Skinhead violence against Roma in Yugoslavia
03 October 2000
On August 17, 2000, several Romani families living on Pozecka Street in Belgrade told the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), a Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation, that they had been subjected to harassment by groups of non-Romani me n about once a month for over a year. Mr Blagoje Mustafić, who lives on Pozecka Street, told the HLC that the young men have shaved heads, and that they throw large rocks at the Romani houses, often breaking windows, shout racist insults, and threaten to s et the houses on fire. According to Mr Mustafić and other witnesses interviewed by the HLC , the police did not take action to stop the attacks and often would not even come when called. Mr Mustafić and other witnesses alleged that the latest attack took pl ace on July 31, 2000, at about 5:30 AM, when a group of young non-Romani men arrived in a car, shouted racist insults, and threw rocks, breaking a window. The police allegedly refused to come when the Roma phoned them to report the attack, saying that the Roma must have done something to provoke the attack themselves. The families organised a night watch and have covered their windows with boards to protect themselves.
In another incident, in Vranje in southeastern Yugoslavia, on April 29, 2000, at around 1 1:30 P.M, a group of skinheads allegedly attacked Demir Idić and Sasa Aliević, two fifteen-year old Romani boys. The two boys told the HLC that while they were walking on Peti Kongres Street to return a videotape to a video rental store, three skinheads dressed in camouflage trousers and military boots approached them. The boys started to run, but were overtaken by a large group of skinheads with baseball bats. After the skinheads punched Saša in the stomach and head, he managed to escape. The skinheads allegedly beat Demir with baseball bats in the lower back, kicked him and beat him on the head. Then they knocked Demir to the ground and continued to kick him and hit him in the ribs with the baseball bats, at the same time insulting his ethnic origins. Demir eventually managed to run away, while the group threw rocks after him. When Demir reached home, he called the police and then went with his father to the police station. Demir said that one police officer asked him where the skinheads were. When Demir said he did not know, the officer told him to let them know if he recognised any of his attackers. Demir went to the doctor to have his injuries treated and discovered that he had two broken ribs. No complaint was filed in the case because the incident was reported too late.
(ERRC, Humanitarian Law Center)