Saturday, August 6, 2016

Media & Government Suppression of 28. Jun


On May 23-24, the humanitarian organization I founded, 28. Jun, presented at the UN’s first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. I felt extremely lucky that we secured 3 spots to what was essentially the 'Oscars' or "Superbowl' of humanitarian work. Only 2000 guests were personally invited by Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and they included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Angela Merkel, the presidents, ministers and ambassadors of over 150 countries and the leaders of every large humanitarian organization in the world.

Only one article, about what was the pinnacle of achievement in the 5 year history of our organization, came out in the Serbian media and it was entitled 'Canadian Rapper Represents Serbia'. It completely disregarded the 500 other members in 28. Jun and instead focused on a song I recorded with Ana Ivanovic in my early 20s and my brief stint in music in my late teens. The fact that 28. Jun has been my full time obsession for the past 5 years and we have become the largest Serbian organization in the world, that has delivered $4.6 mil worth of humanitarian aid, was left unmentioned.

At the summit, we spoke at two special sessions which dealt with the migrant crisis and connecting businesses with humanitarian work. We also met with Ban Ki-moon and Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand. I also attended a private screening of Sean Penn‘s new humanitarian-themed movie 'The Last Face' where I thanked him for not politicizing the conflict in the film like Angelina Jolie did in her anti-Serbian propaganda piece 'The Land of Blood and Honey'.

The lack of recognition by the Serbian media and the lack of cooperation from the Serbian government is not an innocent blunder. 28. Jun is a humanitarian organization but we also lead the battle against anti-Serbian defamation in the media. As recently as last week, we forced the leading German dictionary to redefine 'Ustase', in late 2015 we successfully completed the digital #NoKosovoUnesco campaign, in 2014 we spearheaded the global effort to secure and deliver flood relief to Serbia and our work goes back to 2011 when we made sponsors drop American talk show host Chelsea Lately over her xenophobic comments against Serbs.

The aforementioned work, and hundreds of other projects we executed since 2011, go far beyond the humanitarian and volunteer spheres and enter into what should be the (paid) work of the Serbian Foreign Ministry, the Office of Cooperation with the Diaspora (formerly also a ministry) and the Serbian diplomatic corps. I strongly suggest the administrative bodies within Serbia, look at other nations and follow their example of building fruitful relationships with their respective Diasporas. This is fundamental in our case, as Serbs living outside Serbia, now outnumber those in the motherland and contribute nearly a quarter of the GDP.