News 21 Nov 12

Religious Groups Should Support RECOM, Experts Say

Religious institutions in the former Yugoslav countries should support RECOM initiative to establish the regional truth commission, a round table concluded.

Marija Ristic

Speaking at the round table “Religion and Reconciliation”, which was held in Belgrade this week, experts and representatives of the religious institutions from Serbia have agreed that the ex-Yugoslav countries need to make joint lists of all those who were killed during the 1990s wars.

“In order to continue reconciliation process churches need to support the RECOM’s goal to list all the victims. The role of the church is similar – it is there to provide comfort to all victims, to those who survived but also to keep memory of those who did not, “said Nikola Knezevic, a theologian from the Centre for Research of Religion, Politics and Society.

The Coalition for RECOM is a non-political regional network of civil society organizations and individuals whose aim it is to promote the creation of a regional commission tasked with establishing facts about war crimes and human rights violations committed in the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001.

Natasa Kandic, the head of the Humanitarian Law Centre and a RECOM advocate, says that support of religious organizations would boost the process of establishing the truth about those who died in the recent Balkan wars.

“RECOM’s aim is to list all victims, no matter what is their nationality, or their religion. Our aim is to establish facts about the exact number of those killed that no one can later question,” Kandic said.

She announced that as a first step, by the end of the month, RECOM would publish the Bosnian Memory Book listing around 95,000 people who lost their lives during 1990s war.

Vukasin Milicevic, a representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church, agrees that listing the names of those killed remains crucial.

“Names of those killed say the most, and we, unfortunately, still 17 years after the war, do not have precise data who were those killed. And this is crucial and this should be a first step in rebuilding the trust among the Balkan nations,” Milicevic said.

During the conflicts in former Yugoslavia in 1990s, religious object were often targeted. A number of churches and mosques were destroyed, especially in eastern Bosnia and Croatia.

“Religion had played a big role in the past conflicts. Religious organizations across the Balkans need to play important part in the reconciliation process, and look into the positive examples in South Africa where role of the churches was very important in bringing about reconciliation,” Knezevic concludes.




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