Racist Attacks on Resettled Roma in Belgrade
10 September 2013
Budapest, Belgrade, 9 September 2013: Roma families living in the container settlement of Resnik, Belgrade faced six nights of violence, intimidation and threats from attackers. On 28 August, around 20 men attacked the settlement, shouting threats and racist insults. The men wore hoods and came armed with metal poles. They threw stones, and broke a window in one of the containers, while children were sleeping underneath it. One woman was hit with the metal bar as it came through the window. Attackers returned to the settlement on the following nights, shouting insults and threatening to set the residents on fire. Residents reported the attacks to the police, who attended the scene, and on one night took four of the attackers into custody. However a night patrol car was only stationed at the settlement for protection overnight after six days of repeated attacks, and following an intervention from Praxis and the ERRC.
The ERRC and Praxis sent a joint letter of concern calling on the authorities take all necessary security measures to protect the Romani families in Resnik container settlement from further attacks and to make a full and thorough investigation, identify and bring to justice all persons involved in the attacks. Key elements of the incidents, such as the ethnicity of the target group, location of the settlement, number of attackers and repetition of violence indicate premeditated and planned hate crime and must be prosecuted as such.
The ERRC and Praxis are also concerned about the behaviour and attitude of the staff from City of Belgrade Secretariat for Social Welfare, which runs the camp. The City of Belgrade authorities only came to visit the families on 2 September 2013, several days after the attacks began, despite the fact that the authorities were informed immediately about the incidents. They told families that they would have to pay for the broken window caused by the attackers. Two City of Belgrade employees also shouted at and insulted the Roma, calling them “thieves” and “animals,” and threatening to cut off any further assistance to the families.
The Roma families were previously evicted from the Belvil settlement. Before they even arrived in Resnik, the local population in Resnik organised violent protests against the decision to settle Romani families in this location. Roma had to live under constant police protection for several months.
The letter is also available in Serbian.
For further information, contact:
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre