1996-97 Protests in Serbia
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1996%E2%80%9397 Protests in Serbia
1996-1997 protests in Serbia
Part of Serbian local elections, 1996
Student protest 96.jpg
Students marching in Belgrade in November 1996, carrying the "Belgrade is the world" banner
DateNovember 17, 1996 - March 22, 1997
Location
Caused byRefusal of incumbent parties to recognize 1996 local elections results
GoalsRecognition of the 1996 local election results
MethodsDemonstrations, occupations, rioting, police violence
StatusCeased
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
Number
From 30,000[3] up to 50,000[1] in Belgrade
Up to 500,000 in Belgrade[3][4]
Up to 150,000 in Ni?[2]
Casualties and losses
1 protester killed[5]

In the winter of 1996-1997, university students and Serbian opposition parties organized a series of peaceful protests in the Republic of Serbia (then part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) in response to electoral fraud attempted by the Socialist Party of Serbia of President Slobodan Milo?evi? after the 1996 local elections.

During the course of the rallies, students held their protests separately from the citizens' ones, led by opposition then gathered in coalition Zajedno (Together). The students' protest lasted until 22 March 1997, with additional requests of replacing the management of University of Belgrade and return of the university autonomy.

The protests started November 17, 1996 in Ni? where thousands of opposition supporters gathered to protest against election fraud. Belgrade University students joined on November 19, 1996 and protests lasted even after February 11, 1997, when Milo?evi? signed the "lex specialis", which accepted the opposition victory and instated local government in several cities, but without acknowledging any wrongdoing. The protests were strongest in the capital Belgrade, where they gathered up to 200,000 people, but spread over most cities and towns in Serbia.

Counter-protests

On December 24, 1996, the government coalition called "Za Srbiju" ("For Serbia") organized a large counter-protest in Terazije.[4] Milo?evi? spoke to the crowd in Terazije, telling them "Serbia will not be controlled by someone else's hand".[4] The crowd chanted "Slobo, we love you", to which Milo?evi? replied, "I love you too".[4]

The December 24 protests in Terazije resulted in massive riots, during which a young protester from the SPO[6] named Predrag Star?evi? was beaten to death.[4] Another SPO protester, Ivica Lazovi?, was shot in the head the same night by a SPS supporter ?ivko Sandi?.[6] Although Lazovi? survived, he had an arm and a leg amputated in a life-saving operation in the emergency room.[7] Lazovi? eventually met Sandi? in court, where he asked him, "brother, why did you shoot me?"[7] Sandi? allegedly replied, "I don't know", and Lazovi? forgave him in person, saying "if my sacrifice was needed to prevent civil war in Serbia, then so be it."[7]

After the December 24 violence, the government banned all street protests in Belgrade from December 26, 1996.[4]Neboj?a ?ovi?, the mayor of Belgrade and an SPS member, claimed to have criticized the government's idea of counter-protesting, but that a majority of the SPS party board supported it.[8] Milo?evi? allegedly ordered police to stay disengaged from the counter-protest.[8] ?ovi? suggested to other SPS members that the counter-protest was risky, and defied Milo?evi?'s orders by calling in riot police.[8] ?ovi? was subsequently kicked out of the SPS in January 1997.[9] He stood by his decision years later, claiming that civil war could have begun if it were not for the intervention of riot police that night.[8]

Protest on Branko's Bridge

On the night of February 2-3, 1997, a confrontation occurred between riot police and protesters on Branko's Bridge, during which the police fired water cannons at the protesters, even though the outside temperature was -6 °C (21 °F).[10][11] Vesna Pe?i?, leader of the Civic Alliance of Serbia, was hit by the police on the same night.[11] According to Na?a Borba, 29 protesters ended up in the Urgent Care emergency room, while the "Anlave" clinic received 50 patients that night.[10] After the incident, Yugoslav Left spokesman Aleksandar Vulin asked, "shouldn't we have sprayed them with warm water?"[11]

Kolar?eva street protest and the Serbian Orthodox Church

In January 1997, a large column of riot police blocked off Kolar?eva street in Belgrade for several weeks, in spite of the continuation of a standoff with the student protesters.[9] However, on January 27, 1997, the riot police opened Kolar?eva street, after which Patriarch Pavle and other members of the Serbian Orthodox clergy led a silent crowd of approximately 300,000 to the Church of Saint Sava.[9] Contrary to what was reported at the time, the riot police left Kolar?eva street several hours before, as they anticipated the Patriarch and the crowd he would take to the Church of Saint Sava.[12]

Alleged role of the internet

In early 1997, Wired journalist David Bennahum met philosophy professor Novica Mili? at a conference in Berlin called the "Data Conflicts: Cyberspace and the Geo-Politics of Eastern Europe", after which Mili? invited him to apply for a visa to visit Yugoslavia during the protests.[13] Bennahum applied, eventually entered Yugoslavia and wrote about his experience and the alleged role of the internet in the protest mobilization in an article called "The Internet Revolution".[13] Bennahum wrote about the existence of an internet stream called Sezam Pro, which broadcast the independent radio station B92 after it had been censored by the Yugoslav government on December 3, 1996.[13]Voice of America and BBC recorded these internet streams and broadcast them back to Belgrade through short-wave frequencies, whose signals were picked up by the radio.[14] At the time of the protests, at least 8 million people were living in Yugoslavia, of which no more than 10,000 had access to the internet.[14] Speaking to Nedeljnik, Milan Bo?i?, a math professor who met with Bennahum to discuss internet access in Yugoslavia, claimed that Bennahum endangered him and Mili? by publishing their names in his article, adding that there had been an agreement to keep their identities hidden from the authorities.[14] Mili? also commented for Nedeljnik, stating that Bennahum "severely exaggerated" the role of the internet in the 1996-1997 protests.[14]

Reactions

Richard Holbrooke commented on the issue in his memoirs, recalling that the Americans were not able to support the protests due to the transitional period to the Clinton II Administration:

"A remarkable challenge to Milo?evi? unfolded in the street of Belgrade in December [1996], led by three politicians who banded together in a movement called Zajedno, or the Together Movement. For weeks, hundreds of thousands of Belgrade citizens braved subfreezing weather to call for democracy. But Washington missed a chance to affect events; except for one ineffectual trip to Washington, Zajedno had no contact with senior American government officials, and the Administrations sent no senior officials to Belgrade for fear that their visits would be used by Milo?evi? to show support. For the first time in eighteen months, Milo?evi? felt no significant American pressure, and turned back towards the extreme nationalists, including Karad?i?, for support. His tactical skills saved him again, and within weeks, the Together Movement was together no more, as its leaders split among themselves."[15]

See also

Notes

References

  1. ^ a b c d e ?edomir Anti? (November 24, 2006). "Politika: David pobedio Golijata" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ a b ",,Magazin NIN -- 2404, 24 JAN 1997"" (in Serbian). January 24, 1997. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Vreme br. 484. Vreme 2000: ?ta ?e biti 15. aprila?" (in Serbian). April 15, 2000. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Danas: Studenti su ozbiljno uzdrmali re?im Slobodana Milo?evi?a" (in Serbian). November 17, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ Bojan Bilbija (December 25, 2006). "Politika: Srbija nadmudrila re?im" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ a b Slobodanka Ast (November 6, 1999). "Vreme br. 461: Deset Milo?evi?evih godina u deset slika (7)" (in Serbian).
  7. ^ a b c Z. Nikoli? (December 25, 2006). "Novosti: Glava ja?a od metka" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d O. Radulovi? (December 23, 2006). "Press Online: KONTRAMITING" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Sini?a Dedei? (November 30, 2011). "Istinomer: "Kordonom protiv kordona" (10. deo)" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ a b Sini?a Dedei? (December 1, 2011). "Istinomer: Vodeni topovi na minus ?est (11. deo)" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ a b c Vladimir Sudar (November 16, 2016). "Sputnik: Godi?njica povratka Srbije u svet (foto)" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ Tamara Skrozza (December 22, 2005). "Vreme: Skromnost i tuma?enja" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ a b c David S. Bennahum (April 1, 1997). "Wired: The Internet Revolution". Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d Marko Prelevi? (March 1, 2016). "Nedeljnik: Dobrodo?li u Srbiju, zemlju prve internet revolucije" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017.
  15. ^ Richard Holbrooke, To End a War, p. 345

Sources

External links


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