Sarajevo, March 14, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Mladen Dragojlovic
Journalists in BiH are under new pressure since Sunday, when group of the radical Serbs in city of Visegrad attacked the N1TV crew and forbid Federation TV to come closer and take pictures of their gathering.
Radical Serbs, called Chetniks, gathered on Sunday morning in Visegrad to mark the anniversary of the arrest of general Draza Mihailovic, after WW2. Mihailovic was arrested by Communist government of Yugoslavia, sentenced on the death and executed on the unknown location in Belgrade. As his followers don’t know where is buried, they decided to mark the day of his arrest in Visegrad. In the last war in BiH, Bosniaks called all members of the Serb army “Chetniks”, but the truth is that just a small group of paramilitary units called itself with that name.
The gathering in Visegrad was peaceful until the N1TV crew came and a cameraman wanted to do his job. One group of participants begun insulting them, hit the cameraman on the head with a stone and attacked the reporter. Some of the other participants reacted and protected the crew. The reason for the attack was the answer of the reporter to the question where are they from. They said that they coming from Sarajevo, and that triggered the violence because BiH capital for radical Serbs is the source of all problems and an Arabic city on Serb territory.
Later, the second TV crew, FTV also from Sarajevo, came near the gathering but organizers, warned by previous events, forbid them to get closer and record the event. At same afternoon, the organization “Chetnik movement” apologized for the incident but the damage was already made. All journalist organizations reacted and condemned the attack on their colleagues. The Association BH journalists demand a full investigation in this case but also warned on the indolent behavior of the police in Visegrad.
“The disturbing fact is that the organizers and the relevant police units did not take the necessary security measures, neither protected journalists when they were physically attacked. They even tried to cover up the case through a statement that the gathering passed without incidents”, said the Association in their reaction.
They emphasized that this case has hate crime characteristics because the attackers insulted the reporters on the basis of their nationality and religion. Many other associations and politicians reacted on this incident saying that this is a warning that radical Serb movement is not defeated and still exist.
Among those who condemned the attack are also international organizations and foreign embassies in BiH. US Embassy in Sarajevo said on the Twitter that attacks such this is absolutely unacceptable. The reaction of EU Delegation in BiH was sharper than US.
“Journalists must be able to perform their work free from threat in BiH. Attacks on media, as in the case of TV crews of N1 and FTV, are serious violations of journalists’ rights, as their safety is a precondition for free speech and free media, and as such a real cause for concern.
We strongly condemn all threats against media freedom, and urge the law enforcement agencies to fully investigate cases of attacks at journalists and ensure their safe working conditions.
Freedom of expression and freedom of media are major priorities for the European Union and, as part of the Copenhagen political criteria, a key aspect of the EU integration process of the Western Balkans countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are closely monitoring these issues in assessing BiH’s readiness to move closer to the EU. We expect full support from people in positions of responsibility in achieving these policy priorities”, wrotethe EU Delegation in BiH in its statement.