SERBIA: Stigmatisation Of Human Rights Defender Ms. Aida Corovic

Monday, February 21, 2011
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Human Rights

On 14 February 2011, the Serbian daily newspaper Danas published an article stigmatising human rights defender Ms Aida Ćorović. Aida Ćorović is a well known human rights figure in Sandzak and director of the citizens' organisation “Urban-In”. She works in support of women's rights and secularism in State institutions and against religious fundamentalism.

The article published by the daily Danas on 14 February, was titled Aida Corovic with Ravnogorci and Ljajic and was signed by Aida Rasljanin on behalf of the Muslim Youth Club of the Islamic community in Serbia.

The article contained open threats and insults of a personal nature (such as stating that Aida Ćorović is “frustrated by failures in her personal 'gender life'”). It also accused her of preparing the ground for a new genocide over Bosniaks and of being paid to “spit on the people”. Furthermore, the article claims that Aida Ćorović's activities will have negative consequences for Serbia's inter-ethnic relations.

A joint statement condemning the article was issued by a number of Serbian human rights organisations, which demanded an apology to Danas for publishing an article that borders hate speech. The statement also referred to previous instances of stigmatisation of human rights defenders in Sandzak by political and religious leaders, including in particular through the official media of the Islamic community in Serbia “Voice of Islam”. On 17 February 2011, the President of Serbia intervened condemning the use of “hate speech”.