Belgrade police attack democracy demonstrators
Monday 03 February 1997
Police armed with nightsticks, shields and assault rifles swept opposition supporters off a central bridge across the Sava at around midnight, ending a four-hour standoff. One of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement, Vesna Pesic, was beaten by police.
Witnesses at the eastern end of the bridge said police used water cannon against demonstrators for the first time since the opposition began marching to demand the regime respect their victory in local elections on 17 November.
Zoran Djindjic, head of the Democratic Party, said Ms Pesic was beaten on her feet, hands and ribs and was fearing arrest.
The streets leading from the bridge towards Republic Square were littered with postersdropped by protesters, while police at the eastern end extinguished fires lit to keep demonstrators warm during the icy wait. One medical worker said at least 10 people had been hurt. At least 1,000 riot police were visible in the city, aided by four water cannon parked near Republic Square.
Within 30 minutes of the first charge, several hundred demonstrators had gathered in the square where the opposition rallies meet each night and were hurling insults at dozens of policemen massed in lines along a main road. The crowd screamed "fascists, fascists" and blew whistles. The police, who appeared stony-faced and unfriendly compared to earlier days, began to move, batons raised, against the crowd, which scattered across the square.
Vuk Draskovic, the third leader of the Zajedno (Together) opposition alliance, said he was chased by plainclothes police as he fled and said shots were fired at his car. Speaking on the city's independent radio, he said the brutal police action "in effect" represented "a state of emergency". During clashes passers-by received whacks from police batons. The police, reinforced in several waves, cleared the square and the main streets and then stood, holding their ground inside the opposition heartland.
It is not clear why the police should have blocked a route used frequently by the opposition on its marches, nor why they should then have attacked the remaining demonstrators in the square.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...