IJAV, BIRN and forumZFD: Competent authorities to punish those making the death threats (press release)

Due to the recent developments concerning our project "Ordinary People" when two film screenings in Niš and Kraljevo had to be cancelled due to violence and death threats to the crew and guests, our project team has issued the following press release: 

The Independent Journalist Association of Vojvodina, BIRN Kosovo and forumZFD, as leaders of the project “Ordianry People – Missing Rights, Finding Solutions”, demand from the competent authorities of the Republic of Serbia to investigate urgently yesterday’s open threats of physical violence and death threats against the participants and the audience at the panel discussion in Niš, which had to be cancelled because of such threats.

A person in camouflage uniform with extreme nationalist marks, who presented himself as a Chetnik duke, threatened “to slaughter the traitors”, saying that he had “50 Chetniks with him” and that the screening of the documentary and the panel discussion would not be held, otherwise he would demolish the premises of the Media Centre Niš and beat up the visitors. The same person threatened to burn the Kosovo flag and thus potentially cause the fire in an indoor space. Simultaneously, a group of clerofascists was standing in front of the Media Centre Niš, provoking the visitors, singing chauvinist songs and throwing stones and clods of earth at the visitors who were trying to get out to the balcony.

All of these was done in front of the police officers, both those in uniforms and in civilian clothing. The threats were video-recorded and we are glad to provide the recordings to the law enforcement as evidence.

Although the police did their job in accordance with their capacities in Niš yesterday, thus mainly succeeding to protect the project team and the audience from violence, it is unbelievable that responsibility for the incidents was taken by the “Obraz” organisation. We remind that this is an organisation which the Serbian Interior Ministry designated as clerofascist back in 2005 and whose work was forbidden by the Constitutional Court of Serbia in 2012. Nevertheless, this organisation continues to intimidate without serious disturbance all normal people who are brave enough to publicly criticise nationalism and all of its catastrophic and devastating consequences.

In the times when the declarative politics of Serbia is the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Priština, we were up against persons who threatened to slaughter us in Niš, although the project “Real People – Real Solutions” is aimed at the very normalisation of such relations from the point of view of so-called ordinary citizens and numerous problems that burden them.

We also remind that today’s screening of the same documentary “Albanians Are Our Sisters” in Kraljevo was cancelled one day earlier because of a large number of threats received by the organisers of the event.

The team of the Project “Real People – Real Solutions” will inform a domestic and international audience about this shameful event, as well as all relevant institutions in the country, in Europe and in the world. Our organisations will not succumb to threats and we will continue to use all our capacities to promote this and other similar projects which contribute to the normalisation of relations in the post-Yugoslav region.

We invite citizens to watch our documentaries at: https://vimeo.com/user67521118