Serbia: Public announcement on the attacks against Women in Black - Belgrade

WiB - Belgrade
An Attack on a PACE Flag – An Attack on Women Defenders of Human Rights
"On October 6, 2007 at 1:30 pm in Belgrade’s Republic Square, at the Women’s Nongovernmental Organizations Fair organized by The Incest Trauma Center, in which Women in Black participated, a beam on which a PACE flag was hanging was broken. (‘Pace’ is peace in Italian.)
Women in Black has used these peace flags in our protests since 1996. It is not only a symbol of peace, but a symbol of respect for others and diversity. The wooden flagpole was placed in a flower stand. A man passed by, took the flag, broke the stick and threw the flag on the ground.

Women in Black activist Miloš Urošević reacted immediately, “This gathering is registered with the police and you don’t have the right to do that!”

The man responded, “Beat it, faggot, sicko! I will kill you, break your arms and legs!” Then, Women in Black activist Natalija Vušković interfered and Miloš went to the police.

He approached the police and said that the gathering was attacked, that the flag was broken, and that they should come to the scene to identify the attacker. However, the police were completely passive; they did not pay attention to a violent act of vandalism. Miloš returned to the fair. Because the police didn’t come, he again went to the police to look for them to react. Only then, after the second attempt, did the police officers go with Miloš to the table in Beoizlog Restaurant where the attacker was sitting. Miloš pointed to the attacker, who told the police officer in a ‘brotherly’ tone that he broke the flag. He said it as if his behavior was normal, as if he can allow himself to commit an act of violence that endangers others and the different. The police did not react because they support a culture of impunity. The police officer told Miloš, “You, bro, go over there!”

Miloš left. Afterwards, the police came and told Miloš that the attacker told him that he broke the flag because it is a symbol of ‘sick homosexuality that you promote.’ Miloš said that that is an act of hate speech and that to use our sexuality in that way discredits all of us peace activists and defenders of human rights. The police officer said that he took down the attacker’s information. He also took a statement from Miloš as well as information from witnesses Tijana Popivoda, Natalija Vušković, and Zorica Trifunović.

This is only one in a series of attacks on Women in Black, on political ideas, on the ethical principles of our women’s peace politics. This act of violence is part of the continuity of repression which Women in Black experiences from people, with Vojislav Koštunica at the head, who support a social climate of impunity.

We demand that the authorized institutions bring criminal charges against the attacker and that he be punished for his attack."

6 October 2007

Women in Black