SafeJournalists: Campaign Against Journalists in Serbia Must Stop

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    photo: canva

    The SafeJournalists network is concerned about the safety of Dinko Gruhonjic, a journalist and professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Serbia, and calls for an immediate end to the violence.

    The manhunt, which started with an edited video, where Gruhunjic’s words spoken in a public debate are taken out of context, culminated in the writing of a threatening message on the wall at the entrance of the building where he lives. Namely, yesterday at the entrance of the building where he lives, the following was written: “Dinko – Sakic, for the eternal home you are ready” [signed by] Serbian Vojvodina. [the wording is a reference to the salute used during World War II by the Croatian Ustaše movement]. The incident has been reported to the police and we expect that the perpetrators will be brought to justice as soon as possible.

    The regime’s tabloids have been leading the lynching of Gruhonjic for days, and also published the news that students are demanding sanctioning of Gruhonjic “for hate speech.” A criminal complaint has been filed against Gruhonjic, pressure is being put on the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, where Gruhonjic works, and threats are being made to students who support the professor.

    “Thanks for the list [list of the students who support Gruhonjic]! We know where to start.”, “If you too think like that so-called professor, you are free to move out of Serbia and go where is better for you”, “… We will get rid of you all one day”, are just some of the threats addressed to the students.

    At the same time, an orchestrated campaign is being conducted by certain representatives of the authorities who, with their hate speech, have raised the level of tension among citizens, especially among certain right-wing groups that use every opportunity for threats and attacks.

    In addition to Dinko Gruhonjic and his family, the employees of the Media Studies Department at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad and the students who supported the professor are at risk.

    This is the culmination of an orchestrated campaign of threats against journalists in Serbia. Since the beginning of the year, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia recorded 42 attacks on journalists, of which 6 were physical attacks.

    The campaign against journalist Ana Lalic Hegedis, also from Novi Sad, is still ongoing. She received about 1,200 abusive messages, some of which were serious death threats against her and her family.

    Due to the threats to Ana Lalic Hegedis and Dinko Gruhonjic, six criminal charges have been filed so far, and no one has been prosecuted.

    Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS) states that this is a big test for the state, that freedom of thought and speech must be allowed. The competent authorities must stop the thugs who are obviously well organized and coordinated, and prevent possible tragic consequences, IJAS states. 

    IJAS demands that representatives of the government behave responsibly by calling for a reduction in tensions and urgently condemn all events that threaten the safety of citizens who dare to think and speak critically.

    The SafeJournalists network joins its member IJAS and demands that the competent institutions urgently solve these cases and find the campaign’s masterminds. The media community stands in solidarity with the attacked journalists and will protect them and provide them with all the help they need.

     

    The SafeJournalists network will closely monitor developments in these cases and inform relevant national and international stakeholders. 

    Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and the rights of all citizens. 

     

    Pristina – Skopje – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Belgrade – Podgorica, 22.03.2024 

    Association of Journalists of Macedonia 

    Association of Journalists of Kosovo 

    BH Journalists Association 

    Croatian Journalists’ Association 

    Independent Journalists Association of Serbia

    Trade Union of Media of Montenegro