Anti-Romani graffiti mars Romani cultural events in Yugoslavia; skinheads on trial for incitement of racial hatred
10 April 2001
Unknown perpetrators placed a num-ber of stickers with Nazi symbols on the door of the Rex Cultural Centre in Belgrade just after midnight on February 14, 2001, as reported by the Belgrade daily Glas javnosti the same morning. At the time of the action, the centre was hosting an exhibition on Roma in Belgrade. Several days earlier, on the morning of February 10, 2001, several posters announcing the premier performance of a Romani theatre group were torn from the gate of the Centre for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade, and anti-Romani graffiti was put in their place, according to a report on February 14, 2001, on the Belgrade radio station B92. The incident coincided with the appearance of anti-Semitic graffiti on the local synagogue and at the Jewish cemetery. According to the B92 report of February 14, Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica had issued a public apology that day to Jews and Roma. In a public statement of February 14, the Romani Congress Party asked authorities to protect Roma from violence, and to take action against the perpetrators of the described anti-Romani actions.
In other news from Yugoslavia, reportedly the first trial in Yugoslavia of persons charged with incitement of ethnic, racial or religious hatred in relation to attacks against Roma started on March 1, 2001, according to a press statement from the Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Humanitarian Law Center. Two men with alleged links to neo-Nazi groups are standing trial at Niš County Court for an attack on a 15-year-old Romani boy D.A. and his father Mr Nebojša Ajdarević, in Niš, southern Serbia, on April 8, 2000. (See “Snapshots from around Europe”, Roma Rights 2/2000, available at Snapshots). At the first hearing, both accused persons denied being members of the skinhead movement, and denied that their acts were racially motivated. This trial represents the first occasion of the application of Article 134(2) of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Criminal Code, prohibiting racial hatred.
(Glas javnosti, Humanitarian Law Center, Romani Congress Party, B92)