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Let’s Preserve the Peace in Sandzak!

Report of October 22, 2007

Saturday 27 October 2007, by Milos

“Today, we do not only remember, but seek accountability for crimes committed in the Sandzak—crimes committed against people only because they had a different name, ethnicity, or religion—the crimes committed in Sjeverin, _trpci, Priboj, Pljevlja, Bukovica, Kukurovi_i, Milanovi_i, Voskovina, Raji_evi_i, Zabr_e, _ivinice, Ran_i_i, Prelac, Sastavci, Slavoti_i, So_ice, Strmac, Valovlje, and Zaostro.” – Stasa Zajovic

Fifteen years ago today, on October 22, 1992, a crime occurred in Sjeverin. Sixteen Bosniaks were taken from a bus and killed. A moment of silence was held to remember the victims of this crime, to respect the dignity of the victims. The families of the victims of the Sjeverin crime were with us. With them in Mio_e, the village, where the crime was committed, was an uncompromising human rights defender, a woman who cares for victims, our friend Nata_a Kandi_. Today, we are in Novi Pazar because we remember the crime. We are also here as citizens, attending a peaceful assembly, in which the voice of women and the other is heard.

Hymns of peaceful protest can be heard – John Lennon, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Patty Smith.

Marija Perkovi_, a Women in Black activist from Vrbas, approached gathered citizens. Aida _orovi_ from Urban In, Zibija Dervi_halitovi_ _arenkapi_ from the Damad Cultural Center, and D_eneta Agovi_ from Impuls – Tutin.
Maja Stojanovi_ from Ni_, from The Youth Initiative for Human Rights; Biljana Kova_evi_-Vu_o from Belgrade, from The Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, Stasa Zajovic from Women and Black; and Nata_a Kandi_ from The Fund for Humanitarian Law then addressed the gathering.
The gathering was organized by Women in Black, The Center for Cultural Decontamination, The Fund for Humanitarian Law, The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, The Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, The Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Urban In, Damad, and Impuls.
Approximately 50 activists participated in the action. They came from Belgrade, Vrbas, Vr_ac, Kraljevo, Kru_evac, Leskovac, Velika Plana, and Ni_. They joined with hundreds of local people who marched through the city.
That day, a peaceful procession passed through the streets of Novi Pazar, carrying banners on which were written ‘We Remember the Crimes in Sand_ak,’ ‘Sjeverin, October 22, 1992—October 22, 2007,’ and ‘Women in Black against the Violation of Human Rights.’ Other, brightly colored banners were also carried – ‘Women are Women’s Power,’ Women’s Solidarity against War,’ ‘Feminism is Our Choice,’ and ‘For Another Serbia.’ We also carried Pace flags for peace in Sand_ak.

Some impressions shared by some of the activists showed disappointment that there were very few women at the gathering. Men were more visible. It is obvious local women are afraid and controlled by that fear. We witnessed the absence of women in public space. They are nonexistent in spaces where they could publicly express their thoughts and say that they are against the fundamentalism in their community. We sincerely hope that we will escape from the invisibility of fundamentalist darkness and clearly and vocally say that we want to rebel!

Milos for Women in Black