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NO 133-134

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 133-134 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 133-134

November - December 2009



By Latinka Perovic

I am always pleased to come to Zagreb, this time especially for the occasion to speak about people from Serbia, who are no longer among us but who left lasting traces in the books I've prepared for the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia along with introductory studies. I am referring to eight authors and nine books. Why have we published these books in the first place?

I'll use some statistics to answer this question. Out of eight authors only one is alive. By force rather than by his own free will, he lives not in Belgrade but in Vienna. Two of them were murdered: one was the President of the Republic of Serbia and the other the Premier. Five authors have died of cancer.

All of them are outstanding individuals and all of them together provide a unique intellectual and moral portrait.

So, we have here Bogdan Bogdanovic, university professor, architect, writer, builder of monuments, drawer.A Belgrader. The Bogdanovics are among the oldest Belgrade families. They've been there for over 180 years. The Bogdanovics are among the families with most university professors.

Bogdan Bodganovic was among the first Serbian intellectuals that deciphered the ominous Eight Session and emergence of Slobodan Milosevic. In his book "Mud and Blood" he says, "Had I kept silent my life today would have been peaceful and shameful. But I couldn't have kept silent. The cipher was too obvious." And so he continued decoding it.

Novak Pribicevic, a child of a diplomat and a diplomat himself: ambassador of the former Yugoslavia in Vienna and Tirana, secretary of state in the Foreign Ministry.And then, a jobless person. He wrote about the war in Croatia, in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Kosovo. He wondered like in the title of his book, "Is there any resonance?" He knew there was none but never gave up. He left behind him a testimony of an era of atrocities and an individual's possibilities to do something in such times.

Slobodan Inic, Bosnian Serb, politicologist and one of founding fathers of the Democratic Party he distanced himself from because of its national program. From his huge literal legacy, we have singled out "Portraits" of people from the regime and the opposition. By making no difference between them - as there were no differences between their goals - he left behind him a valuable testimony of the people who, in late 20th century, handled the bloody engineering against millions of citizens of ex-Yugoslavia.

In his book "The Origin of Evil" Ivan Stambolic wrote, "The borderline between life and death was erased over here long ago.And once you cross that line no other line can stop you." He wrote these lines unaware or probably aware that his own fate would justify them. Intuitive even at his deathbed, Slobodan Inic told his friend Stambolic when the latter asked him whether or not to engage in politics again, "They will not be capable of organizing the state, and they will kill you."

Zoran Djindjic, philosopher, translator, a founding father of the Democratic Party and premier, was gunned down while entering the building housing the government of the Republic of Serbia. His understanding of Serbia's history was exceptional and his sense of the spirit of times infallible. Hence the book "Zoran Djindjic: Ethics of Responsibility."

Olga Popovic-Obradovic, scientist, who strenuously researched and ingeniously understood Serbia's major historical controversy - "The Type or the Size of the State" - modernization of the real state or permanent territorial expansion, made a breakthrough in the Serbian historiography.

Ivan Djuric, historian, Byzantologist, descendent of an old family with prospects for an exceptional academic career, became politically engaged in 1990s. He neither sided with the regime nor with the opposition, but was in search for an alternative that implied a confederal context for Yugoslavia. Rejected by the regime and the opposition alike, he was forced to emigrate. He died in Paris before his 50th birthday.

And at last, Marko Nikezic - not last by the order the book "Fragile Serb Vertical" was published but by the mark he left on the beginning of the end of a political order and a state. In early 1970s Yugoslavia was at the crossroads between regression, re-Stalinization and centralization on the one hand, and a fresh advance towards a modern society on the other. In 1971-72 the character of post-Tito era was decided on in Croatia and Serbia.

All these books together stand for a legacy that hinders oblivion and no longer allows to be sidelined. Their authors have set high intellectual and moral standards. The community's attitude towards them mirrors its attitude towards these values that are diametrically opposite to lies and crimes. Alexander Herzen said that history, like justice, never places everything on one pan only. This is why the legacy of the Serbian intellectual elite that was and still is unwelcome for its criticism must be preserved. That is why we have prepared and published the books I have presented on this occasion.

(Address at the launch of the editions by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, Zagreb, November 27, 2009).


NO 133-134

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