The eighth night of the protests in Serbia passed peacefully, but with fewer participants

Protest ispred Narodne Skupštine
Foto: Twitter/nedavimobgd

The eighth night in a row of protests in several Serbian cities were conducted in a peaceful manner as protester numbers further dwindled. Some 300 citizens rallied in Belgrade, a few dozen in Nis, as well as Cacak. The protesters requested the legal process of those responsible for the Covid-19 death of the young Djokic brothers in the latter.

The verdicts against scientist Vladimir Mentus and activist Igor Sljapic revoked

The Misdemeanor Appellate Court overturned two verdicts of the Misdemeanor Court in Belgrade against intellectuals Vladimir Mentus and Igor Sljapic, who were both sentenced to 30 days in prison. They were released from the prison where they were held immediately after the verdict, the Misdemeanor Court in Belgrade told Insajder. Both were charged with insulting police officers during a Saturday night protest in Belgrade. Following the decision of the Misdemeanor Court of Appeals, the proceedings will be repeated.

„Those two verdicts have been revoked and the proceedings will be repeated. We immediately handed the decisions to the lawyers and forwarded them to the prison unit. They will be released from prison tonight,“ the Misdemeanor Court told Insajder yesterday.

The crowd split into three groups. The majority of demonstrators gathered around the leader of the movement “Dosta je bilo”, Sasa Radulovic, who presented his proposals on how it is possible to achieve fair and honest elections – if the elections held on June 21st are overturned.

Another group of citizens, who gathered near the steps of the National Assembly, mostly focused on the Kosovo issue and the preservation of holy sites, while the third group of citizens sat quietly in the middle of the street.

The roads near the assembly building was closed to traffic in both directions during the protest, while the building itself was secured by a visibly smaller number of members of the Ministry of the Interior police force- nothing like during the previous protests.

After seven days of protests, demands are becoming clear, but with fewer participants

The protests broke out after the announcement of the introduction of new restrictive measures, but voices alerted to the far more complex motives of the protesters. Many witnessed the extreme displeasure with the current situation in Serbia, addressing their strong criticism against what is described as an autocratic and corrupt regime of Aleksandar Vucic.

The number of demonstrators is however declining especially after seeing some harsh violence in the streets of Belgrade and Novi Sad over a two day period. Also, the biggest weakness of the protest, according to some commentators, refers to the incoherence of the demands of the protesters – as people of all political orientations gathered to protest, while lacking clear leadership. 

The demands, however, have been slowly coming to the fore – three political options have already declared their demands. A group of intellectuals also presented theirs last night.

The opposition in Serbia has been „satanized“ and dissatisfied citizens have no way to articulate their demands – reads the position of the commentators who commented extensively on the events in Belgrade in recent days.

An alternative body that aims to gather all citizens who „want to create a better, democratic Serbia” was formed yesterday. Although it does not yet have a specific purpose, it aspires to gather people with a wide range of political beliefs.

On the plateau near the Faculty of Philology, the Assembly of Free Serbia was symbolically formed. It was initiated by the scholar Dusan Teodorovic, professors Biljana Stojkovic and Cedomir Cupic, political scientist Boban Stojanovic and president of UZUZ Sava Manojlovic, N1 reported.

„The goal is to unite all the people who are dissatisfied with this government, who did not want to go to the polls, who understand that we do not have elections, institutions, free media,“ said Stojkovic.

According to the initiators, they will try to gather citizens of a wide range of political beliefs because they understand that absolute unity is needed.

At a previous protest, the seventh day in a row, which was held on Monday night, political representatives also presented their demands – first the Alliance for Serbia, which was followed by a former member of Dveri and a member of the last convocation of the National Assembly, Srdjan Nogo and the Dosta je bilo movement at a later protest.

Last Wednesday, on the second night of the protests, the representatives of the Alliance for Serbia requested the dismissal of the head of the police, Vladimir Rebic, but also the members of the Crisis Headquarters in charge of combating the coronavirus outbreak. They also reiterated their long-standing demand to form a transitional government, in order to prevent the graver scenarios that await us with „increased power usurpation and violation of the Constitution by one man.“

On Monday, DJB supporters demanded the annulment of the „rigged elections“, calling on the protesters to block the Administrative Court building on Tuesday, thus placing pressure on that institution to consider the movement’s elections complaints. The movement filed appeals and requests to repeat the voting at 2,500 polling stations. However, the court rejected them in the first instance procedure due to administrative reasons. Some appeals are once again being considered before that court.

On the other hand, controversial ultra right wing nationalist Srdjan Nogo pointed out seven demands – the release of all arrested demonstrators and the suspension of proceedings led against them, the suspension of the formation of the Government and the Assembly based on elections he described as fake, the introduction of responsibility for all politicians who would issue a single statement in which they would guarantee the implementation of their program – otherwise they would bear criminal responsibility, and creation of a technical government for a period of one year. Nogo also requested debate shows on the public service broadcasters every night, as well as the arrest and prosecution of Crisis Headquarters members due to the coronavirus situation.

Although joining protests, the representatives of the opposition have been mostly sitting on the sidelines. They are not trying to take over the organization of the protest, while several of them were even physically attacked, such as Sergej Trifunovic and his associates, and Bosko Obradovic. The news that Dragan Djilas was attacked was denied.

While political representatives are seeking a technical government, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic started the process of consultations on the formation of the new Government of Serbia.

Another protest in front of the Central Prison and a request for the release of the detained demonstrators

For two days in a row, a protest was organized in front of the Central Prison, where the release of dozens of arrested demonstrators was demanded.

Many witnessed that police expressed severe brutality towards peaceful protesters, of whom, some 100 were arrested, while sparing true trouble makers and hooligans. This is one of the arguments of those who warn of staged violence allegedly in the interest of the Vucic regime to discredit the peaceful protesters.

About a hundred citizens gathered yesterday. According to unofficial information, 10 people arrested during the protests were released yesterday, Danas daily reported.

The gathered people chanted „Let them all go“ and demanded the resignation of the head of the police.

One of the scholars who wrote a letter on the occasion of the arrest of people during the protests, Srdjan Atanosovski said that all of them are considered political prisoners. We express solidarity with our colleague Vladimir Mentus, who joined the “Zdruzena akcija” organization to help people who had no food and who are homeless during the coronavirus outbreak – he pointed out.

We are asking this government to commit to no curfew, the demonstrators said.

„Basic human rights are being violated here, concrete emancipation is needed because the cancer that is spreading through society lives here and the reaction of intellectuals and activists is urgently needed, which will be a corrective factor for any future government,“ one of the participants said on behalf of the academic community.

DS President Zoran Lutovac, who was among the first to invite citizens to join him in protest demanding the release of one of the DS members who was also arrested during the protest, said that Mentus is not a hooligan and that he was arrested because he was available.

„After the martial court, which our Constitution does not recognize, he was sent to Padinska Skela and that is the face of this state. We live in a seized state,” Lutovac pointed out. The Assembly and the Government are empty buildings, they are managed by one man, an autocrat, he added.

Vladimir Mentus is a member of the Institute of Social Sciences. He was arrested on the night between Saturday and Sunday and sentenced to 30 days in prison. According to his colleagues, he was also beaten at the police station. The Institute also opposed his arrest and detention.

A young man with autism beaten on the second night of the protests, the association asks for an investigation from Rebic

The first two nights of the protests were marked by many incidents that were characterized as police brutality. Several CSOs called for responsibility and investigations within the police, while the Belgrade Human Rights Center also filed several criminal charges.

One of the young men beaten in Novi Sad without justifiable cause has autism, the head of the association „Autism – the right to life,“ Dario Rosi confirmed yesterday. Rosi also sent a request to the head of police, Vladimir Rebic to investigate the police attack and excessive use of force against this boy. According to Rosi, if that does not happen, the association will file charges against the perpetrator and address international organizations dealing with the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.

„According to our findings, recordings and information available on the networks, during the protest in Novi Sad on July 8, members of the police physically attacked a person who was passing by on a bicycle with no cause and direct reason. One member of the police then kicked him while he lay helpless on the ground. Unfortunately, this was a young person with autism,“ Rosi wrote in his request to Rebic.

 

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