Hope on the Balkans Kosov@ Crisis
Increasing ethnic tensions and violations of human rights in Serbia and Montenegro
Vienna, 16 June 1999. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and its affiliates in Serbia and Montenegro warned today that the rights of citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are being increasingly threatened in the aftermath of the war over Kosovo, as proponents of radical nationalism identify new enemies among ethnic groups in FRY and restrict the rights of all citizens.
According to reports received by the IHF, hostility to persons of Hungarian, Czech, Croat, Romanian origin as well as Albanians, which increased dramatically during the NATO campaign, is becoming even more pronounced.
The dissemination of minority newspapers is shrinking dramatically. State television programs in Hungarian and other minority languages have not been restored along with other programs.
ěThe most pernicious human rights violations in Serbia affect not only minorities but also the majority population,î according to Sonja Biserko, President of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia.
ěPress restrictions and hate-propaganda by the state media are keeping the Serbian people in prison from an intellectual point of view. In this atmosphere of recrimination and denial, thereís little possibility for positive social change.î
Martial law is a still in effect. Anyone expressing views critical of the government risks immediate imprisonment for six months.
In Montenegro, army mobilizations aimed at political dissidents continue with no explanation in view of the end of armed hostilities in Kosovo.
These and other war-time laws could be made into permanent measures, according to local human rights activists.
The IHF is deeply concerned about the lack of basic rights and freedoms of citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, who are isolated from the international processes that support the protection of human rights, and subjugated to a government insensitive to international pressures to comply with human rights standards.
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