Freelance photographer and a member of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia Andrija Vukelic was beaten, on Monday, November 30, during the gathering of the Serbian Progressive Party in Sabac. He covered the protest against company Rio Tinto and then he stayed in Sabac to photograph the SNS rally.
The ruling party held a counter-protest yesterday in front of the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office in Sabac,requesting “justice” for their member Dusan Prokic, who was on an excavator on Saturday and clashed with one of the participants in the blockade, Dragan Milovanovic Crni. As a reminder, there were protests and blockades throughout Serbia, on Saturday, November 27, on the occasion of the adoption of the Law on Expropriation and the Law on Referendum in the Assembly of Serbia.
Andrija Vukelic said that at one point he saw a crowd of big people in black masks, dressed in black rushing towards someone.
“I went to see what was happening and I saw two people being beaten near the stage on the right side of it, and the same two people being carried out. I saw them being kicked and when I wanted to take a photo, I put the camera down and saw that I was surrounded by those people in black. One started yelling at me ‘give me the camera’ and started insulting me. Since I did not allow him to take my camera, they started punching me in the head and ribs and tried to knock me to the floor. At one point they hit me in the eye, and I heard another man saying ‘don’t, don’t, we’ll ruin the rally’ , then they managed to take the camera off of my neck because my camera belt broke. Then a bunch of them ran into the crowd towards the stage, and one person kicked me in the behind and started pushing me across the street. He told me “don’t come back to this side”, Vukelic said.
After that assault, he immediately reported the case to the police.
Our Network has been warning institutions and government officials for a long time that journalists are completely endangered. In the last 15 days, we have had several attacks on journalists while they were doing their job, but we are afraid that this will not stop there.
The SafeJournalists network representing more than 8.200 media professionals in the Western Balkans, joins its member, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, in condemning this brutal attack on Andrija Vukelic. We request from the police to find these people, arrest them and prosecute them.
SafeJournalists Network will inform all relevant national and international stakeholders about this case.
Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and rights of all citizens.
Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Pristina – Sarajevo – Zagreb, November 30, 2021
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
BH Journalists Association
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro