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11. December 2013.

Vranje – As part of the “We-Here” campaign, December 10, which is the International Human Rights Day, was marked yesterday in Vranje by a series of activities. The activity of setting up info-desks with information about the ways in which the citizens could exercise and protect their rights began with a press conference at the Centre for the Development of Local Social Care Services.

At the conference, Maja Mitic, Ombudsman of the city of Vranje, Gordana Ristic, a representative of “Generator” and Stanka Milosevic, an educator of the Center for the Provision of Local Social Care Services addressed the media and representatives of the local institutions.  

The Local Ombudswoman spoke about the importance of respect for minority rights, as well as about the protection mechanisms, while Stanka Milosevic talked about the importance of inter-sector cooperation in the field of protection of minorities. Gordana Ristic presented the results of a mini-survey of the campaign, "We - Here", which was recently conducted among secondary school students in Pcinj district, and about their attitudes towards minority or discriminated groups. The results of the survey indicate that there is a need in South Serbia for more extensive activities involving all the inclusion-related stakeholders that would encourage their cooperation for the purpose of improving awareness about the importance of inclusion of minority groups. The survey includes the city of Vranje and the municipalities of Vladicin Han, Bujanovac and Presevo. In the total sample of 27 study participants, there were 18 boys and nine girls, out of whom 21 were Serbs and six were ethnic Albanians. The views of members of the focus group had to do with the treatment of minority or discriminated groups in society, such as members of other ethnic groups, religions, sexual orientations, persons with disabilities and women.

The young generally agree with the statement that all people who live in the same country should enjoy the same rights. However, the attitude towards minorities and the definition of the majority is specific, since the majority at the state level differs from the majority at the local level, as in the case of Bujanovac and Presevo, where ethnic Albanians make up the majority population.  

So the young in Vranje and Vladicin Han primarily consider Roma a national minority, noting their socio-cultural isolation, and only then do they mention the Albanians, about whom there were no negative opinions. Most young people didn’t express hostility, and the respondents agreed with the fact that homosexuality wasn’t a disease, as well as with the fact that it was a minority group towards which the most negative attitudes were expressed and which lacked understanding. Although the young agree that men and women can equally well perform certain tasks, the prevailing pattern of gender roles was observed among the evaluated persons.   All the respondents agreed that the society, institutions and individuals should do more to facilitate the life of persons with disabilities and provide  working conditions to them. 

Info desks with the promotional materials of state institutions (the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, the Ombudsman), non-governmental organizations (the Helpline for Victims of Domestic Violence, the Free Legal Aid) and local institutions working with minority groups (the police, the Office for Roma Issues) will be placed at the Centre for Social Welfare, Center for the Provision of Local Social Services, the Health Center, the Chemistry and Technology School, the Ombudsman’s Office of the city of Vranje, the Service Center, the Office for Roma Issues and the administration building of the “Our Child” kindergarten.  

The International Human Rights Day was marked by street activities in the pedestrian zone, which were undertaken in cooperation with the Association of Disabled Students from Belgrade. Owing to the street activities, male and female citizens of Vranje had the opportunity to go through the experience of everyday life of people with disabilities.

The activity of marking the International Human Rights Day is implemented in cooperation with the local team of professionals from the institutions and organizations that work with minorities in Vranje, with the support of the Association of Disabled Students from Belgrade.

The "We - Here" campaign is carried out as part of the "Equalize Me"  project , which is implemented  by “Generator” and funded by the EU Delegation to Serbia, under the EIDHR program.

Source: Jugpress and Coordination Body