The International Humanist and Ethical Union deplores the intense inter-communal hatred and warfare that have been unleashed in the former states of Yugoslavia. We grieve at the senseless violence and bloodshed and the murder, rape and pillage of helpless women, men and children.
We wish to point out that much of the destructive hatred among Serbs, Croats and Bosnians has its roots in religious chauvinism, as three major faiths — Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Islam — vie for hegemony and power. Unfortunately, the mass media have not made it clear that religious animosities as well as nationalistic and ethnic passions are responsible for much of the hatred and that in the name of religious tradition, people often feel justified in murdering others. Many of these same people are now at war with each other had been living together in peace and harmony only a few short years ago. Yet when religious dogma and creed separate them they are prone to narrowly define individuals in terms of religious criteria.
We as humanists proclaim the following principles in addition to the basic human rights as central to the Balkan situation in specific and to the world community in general:
- The need to respect each individual’s right to live in peace and dignity, no matter what his or her race, ethnicity, national origin or creed.
- Although we need to appreciate diverse ethnic, cultural and religious traditions, individuals must have the right to dissent, non-conformity and unbelief.
- Individuals have the right to marry whom they wish and to raise children in any tradition.
- We thus need to transcend the hatred of religious, ethnic or cultural chauvinism and xenophobia, and to declare and enunciate the value of tolerance and fellowship, so essential to the ability of societies to extend peace, protection, freedom and dignity to all their members.
- We strongly encourage all governments, especially the European, to immediately increase their contribution to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in order to enable the work in aid of the tragic and increasing numbers of refugees from former Yugoslavia.
- We support initiatives, taken to provide humanitarian aid to the civil population in former Yugoslavia, such as the planned Relay Solidarity Concerts in European capitals.
- We urge that politicians in power, the struggling parties and leaders of the various religious groups do whatever they can to stop the war activities so that the suffering of the Balkan people can come to an end.
IHEU Board meeting 1993
Suggested academic reference
'Yugoslavia and "ethnic cleansing" (1993)', Humanists International, Board of Directors, 1993