Attacks on the critically oriented NGO sector are attacks on democratic values

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) condemns the attacks that took place in the TV show Naglas on the public broadcaster RTCG, where Ivana Vujović and the NGO Juventas, which she leads, were targeted by Milutin Đukanović, the President of the Board of Directors of Electrical Power Company of Montenegro (EPCG) and a representative of the New Serbian Democracy (NOVA) party.

CCE points out that misogynistic attacks on women who are recognized for their civic expression and activism are attacks on the core democratic values and discourage other women’s participation in social processes. Montenegrin society can only progress successfully if every citizen is free to express their opinion regardless of gender, sex, or any other affiliation while respecting the rights of others. The increasing misogyny is concerning because it indicates a departure from the path that makes society more equal.

Unfortunately, this attack is also a continuation of the general arrogant attitude of the authorities, which, both in terms of breadth and depth, targets the critically oriented civil sector, belittle and insult activists, and launches smear campaigns to silence free-thinking organizations and individuals.

Limiting the space for the civil sector which has a critical voice also means limiting Democratization and Europeanization. CCE reminds that it is precisely the reactions of such civil society that unmask the illusion of so-called changes while we witness the aggressive abuse of power and manipulation at all levels, accompanied by the stoking of ethnic and religious tensions to gain cheap political points and preserve positions and privileges.

CCE appeals to all actors on the socio-political scene, especially decision-makers at all levels, to be aware of the responsibility of the positions they hold and to align their behaviour with the common good. This includes a willingness to listen to criticism and consider different perspectives on the processes, and important issues facing society, as only through a respectful and inclusive approach can decisions be made that are in the public interest.

Petar Đukanović, Programme Director