Around 20 people injured in Strpce during a confrontation with the police over the construction of a hydroelectric power plant

hidrocentrala protest štrpce
Foto: KoSSev

Approximately twenty residents of Strpce were injured today 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 Obereke, 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.

Joksimovic told KoSSev that the illegal continuation of the construction of the hydroelectric power plant was attempted today, without any previous announcement, and that approximately fifty residents of Strpce, including women and children, gathered to block the road for the bulldozer and prevent this construction.

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 Obereke. 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 on the Kosovo Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning.

He said that the Kosovo police asked the locals to get out of the way. After the locals refused to do it, the police used excessive force on „the empty-handed people.“

Approximately twenty people were injured, including women and children. „Pepper sprays, batons, maximum force was used,“ he explained.

„Seventeen of them received medical treatment in Strpce – eye rinsing, help with their injuries and burns,“ Joksimovic added.

According to the information from the field, one protestor’s nose was broken, while another protestor’s hand was also broken.

„Institutions have ignored this, no one will take any concrete steps. We do not have enough information on what they are doing. They come whenever they want to,“ explained Joksimovic.

According to him, the regional police chief was present and „he promised that the construction will be stopped for five days, until a meeting is initiated with relevant factors.“

Mayor of Strpce: Excessive use of force is unacceptable, must never be repeated

The Mayor of the Municipality of Strpce, Bratislav Nikolic strongly condemned today’s excessive use of force by police units.

„The entire municipal leadership and I personally have always stood by our people and will continue doing so. What happened this morning, when twenty residents of our municipality were injured because excessive force was used, is unacceptable and something that should never be repeated again. We consider that all problems must only be resolved in a peaceful way,“ Nikolic wrote in a statement.

The statement also reads that the Municipality of Strpce decided to suspend works on the construction of the mini hydroelectric power plant due to the blurred drinking water in the reservoir, and thus because of the endangerment of the water supply, adding that this decision is still in force.

The municipality of Strpce emphasized that they will talk to the authorities about everything that happened today and that they will request an explanation for the use of excessive force against innocent inhabitants of Strpce.

This incident was also condemned by the Kosovo Office, which described the “brutal police force” against the demonstrators as “inhumane,” urging Strpce residents to peacefully express their dissatisfaction and to not give Pristina „the incentives to further aggravate the position of Serbs in that part of Kosovo and Metohija.“

 

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