Vanja Stokic, activist and journalist, one of the victims of the attack of hooligans in the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka suffered injuries after the incident that occurred on Saturday evening in front of the Transparency International premises. In an interview with N1, Stokic said that the ones responsible for the attack are Banja Luka mayor Drasko Stanivukovic and President of Republika Srpska entity Milorad Dodik. Pročitaj više
Stokic explained that she arrived at the location in company of her partner to greet her friends – the activists. She found them sitting at the stairs, but then a moment later they were approached by the police, who told them they should leave and that they were not safe there.
“People from nearby houses started gathering and there were no police or hooligans at that moment. A lot of young men and girls came out in front of two houses next to the Transparency International and they were all on the phone. It looked weird and I told that to my friends activists. That's when a police vehicle arrived and parked in front of the Transparency International, and I thought they were there to protect us, the activists that is. But, a young man shouted ‘there they are’ and I saw a group of 20 to 30 hooligans running towards us. Some were wearing hoods, scarves and I couldn't recognize anyone, I don't even know those people anyway. They carried metal clubs and glass bottles. The people from the Pride Parade and us scattered in all directions, my boyfriend pulled me to one side, however, I saw that I would not succeed and that they would catch up with me, and very naively I turned into the yard where the locals were, the group of men who were on the phone. I stood next to them thinking that they would protect me, however, they pushed me and said ‘you are not ours, you are theirs’. At that moment, the hooligans were closer and the locals literally handed me over to them. They signaled to them and said ‘she's theirs’ and pointed at me,” Stokic told N1.
Although they were headed towards her, she tried to reach her boyfriend who was hit in his head with a bottle.
“One of the attackers grabbed me and threw me in that yard, and there was a one meter difference in level. I scratched my elbow and hurt my knee, and that's the only injury I have. Then the hooligans went to the yard where I was, but these men told them that it was their place where they lived and chased them away. I thought that I would be safe there, however, those men also demanded that I leave and persistently repeated ‘go away’, ‘get away from here’, ‘you are not ours, you are theirs’. My glasses fell off, I couldn't see anything, people were fighting around me, I was trying to find my boyfriend, I didn't succeed, I was looking for glasses, the man from that yard didn't let me do that, I couldn't find them. I was afraid in what condition I would find my boyfriend, he was hit in his head one more time, he is relatively well and luckily they didn't manage to knock him to the ground,” she said.
Then they returned to the Transparency International's building, where they found police officers and told them there was an incident and hooligans were beating people only a 100 metres away from there. The police did not respond.
“We asked if they heard well and that hooligans were beating people, but they told us something like it was none of their business. We asked their names but they didn't (say it), however we wrote down their license plate numbers and handed them over to inspectors last night, but I don't expect anything will happen, that they would find them or find the perpetrators,” said Stokic.
According to her, when they reported the accident at the police station the officers were fair and seemed to understand. However, Stokic said she was not optimistic they would find the perpetrators.
“I blame Milorad Dodik, Republika Srpska President, and Drasko Stanivukovic, Banja Luka mayor, for all of this as well as 13 associations that wrote them, asking that the Pride Parade is banned. The community is constantly told to settle within their four walls, but this tells hat they are not safe even within those four walls. The walk was not held, seems like they were bothered by the presence of activists so they chased them away from their city. Milorad Dodik and Drasko Stanivukovic heated up the atmosphere with their statements. Today, Stanivukovic is saying he is sorry because of the attack but that Banja Luka will remain the fortress of the traditional values. I am asking him now do those traditional values include girls being beaten up in streets? The attacked group of activists were mostly girls, shame on you!,” said Stokic, concluding her statement.
A group of hooligans attacked activists and journalists on Saturday evening in Banja Luka, following the ban of the event organised by the BH Pride Parade association.
The police told N1 that they were informed about this event and that they are looking into the case, but they did not comment on the fact that their colleagues allegedly did not react and provide protection of the activists.
The incident sparked numerous reactions and condemnations, with demands that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Dodik said that he does not feel remorse because, he added, the activists were told not to gather.