Public hate campaigns are an unacceptable tool for political fight

Belgrade, March 16, 2023

The “Three Freedoms” Platform considers the targeting and intimidation campaigns, which call for the lynching of political opponents, civil society and members of the academic community, through posters and graffiti in Serbian cities and televisions with a license for national coverage, to be unacceptable and inadmissible. Regardless of the fact that this time the campaign is also targeting opposition actors who often themselves promote hate speech and intimidation as a form of political fight, we consider the normalization of such brutal and terrifying attacks inadmissible in a democratic society.

Such clashes cause deep concern not only for the future of communication on the political scene, but also for the physical safety of all those who publicly criticize the government’s actions, or analyze them through public and academic debate. We call on the institutions to adequately respond to threats to security and gross violations of the principles on which democratic societies should rest.

In the last few days, in cities across Serbia, as well as on televisions with national coverage, we have witnessed unacceptable confrontations with representatives of right-oriented political options, civil society and lecturers at the Faculty of Political Sciences, using hateful language, gender stereotyping and tactics that undermine Serbia’s democratic capacities. These are campaigns that consist of television broadcasts, postering of cities and suburban settlements in Serbia, as well as writing messages on walls and public surfaces.

This is not the first time that such dangerous campaigns have been organized in Serbia, which in no case can be brought under freedom of speech, because this freedom is rendered meaningless in this way. We have already had the opportunity to deal with posters when it comes to journalists – posters against journalist Isidora Kovačević in Šabac, journalist Veran Matić in Vranje and posters with the home address of Nenad Kulačin in Belgrade. In all three cases, the perpetrators did not answer.

We warn that with such campaigns, posters and videos, which are promoted in the media with the license for national coverage, participants in political life in Serbia are humiliated, with the aim of exploiting hatred and intolerance towards dissenters, minorities, women and neighboring countries as much as possible. This atmosphere additionally threatens the remaining elements of democracy in Serbia, as well as the building of good neighborly relations. Therefore, it is necessary that the competent institutions react promptly and non-discriminatory in each individual case.

In front of the “Three Freedoms” Platform:

  • Youth Initiative for Human Rights
  • CRTA
  • Civic Initiatives
  • Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation
  • Partners Serbia
  • Autonomous Women’s Center
  • Belgrade Center for Security Policy
  • Belgrade Center for Human Rights
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  • Independent Journalists’s Association of Serbia
  • New Optimism
  • Policy Center
  • Catalyst Balkans