Tens of 1000’s of Serbians rallied within the capital Belgrade, demanding higher safety, a ban on violent content material on TV and the resignation of key ministers, days after two separate mass shootings.
Crowds in numbers not seen within the Balkan nation for years solemnly marched on Monday by way of the town centre behind a banner that learn “Serbia Towards Violence”.
“We now have gathered right here to pay our final respects, to do our greatest so this by no means occurs once more, anyplace,” mentioned Borivoje Plecevic from Belgrade.
Final Wednesday, a schoolboy who introduced two handguns to his college killed eight pupils and a security guard. Six different pupils and a instructor had been wounded.
The next night, a 21-year-old man, brandishing an assault rifle and a pistol, killed eight and wounded 14 folks in central Serbia. Each shooters surrendered to the police.
Protesters and opposition supporters demanded a shutdown of TV stations and tabloids they accuse of promoting violent and vulgar content.
They’re additionally demanding a ban on pro-government newspapers that repeatedly stoke pressure with articles concentrating on political dissidents.
“We demand a right away cease to additional promotion of violence within the media and public area, in addition to duty for the long-standing insufficient response from competent authorities,” the leftist Let’s Not Let Belgrade Drown get together mentioned in a press release.
“We’re right here as a result of we will’t wait any longer. We’ve waited too lengthy, we’ve been silent too lengthy, we’ve turned our heads too lengthy,” Marina Vidojevic, an elementary college instructor, instructed the gang.
“We wish protected faculties, streets, villages and cities for all kids.”
Opposition events and a few rights teams accuse President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Celebration (SNS) of autocracy, oppressing media freedoms, violence towards political opponents, cronyism, corruption, and ties with organised crime. Vucic and his allies deny this.
Protesters additionally known as for the resignations of Inside Minister Bratislav Gasic and Aleksandar Vulin, the director of the state safety company, and the dismissal of the federal government’s Regulatory Authority for Digital Media (REM) inside per week.
On Sunday, the nation’s Training Minister Branko Ruzic stepped down, citing the “cataclysmic tragedy” brought on by final week’s college capturing in his resignation letter.
Demonstrators additionally demanded an emergency parliamentary session and a debate concerning the general safety scenario.
“[This is an act of] solidarity towards … violence in media, within the parliament, in on a regular basis life … solidarity due to misplaced kids,” mentioned Snezana, a lady in her 60s who declined to present her final identify.
Related protests had been held in a number of different Serbian cities.
Vucic’s SNS slammed the demonstrations, calling the opposition teams collaborating within the rally “faceless evil … that dares to make use of a nationwide tragedy for their very own curiosity”, in accordance with native media.
Following the shootings, Vucic vowed to “disarm” Serbia with an bold plan that might crack down on authorized and illicit firearms within the nation.
Police on Monday began a one-month amnesty for surrendering unlawful weapons. It mentioned greater than 1,500 had been handed over on the primary day.
Along with present gun legal guidelines, Vucic introduced police checks of registered gun homeowners.
Serbia has the very best stage of gun possession in Europe, with roughly 39 of 100 folks proudly owning firearms, in accordance with the Small Arms Survey analysis group.
Serbia has a deeply entrenched gun tradition, and together with the remainder of the Western Balkans is awash with military-grade weapons and ordnance in non-public fingers after the wars of the Nineties that tore aside the previous Yugoslavia.