Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia (YIHR Serbia) and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo (YIHR Kosovo) condemn the BIA’s practice of intimidation against Kosovo journalist Adriatik Kelmendi, as well as the hate messages sent to sent in December of this year Intimidation of Albanians is the opposite of regional co-operation initiatives such as the Open Balkan and could cause another boycott from the Albanian community in Serbia of the 2022 census. In accordance with that, we demand that the Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, and Miroslav Lajčak, EU representative, clearly condemn these attacks, and from the Prosecutor’s Office and that the police urgently and efficiently investigate these cases and end the practice of impunity.

According to the Coalition for RECOM, for several years now BIA inspectors conduct informative interviews with journalist Adriatik Kelmendi, a public advocate of the Coalition for RECOM and director of Pristina-based Klan Kosova television, at the airport or upon his arrival in Belgrade, questioning the reasons of his arrival and political views. 

Another case are the hate messages directed towards an Albanian family from Bor, as Ist media reported on December 12 this year. The inscriptions such as “Kill Shqiptar”, “Shqiptar shit”, “Shqiptar shit No. 1, get out of Serbia” appeared in one of the buildings in Albanske Spomenice Street in Bor. The message was directly sent to the family that has been living in that ten-story building for six years. Although the mayor of Bor condemned this act and called on the police to react, to this day there is no information that those who wrote these messages have been arrested. Only two days later, Ivica Dačić in Bor said that Nikola Šainović, who was convicted of war crimes against Albanians in Kosovo, “will take care of the interests of the city and the region in front of the SPS”.

These attacks and messages are a direct consequence of the captured state that cultivates chauvinism towards various minorities, especially towards the Albanian one. Instead of sanctioning violence and hate speech, the Minister of Police continues to call Albanians “Shqiptars” and denies war crimes against Albanians – especially the massacre in Račak. The fact that the Court of Appeals in Belgrade yesterday passed a verdict rejecting the lawsuit of the National Council of the Albanian National Minority against Minister Vulin due to the use of the term “Shqiptar” speaks of the sluggishness of the processing. We remind that the Court of Appeals confirmed the first instance verdict of the High Court in Belgrade on the lawsuit of Anita Mitić, former director of YIHR Serbia, against Informer, and in the explanation of the verdict clearly characterized the use of the term “Shqiptar” as hate speech.

Just as the people who burned the Serbian flag in Tirana before the meeting of leaders within the Open Balkan initiative were arrested, it is our right to demand from the Serbian authorities that the BIA stop this kind of intimidation against Kelmendi, as well as to find and respond to attackers who are threatening families in Bor.