Petition for truth in the Balkans

30 March 2011 by Nidzara Ahmetasevic

“Finally, the goal is to establish a register of victims killed from the war in Slovenia in 1991, to the war in Kosovo in 1999”, explains Natasa Kandic, a prominent human rights activist in Serbia and a founder of the Initiative for a Regional Truth Commission (RECOM).

From mid-April, civil society groups around the Balkans will start petitioning for the Commission, to deal with the conflict in the Balkans during the 1990s. The goal is to collect one million signatures to be handed over to local politicians, who have the final word on setting up such a commission.

It is the first time that the civil sector has spearheaded this type of initiative. But critics fear it will not succeed without the support of politicians.

Many are sceptical about the initiative, mainly in Bosnia. Bakir Hasecic, director of Women Victims of War, argues that Bosnia has to find its own way of dealing with the past. “I believe that the courts are the right places to establish the truth. Anything else is… just using victims and their families,” said Hasecic.

Kandic said there is a real need for political support for the commission, but admits that there are fears politicians will not take the initiative seriously.

Kandic and other RECOM members are leading a series of meetings with politicians, lobbying for support.

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