It is sad that authorities in Serbia perceived two women throwing eggs at a mural dedicated to convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic as a threat, one of the activists detained by police in Belgrade on Tuesday, Jelena Jacimovic, told N1.
Jacimovic was, alongside activist Aida Corovic, briefly detained in Serbia’s capital after the two threw eggs at the mural portraying Mladic, who was convicted of numerous war crimes, including genocide in Bosnia.
She told N1 that her lawyer expects that there will be misdemeanour charges of disturbing public order against her and Corovic.
This was to be expected, she said, but added that the problem is that those who detained them used force and never identified themselves as police officers – which is why she and Corovic resisted, she explained.
Jacimovic argued that there was no need for the police to use force.
“I think it was unnecessary and inconsistent with our actions, which were peaceful and performative,” she said.
“Two women pose a danger to that mural with 12 eggs. It is very sad, as was the violent behaviour of the plainclothes police officers,” she said. “That is what upset us the most at that moment.”
Jacimovic said that even the gathering of support that followed was a logical development, but argued that the reaction of the authorities seemed like targeting the people living in the building where the mural was.
“They didn't want this at all, and now they have to suffer in every sense,” she said of the residents, arguing that “the state has no interest in protecting citizens” or to act on the issue in an adequate way.
She said it was “absurd” that Serbia’s authorities are detaining those who protest over the glorification of war criminals, but noted that the excessive use of force “shows someone's desire, I don't know whose and why, to display their power.”
“I cannot believe that it is necessary to use excessive force against women and activists in order to show and prove anything. We are talking about peace activism, a performative form of activism and the most innocuous form of expressing an anti-fascist view,” she said.
Serbia’s Interior Minister, Aleksandar Vulin, was also at the scene, and Jacimovic said that his behaviour shows that he “picked a side” in the incident.
“He represents one of those parts of the machinery that spreads the inciting narrative, the tension in the society and the incitement of conflicts, hatred,” she said of Vulin.
She also said it is unfortunate that Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, did not react swiftly in order to explain the situation.
Jacimovic explained that some issues are simply not discussed in Serbia’s “patriarchal” society.
“It is expected what role people should play, especially men. Firmness is shown, certain subjects such as philosophy and sociology are abolished. Young people do not broaden their horizons or critical thought,” she said.