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17 Dec 12

Attack on Kosovo 2.0 Widely Condemned

Civil society and officials issue rebuke as Pristina football group claims responsibility for attack on launch event for Kosovo 2.0 magazine focusing on LGBT issues.

Donjeta Demolli
BIRN Pristina

Numerous Kosovo civil society organisations voiced solidarity with Kosovo 2.0 on Monday in the aftermath of an attack against the launch of the Pristina media outlet’s latest magazine, Sex, which focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

“We want to emphasize that these attacks … flagrantly violate our dignity, our right to think, to free speech and the right of assembly,” the 30 organisations said in a written statement, which also called on authorities to pursue those responsible.

The statement echoed widespread condemnation from international officials as well as two high-ranking Kosovo government officials following the attack, which occurred Friday night at the Palace of Youth and Sports in Prishtina.

An employee of Kosovo 2.0 was beaten after a group of around 30 people stormed the building about 6:40 p.m. and destroyed much of Kosovo 2.0’s setup for the magazine launch party, police said.

Special police in riot gear came to the scene afterward.

Around 10:30, about 100 protesters gathered outside and approached the building, yelling, “Out, pederasts!” and “Allahu akbar!” according to a letter posted on Kosovo 2.0’s Facebook page on Sunday.

Kosovo 2.0 said it opted to evacuate, despite the police presence, out of concern for safety. Police escorted out those remaining inside in small groups

Police arrested one person in connection with the attack. Police spokesman Baki Kelani told Balkan Insight that the suspect was interviewed and released.

The Pristina football fan group Plisat announced on its Facebook page that it had taken an action against “pederasts” and “demolished the Red Room,” where Kosovo 2.0 was to hold its magazine launch. “Our past and culture do not allow these degenerate and anti-family ‘cultures’ to be promoted in our midst,” Plisat said in the statement. “Plisat will take action against these degenerate characteristics in the future as well.”

Friday’s incident was also condemned by the Association of Professional Journalists of Kosovo, calling on the Kosovo Police and other law enforcement entities, including EULEX, to promptly investigate the attack..

“Such acts seriously denigrate freedom of press and freedom of expression and are a direct attack against democracy in the country,” the association said.

Elaine Conkievich, the acting head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, also condemned also condemned the attack.

“This is an attack on freedom of expression, a basic human right, as well as an attempt to limit freedom of the media. I call on the law enforcement agencies to conduct a swift investigation, identify perpetrators and prevent violations of human rights and attacks on media freedom,” Conkievich said in a written statement.

EU Special Representative in Kosovo, Samuel Zbogar, said that he had been shocked when he heard for the attack.

“Any use of force in solving difficult social issues is unacceptable, but when the freedom of expression and independent medias are attacked, then this issue becomes even more concerning,” Zbogar said in a written statement.

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