Banja Luka / Belgrade / Podgorica / Priština / Sarajevo / Zagreb, June 1, 2010
The media campaign for the Initiative for the creation of a regional commission tasked with establishing the facts about war crimes and other serious human rights violations committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia (RECOM) was launched at 11:55 a.m. throughout the entire region of the Western Balkans.
Dino Mustafić, film director and Director of the International Theatre Festival – MESS, at the beginning of the presentation in Sarajevo stressed that this Initiative should be understood as an initiative for the future. He said that he considered the Initiative to be an imperative and an important civic act with the potential to prevent the falsification and distortion of the past.
“RECOM” will show exactly how dangerous it is to relativize a crime and how dangerous it is to face the truth. Our children will ask us one day what exactly our role was in the war, and we will have to give then an honest answer. This is an initiative that needs to be supported by every responsible citizen”, said Mustafić.
Amir Kulaglić, a member of the Coordination Council of the Coalition for RECOM said during the launch in Sarajevo that “in order to create RECOM it is absolutely necessary to have the unwavering support of the public. This media campaign is designed to inform the public about this initiative and to win over their support. RECOM is our way out of the past. This is a courageous and resolute initiative backed by both victims and citizens who want to learn the truth”, said Kulagić.
At the launch in Zagreb, Vesna Teršelič, a member of the Coordination Council of the Coalition for RECOM, said that the Regional Commission is so badly needed because war crime perpetrators are prosecuted with huge delays and in insufficient numbers; because it can help curb manipulation of numbers of victims, and because it can offer victims at least moral satisfaction. The Commission will not hand down sentences, but it could establish the facts about certain war crimes.
Tanja Topić, member of the Coordination Council of RECOM, stressed at the launch in Banja Luka that the event which had taken place several days before the promotion when political leaders from the region bowed to the victims showing their respect was the best indicator and confirmation that RECOM is on the right track.
This shared Initiative advocates the creation of an official inter-state and independent commission which can establish the facts, said Nataša Kandić, a member of the Coordination Council of the Coalition for RECOM, at the launch in Belgrade. “We want to establish the facts, we want to list and name all the evil events that keep preventing us from seeing the things that are good,” said Nataša Kandić. She also added that the goal of the Coalition is to mobilize the public and as many influential sources as possible in the region so that they would lobby for the idea to create RECOM with their governments, and “not to win an election or demonstrate one’s single-party political views”.
“To discontinue the practice of impunity and start prosecuting war crimes is one of the basic goals of the Coalition for RECOM”, said Bekim Blakaj, head of the Humanitarian Law Center’s office at the launch in Priština. “The Commission can make a register of names of all victims so that we can stop using numbers and refer to the victims of war crimes by using their first and last name. In this way, we hope to give the victims their dignity back. Also, by discovering facts and finding evidence we can help the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor in each country in the region do its job.”
At the launch in Podgorica, film director and journalist Darko Ivanović said that it would be a good idea if all of us from the territory of the former Yugoslavia should look at ourselves in the mirror and try to assess our own responsibility. He also said it was intolerable that most young people in Montenegro know nothing about the shameful part of their history, about the events from the time when “the power and the pride of the nation were measured in the number of trucks carrying looted goods in the form of VCRs and TV sets from the Dubrovnik war zone”.
Daliborka Uljarević, a member of the Coordination Council of the Coalition for RECOM, stressed that the campaign for RECOM was most certainly the most significant operation of its kind originating from civil society. “Its value and its power is in the fact that it is coming from the bottom up, and because it is a “citizen-for-citizen activity”, said Uljarević in Podgorica.
The website, www.zarecom.org, containing radio and TV spots, was presented during the promotion. It also features the faces of the campaign promoters, along with the messages such as: To move on, To know, So as not to forget, So that it does not happen again, So as not to be bought, So we don’t have to worry, So that we understand each other, So as not to forget.
By June 1st 2011all parliaments in the region will receive the unique model of the Regional Commission for establishing the facts about war crimes committed in the period 1991-2001 on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.