On the occasion of the statement of representatives of state bodies in the village of Jabuka there are no violation of human rights, representatives of eight nongovernmental organizations, coalitions, artists and activists visited the village in order to ensure how residents live 50 days after the tragic events.
After the murder of Dejan S. (17), a boy of Serbian nationality, which has been commited by, B. J. Roma boy, in Jabuka began "protest walks," which grew in to violence and the spreading of racial hatred against Roma, which lasted two days uninterruptedly. The reaction of the police, municipal authorities and other state authorities came only three days since the beginning of the attack on the Roma inhabitants and the Methodist church. After the strong reaction of the police, the attacks have stopped. Police are now occasionally attending the Roma residents who, due to frequent messages of hate and are still fearfull on the night in and night out to come out of their houses. According to locals, the police advised them not to leave the house because it could "provoke others," which specifically refers to the celebration of St. Elias, which will be marked in the center of the village of August 2nd 2010. At the same time, Roma in Jabuka do not feel safe even during the day because of frequent call outs to them by other residents and graffiti that occasionally appear in the village.
According to the Roma population of Jabuka, they now spend most evenings together in their homes which was not the case, and because of fear are planning to build more fences in front of their homes. Some of them believe that the situation will not improve and think about selling houses and leaving the village. One of the biggest problems is the fear of the Roma from leaving their children in local schools. From the day of the murder, Roma children did not go to school, and there is concern that children not pass the correctional exams. The special concern is for children who will start in September the first grade. Non-roma citizens of Jabuka while visiting have mostly denied the problems and justified the attacks on Rome as "a normal emotional reaction." John Lazarevski, member of the local community Jabuka has for the problems that Rome face, accused human rights groups, which according to him "roam the village and disrupt the excellent neighborly relations."
After the insight into the state on the field, it is the fact that the freedom movement, the right to security and the right to education is limited to citizens of Roma ethnicity, and that there is a big dose of fear, while the reaction of police and other authorities is inadequate and does not lead to full respect of the constitutionally guaranteed rights. Some activities, such as removing graffiti that are calling for the killing of the Roma is one of the positive events that were observed in the village. Also, a great willingness of members of the Roma population to resume normal life with their neighbors and compassion for the family of the murdered boy, give us hope that a peaceful solution to this conflict is still possible if all actors are involved in the attempt to solve the problem.
Because of everything that has been observed, non-governmental organizations that have visited the village Jabuka expect from state to demonstrate the readiness of the concrete actions to the crisis, it would demonstrate that the system of protection of minority rights is not just a principle that is difficult to achieve in Serbia. Specific measures to improve the situation in the village near Pancevo, which we ask from authorities:
- Development and implementation of long-term plan for solving the issues of security, freedom of movement and the right to education of the Roma minority in Jabuka,
- Interviews with the most disadvantaged Roma families, not only with the representatives of the Roma community in the form of regular contacts, meetings and listing of problems.
- In accordance with the recently adopted Law on Elementary Education introducing pedagogical assistants for Roma pupils that would enable the individual and focused work with Roma children in Jabuka.
- Launch of a campaign in Jabuka so that all Roma children are included in the education system from pre-school, to high-school.
- Education of police officers on the delicate situation with the Roma population.
- Starting the process of mediation between the divided communities that would include, but are not limited to opening a dialogue within which the larger population of Jabuka that is majority of Serbian community, especially the young could hear the conciliatory tones coming from the Roma community, and compassion of Roma with the family of the murdered boy.
- Opening a dialogue both with Serbian majority, and the Roma community on other issues in village Jabuka, economic development and prospects.
As October 2009. Was established and the Council of the Serbian Government for National Minorities, which brings together all stakeholders who can contribute to solving specific problems that face this environment, we expect an adequate response of the body on this situation that unfortunately is not yet peaceful.
Village Jabuka was visited by the representatives of following organizations: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights - YUCOM, Women in Black, Praxis, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, Banat Roma Network, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Women's Fund "Reconstruction" and the Coalition against discrimination consisting of Center for Advanced Legal Studies, Civil Rights Defenders, LABRIS - organization for lesbian human rights, Anti-trafficking center, Network Committee for Human Rights (CHRIS network), the Association of Students with Disabilities, Inclusion Initiative "Velik i Mali" and Gayten LGBT, and their findings and recommendations are supported by the Civic Initiative and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia.