26 Aug An Open Letter to Minister Gordana Čomić regarding attacks on civil society and media

– An Open Letter to Minister Gordana Čomić –

 

Professional media and civil society organizations (CSOs) in Serbia call on Minister Čomić, who is in charge of creating an enabling environment for the work of civil society, to recognize, condemn and prevent attacks on civil society and media which are being perpetrated by the Government.

We also call on the relevant institutions, as well as all actors in society, to join the fight against a new wave of pressure on the media and CSOs, and to oppose these and such abuses, which lead to a further collapse of democracy and the rule of law. We remind that the position of media and civil society in Serbia has long been marked as unfavorable according to the reports of all relevant international organizations.

Professional media and CSOs have once again become the target of a fierce campaign, which, as usual, was led by the President of the Republic, and continued by the media under his control. President Vučić presented numerous untruths about the work of civil society organizations in Serbia, accusing them of working for foreign interests and being under the control of tycoons. Vučić used the decision made by the private company Twitter to put the label “Serbia state-affiliated media” on the accounts of pro-government media in Serbia to launch a broad campaign against the civil sector, as well as against the small number of professional media remaining in the country. One of the most dangerous, and completely incorrect statements said by the President was the accusation that civil society organizations do not pay taxes, and that they protested when asked to pay them. Unlike pro-government media, such as PINK, CSOs in Serbia regularly pay all taxes and contributions and submit financial reports to the Serbian Business Registers Agency, and have never protested against this. Since this information is certainly known to the President of the Republic, we are forced to conclude that this was done in bad faith, and represents another in a series of steps towards the destruction of the part of society that fights for democracy and the rule of law. The Serbian Telegraph and other pro-government media joined the campaign by publishing a special supplement on the funding of media and CSOs and their alleged links to foreigners, announcing that a continuation of the campaign is to come, while television stations TV Pink and TV Happy announced the publication of these articles in their morning broadcasts. 

We invite the domestic and international public to join us in our fight for these values, in all available legal ways. We call on the representatives of foreign governments and international organizations to take a stand on this, and all other campaigns against free media and civil society.

We call on Minister Gordana Čomić, who is also responsible for the development of civil society, to immediately focus on stopping attacks and attempts to destroy the sector and stifle freedom of association, and not to initiate processes that have no evident result.

Professional media and CSOs will continue to fight for democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights in Serbia with an even greater zeal,  and will certainly not give up in the face of hostile campaigns by the regime and its media.

  1. Civic Initiatives
  2. Policy Center
  3. Belgrade Center for Human Rights
  4. Foundation  “Freedom of press”, Senta
  5. Women for Peace Association, Leskovac
  6. Association Center for Civic Values, Subotica
  7. New optimism
  8. Center for Sustainable Communities, Novi Sad
  9. Voice of Šumadija
  10. Pro.Tok21
  11. Radio Zlatousti
  12. Foundation BFPE for a responsible society
  13. Center for the development of local media
  14. Association “Koraci”
  15. iRevolucija
  16. Media i reform center Niš
  17. Urban-In
  18. Center for Development and Democracy of Southern Serbia
  19. Regional Information Agency JUGpress
  20. European policy Center
  21. A11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights
  22. PROTECTA
  23. Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS)
  24. Association Duga (Rainbow)
  25. Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbi (NUNS/IJAS)
  26. Foundation “Iskorak”
  27. Autonomous Women’s Center
  28. Belgrade Center for Security Policy
  29. TRAG Foundation
  30. Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA)
  31. Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV)
  32. Novi Sad school of journalism
  33. Podrinske Šabac
  34. Committee for Human Rights Niš (CHRIN)
  35. Ozon Media
  36. National Coalition for Decentralization (NCD) 
  37. Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation
  38. Obrenovac Youth Foundation
  39. Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI)
  40. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  41. European Movement in Serbia
  42. Jelena Šantić Foundation
  43. Center for Cultural Decontamination (CZKD)
  44. Humanitarian Law Center
  45. Partners Serbia
  46. CANVAS
  47. Center for Monitoring and Activism – CEMA
  48. Impuls Tutin
  49. Business Info Group
  50. Nova ekonomija
  51. FoNet
  52. Peščanik
  53. Danas
  54. City Smart
  55. Da se zna!
  56. Youth Center CK13
  57. VREME
  58. Cenzolovka
  59. NIN
  60. Res Publica Kragujevac
  61. Biopolis / Center for biopolitical education
  62. Bečejsko udruzenje mladih
  63. Europolis
  64. Forum for civil action FORCA Požega
  65. Center for crisis policy and reaction
  66. CESID
  67. Praxis
  68. Radio Koprijan
  69. FemPlatz
  70. Južne vesti
  71. Timok Youth Center
  72. Kvalitetno pokrećemo zajednicu – Citizen’s Association KPZ Užice
  73. Center for Democracy Foundation
  74. Civil Right Defenders
  75. Women’s Leadership Academy
  76. Center of modern skills
  77. Center for Contemporary Politics
  78. European Western Balkans
  79. Portal “Slobodna reč”