BiH veterans threat journalists: “We will cut your heads off!”

BiH veterans threat journalists: “We will cut your heads off!”

Army of Republic Bosnia and Herzegovina veterans ended their violent protest in Sarajevo, on Thursday evening the after House of Peoples of the Federation BiH Parliament adopted the draft law on veterans rights, but the “echo” of events during the road blockade still have a strong impact on the public.

As it was reported, a group of veterans attacked the drivers who tried to drive through the crowd and three vehicles are damaged. However, dozens of violent protesters attacked also the photo reporter of the internet portal. When his colleagues from the Al Jazeera Balkans TV crew tried to protect him they were also faced with the veterans sudden ire. A few other veterans intervened, things cooled off and journalists got away without severe injuries. The drama was not over until police mediated in order to protect press representatives but also drove the injured photographer to the hospital.

After the incident, one of the most violent attackers, later identified as Emila Hamzić, who was filmed by a phone, said “it is not over” and confessed that she hit the Al Jazeera Balkans journalist and photo reporter with a metal stick.

However, after the minor scuffles were considered over, with media people thinking they can continue their job, an unidentified man called the editing room, saying that “this was just the beginning”.

“Yesterday you escaped but this will not be the case again. We will find your reporters on the streets and chop their heads off!”, said the man.

The police officers arrested Hamzić and interrogate her at the police station. Once more she confessed the attack but the prosecutor decided that she does “not pose a threat to public order” and her release. Nevertheless, she will be tried, thus she will be free until the trial. Hamzić will be prosecuted through the regular procedure; the event was not characterised as an ordinary offence but as a criminal act.

This means a lot to all journalists across BiH since this is fthe irst time that such attack is seriously dealt with and the perpetrator prosecuted. In all other cases, attackers were treated as minor offenders. The police announced that the search for the man who called editor room is still ongoing.

All media associations in BiH, including many international organisations and embassies, condemned the attack.

The Association “BH Journalists” Board of Directors considers violence against journalists unacceptable; this is a brutal attack on freedom of expression, a direct threat to the safety and life of journalists during their professional work. Such behaviour is a criminal offence, which is why the police must urgently investigate this attack and take legal measures against Esma Turulja (aka Emila Hamzić) and all those who threatened journalists and disrupted their work.

At the same time, members of the “BH Journalists” Board of Directors are launching a public protest to organisations and associations of veterans throughout the Federation BiH for repeated violence against journalists and for preventing media teams from reporting on the protests, that veterans organise and participate in. Recently, in a similar, brutal manner, the team of the “Flash portal” was attacked during a traffic blockade at the Bijača border crossing. Also, at the beginning of this year, Marko Divković, a BHT correspondent and president of the Association “BH Journalists”, was attacked in Tuzla”, stressed the Association “BH Journalists” in the relevant press release it issued.

Media community in BiH hopes that the attackers will receive the appropriate sentence which, at the same time will lead no others to behave similarly. Otherwise, being a journalist in BiH will become a rather dangerous profession for the people of the field…. / IBNA