News 12 Jun 17

Serbian Right-Wingers Protest Against Kosovo Film

Dozens of far-right activists in the Serbian city of Novi Sad tried to stop the showing of a film about life in Kosovo, but police ousted them from the building after they forced their way in.

Maja Zivanovic

Far-right protesters in front of the Independent Journalists' Association of Vojvodina. Photo: BIRN.

The screening of a film about everyday life in Kosovo sparked protests in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad on Monday evening by dozens of members of the far-right groups Zavetnici and Mlada Srpska Snaga (Young Serbian Power).

The right-wing activists gathered in front of the offices of the co-producer of the film, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina, NDNV, where the screening was taking place.

Protesters held up a banner with slogan “For the [Serbian] self-haters, gifts from the Yellow House”, alongside pictures of human organs - a reference to a farmhouse near the Albanian town of Burrel, where it was alleged that Serbs were taken for organ-harvesting in 1999 by Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas.

Activists tried to enter the NDNV office and stop the screening, holding pictures of Kosovo Liberation Army fighters; several of them managed to get inside the building but were rapidly escorted out by police.

The NDNV said on Sunday that it had cancelled a planned screening of the film at the Arena cinema in Novi Sad due to security risks and had decided to show it in its office in the city instead.

“After a series of threats and calls for lynching, addressed to the organisers and the audience through the social networks of extremist and pro-fascist organisations, and taking into account the fact that at the same time events involving large numbers of minors were scheduled at the Arena cinema, the NDNV took this decision with the assessment that a nationalist rampage and violence could jeopardise safety,” the NDNV said in a statement.

The film screening at the NDNV office on Monday. Photo: BIRN.

The NDNV also accused elements within the Serbian state of supporting far-right extremists.

“There are countless pieces of evidence that extremist organisations that advocate violence as a method of political struggle are orchestrated units of certain state and para-state structures, whose aim is to intimidate citizens who think differently, and also to suppress of human rights and freedoms,” it said.

It added that the film is a real story about real people who live in Kosovo now - “full of contradictions and passions, in which despair and hope are interwoven in life together”.

The executive producer of BIRN’s ‘Life in Kosovo’ programme, Faik Ispahiu, is the co-producer of the film as a part of a media cooperation project between BIRN Kosovo and the NDVD.

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