Bruno Kreisky Foundation

for Human Rights

Tanya Petovar (Ex-Yugoslavia)

Tanja Petovar is a lawyer and human rights activist from the former Yugoslavia. She is well known for being a human rights lawyer, and has fought for human rights in many prominent political cases. Petovar is an anti-war activist and defending cases involving Kosovo-Albanians who were charged with “adversary propaganda and counterrevolution” was of particular importance to her.

She also used her expertise to help the UN Commission of Experts when they looked into the mass rape of Muslim Bosnian women during the civil war. Petovar was charged with the difficult task of interviewing these women about their experiences. Additionally she studied the complex issue of Serbian immigration from Kosovo. The commission concentrated their research efforts on the causes of emigration.

She is also the founder of both the Yugoslav Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and the Center for Anti-War Action in Belgrade. These organizations came into being due to protests against the various war groups who have broken their promise of a standstill. In addition to maintaining her own organizations, she also frequently takes part in other human rights organizations’ undertakings, as well as conducting research beneficial to her cause. She is a member of the Trustlink project and through this program she tries to forge relationships between the peoples of the former Yugoslavia. At the time of the prize she was working on a research project on “Human Rights in Times of Transition in Oslo”.

In 2002 Tanja Petovar was the project coordinator for the South East Europe Democracy Support organization, also known as SEEDS. The project conducted regional surveys in Eastern Europe. The questions were concentrated on the populations’ attitudes towards economic, political and social issues, in addition to trying to gauge their opinion of public personalities, and institutions. Ultimately she hoped to influence the public agenda in these countries and to initiate discussions on the public’s concerns.