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Civic Groups, Demonstrations, Political interventions
Demonstrations in Vienna, June 1993
In June 1993, the UN convened the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. For 12 days, the conference brought together 6.000 government representatives and human rights activists from all over the world, as well as 1.000 journalists. Bosnian refugees, the Society for Threatened Peoples, the women’s association “Biser” and other NGOs used this opportunity to organize demonstrations, protesting against the human rights violations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the international community’s passivity. “In Vienna they talk, in Bosnia they die”: this is how one newspaper summarized the situation. The demonstrators also set up a symbolic concentration camp near the conference building.
The Verona Forum for peace and reconciliation in former Yugoslavia also decided to organize a meeting on the eve of the UN World Conference, with over 150 participants from former Yugoslavia and other European countries, in order to make their voice heard and address an appeal to the UN. Only some activists from Bosnia and Herzegovina were able to attend, for example Ibrahim Spahic from the International Peace Centre as other representatives of non-nationalist political parties and of cultural organizations were not able to leave besieged Sarajevo. In their final declaration, the participants stated: “We, the members of the Verona Forum, peace activists, many of whom have been risking our positions, our jobs and our lives in opposing the war, the use of force and military solutions, at this moment have been compelled to realize that choice in Bosnia-Herzegovina is not any more between use of force or peaceful settlement. Force prevailed against our efforts. The present dilemma is between use of organized force, or continued spreading of a chaotic force which has lost all moral boundaries.”