PEN INTERNATIONAL: Serbia: Death threats against writer and academic Dinko Gruhonjić condemned

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Source/Author: NDNV

PEN INTERNATIONAL: 

Serbia: Death threats against writer and academic Dinko Gruhonjić condemned

‘PEN international condemns the mounting death threats against writer and academic Dinko Gruhonjić and urge the Serbian authorities to do everything in their power to hold the perpetrators to account. The situation for freedom of expression in Serbia is at critical point. The dangerous cycle of impunity for crimes against writers and journalists – which emboldens perpetrators and encourages further threats and attacks – must end once and for all’. Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

28 March 2024: PEN International is deeply concerned about the safety of writer and academic Dinko Gruhonjić, who is subject to a dangerous smear campaign, including death threats. PEN International calls on the Serbian authorities to abide by their national and international obligations to uphold the right to freedom of expression, and urgently ensure the protection of Gruhonjić and fellow independent writers and journalists who find themselves increasingly targeted for their critical views. All those responsible for crimes against writers must be held to account.

Dinko Gruhonjić, a journalist, writer, and lecturer at the Faculty of Philosophy of Novi Sad in Vojvodina, Norther Serbia, has been facing increased harassment, smears, and death threats since 14 March 2024, following the publication of an edited video in which Gruhonjić was falsely made to appear as welcoming sharing a name with Dinko Šakić, who was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in World War II. On 21 March, unknown individuals painted threatening graffiti on the entrance to his residence, stating, ‘Dinko – Šakić for the eternal home you are ready’. That same day, his personal phone number was disclosed, resulting in him receiving myriad death threats. National and international organisations have urged the Serbian authorities to hold those responsible to account. PEN International understands that despite a formal complaint being lodged, law enforcement officials had yet to launch a thorough investigation at the time of writing. Students who publicly supported Gruhonjić also reported receiving death threats.

Dinko Gruhonjić is amongst several writers and journalists at heightened risk in Serbia for their independent and critical reporting. Amongst them is Serbian writer and journalist Marko Vidojković, who notably spoke on 21 March 2024 about his plight and the broader situation in Serbia at a panel event marking the launch of PEN International’s Case List of persecuted writers for 2023/2024. Writer and academic Jovo Bakić, who has been the target of the Serbian authorities and pro-government trolls for years, also found himself smeared again in pro-government media following the publication on 12 March 2024 of another edited video, culminating in renewed verbal attacks by former Serbian Prime Minister and president of the National Assembly of Serbia, Ana Brnabić. PEN International calls for an end to the continued harassment and targeting of Vidojković and Bakić.

Source: NDNV, PEN