BANJA LUKA, 09.08.2017. – The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, representing more than 7800 members, strongly condemns death threat to journalist Dragan Bursac and welcomes the prompt reaction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, who arrested a person who threatened journalist from Banja Luka.
Dragan Bursac was faced with death threats because of his article “I was silent while Bihac was shelled”, in which the author recalls memories of the three-year siege of the town Bihac that was surrounded on one side by the Army of the so called Serbian Autonomous Region Krajina and, on the other, the Republika Srpska Army and the action Storm (Oluja) which was followed. An inadmissible reaction was followed via Facebook where A.B. wrote a bunch of very disturbing abominations which end up with words “you will not hold your head on your shoulders, I can promise you that”.
“Repeated death threats to Dragan Bursac, sent through social networks, are only the proof that free and public opinion, in contrast to official attitudes, is not allowed or welcome. Any threats to journalists are unacceptable and represent a huge violation of media and human rights and freedoms. Repeated death threats because of the publicly expressed opinion, require urgent and decisive measures of the judicial authorities and institutions. Forcing anyone, especially forcing journalists to think and write in line with political parties, individuals, groups, or authorities, returns us to the time of absence of pluralism of opinion. I expect from responsible institutions to punish the perpetrator of this serious criminal act, such as death threats” said Marko Divkovic, president of the BH Journalists Association.
This is the third very serious threats to Bursac since August last year. Only a month ago, death threats were sent to Bursac because of the article “Does Banja Luka celebrate Srebrenica genocide?”, about the event regarding support to Ratko Mladic, who is accused for the worst war crimes committed in BiH, announced for July 11, day which marks the anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. Until this case, none of the perpetrators have been prosecuted.
The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety warns, not the first time, that attacking journalists is an attack on freedom of speech and reporting. Because of the content of a journalists’ article or other media product, this attack we consider as an unacceptable and dangerous attack on the freedom of reporting. We remind you that any attack on journalists and media represents an attack on all citizens.
We also expect that the perpetrator will be prosecuted as soon as possible, which will give the public a clear message that any similar behavior is unacceptable towards journalists and it will be expressly sanctioned.
The Regional Platform strongly supports the BH Journalists Association and other journalists and media organizations in efforts to protect journalists and freedom of speech. The Platform also calls on international organizations dealing with the protection of press freedom and the rights of journalists to demand from Bosnian authorities to urgently prosecute the perpetrator.
In the first seven months of 2017, in BIH has recorded 36 cases of direct pressure, verbal threats and physical attacks on journalists, including the last incident.
Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Pristina – Sarajevo – Zagreb
BH Journalists Association
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
Independent Journalists Association Serbia