War Veterans Cancel ’Shame Parade’

The Serbian war veteran association has canceled its “Shame Parade“, saying they do not want to be manipluated by the politicans.When Serbia’s LGBT community announced that it would hold its annual ‘Pride Parade’ on October 6, the Serbian war veterans said that they wanted to take advantage of the media attention and organize their own, parallel ‘Shame Parade’ to show “society and the world the shameful conditions they live in”.

On Wednesday, however, the war veterans decided to drop their plans, and cancel their march, citing fears that the even might be manipulated by political groups.

“We cancelled our parade to avoid the political exploitation of the war veterans’ problems,” said the Associations of War Veterans’ statement.

The veterans were careful to point out that their gathering was not anti-gay, and that they had chosen the same day only because both the international and the Serbian media would be focused on Belgrade’s Pride Parade.

The exact number of war veterans in Serbia is unknown. The Ministry of Defence says that around 500,000 people are considered veterans. But some war veterans groups put that number much higher, at over 700,000.

Serbia remains the only country in the region that does not have a law that regulates the rights of war veterans. The majority of the veterans say that they feel forgotten by both the state and society.

On Thursday, during his official visit to Belgrade, the president of the European Court of Human Rights, Nicolas Braca, said that Serbia was among the most frequently sued countries on human rights issues. 9,500 motions, concerning Serbia, had been submitted to the court.

“Some of these motions relate to the treatment of its former soldiers, and the discriminatory policy Serbia has pursued when it comes to financial support,” Braca said.

In 2009, Serbia only gave financial support to those war veterans who very extremely poor. The remaining veterans took their case to the European Court for Human Rights, which ruled in July that Serbia needs to pay overdue wages to its former fighters.

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