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news 25 Jun 16

25,000 Attend Savamala Demolitions Protest in Belgrade

Continuing their campaign for justice, protesters in Serbia’s capital took to the streets in their largest demonstration so far, reiterating their demands for the Belgrade authorities responsible for the nocturnal Savamala demolitions to resign.

Emma Krstic
 Photo: BIRN/ Natalia Zaba.

Civic movement "Let's not drown Belgrade"(Ne davimo Beograd), organised its biggest protest yet in the Serbian capital on Saturday evening, with some 25,000 people estimated to have taken part in the latest demonstration against the night-time demolitions in Belgrade’s Savamala district.

The protest started at the Assembly of the City of Belgrade and ended at the Palace of Serbia – which houses the headquarters of the Serbian Interior Ministry - going via Brankov bridge, where protesters blocked one side of the roadway to traffic due to their sheer number.

Around a dozen counter-protesters bearing provocative signs were stationed along the route, but demonstrators adhered to calls not to react coming from Ne davimo Beograd members.

The counter-protesters are believed to belong to the same group that recently demonstrated in Serbia’s northern province, Vojvodina, during protests by local activists and journalists supporting freedom of the media.

During the protest, demonstrators reiterated their demands for the resignations of the senior Belgrade officials responsible for the demolitions, which took place on the evening of April 24 in Hercegovacka street, part of the city where the controversial, state-backed Belgrade Waterfront development is to be built.

The protesters are calling for Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, the President of the Belgrade City Assembly, Nicholas Nikodijevic, and acting Belgrade police chief Vladimir Rebic to step down.

Addressing the crowd at the Palace of Serbia, Radomir Lazovic, an activist from Ne davimo Beograd, said “the fight with the government will be long and enduring”, but voiced a promise to the city officials that the movement, and the citizens of Belgrade who support it, will not stop until justice has been delivered.

“This thing [the demolitions] shall not pass [without justice]. This is not a political claim or political message, but this is our promise to them [the government],” he said.

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