fbpx

“Mirëdita, Dobar Dan!”: The State of Serbia bans collaboration between artists from Serbia and Kosovo

"The 'Mirëdita, Dobar dan' festival is not the enemy of the state, but the hooligans whom it has sided with, and for whose sake it has failed to fulfill its own obligations. The fundamental duty of the state is to ensure the freedoms and rights guaranteed by law, and to appropriately sanction those who infringe upon or organize against these freedoms and rights of citizens," stated the organizers.

-

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights from Belgrade announced on June 27 that they received verbal notification from the Ministry of Interior of Republic of Serbia regarding the ban on all events of the festival “Mirëdita, Dobar Dan!” (meaning “good day” in Albanian and Serbian) scheduled to start in the evening of that day.

The ban was formally communicated as an order to cease the gathering, initially verbally and then in writing, encompassing all the activities associated with the festival that had been promoting peace between Kosovo and Serbia since 2014, via annual events in Priština and Belgrade.

Deputy Prime Minister and Internal Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic said that the ministry issued orders to end the Miredita, Dobar Dan festival which he called a public gathering, N1 TV reported. According to Dacic, the ministry issued the order “because of danger to the security of people and property and the danger of violations of public order to a greater extent”.

“With this order, the Ministry of Interior violated the Constitution of Serbia, specifically freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as well as a number of laws, including at least two articles of the Law on Public Assembly due to the application of disproportionate measures. Placing the burden on the organizers instead of addressing the hooligans and failing to ensure the gathering runs counter to the legal and constitutional order of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the standards and practices upheld by the European Court of Human Rights,” stated the reaction of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

The unrest related to the festival started July 25 after “various hooligan and neo-Nazi groups” were allowed to freely occupy Dorćol Platz, the designated cultural space where the festival was scheduled to begin. Its outer walls were defaced with threatening chauvinistic messages aimed at festival guests.

On June 27 a group of about 150 hooligans stopped the traffic in Dobračina street and blocked the entrance to Dorćol Platz, so that none of the guests and festival organizers, as well as employees in this area, could enter or leave the complex.

The  organizers  reacted that an insufficient number of police police were in the area, and the Ministry of Interior did not send reinforcements, “leaving the impression that there was no will to hold the festival at all.”

The Initiative blamed the Minister of Culture (Nikola Selakovic), Minister of Family Welfare and Demography (Milica Djurdjevic-Stamenkovski), Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia (Aleksandar Vulin), the Mayor of Belgrade (Aleksandar Sapic) and Minister of Interior (Ivica Dacic) for the hateful campaign against the festival. They warned that promotion of hatred and intolerance by those whose responsibility it is to protect people and promote peace and normalization fostered the hostilities, which fundamentally led to the official banning of the festival.

They added that:

“The ‘Mirëdita, Dobar dan’ is not the enemy of the state, but the hooligans whom it has sided with, and for whose sake it has failed to fulfill its own obligations. The fundamental duty of the state is to ensure the freedoms and rights guaranteed by law, and to appropriately sanction those who infringe upon or organize against these freedoms and rights of citizens.”

The Initiative informed that during the notification of the ban, the organizers were ordered, under threat of consequences, to ensure that all foreign participants leave Serbia. The bus carrying participants was stopped at Bubanj Potok, on the  outskirts of Belgrade, and they were prohibited from entering the capital of Serbia. Organizers were instructed to return the bus to Kosovo under police escort, a directive carried out around 2:30 p.m.

“By banning the festival, the Ministry of Interior and the Government of Serbia have once again demonstrated that freedom of assembly applies only to hooligan groups, not to festival participants and guests,” stated the Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

They also expressed “profound concern for the state of society characterized by violence, hatred, and intolerance — a model of behavior that officials and institutions fail to recognize as contentious and perilous.”

Leading Serbian civil society organizations expressed solidarity with the organizers of the festival.

The  international community also reacted, starting with European Union Delegation in Serbia, which as candidate country for EU membership is obliged to uphold human rights.

Balkan Insight reported that the festival “Mirëdita, Dobar Dan!” was founded in 2014 by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, the Civic Initiative from Belgrade and the Pristina NGO Integra with the aim of promoting cultural exchange and creating “a tradition of collaboration” that would contribute to a permanent peace and the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo by bringing together artists, rights activists and opinion makers. While denounced by right-wing groups since its inception, “authorities in Belgrade have largely let the festival pass without comment.” But this year’s Serbian official voiced strong criticism, culminating with official ban.

 

Нашите вести во вашето сандаче

Секој ден во 17 ч. добивајте ги вестите од Новинската агенција Мета директно на вашата електронска адреса.

Ве молиме одберете на кој начин сакате да добивате информации од нас:
Можете да се отпишете од оваа листа преку линкот на крајот од нашите пораки.