Another protest in Strpce: “Who gave the order for empty-handed people to be beaten?”

Protest štrpce
Foto Dejan Stevanovic

The residents of Strpce, who have been protesting for more than six months against the construction of a mini hydroelectric power plant, held a protest again today at the „Obe Reke.“ The protest, attended by 150-200 people, ended peacefully – unlike yesterday’s protest during which Kosovo police used excessive force, injuring approximately twenty people, Strpce residents told KoSSev. In addition to the demand to stop the construction of the hydroelectric power plant, they now demand an answer to the question – who ordered the ROSU unit to beat empty-handed people?

Protest štrpce
Foto Dejan Stevanovic

„A protest rally was held around 10 o’clock today, it was dignified and peaceful,“ a Strpce resident, Dobrivoje Stevanovic told KoSSev.

„During the protest today, we presented our views and condemned the inappropriate use of force,“ Stevanovic said, adding that the protesters also demand that „those who called the ROSU units and those who ordered this,“ are held accountable.

„Because they were not provoked, there was no aggression, no riots, and no chaos. One cannot beat people out of the blue – so that a bulldozer can pass. That doesn’t happen anywhere in the world,“ he stressed.

Apart from the local police and the regional police major – who prevented any further incidents yesterday, no other police units were present today.

Protest štrpce
Foto Dejan Stevanovic

After more than two months of local residents’ protests, the construction of a mini hydroelectric power plant in Strpce was stopped on February 11th, and a bulldozer was removed from Obe Reke. However, the issue of whether the construction will continue was not resolved. Strpce residents say that the construction of this plant would jeopardize the drinking water used by the local population, as well as the eco-system, and demand that the construction be stopped. The final decision, however, rests with the Kosovo Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning.

A meeting on the construction of the hydroelectric power plant scheduled for Monday

It was announced today that a meeting on this current problem will be held on Monday in Strpce. Apart from local residents of Strpce and local self-government representatives, the meeting will be attended by representatives of the Kosovo Police and relevant ministries from Pristina.

„By using the strength of our arguments and rights, we will underline that the mini hydroelectric power plant should not be built at the Obe Reke site,“ added Stevanovic.

„Why municipal representatives did not come out with the people?“

Following yesterday’s incident, the residents of Strpce unsuccessfully tried to contact the mayor of the Municipality of Strpce, Bratislav Nikolic – Stevanovic said.

You know what Diogenes said when they asked him why he was lighting a candle in the middle of the day – because I’m looking for a man. So before going to the municipality, we went to the church to light a candle

Stevanovic expressed his displeasure that representatives of local authorities did not attend these gatherings, adding that „they were elected and they should stand in front of the people.“

„If you are fighting to represent the people, if you benefit from it, then you should lead the people. Instead of just making a decision and causing the suffering of the people,“ added Stevanovic.

The Mayor of the Municipality of Strpce, Bratislav Nikolic condemned the Kosovo Police action yesterday in a written statement. Nikolic wrote that the „entire municipal leadership“ and he personally „have always been with the people and will continue doing so.“

The Friday protest

Approximately twenty residents of Strpce were injured yesterday after the Kosovo Police used excessive force in an effort to remove the crowd of residents who blocked the road to prevent a bulldozer belonging to Metkos group from Pristina from reaching a place known as Obe reke, thus preventing the continuation of the construction of a hydroelectric power plant against which they have been protesting for months, one of the injured residents of Strpce, Stojan Joksimovic told KoSSev.

After the locals refused to move from the road, the police used excessive force on „the empty-handed people,“ injuring approximately twenty people, including women and children. One protestor’s nose was broken, while another protestor’s hand was also broken – Strpce residents confirmed for KoSSev yesterday.

Further incidents were prevented by the regional police major, who made a promise that the works would be halted for five days until a meeting with relevant factors is initiated.

„Regional police major did a great job of preventing further incidents yesterday. If he was present from the start, these incidents would not have happened, this excessive use of force, tear gas – it was pure vandalism,“ Stevanovic concluded.

What we are doing is all for nothing if someone gets hurt – it’s a Pyrrhic victory

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