Showing posts with label Serbia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Serbia. Show all posts

February 1, 2019

A Magazine Loved By The Serbian Youth Is Accused of White Washing The Serbian Nazis

As I read this article I could not but think of the United States 35%. People that will sleep with the devil himself so they won't have to deal with the realities of life. Nationalism cannot be greater than the human rights for those, unlike those so-called nationalists. If we learn anything from exploring outer space and confronting what waits for us in the way of knowledge or something much more sinister than that I would imagine that maybe nationalism will be replaced by being human or even humanoids and sticking together as such..Adam

Some members of the Serbian public expressed astonishment after the popular Belgrade weekly magazine Politikin Zabavnik published an article which many readers felt glossed over the war crimes of local Nazi collaborators.
Titled “Who were Ljotićevci?” (“Who were Ljotić's men?”) and published on the January 18 edition, the article presents the Serbian Volunteer Corps, a local association of the Nazi regime during the Second World War, in a rather positive light.
With its name roughly translating as “Politika's Fun Paper” or “Politika's Entertainer”, the publication is targeted at “all ages from 7 to 107″ and is widely perceived as family fare. Founded in 1939, it enjoyed a cult status all over Yugoslavia as the epitome of high-quality edutainment, providing an encyclopedic mix of general knowledge, trivia, short stories, history, science, travel, and music, with about 50 percent of its pages devoted to quality comics.
Both media professionals and readers decried what they saw as the magazine's betrayal of its cosmopolitan and progressive values. They considered the article an act of final submission by the paper to Serbia's right-wing populist government, which has been rehabilitating the legacies of World War II Nazi collaborators.
Nazi occupiers and their associates killed around 140.000 people in Serbia, conducting genocide against over 20.000 Jews and about 12-20.000 Roma.
On January 20, 2019, the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) and the Independent Society of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV) called the article “the most pitiful of all kinds of media manipulations — manipulating children.” They noted that the magazine spreads “gruesome praises” about Dimitrije Ljotić, a Holocaust perpetrator, misinforming that “he condemned the pogrom of Jews.”
Historical revisionism has become part of our daily existence, and the Fascist, Nazi and other quisling and collaborationist forces are investing enormous efforts to promote historical forgeries.
Some social media users reacted by providing documentary evidence from that period:
This photograph shows their help for Roma people. Ljotić's men take them to be executed by shooting.

Meanwhile, Belgrade's Jewish community published an open letter to Politikin Zabavnik editor on January 21, expressing their dismay and pointing facts related to the Second World War.
Dimitrije Ljotić WAS a local Nazi and organized an army, the Serbian Volunteer Corps (Serbischer SS-Freiwilligen Korps in German) which served the Wehrmacht.
The ideology of this corps was identical to the Nazis: extermination of Jews, Communists and Western capitalism. The corps became infamous for crimes against civilians, especially against Jews and Roma, against the partisans and other members of the resistance movement. Ljotić's units participated in the killing of students during October 1941 Kragujevac Massacre. A day after this massacre, his organization ZBOR opened the biggest anti-semitic exhibition in Belgrade, the so-called ‘Anti-masonic exibition’, aimed at ‘revealing the Judaeo-Communist plot’, while pro-Ljotić newspapers suggested that ‘Serbs should not wait for the Germans to start the extermination of Jews’.

Why is Politikin Zabavnik so important to so many?

Unlike the countries of the Soviet Bloc, the publishing industry in independent socialist Yugoslavia enjoyed a higher degree of freedom and imported much of its contents from the West. By the 1970s, publishers of magazines on a wide range of general interest topics, comics, pulp fiction, music, and even erotica/porn became self-sustainable by catering to the sizable middle class.
Politikin Zabavnik's circulation surpassed 300,000 in the “golden days” of the 1970s and early 1980s. Its mission was to build a “cultural infrastructure”, “develop ethical values” and nurture integrative Yugoslav patriotism.
The paper was published in Cyrillic (Serbian) and Latin (Croatian) versions, as well as in the Slovenian language. Its history sections would promote the anti-fascist values of the People's Liberation War, as well as the heritage of all peoples comprising the federation.
After the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, most of the Serbian media conformed with Slobodan Milošević‘s nationalist ideologies. Over time Politikin Zabavnik adapted to this new market reality by including more topics about narrow Serbian history and tradition.
Foreign observers have been warning that the publication increasingly promotes nationalism and extremist right-wing values, but this had little resonance with the Serbian public until the current scandal:
 This time, large numbers of social media users expressed their outrage, such as TV screenwriter Bane Raičević:
On Sunday morning I would go to the local shop, buy Carnex pork liver pate and Coca Cola. On the way back I would buy Politikin Zabavnik. I would come home, sit in the kitchen, eat the pate with bread and the CC and read Politikin Zabavnik. It was my indulgence as a kid. Those were my 1980s. These are the memories that you managed to soil, you stinky animals.
Another user tweeted an image of the paper's well-known logo – Donald Duck as newspaper seller — replaced with the Disney character's presentation on the Oscar-winning cartoon Der Fuehrer’s Face:
And this is how Politikin Zabavnik screwed itself…

An apology — and a new article

The magazine's following edition, published on January 26, ran a new article titled “Who Ljotićevci [Ljotić's men] really were”, along with an introduction that was also posted on the magazine's Facebook page:
Politikin Zabavnik didn't intend to relativize the role of the criminal units of the ZBOR organization, nor the role of Dimitrije Ljotić and their crimes during the Second World War!
We apologize to all who understood our text in that manner, and in particular to the Jewish and Roma communities!
This new version was a more factual account about the fascist nature of Ljotić's movement, and even included the photo of them leading Roma to slaughter that had been widely shared on Twitter.
NUNS and NDNV reacted again, saying that while the new article condemned Ljotić's men, it also rehabilitated other domestic traitors who collaborated with the Nazi occupiers (this time the Chetniks), and soiled the reputation of communists, supposedly using the excuse “for the promotion of anti-anti-fascism.”
The Politikin Zabavnik scandal exposes the deep polarization of Serbian society, the result of the use of nationalism as a tool to exploit the divisions between liberal citizens and their compatriots persuaded to consider ethnic identity as a key factor in determining if someone should be praised or condemned.

September 19, 2018

In Serbia The PM is Lesbian But She's Been Told Not To March in With The LGBT in Pride

Serbian head of government at Belgrade's Pride, Belgrade, Serbia, September 2017Image copyright

Image captionAna Brnabic is the first gay head of government in a Balkan country
It's the only Balkan country to have an openly gay prime minister  so why are some of Serbia's LGBT activists determined to keep PM Ana Brnabic away from Gay Pride? 
When Ms Brnabic was appointed last year, hopes were high in the LGBT community: not only was she the first woman to head the Serbian cabinet, she was also the first LGBT politician to hold such high office in the Balkans.
She marched in the 2017 Pride parade in Belgrade, surrounded by posters reading "Ana is here," and took selfies with dozens of people. 
But one year on, progress is scant: LGBT rights have not improved, new laws are still far from being adopted and there has been no fall in the number of attacks on gay people.
In largely conservative Orthodox Christian Serbia, a candidate for EU membership, discrimination and violence against the LGBT community are widespread. 

Two gay Prides, one gay PM and no end to problems

Ahead of 2018 Pride, a group of activists disappointed with the slow pace of reforms launched a campaign called "Say no". Its main goal is to prevent politicians from attending Pride marches, as campaigners believe they have done little to strengthen LGBT rights.  
Ms Brnabic is the main focus of their campaign, because her "work on strengthening LGBT rights has been disappointing," said a statement from the organization behind the campaign, GLIC.
Anti-gay protestors surrounded by police at Belgrade Pride in 2014.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe first peaceful Belgrade Pride happened in 2014, but anti-gay protesters also took to the streets
Speaking at the 2017 parade, Ms Brnabic said that LGBT rights would be addressed only after important problems such as inflation, pensions and the standard of living had been resolved. 
"It was a scandalous statement," Predrag Azdejkovic, the head of GLIC, told the BBC. 
Unhappy with the efforts of other gay activists, Mr Azdejkovic started another parade in June. Its goal is to "bring the gay march back to ordinary people and away from politicians". 
"They say: 'You have a gay prime minister, two parades, you should be content'. But it's all just made up," said Mr Azdejkovic. 
For Serbia's LGBT community, everyday life is still marred by widespread homophobia: a survey by the regional ERA organization showed that every fifth gay couple in Belgrade gets rejected when trying to rent a flat.
The situation is even gloomier outside the capital, activists say.
The government has adopted the Law against Discrimination but cases rarely come to justice. Another survey done by ERA showed that 90% of people in Serbia are against giving LGBT couples the right to adopt, while about 70% are against gay couples inheriting a partner's belongings after death. 
Same-sex marriage is still illegal in Serbia.

Bleak history

Anti-gay protestors surrounded by police at Belgrade's pride, Belgrade, Serbia 2014.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionAround 100 people were injured when anti-gay protesters clashed with police during Belgrade Pride in 2010
Serbia's first Pride parade in 2001 ended in violence when hundreds of hooligans and extremists attacked a peaceful march despite a heavy police presence.
And in 2010, about 100 people were injured when that year's march was also attacked in central Belgrade. 
In the years that followed, the interior ministry refused security clearance for the parade to take place. Only in 2014 did the marchers return to the streets, again with considerable police presence.

Make-up and LGBT rights

Four years later, the LGBT flag welcomes visitors to the Pride Info Centre that opened its doors to the public in central Belgrade. 
"If we had opened the centre 10 years ago, I am sure it would have been demolished," said Goran Miletic from Civil Rights Defenders, the organizer of Belgrade Pride. 
"Some of the people passing by stop and comment. They say, 'faggots' and then they leave. That is a step forward — some people don't like what they see, but we are still here. It is a small, but a significant step forward."
belgrade pride 2017.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionFor Serbia's LGBT community, everyday life is still marred by wide-spread homophobia
Talking to Belgrade's Pride magazine, Ms Brnabic said that not supporting the gay march would be hypocritical.
"For me, this is a way to make an active contribution to dealing with stereotypes and prejudices," she said. 
For the organisers of Belgrade Pride, having the head of government in the front ranks is a way to show the LGBT community that the country is changing. 
"Politicians have to be part of the parade and send the message that 'gay is ok'," Mr Miletic told the BBC. 
There is gay and there is "me" first and gay if it fits where is going to help "me".
I learn a long time ago that because someone is LGBT does not mean they will serve the LGBT community. It applies to any human been in any political process. You have blacks who did not back reform on civil rights, they felt fine the way they were and did not want to rock the boat. Even during the Trump campaign Vs. Clinton in 2016 there was a commercial on cable in which you had this Guatemalan lady preaching how good Trump will be for immigrants. As it turned out she was one of the first one to be depoted because they knew where to find her, who she was and her papers were not in order. 
There was a councilman where I live and I came to his office asking for help in regard to a hate crime in which I needed a little back up to be taken seriously by the police. He never even called me to say I can't help, Im afraid of cops or love them too much or what ever. I got him once in from of a camera and reporters and he said hit had to do with cops and he didn't get involved. He didn't get anywhere as councilman and the party did not support him for any open position so he is running for judge now. That probably means he did a favor to someone in the party and that would be his pay out. 
The man is gay but would not qet get involved in gay hate crime which at the time just before the supreme court decision on Gay Marriage were coming out faster than gays.

June 21, 2017

The Appointment of a Lesbian PM in Serbia Tells More About the EU than for Serbia Advancing Gay Rights

Ana Brnabić; Photo: Tanjug/Tanja Valić
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has nominated Ana Brnabić as the country’s next Prime Minister. Brnabić, whose appointment is now largely a formality, will be Serbia’s first female and openly gay Prime Minister. Koen Slootmaeckers argues that while many observers outside the country have portrayed the appointment as a step forward for LGBT rights in Serbia, the decision says far more about Vučić’s attempts to advance the country’s EU accession process.
As the BBC put it, “Just a few years ago, the appointment would have been unthinkable. But EU hopeful Serbia can present it as proof of increasing tolerance.” And although the BBC remained cautious in its interpretation of the political meaning of the appointment, its local correspondent, Guy De Launey, argued that the symbolism of Brnabić’s appointment carries real weight. Whilst the EU has not yet formally commented on the developments, one can anticipate Serbia will be commended for their progress on LGBT rights. Indeed, already on Friday, the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, shared the news on its Facebook page as “Wonderful news from Serbia”. However, should we really consider the appointment as proof of the progress made in Serbia? When the appointment is placed in its full context, the answer is arguably no.The news that Serbia is set to have its first openly gay and female Prime Minister has generated a response from the global LGBT community and Western media that can best be described as ecstatic. As the news developed on the evening of 15 June, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were overwhelmed with people congratulating Serbia for this ‘historic’ appointment: a double first for the county. Many media outlets noted that given less than a decade ago the 2010 Pride parade in Serbia was marred by riots, the appointment of Ana Brnabić demonstrates remarkable progress for the country.
Tactical Europeanisation
I would not wish to claim that the appointment of an openly LGBT person as Prime Minister has no positive implications for LGBT people in Serbia. One can optimistically imagine, for instance, that it sends a message to LGBT people that they can make it professionally in Serbian society even if they are open about their sexuality. But it is important to be cautious with such interpretations, particularly if we are to take these political developments as proof of Serbia’s progress from a country where less than a decade ago LGBT people were beaten on the streets while organizing a pride parade.
Indeed, rather than taking this development at face value and considering it as a sign of Serbia’s progress in LGBT rights, the appointment of Brnabić is a continuation of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić’s politics of tactical Europeanisation. Under this approach, LGBT issues are used to speak to the EU’s self-proclaimed LGBT-friendly identity without engaging with LGBT issues domestically.
In the past, and again with the appointment of Brnabić, international observers have often responded to small improvements in LGBT rights with great enthusiasm, as if every small step taken in the Serbian context towards the protection of LGBT people represents a major shift in the country – moving from backwards and homophobic to modern and LGBT friendly. Such a superficial reading not only reifies a problematic East-West dichotomy but more importantly, it hides the underlying politics in which LGBT rights have been instrumentalised by the Serbian government to guarantee and advance Serbia’s progress in the EU accession process.
Indeed, the latest developments are merely a continuation of existing practices in Serbian politics regarding LGBT issues. My research on LGBT rights in Serbia has shown that advancements in the protection of LGBT rights are to be read against the context of Serbia’s EU accession process, as ‘homonationalist’ moves to demonstrate Europeanness without engaging with the lived experiences of LGBT people in Serbia.
The tactical use of LGBT rights becomes even more visible when one considers the Pride Parade events. When Pride reappeared in Belgrade in 2014, this was done with an eye on the political capital the government would gain by successfully protecting such events (as shown here and here). The return of Belgrade Pride is best understood as what can be labeled ‘tactical Europeanisation’, i.e. an act of compliance to communicate to the EU a readiness to Europeanise by aligning oneself with certain ‘European norms’. International observers have treated Pride as a litmus test for Europeanness and the protection of the 2014 and subsequent Belgrade Prides were aimed largely at advancing the EU accession process.For example, consider the anti-discrimination legislation which was adopted in 200as part of the EU visa liberalization process. 
Despite being in place for almost a decade, the implementation of the law remains minimal. Here, the lack of political engagement and will to stop the discrimination of LGBT people is a significant barrier to the implementation. My research has shown that the institutions which are responsible for protecting citizens from discrimination (the ombudsman and the commissioner for the protection of equality) often face indirect political pressure to speak out on the topic, but not to pursue politically sensitive cases. The country’s anti-discrimination strategy (2013) and action plan (2014) remain under-implemented and little is being done to improve court practices regarding anti-discrimination cases or to improve treatment of LGBT victims by police officers. Tackling the roots of hate crimes and discrimination remains a topic that is low on the political agenda.
This being the case, the uncritical engagement of international observers with Serbian LGBT politics has done a great deal of harm. While Serbia was widely commended by international observers for holding Pride events, the Pride parade itself has been ‘co-opted’ by the state, making it a ritual march void of local LGBT politics. Indeed, Vučić – who described Pride as a leisurely walk – used the event to emphasize the state’s (or his) power and sovereignty. The militarized nature of the Pride parade transformed it into a ‘Ghost Pride’, i.e. a state tolerated manifestation of Pride which takes place in a militarized ‘transparent closet’ that keeps LGBT people’s visibility strategies invisible and outside the public sphere.
A real step forward?
The appointment of Brnabić represents a similar instrumentalisation of LGBT issues to distract international observers from what is actually happening. Several elements of the recent developments suggest that the new PM might not have a significant impact on LGBT lives in Serbia. First, there is the fact that although Brnabić is appointed as Prime Minister, Vučić reportedly clarified that she would only lead the technical working of the government, while the current acting Prime Minister Ivica Dačić – known for his homophobic statements – is set to oversee the political workings of the new cabinet. Such a division of labor makes it relatively unlikely that the government will take tangible actions to improve LGBT people’s lived experiences. In fact, it is quite likely that Brnabić will become a shield for EU criticism on Serbia’s LGBT record. And in all likelihood, the EU will fall for it, as for how can one perceive a country with a gay Prime Minister to be homophobic?
Aside from the international politics underlying the appointment, there is little hope that the new Prime Minister will improve the lives of LGBT people in Serbia. Although she may be a suitable role model for the country’s LGBT population, it is doubtful whether she will have a significant impact on wider attitudes towards LGBT people. In fact, the comments made on Brnabić’s sexual orientation, both by herself and Vučić, might actually reinforce the commonly held opinion that any discussion of sexual orientation should be kept “within four walls”.
Consider, for example, the statements made when Brnabić was first appointed as a minister last year. At the time, Vučić said that he was only interested in her results and that “her personal choices” do not interest him. Similarly, she commented on the commotion around here sexuality by saying: “Hopefully this will blow over in three or four days, and then I won’t be known as the gay minister.” Although I do not want to claim that Brnabić’s sexual orientation should be made the central point of discussion, the constant displacement of it to the private sphere does not help in overcoming the stigma that exists in Serbia around LGBT issues.
Against this background, the appointment of Brnabić should be welcomed with some healthy skepticism and should not be taken as more than it is. It is a politically symbolic appointment, but we should wait for concrete achievements on the ground before we conclude that Serbia has made progress in protecting LGBT people. I would urge those observing Serbia from a distance (also those within the European institutions) to listen more closely to individuals who have been engaged in analyzing Serbia’s politics in greater detail. Indeed, many of those with greater proximity to the topic have argued that appointing Brnabić not only contributes to the further consolidation of Vučić’s semi-authoritarian power but also serves as a smoke screen to divert attention away from the increasing democratic backsliding within the country. Hopefully, the coming months and years will prove this skepticism wrong, but it is about time international observers realize that symbolic politics are just that, symbolic
Article by  Koen Slootmaeckers, originally published at LSE's EUROPP Blog. The original article can be found here.

June 16, 2017

Serbia Will Be Having its First Gay Prime Minister


The president of Serbia has nominated a gay woman to be his prime minister in a double first for the deeply conservative Balkan state.
Ana Brnabic was chosen by the new President, Aleksandar Vucic. Her approval by parliament will be largely a formality, as his party and its allies hold an overwhelming majority.
Just a few years ago, the appointment would have been unthinkable.
But EU hopeful Serbia can present it as proof of increasing tolerance. 
Ms. Brnabic is not only Serbia's first openly gay PM, but also the first woman in that post.
"I believe that Brnabic has professional and personal qualities to be prime minister," Mr Vucic told reporters, "and that along with other ministers she will work on improvement and progress of our Serbia."
He made no mention of her sexuality.

Evidence of profound change in attitudes to homosexuality?

The symbolism of the appointment is real, but it comes against a backdrop of ingrained and sustained antipathy towards homosexuality. It may be more of a harbinger of change than evidence that change has already occurred.
Police research in 2015 found that almost half its officers agreed with the statement "homosexuality is an illness that should be treated", reports the BBC's Guy De Launey in Belgrade. 
Even the leader of one of the smaller parties in the president's coalition, Dragan Markovic Palma of Unified Serbia, said Ms. Brnabic was "not my prime minister".
He was recently quoted as saying that the new prime minister "should be a family man who knows what children are".

So what do these hostile attitudes mean in practice?

They mean gay people face discrimination and threats to their physical safety. Belgrade's Gay Pride march was banned for three years in succession on grounds of public safety after far-right protesters attacked the event in 2010.
It was revived in 2014 amid huge security, including special forces and armored cars.
But since then, civil society organizations have reported that some individuals taking part have lost jobs as a result.
A banner referring to the upcoming gay pride parade is displayed amongst supporters of Partizan Belgrade FC, 17 September 2009.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionHostility to the 2010 gay pride march in Belgrade led to violence, after which the event was canceled for several years
An anti-gay Serb protester holds an Orthodox icon in front of riot police in the centre of Belgrade during the country's second ever Gay Pride march on 10 October 2010Image copyrightAFP
Image captionAdvances have been made to protect gay people under Serbian law, but homophobia remains rife

Why is Serbia socially conservative?

It is in the region as a whole, and then there is the influence of the Church - whether Orthodox in Serbia or Catholic in Croatia, our correspondent explains.
Church-affiliated campaigners in Croatia forced a referendum in 2013 which rejected same-sex marriage. A 2015 referendum in Slovenia failed in its bid to legalize same-sex marriage.
Far-right parties, which represent a small minority of people in Serbia, have suggested the new prime minister was not a home-grown choice but "the choice of the West".

That's an allusion to Serbia's EU ambitions. Are they right?

That's the cynical interpretation - that President Aleksandar Vucic is using Ms Brnabic's nomination to demonstrate Serbia's adoption of EU values in the hope that Brussels will overlook other shortcomings. 
But symbolism may carry weight, in this case, our correspondent says, and lead people to reassess their attitudes towards sexual orientation.
Another element is that Mr. Vucic may see Ms. Brnabic as a safe choice for prime minister - competent but without a party base - who will not be a threat to his own power.

What about Ms. Brnabic's qualifications for the role?

She joined the government last year, serving as the minister for public administration - one of the least enviable jobs in the government. 
Serbia's public sector includes many Yugoslav-era businesses, some in desperate straits, as well as a sizeable civil service. In office for less than a year, she was introducing an e-governance system designed to cut down on red tape and was behind the introduction of IT as a mandatory subject in schools, our correspondent says.
As a moderniser, she does seem well placed to continue the job of implementing the reforms needed for Serbia to gain accession to the EU - such as improving relations with Kosovo, reforming the judiciary, and promoting the rights of minorities - including the LGBT population. 

What does Ms. Brnabic say?

Since joining the government last year, Ms. Brnabic has tried to place the focus on her qualifications rather than her sexual orientation, asking: "Why does it matter?"
On accepting the nomination to become prime minister, she said she wanted to serve her country and would be working on goals "that are bigger and more important than all of us individually".
Nonetheless, her appointment was welcomed by Belgrade Pride organizer Goran Miletic, who told the Guardian that it "can only be a positive message". 
Ms. Brnabic will join a small number of gay prime ministers to lead governments in Europe, including Leo Varadkar in the Republic of Ireland and Xavier Bettel in Luxembourg.

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