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Youth Protests Against Ethnic Violence in Vukovar

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Young people from Croatia and Serbia, participants in the training in cross-border cooperation organized by the YIHR offices in Belgrade and Zagreb demanded, in the protest action held on Franjo Tuđman Square in Vukovar on April 26, 2014, an end to ethnically motivated violence in the city.

Young activists from Serbia and Croatia condemned ethnic violence in Vukovar (Photo YIHR)

The youth from eight border municipalities - Subotica, Šid, Bačka Palanka, Apatin, Osijek, Vukovar, Pakrac and Slavonski Brod – condemned the incident that happened earlier that day at the “Joker” Café, on Vukovar’s Market Square. Several persons were injured in the attack of the fans of Croatian basketball teams who were returning from the game of the regional basketball leagues „ABA“ in Belgrade.

Bojan Fligler from Youth Initiative for Human Rights Zagreb condemned the violence and emphasized the importance of promotion of different values, the values of peace and tolerance, among the youth.

“It is important for us that the media should report that, at this very moment, there are young people from Croatia and Serbia in Vukovar who work on promotion of regional cooperation and protection of minority rights. Here, we have young people that send messages of love in two alphabets”, Fligler said.

According to Leo Tot from Vukovar, such incidents are quite common occurence in the town and added that the protest action was additionally motivated by the incorrect media reports on the incident. The media, he noted, reported a clash between the fans of Croatian and Serbian teams, and the real truth was that Croatian fans specifically targetted a cafe owned by local Serbs.

Tot added that it was important for the insitutions to start working to resolve such problems in a timely and responsible manner. He called on the media to report professionally, to prevent sensationalism in reporting that leads to growing tensions between local Croats and Serbs.

The young people protesting in Vukovar wanted to send a message that it is possible to build better relations in the region and that the solution for the problems lies in a different approach to the recent past.

“The youth in Serbia need to know what happened in Vukovar at the beginning of the 1990s, and they need to insist on the question of Belgrade’s responsibility for the current situation in Vukovar. Only a responsible approach to the past can make a constructive contribution to improved interethnic relations now and in the future”, Đorđe Bojović from YIHR Belgrade said.

The activists carried banners “Vukovar, city of peade”, “Vukovar, city of equality”, “Vukovar, city of freedom”, “Vukovar, city of love”. The young people believe that violence can’t resolve any problem and that use of force further deepens that ethnic distance between the two communities. (Source: YIHR)

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