Svetlana Slapsak has promoted freedom of expression and human rights since the 1960s. She initiated a petition to ban the death penalty in 1983, the first to be published in the Yugoslav media. She also initiated a series of activities to support political detainees. With the growth of aggressive nationalism in the Yugoslav republics in the 1980s, she focused on promoting peace in her country. When the war began, Svetlana fled to Ljubljana. There, she organized a women’s peace group and support for war refugees. She continues to work for a culture of peace throughout former Yugoslavia.
When war broke out in Croatia, Svetlana Slapsak organized a peace group for women, “Silence Kills, Let us Speak for Peace,” from her exile in Ljubljana. For several months, the group held candlelight vigils, signed petitions, and collected contributions in Ljubljana’s central park for all of Yugoslavia’s war victims. The group’s actions helped create an atmosphere of solidarity for the victims of war and the influx of refugees in 1992. Many refugees found shelter with Svetlana and her husband. Born to ethnic Serb parents, she has always promoted ideas of multiculturalism. As president of the Writers’ Association of Serbia’s Committee for the Freedom of Expression, she initiated a series of activities to support political detainees. With the growth of aggressive nationalism in the Yugoslav republics in the 1980s, she focused on promoting peace in her country. In 1988 and 1989, Svetlana extensively traveled throughout Yugoslavia lecturing about the impending war and the possibilities for peace. She organized several initiatives aimed at opposing the threat of war. When the war began, Svetlana fled to Ljubljana. After being refused Slovenian citizenship on the grounds of “national security” twice, she received support from the diplomatic community and was finally granted citizenship. She continued her political activism throughout the war in Yugoslavia, working with victims and promoting peace. She also addressed international organizations and funding bodies, coordinated assistance for people in distress, established a women’s support group for information and aid. Svetlana organized intellectuals against nationalism, and persistently criticized the role of nationalist intellectuals, who provided the political elite with a justification for war. As a writer and teacher at the graduate school level, she continues to promote a culture of peace.
Ljubljana Graduate School of Humanities Balkan Women Against War