Violent Attacks against Roma in Serbia and Montenegro

10 May 2003

On November 24, 2002, at approximately 3:00 PM, three youths armed with knives and a gun entered the Dr Ivana Ribara Street Romani refugee settlement in Novi Beograd and violently attacked Roma in the settlement, according to the Serbian national daily newspaper Blic. Blic reported that 35-year-old Ms Nedžmija Gaši was stabbed on her left arm below her elbow when she tried to protect her 8-year-old son Fidan from the attackers in the home of Mr Zin Hasani. The attackers apparently threatened Fidan that they would kill him while holding the gun in his mouth. According to the daily, police arrived in the settlement with two young men about thirty minutes after the attackers had left. Mr Hasani reportedly recognised the two young men as the attackers. On December 6, 2002, the ERRC's partner in monitoring Roma rights in Serbia and Montenegro, the Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Minority Rights Center (MRC) filed a complaint with the police in connection with the attack. As of March 6, 2003, there had been no response to the complaint.

In August 2002, in the centre of Podgorica, four non-Romani men reportedly attacked Mr Sani Isaku, a 22-year-old displaced Kosovo Romani man, as he was collecting food from garbage containers with his younger brother. As one of the attackers hit him in the mouth, he fell down, and then all the attackers kicked him. Finally, the attackers threw Mr Isaku into a ditch filled with water, and left. He remained incapacitated for two days recovering from the attack. Mr Isaku told the ERRC that he did not report the incident to the police because he was afraid of the police due to an incident in summer 2001 during which he had been beaten by police officers.

Finally, at around midnight on August 2, 2002, Ms Đulizara Malićević, a 45-year-old Romani woman, and her 22-year-old daughter Marijana, received death threats from approximately thirty young men and women on a street in Niš, in southern Serbia. According to Ms Malićević's testimony, given to the ERRC/MRC on October 8, 2002, she and her daughter were walking home in the centre of town when the group, which was under a bridge holding baseball bats and knives, began yelling at them. The group reportedly cursed their "Gypsy" mothers and shouted, "We are going to kill you Gypsies." At this point, Ms Malićević claimed, she and Marijana began to run and the group chased them, until they came to a police car and asked the officers for help. The police reportedly went after the group, but did not catch them, and Ms Malićević and her daughter took a taxi home. Ms Malićević informed the ERRC/MRC that, several days later in the afternoon, a group of approximately sixty young men appeared on her street in the Beograd-mala Romani settlement in Niš, swearing and threatening to kill the Romani inhabitants. All of the Romani inhabitants reportedly stayed in their houses because they were scared. Ms Malićević reported to the ERRC/MRC that no similar attacks had taken place between the time of the incident and the ERRC visit.

(Blic, ERRC, MRC)


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