The International Secretariat of the Serbian anarcho-syndicalist organisation Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative (a member of the International Workers’ Association (IWA-AIT)) has released a statement concerning the arrest of its members in September 2009. Accused of ‘terrorism’, imprisoned for five months and only released in mid-February, The Belgrade Six have their next court appearance on April 23.
Serbian ruling class continues enhanced repression against the libertarian movement, the repression that began with the arrest of the Belgrade six – Sanja Dojkić, Tadej Kurepa, Ratibor Trivunac, Ivan Vulović, Nikola Mitrović and Ivana Savić – in September 2009. Until then unknown anarchist group “Black Ilija” claimed responsibility for throwing two bottles of burning liquid on the pavement near the Greek embassy in Belgrade, as a reaction to the barbaric treatment of the rebels by the Greek state, thereby causing damage of 18 Euros to the embassy. Regime media aided by the regime analysts and “well-informed sources“ have launched a hunt against the only anarchist organization that publicly operates in Serbia – Union Confederation Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative (ASI), section of the International Workers Association. What has began as a media speculations about the connection between ASI and events in front of the embassy, was completed with the arrest of four members of the ASI Belgrade local group, and two other Belgrade anarchists, and, later, after the intervention from “the top seat”, the raising of the first indictment for the crime of “international terrorism” in Serbia. The Belgrade six has spent next five and a half months in terrible conditions of isolation and torture of the Central Prison in Belgrade.
[Local and international reaction]
The reaction to the apparent arrogance and visible repressive actions of the state, which mirrors in the fabrication of evidence against the anarchists and absurd qualification of this event as “international terrorism”, served as the basis for mass mobilization of critical public against this process, which was immediately labeled as the political process against critics of the regime. During the period that Belgrade six has spent in the custody, public, both in Serbia and the region, and in the whole world has reacted strongly against such behavior of the Serbian authorities. In addition to the large number of public petitions and protest letters, the libertarian movement has organized series of protest actions – in Serbia, as well as in Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia, Portugal, Austria, Norway, Australia, Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, France, Turkey, USA, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, etc. Protests and activities in favor of the arrested anarchists were joined by many critical intellectuals, artists and public figures from entire territory of the former Yugoslavia. Interest caused by the case and the pressure of the public has undoubtedly played a crucial role in the abolition of detention of the Belgrade six. During the first hearing, that was held on 17th of February and which more than 200 people from Serbia and the world has attempted to attend, after hearing of the accused, the court decided on the abolition of detention, and allowed anarchists to continue their defense released from custody.
[Criminalisation and repression of anarchism in Serbia]
Despite the victory won by the public contained in release of the accused to defend themselves from freedom, the state has during the entire period of detention, during the trial of the six, and later, clearly acknowledged that it is not intending to reduce pressure on our organization and the libertarian movement in general. As soon as the end of October 2009 three members of ASI Vršac local – Ivan Feher, Nenad Horvat, and juvenile RK – were arrested because they have put up posters with the inscription “Freedom for arrested anarchists” at the for that purpose specified location. The authorities have launched against them criminal proceedings for the newly established and highly controversial crime, “obstruction of justice”. Criminal proceedings for the same crime is ran against two other anarchists – Rada Živadinović, Serbian citizen with permanent residence in Vienna and Davor Bilić, a Croatia national – who came to Belgrade to the trial to provide support for their arrested comrades. In the lobby of the court, they have spread the paper with a hand-written slogan “Anarchism is not terrorism”, and have placed it up against the courtroom window for few seconds. The two were instantly detained in police custody and were kept longer than the law established deadline, and then released to defend themselves from freedom, while their passports were seized. It is more than a month and a half since they were disabled to leave Serbia, and the investigations showed that the judge, who is trialing the case of the Belgrade six, Dragomir Gerasimović, was not obstructed by their gesture during the performance of his duties. Despite this, the deputy public prosecutor Svetlana Nenadic has issued, on the 23rd of March, the indictment in another political process, which this time highlights in the fact that there is no injured party. Experiencing first defeat at the trial of the six, the state decided to use alternative forms of repression and intimidation of anarcho-syndicalists. In early March the fascist posters titled “Know your neighborhood! Know the enemies of Serbia” emerged near the entrance of one of Belgrade tower blocks. The posters holds the photo of one Belgrade anarcho-syndicalist and one of members of the Belgrade six, Ivan Vulović, who lives in the aforementioned tower block, the call to lynch holds a fictional list of “crimes” that ASI has committed and the phrase “if a corrupt court will not judge them, there are those who will” with fascist-police threatening slogan “We know where you live, we know when you sleep”.
Since the beginning of this wave of repression against ASI, many ASI members are under constant police surveillance and regularly threatened and interviewed by the police. The atmosphere of fear was created by the police within the movement, which caused paralyzation of many of our comrades, and only after the release of the six we can see the first steps of serious rebuilding of the movement and the Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative. While it has destabilized and frightened parts of the movement, and for the certain period of time de facto pushed our organization in illegality, the wave of repression didn’t destroy us, and now, enriched with new experiences and strengthened in our ideas, we have managed to build positions that will allow us to start fighting back.
[Allegations of torture and abuse of process]
In the period after the first hearing, the members of the six Ivan Savić and Ratibor Trivunac met with the Ombudsman of the Republic of Serbia Saša Janković and his deputy for the rights of persons deprived of liberty, Miloš Janković. They were presented with the evidence of torture of Ivan Savić from whom guards at the prison tried to extort confession, by strangling him, that he intended to kill the Greek consul in Belgrade with two defensive bombs and were informed about the right violations of Ratibor Trivunac that occurred while he was in custody. During the meeting with the Ombudsman he was informed that any further legal rampage, in the form of fabricated political cases against anarcho-syndicalists in Vršac and comrades whose passports were seized, will not be tolerated, while the Ombudsman specifically underlined the unlawful deprivation of liberty that was carried out by judicial authorities against Rada and Davor after the legal deadline of 48 hours has expired. In the same period, members of the Belgrade six were contacted by representatives of the European Union who have proposed a meeting about the case.
[March 23 court hearing]
On Tuesday, the 23rd of March, second hearing in the political trial against the six Belgrade anarchists was held. Blackmailed by the possibility of the delay of the trial for a month and prolongation of the framed process until the end of time, the defendants were forced to participate in the second hearing without presence of the interested public, which has again gathered in large number in hallways of the court. Even the closest relatives were prevented from following the hearing. Defendants and their lawyers had have learned that charges against them were changed from “international terrorism” to “creating of public danger” only from the media, that have carried the statement of the Public prosecutors office spokesperson Tomo Zorić. Neither them, nor their lawyers have received changed indictment before the second hearing, and were able to get acquainted with it only on the day of the trial – at the one hour break that was given to them for that purpose by the judge Dragoljub Gerasimović, who is now leading the trial in a shortened procedure. According to the new indictment six Belgrade anarchists are charged with abetting and carrying out the attack against the Greek embassy in Belgrade with the goal of supporting the Greek rebel Thodoris Iliopoulos “therefore committing a crime of creating of public danger”. The change of the indictment was created by a memo from High public prosecution office in Belgrade on 22nd of March and was delivered to a High court in Belgrade. The memo says in the first sentence that the documents of the criminal object K-1633/10 are returned to the court “together with the changed indictment which states that”, and then almost literally repeats the statement from the first indictment in which, without any explanation, only the name of the crime from which the defendants are accused of and paragraphs of the criminal law which are generally used for this kind of events have been changed. Different from the previous indictment, under the pressure of the public the Prosecutors office has decided to drop the attempt to criminalize our organization in this indictment, therefore in this version of the indictment the statement claiming that the attack was carried out in the organization of the Union Confederation “Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative” does not exist. Based on the fabricated indictment, for the second time qualifying the misdemeanor created by the unknown individuals in front of the Greek embassy in Belgrade as a crime for which the Belgrade six is accused, the state is continuing repression against libertarians and prominent members of our organization. Contradictions that are large part of the indictment are the basis on which the defense of the accused is demonstrating, with big success, the emptiness of the positions of the Prosecutor. Again, for example, it was confirmed that Ivan Savić and Nikola Mitrović have not been at the site, as it was stated in the indictment. Continuation of the trial, on which the verdict will most probably be made, is scheduled for 23rd of April. Then one more witness of the defence will be heard, and the final statements will be made.
Union confederation “Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative”, with the support of the entire libertarian movement in the country and the world, and the entire democratic public demands from the Serbian state to withdraw the senseless indictment against the Belgrade six, and completely stops the farce process that is lead against them. Also, we demand that the indictment against the three comrades arrested in Vršac and two arrested in the trial of the six should be withdrawn, and that these processes thus end. We demand that travel document be returned to Davor and Rada, and thus enable them to return to their homes. It is of outmost importance to continue pressure on the state of Serbia until the verdict against our comrades has been made, and for that purpose the protest actions are expected in the period leading to the 23rd of April and a big turnout on the trial itself. Solidarity is our weapon!
4th of April 2010