In May, consecutive mass shootings left 18 people dead in Serbia. As the Vučić regime has failed to respond, mass protests have erupted across the country
On June 9, tens of thousands of Serbian citizens once again marched through Belgrade in a peaceful protest against the violence spreading through society with the support of the Aleksandar Vučić regime.
Last month, 18 people — mainly children and youth — were killed in consecutive massive shootings that left Serbia in a state of shock. But Vučić and his allies in government have failed entirely to respond to the tragedies and the subsequent outpouring of grief. As a result, mass protests have erupted across the country, growing to become the largest in Serbia’s modern history.
These protests reflect more than Serbia’s distress over the recent mass shootings. Rather, they emphasise a broader pattern of the regime’s behaviour: the normalisation of violent content in the government-friendly media, the use of loyal media outlets to target and abuse opponents, its ties to criminal figures, its instrumentalisation of hooligans and celebration of war criminals, inflammtory nationalistic and chauvinistic rhetoric and revisionist narratives denying or minimising Serbia’s responsibility in the Yugoslav wars, the ruinous state of public education, regime-captured institutions, and their associated corruption.
Protestors thus demand the end of this public promotion of violence. These demands include sanctions on the platforms that produce and diffuse hateful disinformation. And they include accountability for the public figures that enforce it, calling for the resignation of the country’s Minister of Police, Chief of Secret Services, and the Governing body of the Media Regulatory Agency.
Despite mounting public pressure, though, the regime has refused to address the needs, concerns, and demands expressed by the protests. On the contrary, Vučić now presents a snap election as the only “solution” to the country’s profound and overlapping crises — while his allied media dismiss and demonise the opposition who stand on the streets with the protests against his government.
We write now, as friends of the Serbian people, to express our support for the protestors, to echo their demands, and to implore Vučić to listen to their plea for a compassionate, equal, and caring society.
We call on allies across Europe to break their silence — to bring the world’s attention to the acute political crisis in Serbia, to ensure that its peaceful protests are protected from state violence, and to elevate the key demands that have motivated Serbian citizens to take to the streets in their thousands.
Yanis Varoufakis, Member of Hellenic Parliament, Greece
Manon Aubry, Member of European Parliament, France
Walter Baier, President Party of the European Left, Austria
Luka Mesec, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Slovenia
Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Philosopher, Italy
Leila Chaibi, Member of European Parliament, France
Devriş Çimen, European representative of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey
Halide Türkoğlu, Member of Grand National Assembly, Turkey
Semra Çağlar Gökalp, Member of Grand National Assembly, Turkey
Adalet Kaya, Member of Grand National Assembly, Turkey
Martin Schirdewan, Member of European Parliament, Germany
Srećko Horvat, Philosopher, Croatia
David Adler, General Coordinator Progressive International, USA
Saskia Sassen, Sociologist, Columbia University, USA
Ece Temelkuran, Writer and Journalist, Turkey
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