After the attack, police announced that they will contact the Women in Black for identification of the aggressors. The chief of the Savski Venac Police Department visited the premises as well.
October 10, 2010.
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Belgrade Center for Human Rights, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Civil Rights Defenders and many other human rights organizations organized an ad hoc network for monitoring of security and police conduct during the parade.
YUCOM’s coordinator received numerous reports of incidents and stone throwing in front of the National Parliament, during which no human rights defender was injured, and a number of smaller incidents in the surroundings, with no injured reported, and maintained an ongoing communication with the Amnesty International which as well had the observers at the parade.
Aleksandar Popovic, vice president of the Democratic Party of Serbia, was spotted in the midst of riots, in which, however, he did not take part, but was observing and was making phone calls, surrounded by the group of hooligans.
Right before the start of the Pride Parade, in the period between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. a great number of participants, intended to join the parade, were not allowed to do so. At the entrance spot, reserved for participants of the Parade, a great number of hooligans, supporters and members of the right-wing organizations were noticed at the place. According to estimates of the observing team, more than 500 of human rights defenders and citizens were not allowed to reach the entrance spot.
At the time, the ad hoc team was trying to facilitate a safe departure from the place of potential risk, sharing information regarding routes for safe departure.
As police forces were not present anywhere near or close to the entrance points, because of the obvious threat towards isolated police officers, by pure coincidence, adaptability and coordination of the parade participants, no incident occurred and no human rights defender was injured.
During the parade, group of people who managed to pass the entrance point and participate at the parade were completely safe. Information about the incidents that were happening couple of blocks away, was being received via cell phones.
After the peaceful walk ended, the participants of the pride parade walked into the premises of the Student cultural centre (SKC), where they had been waiting for further instructions and evacuation to safer locations.
At the time of the beginning of the action, when police vehicles arrived, a TV station Studio B reported that the action of relocation of the participants began and showed on TV the police vehicles waiting in front of the SKC. That could have further jeopardized the evacuation and safety of human rights defenders.
After the participants got into the police vehicles, treatment of the defenders and the participants was correct and there was no demonstration of intolerance by the police.
Incidents were reported to the ad hoc network upon arrival of the participants to the locations considered safe. Namely, a group of people on the way to Zvezdara, was attacked, at the turntable of the bus 65, couple of minutes upon leaving the vehicle. They went to the local bar and were followed by ten hooligans who attacked them. On this occasion, Marija Radoman from Helsinki Committee for Human Rights was attacked, while a Switzerland citizen suffered severe injuries and was transported to ER.
Eight participants, among whom, Dragan Popović from the Center for practical politics, were attacked at the Kralja Aleksandra Bld. nearby Vukov spomenik, during their relocation to safe locations after the parade. The vehicle was attacked by group of 20 hooligans who partially managed to open the doors of the vehicle with stones and steel bars. At the very last moment, driver succeed to drive trough the crowd and run away from the aggressors. During the attack the vehicle was damaged, and the door lock was completely distorted. The participants safely left the vehicle at the construction site next to the Zvezdara police station with the help of construction workers and use of metal cutting machine. Sole action of the “rescue” was recorded by the activists’ cell phones.
After the Pride Parade, a lot of negative comments were made regarding the parade, including comments of the editor of the Novosti Newspapers who explicitly incited violence and his speeches had all characteristics of the hate speech.
Human rights defenders have great expectations from the office of the public prosecutor when it comes to state demonstration of readiness to adequately and in due time, punish all the aggressors who took part in the riots and caused injuries to the human rights defenders. A great number of arrested offenders, around 250 according to information we have, indicates a broader police action aimed at prevention of further riots.
For now, there is no information regarding use of excessive force against arrested persons.
For YUCOM’s team:
October 11, 2010.