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Posted on November 16, 2020 at 12:46 PM

Dear AJOB & bioethics.net Readers, 

I am writing to highlight a serious situation facing the academic Prof. Vojin Rakić  (personal websiteInstitutional website) who is currently undergoing a terrible time with the Serbian government. Vojin aired political disagreements in the public sphere of the government’s handling of the pandemic and, in return, they have been attacking his career, character and defaming his private life and his family too. We, the undersigned, are organising the below open letter to be signed by academics and scientists from around the world to defend Vojin and call for these personal attacks to stop.

We would very much appreciate it if you would join us in signing this open letter (your agreement, name and affiliation is all we need; please feel free to add your job title – optional). Each signatory is expressing their individual opinion only and not suggesting an expression of support by the affiliated organisation.

Thanks a million for your considerations and thanks so much to those of you who have already signed.

We hope this can make some positive difference to this terrible and ever escalating situation for Vojin and his family.

All the best,
Dr Oliver Feeney

Head, Irish Unit of the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, Haifa; Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis, National University of Ireland (Galway), Rep. of Ireland; Vice-Chair for Research, European Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics: https://ed-unesco-bioethics.org

———————————————

Open letter to the Director General of UNESCO, the General Secretary of the UN, the Commission and Parliament of the European Union and the President of Serbia

We, the undersigned, are academics and scientists from around the world who have either worked and collaborated with Prof. Vojin Rakić in publications, conferences, working groups and projects or who are familiar with his scientific work. 

It has come to our attention that over the past few months Prof. Rakić has been subject to an intense and ongoing public campaign by state-run print and television media in Serbia, impugning his professional and personal integrity. Prof. Rakić has been critical of how the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has used anti-pandemic measures in order to consolidate his rule. Following his taking a public stance, Prof. Rakić has been persecuted by the current Serbian authorities through the use of false accusations and has been regularly victimised on TV programs and on the front pages of regime-run media in Serbia. This campaign includes having been wrongly accused of misrepresenting himself in his professional role in the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (Haifa), a gross misrepresentation of elements of his academic work, as well as an onslaught of defamation of his person and his family, with blatant lies about his private life and the private lives of his underage children.

It is outrageous that a well-respected bioethicist, political scientist and academic like Prof. Rakić faces such intense persecution simply for the expression of political disagreements with those in power. The independent Serbian Press Council has issued public warnings against the media in question, stating that they have falsely reported about Prof. Rakic`s role within the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (Haifa) and about his private life [see appendix below]. The UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (Haifa) has already publicly stated its support of Prof. Rakić with regard to the false claims of misrepresentation of his involvement with the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics. This has had no effect and the campaign has even intensified further, with the Serbian President Vučić recently personally slandering Prof. Rakić during an interview he gave. 

We call attention to this abuse by the Serbian authorities and its state-run media and demand that it be stopped, and that the President of Serbia make public apologies/corrections. We call on the Director General of UNESCO, the General Secretary of the UN, the Commission and Parliament of the European Union to make representations to the President of Serbia and the Government of Serbia in this regard.

We hereby express our support as individual academics and scientists from across different disciplines and countries. We know Prof. Rakić as an internationally well-known and highly respected scholar, who is a man of integrity and courage and a much-valued colleague. We stand with Prof Rakić, united in our support for him and in our collective disgust at the abuse he, and his family, are being subjected to.

If you wish to add your signature to this open letter, please send your name and affiliation (and job title if you wish) to Dr Oliver Feeney at: feeney.oli@gmail.com

NOTE: Statement of affiliation is only for identification purposes: each signatory is expressing their individual opinion only and not an expression of support by the affiliated organisation.


APPENDIX – Serbian Press Council public warning against the Serbian media (translated to English)

Society

What we hear

PRESS COUNCIL COMPLAINTS COMMISSION ISSUES PUBLIC WARNINGS TO TV PINK, DNEVNIK, TV B92, REPUBLIC AND INFORMER

Warnings for untruths about Rakic

09. 10. 2020. 11:46 | FoNet | Bojan Bednar

BELGRADE – The Press Complaints Commission of the Press Council made unanimous decisions to issue public warnings to Pink in three cases, Dnevnik, B92 television, Republika and Informer in two cases for violating the Code of Journalists of Serbia, the Directorate for Press Reports announced today. Europe UNESCO Chair in Bioethics.

As stated, Pink, B92 and Informer violated the Code of Journalists of Serbia, among other things, because they stated untruths that Rakić allegedly falsely presents himself as the Head of the European Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and that UNESCO allegedly conducts an investigation against him for name abuse.

Pink violated six points of the Code of Journalists of Serbia, and they concern, among other things, lies about the private life of Vojin Rakić, the responsibility of journalists, journalistic attention and respect for privacy, including endangering the lives of Rakić’s children.

At the previous session of the Complaints Commission of the Press Council, a public warning of the same content was issued to Informer.

Informer and Republika also violated the Code of Journalists of Serbia because, among other things, they falsely reported on Rakić’s position on prostitution.


SIGNATURES

Arthur Caplan
Mitty Professor of Bioethics
NYU Grossman School of Medicine
USA

Peter Singer, AC 
Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics
University Center for Human Values
Princeton University
USA

Professor Ingmar Persson
Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
University of Oxford

Professor Jane Kaye
Faculty of Law
University of Oxford 
United Kingdom
                  
Anne Cambon-Thomsen, MD
Emeritus research director
National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
France

Maurizio Balistreri
Assistant Professor in Moral Philosophy
Department of Philosophy & Educational Sciences
University of Turin
Italy

Prof. Dr. M. Murat Civaner
Bursa, Turkey

Prof. Dr. Ignaas Devisch
Full Professor Philosophy of Medicine & Ethics
Ghent University
Belgium

Dr Heike Felzmann,
Lecturer & Researcher in Ethics
Discipline of Philosophy
Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis
School of History and Philosophy
NUI Galway
Ireland

Dr Lucia Galvagni
Researcher at the Center for Religious Studies
Bruno Kessler Foundation
Trento
Italy

Dr Leigh Jackson 
Lecturer in Genomic Medicine 
University of Exeter Medical School
United Kingdom

Nicholas Agar
Professor of Ethics
Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand

John Harris FMedSci., MAE, FRSA. FSB,  B.A., D.Phil., Hon. D.Litt. 
Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester, Visiting Professor in Bioethics, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Kings College London & Distinguished Research Fellow, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford.

Erik Parens, PhD
Senior Research Scholar
The Hastings Center
USA

Professor Robert Sparrow

Philosophy Program, Monash University
Australia

Sigrid Sterckx 
Professor of Ethics and Political & Social Philosophy
Bioethics Institute Ghent
Ghent University
Belgium

Prof. Pascal Borry
Chair Department of Public Health and Primary Care, KU Leuven
Professor of Bioethics
Programme director Master of Bioethics
Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Department of Public Health and Primary Care
Belgium

Dr Louise Campbell
Lecturer in medical ethics
School of medicine, 
NUI Galway
Ireland

Dr Oliver Feeney,
Researcher in bioethics and Head of Irish Unit of UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (Haifa)
Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis
NUI Galway
Ireland

Aoife Finnerty,  
School of Law,
University of Limerick,
Ireland

Ari Haukkala, PhD, 
University lecturer,
Faculty of Social Sciences, Social Psychology
PL 54 (Unioninkatu 37), 00014 
University of Helsinki 
Finland

Polaris Koi 
University of Turku 
Finland

Dr David Lawrence
Research Fellow
Centre for Biomedicine Self and Society
University of Edinburgh 
United Kingdom

Deborah Mascalzoni, PhD
Eurac Research
Insitute for Biomedicine
Bozen/Bolzano
Italy

Dr Salvör Nordal
Assistant Professor
University of Iceland, Reykjavík, 
Iceland

Dr Andrea Palk 
Lecturer in Philosophy
Stellenbosch University
Cape Town
South Africa

Professor George Patrinos
Department of Pharmacy 
University of Patras, Patras 
Greece

Prof David Smith
Associate Professor of Healthcare Ethics
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Dublin
Ireland

Marta Spranzi
Associate Professor of History, Philosophy and Ethics of Science
University of Versailles (UVSQ)
Clinical ethics consultant, Center for Clinical Ethics, AP-HP, Paris 
France

Dr Howard Trachtman, MD
NYU Langone
USA

Dr Danya Vears
Senior Research Officer
Biomedical Ethics Research Group 
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Melbourne, 
Australia

Dr Vesna Malesevic
National University of Ireland (Galway)
Ireland

Dr Michele Loi
Senior Researcher 
Institute of Biomedical Ethics and the History of Medicine
University of Zurich
Switzerland

Álvaro Mendes 
Assistant researcher
Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde 
Universidade do Porto
Portugal

Carlos Luis Parra-Calderón
Head of Research and Innovation in Biomedical Informatics, Biomedical Engineering & Health Economy,
Virgen del Rocío University Hospital – Institute of Biomedicine of Seville
Spain

Brígida Riso
Researcher, Health Sociologist 
Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology – CIES-iscte; ISCTE-IUL 
Portugal

Prof Dr Maartje Schermer
Head of Dept of Medical Ethics, Philosophy and History of Medicine
Erasmus MC Rotterdam
The Netherlands

Jan Helge Solbakk, 
Professor of Medical Ethics
Centre for Medical Ethics
Institute for Health and Society
Faculty of medicine, University of Oslo
Norway

Rachel Thompson
Swansea University Medical School
Swansea,
Wales

Dr Lars Ursin
Associate professor
Norwegian University of Science & Technology
Norway

Prof. Marcin Waligora, 
Faculty of Health Science
Jagiellonian University
Krakow
Poland

Dr Tom Walker
Senior lecturer in Ethics
School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast
United Kingdom

Professor Matthias Wjst 
Technical University of Munich (TUMünchen)
Germany

Dr Silvia Zullo
Associate Professor
University of Bologna
Italy

Menno de Bree
Lecturer ethics and philosophy
University Medical Center
Groningen 
The Netherlands

Alexandre Erler
Research Assistant Professor
CUHK Centre for Bioethics
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Prof. Andrew Green, 
University College Dublin
Ireland

Dr. Janette M. Ayd, Psy.d. LP
USA

Christian Munthe
Professor of practical philosophy
University of Gothenburg
Sweden

Dr Jenny Krutzinna
Senior Research Fellow
University of Bergen
Norway

Brendan Parent
Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics
Director, Transplant Ethics and Policy Research
NYU Grossman School of Medicine
USA

Davit Chokoshvili, Ph.D.
Regulatory Affairs and Bioethics Manager
Megeno S.A.
Luxembourg

Kristof Van Assche
Professor in health law
Antwerp University
Belgium

Dr R J Hull
Philosophy & COBRA
NUI Galway
Galway 
Ireland

Dr Pete Morriss
NUI, Galway
Ireland

Thomas F Burns
OIST Graduate University
Japan

Josephine Johnston
Director of Research
Research Scholar
The Hastings Center
USA

Professor Julian Savulescu
Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics
University of Oxford
United Kingdom

Thomas Douglas
Professor of applied philosophy | director of research & development
Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics
University of Oxford
United Kingdom

Amal Matar MD, PhD
Center for Research Ethics and Bioethics
Uppsala University,
Sweden

Katrien Devolder
Senior Research Fellow, 
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, 
University of Oxford
United Kingdom

Jonathan Vicente dos Santos Ferreira
Biomedical Scientist, specialist in Political Science
MSc, MPh student at University of São Paulo – USP
Brazil

Richard Matthews
Associate Professor
Health Sciences and Medicine
Bond University
Gold Coast
Australia

Udo Schuklenk
Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics
Professor of Philosophy
Joint Editor in Chief Bioethics
Queen’s University
Canada

Thomasine Kushner
Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
USA

Anders Sandberg
Senior research fellow
University of Oxford
United Kingdom

Dr. Gardar Arnason
Researcher
Institute of Ethics and History of Medicine
University of Tübingen
Germany

Prof. Guy Widdershoven
Amsterdam University Medical Centers,
the Netherlands

Dr Giulia Cavaliere
Lecturer in Professional Practice, Values and Ethics
Lancaster University
United Kingdom

Angus Clarke
Professor in Clinical Genetics
Cardiff University
Wales
United Kingdom

Mrs Chantal Patel
Head of Inter-professional Health Studies
Unit Chair for UNESCO Bioethics
College of Human & Health Sciences
Swansea University
United Kingdom

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Fortwengel
MPHUniversity of Applied Sciences and Arts
Expo Plaza 12
30539 Hannover
Germany

Professor Shai Linn.
University of Haifa
Haifa
Israel

Dr Evangelos D. Protopapadakis
Associate Professor of Applied Ethics
Director of the NKUA Applied Philosophy Research Lab 
 School of Philosophy
 University Campus, 15703 Zografos, Athens, 
Hellas/Greece

Dr Helena Siipi
University Lecturer
University of Turku
Finland

Dr. Andrie Panayiotou
Assistant Professor Public Health
Cyprus University of Technology
Cyprus

Maya Peled-Raz Adv. (LLB, MPH, PhD)
Head of Community Health Division, The School of Public Health and The Center for Health, Law and Ethics
Head, Research Ethics Committee, The Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences
University of Haifa
Israel

María M. Pardo López
Prof. Administrative Law. UMU. 
Spain

Sheena M. Eagan, MPH PhD
Head, NC Unit of the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics
Assistant Professor, Bioethics
Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University
USA

Doc. JUDr. Tomáš Doležal, Ph.D., LL.M.
Head of the Department of Civil Law and of the Research Unit for Medical Law and Bioethics
Institute of State and Law, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Národní 18, Praha 1
Czech Republic

Dr Tessa Chelouche M.D
Co-Chair Dept Bioethics and the Holocaust, UNESCO Chair Bioethics, Haifa
Israel

Dr. Kristen Jones-Bonofiglio PhD, RN
Lakehead University Centre for Health Care Ethics
Head, Unit of the International Network, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Canada

Dr Hilda Romero-Zepeda
Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro
Full time professor, Head at the Unit Chair Bioethics UNESCO Haifa, México
PI for spanish speakers at the Caribbean Research Ethics Education Initiative CREEI,
Mexico

Professor Russell Franco D’Souza
Head 
Asia Pacific Division
UNESCO Chair in Bioethics
Directorate of The Asia Pacific Division and Education Department
Melbourne 
Australia

Flávio César de Sá, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Medical Ethics and Bioethics
State University of Campinas, Sao Paulo 
Brazil

Prof. John Saunders
Chair of the Steering Committee, UK (Cardiff) Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (Haifa)
Former Chair of Ethics Royal College of Physicians and Hon. Professor Swansea University
United Kingdom    

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