Racist Threats against Roma in Serbia and Montenegro
29 October 2003
The Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Minority Rights Center (MRC), an ERRC partner in monitoring Roma rights in Serbia and Montenegro, has documented that Roma living in the Žarkovo Romani settlement in Belgrade were abused on several occasions by an unknown group of racist young men. On February 27, 2003, at approximately 11:30 PM, a group of young men entered the Žarkovo Romani settlement in Belgrade and threatened the Romani inhabitants. MRC investigation revealed that the young men carried baseball bats and threw stones at Roma in the settlement, shouting, "Gypsies, we are going to exterminate you. You won't walk on this land anymore." Earlier, at around 8:00 PM on February 22, 3003, four young men reportedly beat Mr Dušan Martinović, a 45-year-old Romani man, with baseball bats, according to testimony given to the MRC by Ms Nebojša Marković, an 18-year-old girl. Ms Marković stated that she saw off Mr Martinović, who had been visiting her, and as soon as she entered her house, Mr Martinović ran into the house bleeding from his head. Mr Martinović reportedly stated, "They hit me with bats while shouting, 'We will kill all Gypsies'". Ms Marković stated that she ran outside and saw four young men, one of whom threw down his bat and then the group ran away. The police arrived and made a report of the incident, but when Ms Marković asked them to take the bat, they reportedly refused. On March 4, 2003, the MRC filed a criminal complaint against the perpetrators of the attack for endangering safety and appealed to the Ministry of the Interior to adequately investigate and prosecute attacks against Roma. As of July 31, 2003, there had been no response to the complaint.
In other news, on January 3, 2003, the Serbian national daily newspaper Danas reported that, at around 10:00 AM on January 2, 2003, Mr Vojkan Stefanović, a 22-year-old self-proclaimed skinhead, attempted to rape A.K., a 15-year-old non-Romani girl, near the Nada Purić primary school in Valjevo in central Serbia. Several people nearby reportedly intervened to protect Ms A.K. before the attack progressed seriously. The police were subsequently summoned and Mr Stefanović arrested. According to Danas, Mr Stefanović told the police that he thought A.K. was Romani and that the attempted rape had been racially motivated. Mr Stefanović reportedly has a history of problems with the law. As of July 22, 2003, the ERRC/MRC were unaware of further developments in the case.
(Danas, ERRC, MRC)