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News 01 Dec 14

Serbian Police Hunt Anti-Roma Campaigners

Serbian police are searching for the authors of leaflets which were distributed across the country, calling for violence against Roma people.

B92, Tanjug
Belgrade

The interior ministry said on Monday that it was trying to identify the people behind the little-known organisation called Srbska Akcija that distributed the anti-Roma flyers across Serbia over the weekend.

“Police in cooperation with the prosecutor's office are working intensively on the detection and identification of the persons that created and distributed flyers which openly call for violence, lynching and hate speech against Roma,” the ministry stated.

The flyers, which urge people to stop “the spread of wild gipsy settlements” that bring “arguments, fights and the rise of crime”, appeared in mailboxes in Belgrade and several other cities.

Nevena Petrusic, the Serbian Commissioner for Protection of Equality, has filed criminal charges against the people who created the leaflets.

“The state is obliged to protect the freedom and security of all its citizens, to prevent threats, violence and hatred toward national and any other minorities,” said Petrusic, adding that the state must send a clear message that Serbia will not tolerate racism.

Meho Omerovic, the head of parliamentary committee for human and minority rights, said that the leaflets were “fascism in action” and must be taken seriously.

“Today it’s Roma who are to be blamed for everything, tomorrow it will be LGBT and all others that are different. That is how evil starts – with leaflets and hate speech that are followed by violence and murders,” Omerovic wrote in a statement.

He announced that he will urged parliament to adopt an emergency declaration against violence and hate speech.

“If we do not see that it’s fascism in action, then we have accepted that it is allowed and we are all accomplices in this open call to lynch,” he said.

The NGO Anti-Fascist Action said that the leaflets contain “the most primitive form of fascist propaganda urging violence against Roma, which are marked as the cause of poverty in which most citizens of Serbia live”.

“It is a basic fascist doctrine of distraction from the real causes of the economic situation. Just as Hitler in Germany invented that the Jews were the cause of the economic crisis to draw attention from the real culprits - the big capitalists - today domestic fascists point at Roma,” Anti-Fascist Action said in a statement.

It said that “fortunately, people are not so blind and naive to believe that the most vulnerable ethnic groups in society, 99 per cent of whose members live in absolute poverty, below the minimum level of human dignity” are responsible for the economic situation in Serbia.

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