Corner Press release

Condemnation of violence based on ethnicity 15 November 2013

The Helsinki Committee demands that the competent institutions have a prompt reaction regarding yesterday’s attack on juvenile citizens from the ethnic community in the bus No. 65 by a group of masked persons in Stajkovci, Skopje region, which disturbed the public. The news about the reaction of the local population and the bases for clashes between them and revenge based on ethnicity between the Macedonian and Albanian ethnic community is especially worrying. These data point to interethnic clashes between citizens from this part of Skopje.

The Helsinki Committee in the last period on several occasions alarmed the public and the institutions about the increased frequency of interethnic clashes between young people, as well as about the disregard of this fact by the competent institutions, especially given the fact that it is a matter of hate incidents and hate crimes based on ethnicity and religion.  

It is especially worrying that this is the fourth case in two weeks where young people from different ethnic groups engage in a physical confrontation. The Committee is investigating the cases of violence based on ethnicity and religion in the last 9 months and has established that they occur due to ethnic intolerance and bad ethnic relations among the younger population. There is a drastic increase of these crimes. In the last nine months more than 90 incidents and physical confrontations based on ethnicity were registered. 

The Helsinki Committee finds it necessary that the competent institutions change their “naive attitude” when handling these incidents and publicly report how many of them are resolved, i.e. how many of the abusers are known and available to the law enforcement authorities and how many of the incidents are finalized in court. The effectiveness of the procedures is an important segment in preventing violence that has become a part of the everyday life on the streets, and the citizens live in constant fear and uncertainty for their safety and the safety of their children.

 The Committee regretfully concludes that for a longer period of time the violence is not sanctioned and it has become a way to resolve disputes among young people especially in the public space. Due to the above mentioned reasons, tomorrow’s March for Tolerance will be dedicated to the request to the Government and the institutions to prevent the violence and to provide the citizens a right to a life free from violence of any kind. 

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