EuroClio – European Association of History Educators stands in solidarity with the Association for Social History UDI – Euroclio, reiterating their recent press statement (in Serbian) and defending the professional dignity of the Serbian history teachers’ association.
Over the past few days, the Association for Social History UDI – Euroclio has been subjected to slander and false allegations concerning their work on the recent history of the region. Some of our colleagues have received a wave of false accusations related to their work, and personal photos of members were published online without permission. These actions resulted from a seminar organised by the Association for Social History UDI – Euroclio involving teacher training on the use of archival material made available by the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. Historians write history on the basis of historical sources, documents and archival material, not imposed by international institutions, something that was being proclaimed in a number of Serbian tabloids. The accusations and false allegations aired in Serbian tabloids have ultimately spread to social media leading to a sustained and slanderous campaign against some of our colleagues.
We condemn the unlawful publication of private photos of members of the association, and false accusations on the manipulation of history by international organisations. EuroClio advocates for the sound use of history education towards the building and deepening of democratic societies, connecting professionals across boundaries of communities, countries, ethnicities and religions. We seek to enhance the quality of history and citizenship education through capacity-building for educators, which was similarly the goal of the seminar.
It is clear that dealing with the difficult past is sensitive and will evoke strong reactions. We are humbled by the fact that so many of our colleagues in the region are able to work together in a respectful way to address their shared past, and hope more people will take inspiration from them. EuroClio will continue to promote values such as multiperspectivity, critical thinking, mutual respect and the inclusion of controversial issues in history education.
We also welcome scrutiny of our work through healthy, respectful and evidence-based academic debate, but fundamentally reject the kind of treatment our Serbian colleagues are currently subjected to – with accusations lacking both in evidence and in form.
If you are an educator from Serbia, we encourage you to join and follow UDI – Euroclio. If you are coming from other countries in the Balkans – or elsewhere – please consider joining our member associations in your country and/or EuroClio. It is also an unfortunate reality that historians and history teachers elsewhere too are increasingly subjected to censorship, threats and, in extreme cases, violence. We therefore welcome you to follow and support the work of the Network of Concerned Historians, an independent and universal observatory serving as a link between human rights organisations campaigning on behalf of persecuted historians, and the global community of historians.