Protesters Blockade Film About Serb-Albanian Relations

Source/Author: Balkan Insight, BIRN, Filip Rudic
Source/Photo: Photo: Maja Ledjenac/Beta

NIS, 23.06.2017. – Protesters carrying Serbian flags and chanting anti-Albanian slogans prevented the showing of a film about Serb-Albanian relations in the city of Nis.

Several dozen nationalists, including members of the banned far-right group Obraz, prevented the screening of a film called ‘Albanian Women Are Our Sisters’ in the southern Serbian city of Nis on Thursday evening.

While the protesters were waving Serbian flags outside the Media Centre, where the film was about to be shown, a few of them entered the building and started shouting at the organisers.

“We forbid the projection of this pagan film. We will not allow this, you will all get beaten up and all of this [the Media Centre] will be trashed,” shouted a man in a military uniform who the media identified as Branislav Vakic, a former Serbian Radical Party MP.

“The police kept trying to calm him, instead of removing him from the premises right away. They showed him out when it was already clear that the projection was not going to happen,” said one of the film-makers, journalist Darko Sper.

Sper told BIRN that police were present inside and in front of the building, where between 30 and 40 people were “roaring out songs”.

“At one point they started throwing dirt at the terrace, when we appeared there,” Sper said.

The police later denied that any objects were thrown during the incident.

Serbian media reported that the right-wing movement Obraz claimed responsibility for preventing the film screening show because of its “open hatred of Serbia and Serbian people”.

Obraz claimed that attempts to show this and similar films was an attempt by “anti-Serbian NGOs” to “change the awareness of Serbs”.

The right-wing organisation was banned in 2012 by Serbia’s Constitutional Court.

Dozens of far-right activists also tried to stop the showing of another film about life in Kosovo, entitled ‘Kosovo… Nazdravlje! Gezuar!’, in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad on June 11.

Right-wingers also protested in Belgrade at the start of June against the festival ‘Miredita – Dobar Dan’, whose purpose is to bring the cultures of Serbia and Kosovo closer together.

‘Albanian Women Are Our Sisters’ was shown at the festival.

The film is about the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, during the Kosovo war, and people in Serbia who are resisting mobilisation and organising anti-war protests.

Like ‘Kosovo… Nazdravlje! Gezuar!’, it is one of five films made as part of a project called ‘Real People – Real Solutions’, co-produced by BIRN Kosovo, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina and the ZFD Forum, and supported by the EU Delegation in Serbia.