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Protests in Serbia Archive
Serbian Renewal Movement: News of Feb. 4

4th February 1997

The seventy sixth day of the protest

Yesterday, the police used force against the peaceful demonstrators again, continuing to beat up for more than one hour after the meeting in the centre of Belgrade had finished. The number of the hurt is still not known.

Seventy sixth protest meeting started at the main city square with the speech, given by Vuk Draskovic. The gathered citizens demanded a walk. So it started, but the crowd in the centre of the city was awaited by the multiple police cordons. That s why the speakers held their speeches immediately in front of the cordons.

Let your wounds be for the better tomorrow , said at the beginning of his speech Vuk Draskovic, and then invited Belgrade citizens to keep smiling in order to mock the wild forces and barbarianism that happened last night . Last night, he added, after many other crimes, the police terror officially started in Serbia. After all the crimes committed against the Serbs, from Zagreb and Rijeka up to here, the only thing left for this regime is to provoke bloodshed in Serbia. Barbaric behaviour of the police indicates by itself that somebody lost their senses completely , said Draskovic.

Inviting the citizens to peaceful Ghandi-like resistance, Draskovic said that the violence will be conquered by the non-violence, for the one who uses battering against the citizens, shows that that is the only alternative left for him. The leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement invited all the instituti- ons to stop working, all the schools and faculties to stop their classes, the lawyers not to enter the courtrooms as well as the citizens to stop paying taxes, electricity and water. The citizens tax-payment money is given to the savages that beat the people. Do not give them anything , said Draskovic.

However, a couple of hundred of the most persistent demonstrators remained in the city centre standing confronted against the significantly more numerous police forces. After the police forced themselves upon the citizens, the citizens withdrew into the nearby side streets. Some of them tried to look for shelter in the shops, but the policemen went in after them, and continued to beat them there. The police beat up and arrested the people trying to run away, among which were minors as well.

The night before last bruttally beaten up over 300 citiens in Belgrade

After the a brutal police attack upon the demonstrators on the night before the last, 29 citizens asked for medical help in the Urgency Centre. Two of them were kept in hospital. The teams of the Student Medical Centre and the private clinic Anlave had about fifty interventions and the ambulance had about 180 calls. It is supposed that many other hurt people did not ask for any medical help, fearing that they would reveal their identity in this way, and expose themselves to further police torture.

Numerous journalists beaten-up

In the night between 2nd and 3rd February, Serbian police showed no mercy towards members of the press. Those beaten up were: cameramen of the agencies Reuter and Associated Press, of CNN and BK Telecom, of SRM (members of the Independent Association of Srbian Journalists), camera assistants of BK Telecom, and journalists of BK Telecom, newspapers Beta, and Blic.

The cameramen of Reuter Sergey Karazi was brutally beaten on the head and the back, and the camera he was carrying was first broken and then confiscated. Reiner Hercher, the cameraman of AP got hit by the night-stick into his chest while shooting the scene as the police were beating one of the Coalition ZAJEDNO leaders, Zoran Dindic. A cameraman of CNN happened to be at that spot, trying to record the same scene. He got his camera smashed by a policeman too.

One of the three policemen that beat up BK television journalists said that they beat up journalists on their self-initiative. The policemen who would not reveal his identity for fear of possible consequences says that the immediate reason for beating up the BK crew was the fact that they were shooting as we started to beat up the demonstrators. At first I thought that it was a CNN cameramen. After we smashed the camera I saw the sign of BK television. I shouted to my colleague: Stop. This one is ours , said yesterday a policeman of Cukarica section of MUP.

Boy of fourteen beaten up

The brutality of Serbian police is further confirmed by the case of a fourteen year old Igor Djokic, who was severely beaten up and arrested in one of the stores. The enraged policemen grabbed Djokic and dragged him into the cellar where, according to the shop assistants witnessing the event, he was beaten until he started bleeding. The police twisted the arm of the boy, who was of a weak physical built, took him out in the street, and continued to slap him around.

Theatres in belgrade on strike

Since yesterday, all theatres in Belgrade began a general strike, as a sign of solidarity with the citizens in Belgrade and Serbia, who have been protesting for seventy nine days against the theft at the 17th November local elections and against the use of force upon the peaceful demonstrators and students. In the public announcement of the National Theatre it is said: Because of the police occupation of the Serbia cities and the beating up of the people on the streets of Belgrade on the 2nd February 1997, the employees of the National Theatre begin the general strike.

Aleksandar Bercek, the Chief manager of the National Theatre in Belgrade also the representative of the Socialist Serbian Party in the Parliament filed his resignation yesterday.

FEST 97 cease the film shows

The 25th International Film Festival FEST 97 ceased showing the films for this season because of the previously unrecorded police violence on the streets of Belgrade. FEST is postponed until the acceptance of the OSCE delegation recommendations.

The mayor of Belgrade supports the demonstrators

Because of the brutal intervention of the police upon the citizens of Belgrade and the beating up of students of Belgrade University, the mayor of Belgrade (still the official mayor), Nebojsa Covic, expelled from Socialist Party of Serbia, spoke to the citizens of Belgrade, saying:

I am shattered by the unnecessary beating and persecution of the our citizens, who are simply demanding their rights in a peaceful and persistent way. I invite all the members of the police force not to forget that they have peaceful citizens of Belgrade in front of them, not enemies. I beg of the citizens not to revenge and respond to the force by force, so that these dramatic events would not soon turn into more tragic ones, as I fear. These are serious and hard times, and everybody is responsible not only before their own conscience, but before the judgement of history as well.

The plea and message of the patriarch Pavle.

The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Pavle, invited the citizens to withhold from any kind of provoking the unrest, and the members of the police to be the guardians of peace and order, and not the guardians of the such authorities that, so tragically for all of us, sinks deeper and deeper down in the ignorance of their actions.

I trust in God that He will open the eyes of such authorities, and that they will stop torturing this tormented nation - says, among other things, in his plea the Patriarch Pavle.

Regular press conference of SRM

Today, on the regular press conference of SRM, the spokesman for SRM, professor Ivan Kovacevic said that the brutal behaviour of the police is continuing. Dozens of citizens were beaten up after the meeting of the Coalition ZAJEDNO, while returning to their homes. He spoke of the events in Krusevac where the police also used force. In this confrontation with the police three people were hurt.

Using the police force is the only way of keeping Milosevic in power - said Ivan Kovacevic, and added that Coalition ZAJEDNO continues their protest.

The coalition ZAJEDNO demands resignation of the minister of police

The Coalition ZAJEDNO demands immediate resignation of the Minister of Police, Zoran Sokolovic, because of the brutal attacks of his whippers upon the citizens of Serbia who peacefully demonstrated. Fear and panic that the police brought to our streets, prove that the minister does not do his job properly, because the police duty is, in a civilised country, to protect the citizens and not to intimidate them by violence.

Coalition ZAJEDNO will use all the available means to identify those who commited these evil acts.

As the SRM Information Service learns, two police special units used a very strange weapons against the citizens on the night between the 2nd and 3rd February in the centre of Belgrade. Namely, the policemen used sling-shots with 1 centimetre in diameter metal balls and threw them at the gathered citizens. One such metal ball broke through the window of a citizen s flat and made a whole in the ceiling.

SRM: Information Service

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