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At the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, the government appointed Vlada Teodosic as dean. Teodosic was not popular among his colleagues, was not a leading scientist, and had much less administrative experience than many other staff members. He was known, however, as a strong nationalist. Although faculty members told Human Rights Watch that Teodosic at the time was not identified with any particular political party, the new dean of the philology faculty Marojevic (see above) reportedly publicly stated that both he and Teodosic had been appointed by Seselj, head of the Serbian Radical Party.

At the same time that Teodosic was appointed as dean, Milos Laban was appointed by the government to the new managing board of the faculty. Laban, an unsuccessful candidate of Milosevic’s SPS party in parliamentary elections in 1990 and 1992, had been refused an appointment as an associate professor in the faculty in 1991 when such decisions were made by a vote of the professors. In a futile effort, Laban had gone to court to force the faculty members to reverse their decision. Soon after being appointed dean, Teodosic named Laban as an associate professor. Although Teodosic’s decision was challenged and ultimately overturned by the minister of education, Laban retainedhis position on the managing board and has continued to be a powerful presence on the faculty and a vocal defender of Teodosic (see below).

Case of Slavoljub Marjanovic

On July 8, 1998, one week after he took over as dean, Teodosic issued a decision stripping engineering Professor Slavoljub Marjanovic of “all rights and obligations . . . for the subjects of Electronics I and II.” Marjanovic, a highly respected professor with a doctorate from Birmingham University and twenty-eight years on the faculty, had long been a political enemy of Teodosic. The action against Prof. Marjanovic appears to have been taken in retaliation for his opposition to the changes taking place under the new law. At the beginning of July, Marjanovic, who already had been threatened with suspension by the new dean, stated on the acknowledgments page of his newly released textbook on electronics that he was omitting the names of his colleagues to save them from potential harassment by the new faculty authorities. He was relieved of teaching duties shortly thereafter.

Suspension of twelve professors

In all, twelve professors at the faculty refused to sign new contracts, one of whom was Marjanovic, whose case is described above, and another of whom voluntarily retired shortly after the new law was enacted. The fate of the remaining ten was not made clear until the teaching schedule was posted on October 22, one week before classes were to begin. None of the ten appeared on the schedule. Subsequently, in a letter dated November 3, 1998, Teodosic transferred the professors, as their counterparts in the Faculty of Philology had been transferred, to a previously nonexistent “research institute.” The ten professors who were suspended are: Branko Popovic, Dejan Zivkovic, Dusan Velasevic, Jovan Radunovic, Borivoj Lazic, Srbijanka Turajlic, Milenko Cvetinovic, Vladana Likar-Smiljanic, Milan Ponjavic, and Tepavcevic Predrag. Slavoljub Marjanovic was also assigned to the “institute.”

Human Rights Watch visited the premises of the “research institute” on November 10. It consists of a single, dusty office in a building about one block from the main faculty building. The room is furnished with only five or six small desks, and has no telephone, computers, or typewriters.

Shortly after suspending the professors, the dean hired private security guards to prohibit the professors from entering the classrooms where they had formerly taught. When one of the suspended professors, Dejan Zukovic, tried to enter the classroom where he had taught for twelve years, he was physically carried out of the building by the guards. Another professor physically removed from the building was Branko Popovic, a scientist of international standing, the author of several text books and nearly 150 articles, and a recipient of awards from several international scientific societies. When Popovic was denied entry to his former classroom, he continued his lecture on the street outside the faculty building using a megaphone to address the students.27

Laban, the faculty administrator described above, who had accompanied the security guards as they ejected the suspended professors from the faculty building, subsequently defended the policy as follows: “according to the new law on universities, the dean, as a director of a firm, has the right to hire [security guards] if he estimates that the normal functioning of the firm is in question.” Popovic told Human Rights Watch that the suspended professors were thereafter barred from the main faculty building and that he was refused entrance even to process his health insurance renewal.28

Suspension of students Veljko Janjic and Stevan Koprivica

On November 27, 1998, Veljko Janjic, a fourth year student at the faculty, and Stevan Koprivica, a third year student, were suspended. Both had been active in student politics. Koprivica is the president of the student union at the faculty and had taken a leading role in organizing student protests against the new law. The student demandshad included replacement of the dean, removal of Milos Laban from the managing board of the faculty, removal of the private security guards from the faculty building, reinstatement of the professors who had been expelled from the faculty because they had refused to sign the new contracts, and an end to all pending disciplinary actions against professors and students.

As Janjic told Human Rights Watch:

Every day at noon we would have a student demonstration in front of the building, and I usually gave a speech. Then, on November 27, I received a telegram sent to my home address signed by Teodosic. It said that I was not allowed to enter the faculty building until the Disciplinary Committee decides on my punishment. The dean picks the members of the Disciplinary Committee.

The telegram said I was being punished because I had been the organizer of students who had interfered with lessons and called a strike. The same message was sent to Stevan Koprivica.29

Janjic told Human Rights Watch that the policy had been strictly enforced. Both he and Koprivica have been physically denied access to the faculty premises and have been prevented from resuming their studies. Janjic also said that the dean had indicated that he would seek to have the two students suspended for two years.

Internet Censorship

On December 10, Teodosic ordered “filters” to prevent users of the Yugoslav academic Internet network from accessing the OpenNet website, a major source of independent news and information. OpenNet was created by the Internet department of Belgrade’s independent Radio B92. The measure affected thousands of students, professors, and researchers in Serbia who use the internet on campus and also limited access to dozens of other user groups on the network, including independent media organizations and most nongovernmental organizations in the country.

Teodosic ordered the blockage of the OpenNet site using his authority over the computing center at the University of Belgrade. The immediate motive for blocking OpenNet access appears to have been a link on the website to a political cartoon that showed Teodosic in a Nazi uniform giving a Nazi salute. The cartoon also portrayed the administrator Milos Laban as a monkey.30

In mid-December, Teodosic, like Dean Marojevic of the Faculty of Philology, also publicly softened his stance somewhat and invited suspended professors to return to work. As in the Faculty of Philology, the development came as students and faculty were boycotting classes and exams. Eight of the suspended professors agreed to return to their posts, but, at the time this report was prepared, security guards continued to be stationed at the entrance to the faculty and students continued on strike, demanding that Laban be removed from his administrative position and that the guards be removed from the faculty entrance.

27 Human Rights Watch interview with Branko Popovic, Belgrade, November 13, 1998.

28 Human Rights Watch interview, Belgrade, November 13, 1998.

29 Human Rights Watch interview with Veljko Janjic, Belgrade, December 7, 1998.

30 Human Rights Watch interview with Drazen Pantic, New York, December 14, 1998.

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