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News 03 Nov 14

Serbian Democracy Activist Miljenko Dereta Dies

Dereta, one of the country's most prominent civil society activists for many years and a former member of the Serbian parliament, has died in Belgrade at the age of 65.

Ivana Nikolic
Miljenko Dereta. | Photo by Beta

Tributes have been paid to veteran democracy campaigner and former MP Dereta, who died on Monday after a short illness.

“Miljenko Dereta was a tireless activist and a fighter for a civil Serbia, where civil rights are inviolable,” said Nevena Petrusic, Serbia’s commissioner for the protection of equality.

“In the hardest times, he made a key contribution to the development of our civil society. Miljenko Dereta left an indelible mark while devotedly working on the strengthening of democracy in Serbia,” Petrusic said.

“Miljenko participated in every event in the city that was against the war, the crimes and all the other things that happened in the last 25 years. He belonged to the group of people who immediately organised an opposition movement to Serbian nationalism and aggression,” said Sonja Biserko from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia.

Dereta was born in Belgrade in 1950. He studied film and television, made several feature-length films and dozens of cultural shows, and stood as an opposition candidate in the first multi-party election to the Serbian parliament in 1990.

As a political activist in the 1990s, he strongly criticised Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, and in 1996, he co-founded Civic Initiatives, a pro-democracy NGO, which he led until his death.

As a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, Dereta was a MP from 2012 until March 2014, and worked in the government body in charge of EU integration as well as being a member of the Ministry of Education council.

“He was always doing everything possible to show what was wrong. We sympathise with the family of Miljenko Dereta, because the loss of a man who was devotedly working for the realisation of his ideals is huge for every one of us,” the Liberal Democratic Party told Serbia’s TV B92.

He was also a columnist for Serbia’s Politika and Danas daily newspapers, among many others, founded and co-chaired the Federation of Serbian NGOs and headed the Balkan Civil Society Development Network.  

A commemoration will be held on Tuesday at the Central for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade, Civic Initiatives announced. 

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