BH Journalists Association finds Milorad Dodik and Drasko Stanivukovic responsible for the attack on journalists and activists that occurred Saturday evening in the northwestern city of Banja Luka, administrative centre of Bosnia's Republika Srpska entity.
These two senior officials publicly objected the activities of LGBTIQ community in Banja Luka, using inflammatory rhetoric and violating the right to the freedom of gathering, thus directly influencing on the spread of hatred towards LGBTIQ community as well as on violent behaviour towards journalists and activists, the association said.
The incident occurred on Saturday evening, after the police banned a planned event due to security risk. Previously, both Dodik, the entity president, and Stanivukovic, Banja Luka mayor, openly objected the event.
Even after the incident, Stanivukovic reiterated his stance, saying that Banja Luka will keep protecting “traditional patriarchal family values.” However, he condemned violence and denied that his stance contributed to the incident.
“Together with Dodik and Stanivukovic, the Republika Srpska Interior Ministry also bears responsibility because they allowed that group of bullies take control over security in the city and physically attack journalists Vanja Stokic and Melani Isovic, photojournalist Ajdin Kamber, as well as the members of LGBTQ community and other activists, who gathered at the Transparency International office in Banja Luka,” the association said.
Members of BiH Pride March association attacked in Banjaluka
Previously, one of the witnesses said the police denied protection to the attacked persons.
“The Steering Board of BH Journalists Association demands from the RS MoI a public declaration on inefficient behaviour in protecting the safety of journalists and all other activists, whose rights and physical safety were violated in the harshest manner last night,” the association said, demanding urgent investigation.
Foreign embassies and organizations in Bosnia also reacted, urging the competent authorities to conduct an investigation into the incident.