News 25 Oct 12

RECOM Targets Youth With its Latest Campaign

To get the backing of younger people for the creation of a regional truth commission, RECOM advocates in the Western Balkan countries have taken a petition out onto the streets of their capitals.

Denis Dzidic, Marija Ristic
Sarajevo, Belgrade
Sunita Dautbegovic-Bosnjakovic / Photo by BIRN

RECOM advocates went out on to the streets of Sarajevo, Belgrade, Pristina, Zagreb, Skoplje, Podgorica and Ljubljana on Wednesday to gather signatures in support of the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission for the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

The organisers hope that getting the youth of their countries behind the project will help persuade politicians of the need to create a commission that would establish the facts about war crimes and human rights violations committed in the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001.

Sunita Dautbegovic-Bosnjakovic, the executive director of the NGO "Transitional Justice, Accountability and Remembrance in Bosnia and Herzegovina," which organized the petition in Sarajevo, has told BIRN that following the letter writing campaign in September, where RECOM advocates wrote to the presidents of the region, it was important to keep up the pressure on politicians.

“This is our latest project, and we will continue to maintain a high profile, because we believe in this regional mechanism. This time we decided to put the focus on youth, because young people are fed up with talk about the past, which is why we must solve these issues”, said Dautbegovic-Bosnjakovic.

She added that facing up to the past is the only way to guarantee a future for the entire Balkan region.

Commenting on the exchange between Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic and Bakir Izetbegovic, a member of the Bosnian presidency, in which they expressed wildly differing views about the events in Srebrenica in July 1995, which were characterized as genocide by the International Court of Justice, Dautbegovic-Bosnjakovic claimed that such divided opinions are “exactly the reason why RECOM is important”.

“We are not a political organization. However, these events highlight the need to have an open dialogue about the past. Young people want cooperation and a better future. It is important we discuss and let go of the legacy of the past in order to move forward, for the sake of new generations”, she added.

Her colleague from Podgorica, Mirela Rebronja, says that it is important that the REKOM initiative is coming from young people who were not involved in the past conflict.

In Belgrade RECOM advocates say that they expect support from the current Serbian President, Tomislav Nikolic.

"So far we gathered 543,000 signatures on our petition. Our initative was signed by president of Croatia, Ivo Josipovic, the President of Slovenia, Danilo Turk and the President of Montenegro, Filip Vujovanovic. Our next step is to ask Nikolic to sign," said Dusan Lopusina, a Belgrade-based RECOM advocates.

The Coalition for RECOM is a non-political regional network of civil society organizations and individuals.


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