Serbian National Movement “Naši” lying and deceiving the public; GSA to file a lawsuit

Belgrade, 21.01.2013.

Gay Straight Alliance (GSA; Alliance) wishes to announce that, during an inflammatory campaign in the past couple of months, the far-right organisation Serbian National Movement “Naši” (SNP Naši; Naši means „Ours“ in English) has stated a lot of shameless lies about GSA and its work, by which SNP Naši conciously and in the crudest way tried to deceive the Serbian and international public. After seeing everything that SNP Naši has claimed through numerous press releases and statements about GSA and other organisations and media that are on their so-called black list, which they published on their website and other media, and after consulting with its litigation team Alliance has decided to file criminal charges against responsible individuals in SNP Naši for false reporting and other acts from the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia which have caused huge damage to Alliance. Also, in later court proceedings, in addition to criminal charges GSA intends to file a compensation claim lawsuit in the amount of one million dinars for falsehoods told about GSA’s work by SNP Naši.

SNP-Nasi-posters-foreign-agentsSince 11 November 2012, SNP Naši has been conducting a public campaign against certain organizations, media and individuals by, first of all, creating and promoting “black lists” which include a number of Serbian non-governmental organizations, mostly those that fight for human rights, including GSA, as well as several different printed and electronic media. Creating the atmosphere of lynch, through its statements and releases, SNP Naši has constantly been accusing all organizations and media on the “black lists” that they are acting against the Serbian Constitution and Serbian laws, that they are advocating the fragmentation of Serbian territory, i.e. the independence of Kosovo, that they are involved in organized crime, that they are foreign agents financed from American funds, involved in espionage and representing pro-American interests, and so on. As “crucial evidence” that these organizations and media are foreign agents, SNP Naši issued a statement on 7 December 2012 entitled “All organizations and media from the black lists are financed by American Government through NED foundation directed by the CIA and the White House”, in which – as the title states – they claimed that all organizations and media from the black lists have one common sponsor, the NED foundation (National Endowment for Democracy), i.e. the USAID program and the US Government. The campaign culminated on 13 January 2013, when the activists of SNP Naši affix on public spaces in several Serbian cities posters which contained names of organizations and media from the already mentioned “black lists” and which had “foreign agents” written in large prominent red letters.

Gay Straight Alliance absolutely dismisses all stated false claims by SNP Naši and wishes to emphasize the following points:

  • Unlike SNP Naši, GSA is lawfully registered in the Serbian Business Registers Agency (APR) and regularly submits all necessary financial and other reports to the state in accordance with law. We assume that APR and pertinent institutions would not allow GSA to be registered and active if the aims of GSA’s activities were against the Constitution as SNP Naši claim. In addition, the claim that we are acting against Serbian laws is complete nonsense, because most of Alliance’s activities are actually directed at improving the implementation of existing laws. As regards the organized crime accusation, which is also completely false, GSA will gladly cooperate with the Prosecutor’s Office and institutions regarding this and other lawsuits against SNP Naši by giving them access to all necessary financial and other documents to prove the nonsensical nature of such accusations;
  • GSA has never, since its inception, had any sort of policy regarding Kosovo, and there is no official statement or attitude of GSA that is related to the status of Kosovo or similar topics. GSA gathers people of different political affiliations, who – in accordance with the Statute and other documents of the organization – within GSA deal exclusively with promotion and protection of human rights of Serbian citizens, especially human rights of LGBT people, as well as the reduction of violence and discrimination. We have always kept within those bounds, which can easily be checked by looking at our website, and we really cannot see how the supposed involvement of GSA in the theme of the Kosovo status or the supposed joining of GSA to those who publicly consider the independence of Kosovo as a “done deal” would contribute in any way to the improvement of status of LGBT people in Serbia. Naturally, as citizens of this country we have our personal opinions about Kosovo and many other socio-political issues, but as an organization we simply do not deal with issues outside of those defined by our Statute. That is why it is unbelievable that SNP Naši accuse us of leading a “political propaganda campaign for territorial fragmentation of Serbia, such as the demand that Serbia acknowledge the independence of the false state of ‘Kosovo’“ when, as has already been mentioned, there is not a single position articulated by GSA which is related to this topic;
  • Naturally, GSA does not think that being financed by NED or any other foundation automatically means that somebody is a foreign agent, but since this is the “logic” of SNP Naši and their primary criterion for such accusations, GSA would like to emphasize that since its inception it has never been financed by NED as SNP Naši claim, it has never asked for funds from this foundation, nor has it established contacts or talked with its representatives concerning financing and cooperation. Furthermore, neither USAID or the US Government have ever financed Alliance, and so the claims of SNP Naši are completely false. Of course, even though we are not financed by them, GSA has established good cooperation with the American embassy in GSA’s field of work, as well as with many other embassies, international organizations and LGBT organizations worldwide, and we intend to continue this cooperation as we feel that it can be useful to the society as a whole.
  • GSA is financed from membership fee and from mainly the same sources as the republic of Serbia, i.e. from EU funds, the member-states’ funds, and similar. In addition, GSA has received financial funds from the Budget of the Republic of Serbia for specific projects. GSA applies regularly for projects, and in the same way as other organizations has them approved or rejected. Information on donors to GSA is transparent and can be found on the website, and GSA since its inception has never received funds from any organization, domestic or foreign, for anything other than the projects it applied with. Furthermore, the donors, whether domestic or foreign, have never tried to influence GSA’s policies in any way, but have considered them exclusively a matter of internal bodies of GSA. On the other hand, it would be very interesting to discover what are the sources of financing of SNP Naši since as a non-registered organization they are not subject to any control. It is also important to mention that GSA conducts a lot of its activities with minimal funds or without any financial funds, on a volunteering basis. That is why we think that it is necessary to stop with the myths present in Serbian public for years that non-governmental organizations have a “turnover” of incredible amounts, because that is simply not true and the people active within GSA fully share the same economic “fate” of all other citizens of Serbia.

For the lies that they have stated about GSA, and we believe about other organizations and media as well, SNP Naši have received a wide media coverage, which was not the case with their previous activities. The damage done to Gay Straight Alliance in an attempt to destroy its reputation is therefore enormous and so GSA will seek protection in the court.

One of the most serious accusations, and one which is treated as such in all democratic countries, is the accusation of being a “foreign agent”. This easily labeling and the accusation “backed” by a bunch of falsehoods without any arguments by SNP Naši at the account of GSA, does not and will not be tolerated by Alliance and we think that such a lie cannot pass without consequences. First of all, because GSA gathers honest and uncorrupted people who love their country, and because the entire work of GSA is dedicated to strengthening Serbian institutions and building a democratic country with a responsible society which is governed by the principle of equal opportunities for all its citizens and which is respected everywhere in the world.

Since GSA does not have the funds to print posters which would negate false accusations at our account, and since we would never commit the criminal act of burning anybody’s flag in order to attract media attention, we are most kindly asking the media to publish this statement in full and we express our gratitude to them in advance.

GSA Info Center