First Pride Parade held in Belgrade, hooligans cause riots
10. October 2010. | 15:39 19:58
Source: Emg.rs, Tanjug, B92, Infobiro.tv
Belgrade hosted its first Pride Parade on Sunday, which had a around 1,000 participants, but the day was also marked by the riots caused in other parts of the city by hooligans who opposed the gathering. According to the police data, the Parade had over 1,000 participants, while 6,000 people tried to break the cordons in order to attack the participants.
Belgrade hosted its first Pride Parade on Sunday, which had a around 1,000 participants, but the day was also marked by the riots caused in other parts of the city by hooligans who opposed the gathering.
The parade was supported by representatives of the Serbian government, international organizations and political parties, who attended the event. The participants walked through the centre of Belgrade, and their opponents were not able come into contact with them at any time.
Human Rights Minister Svetozar Ciplic said the key message of the parade was that Serbia is a free country, and that regardless of threats, no one can prevent people from enjoying the freedom they are entitled to.
However, a number of well organized groups caused riots and clashed with the police before and after the parade.
The hooligans raged through some parts of the centre of Belgrade destroying city property and causing a fire at the Democratic Party headquarters.
They also broke into the Parliament and the headquarters of the Socialist Party of Serbia.
The hooligans broke the windows on the Radio and Television of Serbia building and damaged the bus that is used as a mobile mammography lab.
The police responded with tear gas. Dozens of people were injured in the incidents.
The Serbian government has condemned today in the harshest terms the vandalism and violence of hooligans on the streets of Belgrade and is taking all legal measures to secure public peace and order and to bring to justice those who organised and carried out the acts of violence.
Serbia is a democratic state in which everyone has the right to freedom of speech, but no one can violate public order, attack police members and destroy the city and property of citizens without being punished.
The Serbian government warns that everyone who organised and committed today’s vandalism on the streets of Belgrade will be brought to justice.
First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Ivica Dacic visited today at the Emergency Department of the Clinical Centre of Serbia the policemen who were injured in the riots on the streets of Belgrade during and after the Pride Parade.
During the visit, Dacic underlined that the police prevented bloodshed in Belgrade today, noting that this was one of the most difficult challenges to the police in the last few years.
He specified that the Pride Parade was guarded by 5,600 policemen and that none of the three security rings deployed by the police was broken.
According to the police data, the Parade had over 1,000 participants, while 6,000 people tried to break the cordons in order to attack the participants.
Dacic said that he was told by the police officers who guarded the Parade that they had never faced such a huge amount of hatred on the streets.
Police Director Milorad Veljovic also visited the policemen who secured the event.
Serbian President Boris Tadic most severely condemned destruction and vandalism in the streets of Belgrade and attacks against police, and confirmed that the state is resolute to protect rights of all citizens regardless of their differences.
Hooligans and organizers of violence will be arrested and brought to justice, said the President. He emphasized that the right to free expression is guaranteed by the Serbian Constitution and that the attack against the police members is the attack against the stated of Serbia.
The state is ready to deal with vandals and hooligans endangering safety of the Serbian citizens, said Tadic.
Serbia will ensure realization of human rights for all citizens regardless of their differences and all attempts to deny them their freedom by means of violence will be in vain, concluded President Tadic.
World agencies report on clashes of opponents of the Gay Pride Parade and police in Belgrade.
The AP Agency assessed that today’s Gay Pride Parade is an important test for the Serbian Government that are trying to bring the country closer to western values promising to protect human rights on its course of the EU integration.
The US Embassy in Belgrade has warned that clashes are highly probable before, during and after the Gay Pride Parade and recommended to its employees not to come to the center of the city.
AP has reminded that the same rightist groups torched the US Embassy building in 2008 while protesting against the US support to Kosovo’s independence. Most of those protesting in the streets of Belgrade today are football supporters, members of neo-Nazi groups and other extremist organizations, the agencies report.
AFP reports in great detail on unrests and vandalism in the streets of the Serbian capital reminding that the Gay Pride Parade held today is the first such gathering held after almost 10 years.
The agency reminds that the unrests in Belgrade have not been of this scale since those in July 2008 when former Bosnian Serbs’ leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested.
The Belgrade authorities are concerned that violence provoked by the Gay Pride Parade might be detrimental to the image of Serbia that wants to show to the international community its democratic maturity on the path of the EU integration, assessed the Italian ANSA Agency.