Serbien: Sonja Biserko

In all my activities I have been led by my urge to uphold humanity and freedom in the manmade wasteland of the Balkans. In my struggle I have been sustained by my firm belief that it is possible.

— Sonja Biserko

In 1994, Sonja Biserko set up the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia in the wake of the break-up of former Yugoslavia. War was raging and two million people were on the run in the former country. She organized the third international conference on the International Tribunal and War Crimes Project in Brussels and mobilized a lobby group for the prosecution of war criminals. With the Civic Link from Slovenia, she arranged a training course for lawyers to prepare them to argue their case before the War Crimes Tribunal. She continues to work in defense of human rights in the Balkans.

Sonja Biserko’s engagement with the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia became a defining moment of her life, at a time of unprecedented political darkness and depression in Serbia and the region. The urgent need for action to uphold basic human dignity in a politically and morally devastated country challenged her then, and continues to do so today. She has dedicated her whole being to meet this challenge. The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights has been the most active, and, for much of the time, one of few institutional bodies for the defense and protection of human rights in Serbia. It has been the voice of truth and sanity in a deeply troubled society, abused by a repressive and militant regime. And it has been the focus of Sonja's life and work since 1994. The last ten years of Sonja Biserko’s life have been the first ten years in the history of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. She has lived to make the Helsinki Committee live up to its aims, in the interest of the people in Serbia and the region. She is proud of the Helsinki Committee’s achievements, of their strong position, role, and respect among refugees, minorities, war crime victims, but also in the wider public in Serbia and abroad. Her activities have given her, both in the successes and disappointments, a new moral and professional strength, and have deepened her commitment and resolve. They have strengthened her in the belief that one can make a difference, that she can make a difference, that indeed one has to try to make a difference, and that indeed she has to make a difference in the lives of her fellow human beings who have been or are still victimized by bad governance and lack of respect for our common basic humanity.

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia