Support free media and education in Serbia now

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 51 – November 23, 1998

Originally published here.


“The law on information, on the universities and the prepared law on NGOs should be strongly opposed by all international organisations, governments and NGOs.”

Jiri Dienstbier, Special Rapporteur of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights


“Serbian authorities commit gross human rights violations through new draconian laws that will further undermine free media, education and civil society in Serbia. Given its seriousness, we have heard deplorably few and low-voiced protests from top diplomats, politicians, fellow intellectuals and media people in the Europe and the US. Dienstbier’s is an important exception” says TFF’s director Jan Oberg.

The situation is appalling. After media and education, NGOs will probably be targeted. People in Serbia are in a double cage – that constructed by their own authorities and that constructed by the international community since 1991. Just look at how the Kosovo conflict is now “managed” through the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement and you’ll see how the two cages reinforce each other. The losers? Ordinary citizens – like in Bosnia under Dayton.

All citizens of Serbia – including the 650.000 forgotten refugees from Bosnia and Croatia – have suffered enough inside these cages since 1991. Shuttle diplomats, NATO, OSCE, EU and the US display a profound and disastrous lack of any strategy for civil society support. Much more must therefore be done by European peoples’ organisations everywhere to show solidarity with and assist independent media, education and movements in Serbia – and urgently,” says Dr. Oberg.

This is the background. In May this year, the Government of Serbia passed a new university law without consulting universities, teachers or students. It effectively reduces academic independence, the autonomy of academia. The government now controls the appointment and firing of professors, deans and university governing boards and may close faculties. The law further limits [Read more…]