On the occasion of 24 March, the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and the Dignity of Victims, the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) calls on the authorities to acknowledge the consequences of inadequate dealing with the past in Montenegrin society and accordingly launch a systemic and institutional debate on gross human rights violations during the XX century.
The right to the truth – which is both an individual and collective right – is necessary not only for victims of human rights violation but also for society as a whole. The revelation of truth about human rights violation in the past helps prevention of human rights violation in the future, but also creates mechanisms which can timely identify social symptoms which precede radicalization and pave the way for violence. Unfortunately, no significant progress has been made in the past 25 years in Montenegro in investigating and prosecuting, and therefore neither in confrontation with the gross human rights violations from the recent past.
It is dangerous to underestimate the consequences if, as so far, the debate and education process is left to the non-institutional sources and structures within the society.
Also, we witness the absence of social consensus about gross human rights violations from our recent past again leads to tense political debates and represents a burden that further complicates democratization and europeanization of Montenegrin society. The reality is that a significant part of the public, especially the young generation, creates views on controversial aspects of our past from unscientific sources, thus intensifying polarization of the society.
CCE calls on the authorities to make an effort to determine science-based facts on gross human rights violations during the XX century. It is dangerous to underestimate far-reaching consequences if, as before, the debate and educational process of these issues are left to the non-institutional sources and structures in society.
We also call on the representatives of the media, civil society and religious communities to pay more attention to interpretations of the mass human rights violations. One-sided interpretations and manipulations of numbers of victims do not lead to the determination of truth nor reconciliation. These acts do not respect the dignity of the victims but abuse the memory of them for daily political purposes, which is inadmissible.
As the radical elements of the division of Montenegrin society have been widely noted, CCE expresses hope that scientific consensus on facts of mass human rights violations can be the first step to the renewal of constructive dialogue.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and the Dignity of Victims. The date was chosen because on 24 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador, well known human rights defender, was assassinated, after denouncing violations of human rights of the most marginalised population, and defending principles of protection of human dignity and right to life, and strong opposing to all forms of violence. The purpose of commemorating this day is to indicate to the respect and memory of the victims of severe and systematic human rights violations and to promote the significance of the right to truth and justice.
Miloš Vukanović, Advisor