights Activists in Serbia
The members of the Regional Women’s Lobby for Peace, Security and Justice in South-East Europe strongly protest the attacks of the last few days against Natasa Kandic, the Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Fund in Belgrade, by political figures, leaders of political parties and the media in Serbia.
The attacks have been dangerous and synchronized actions that have intensified since the demonstration in Belgrade on December 18 2007 protesting the independence of Kosovo. Attackers have made open threats and calls for violence against Natasa Kandic’s life.
Natasa Kandic is one of the most prominent activists for human rights promotion in this region and she has shown extraordinary dedication and courage for two decades not only in protesting the politics of war but also acting for the affirmation of human rights and the principles of law and justice. Above all she does this by demanding that war crimes perpetrators be held accountable regardless of national/ethnic boundaries or the political leaders standing behind them.
Natasa Kandic is especially dedicated to investigating war crimes committed in the name of the Serbian political leadership in the wars of the former Yugoslavia’s breakup (especially against the Albanian population in Kosovo). In this manner she sets an example of alternative action and understanding of peace and non violence in this region; all the while putting her own personal safety at risk.
The Serbian security sector has been insufficient and ineffective in preventing the aggressive, threatening and illegal acts against Natasa Kandic and her organization. The harassment has also been directed against other well-known peace activists and their organizations, such as Women in Black and the Helsinki Committee.
We ask that the political leadership of Serbia, especially the President and the Prime Minister, in the spirit of human rights and peace distance themselves from these actions against Natasa Kandic.
By doing so they can help end the campaign of threats and violence against her and protect her fundamental human rights. It is imperative that Natasa Kandic and her organization, the Humanitarian Law Fund, be able to carry on with their work in protecting and affirming human rights, peace and non-violence in Serbia.
Also, we demand that the political leadership of all countries in SEE direct political statements to their colleagues in Serbia protesting the threats against Natasa Kandic and in this manner take responsibility for protecting a culture of respect for human rights in this region.
We also call for all peace, human rights and women’s organizations at local regional and international levels to join our initiative by spreading and supporting this statement.
Members of the Regional Women’s Lobby for Peace, Security and Justice in South-East Europe: Meliha Alic, Sonja Biserko, Nada Drobnjak, Natasa Kandic, Biljana Kasic, Nekibe Kelmendi, Vera Markovic, Natasa Micic, Irina Pockova, Liljana Radovanovic, Igballe Rogova, Edita Tahiri, Teuta Sahatqija, Gordana Sobol, Luljeta Vuniqi, Stasa Zajovic, Marieta Zaqe, Memnuna Zvizdic.
The Regional Women’s Lobby for Peace, Security and Justice in South-East Europe was established in 2006 with support from UNIFEM. The Lobby promotes advocacy and political action to advance peace and stability in the region, including full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which calls for increased representation of women at all decision-making levels. The group includes members from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Its members are prominent women leaders, including politicians, members of parliaments, holders of governmental or public positions, as well as representatives from civil society.