The protest inspired by anti-Vucic Serbia wide civic and opposition rallies, #1od5miliona was organized for the very first time south of Ibar river this weekend and was attended by approximately 40 citizens.
The protest walk began with the message „Stop dictatorship“, „Freedom“ and „To the victory“.
The participants carried Serbian flags, and banners reading: „Serbia without Kosovo, like a man without a heart“, „AV do not partition us, we are here and we are staying.
In addition to the requests already raised in Serbia against, what is being seen across Serbia as the abolishment of media censorship and democracy, Gracanica protesters repeated the request on bringing to justice the assassins of Oliver Ivanovic.
They have however, fearfully raised as their key issue, ethnic delimitation between Serbs and Albanians, requesting from the Serbian president to step forward and explain to the public what he meant by such an idea.
What exactly does the delimitation between Serbs and Albanians mean? Where are the lines and points of this delimitation? Under what conditions and what is the compromise that will result from this? – these were some of the questions asked by the handful of rallying Serbs on Saturday.
„And for it to be known, that the Ibar is not the border!“ – one of the protesters cried.
A university professor Rada Trajkovic who attended the protest warned of the accelerated “drain” of professional staff. She confirmed to the media that there was a great fear among the citizens in Gracanica as well, believed to be the reason for the few protesters. The protest was, nevertheless, important for the people of Gracanica to „free themselves a little”.
„Considering that the fear is great, that the threats are terrible and that we have a power in Belgrade that does not allow the people the freedom of speaking and movement, those who could, came out tonight. We want to know what the delimitation project of President Vucic is and we just want to go through the streets of Gracanica, to show that we want answers to questions whose answers only he knows and who is informing the international institutions. He essentially does not inform those – and that is the people here. The people are not allowed to come out because they are scared and that is well known. We are trying to relax the citizens a bit and for more of them to be here next time.“
The organizer of the Gracanica protest, Branislav Markovic demanded the termination of the practice of party and family employment, citing examples that there are families that receive income both from the Serbian and the Kosovo system. Furthermore, he underlined that blackmail and pressure of state institution employees should be stopped, as well as voting under coercion.
“People here do not know how to complain. You can jump on their heads, the system made them as such, they do not complain even when their children are hungry, they do not complain about anything, because they have been pressured by the government for ten years,” said Markovic.
Goran Stojanovic, a protester, said that the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic managed to divide the Serbs – to „some Thaci’s Serbs and Srpska Lista“.
„This division is in place at present and it particularly affects the Serb people who decided to stay and survive in this region,“ he added.
He also confirmed that a larger number of people did not come due to the fear of violence and pressure placed on them. He furthermore claimed that they were „blackmailed“ with the suspension of Belgrade’s income.
The protesters walked down the main road to the monument to Milos Obilic and stopped shortly before the monastery Gracanica. No incidents were reported, except from the complaint by a Radio Gracanica journalist supported by Srpska Lista against her colleague, independent journalist Budimir Nicic. He allegedly accused her of the intention to send the collected data to Aleksandar Vucic. Nicic reacted confirming this, however, he told it solely as a joke, heard by no one except her, as a reaction to his and other Serb journalists’ observation that the Radio Gracanica journalist was photographing the journalists present face by face.
The Serbian president himself, in his later reaction, again negatively spoke of the rally in Gracanica, saying the rallied number was minor – 19, in the same manner as reacting after the Mitrovica rally, downsizing the number of protesters from some 90 to less than 50.
The protest was attended by Kosovo south Serb politician Nenad Rasic but no other political leaders were seen.
The organizers of the “1 out of 5 million” protest initially held in North Mitrovica also, for the very first time, two weeks ago – Marko Jaksic and Dejan Nedeljkovic came to support their fellow citizens.
„What concerns these people is an ongoing thing and they have the right to know what kind of future awaits them. Not only the people in Gracanica, but south of the Ibar are currently (living) under the greatest uncertainty in Kosovo and have the right to be concerned and worry about what will happen in the next few months,“ Marko Jaksic told KoSSev.
Future protests in all the Kosovo Serb municipalities were also announced.
„Mitrovica, Gracanica today, and I hope that soon other places in Kosovo will show that there are enough people who will express their views and concern publicly, both in Mitrovica and in Gracanica, as well as in other places,“ he underlined.
He however was reluctant to reveal more details due to the increased pressure from Belgrade, reminding of the latest arrival of the head of the Kosovo Office, Marko Djuric before the organization of the protest in North Mitrovica and the attempts of official Belgrade to reduce the protests „to a minimum“.
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