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.
Oscar Pistorius trial: Paralympian sick again after photographs of Reeva Steenkamp's body are shown in court
Arrest made after man is found by the side of the road with his penis cut off
Malaysia flight MH370: Pitbull song lyrics bear uncanny resemblance to missing plane mystery, according to YouTubers
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Focus shifts west as Indian Ocean becomes latest search area for the aircraft and its passengers
Jeremy Paxman reopens war of words with Michael Gove over the WW1 centenary: 'A charlatan' who scores 'cheap political points'
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
- 1 Arrest made after man is found by the side of the road with his penis cut off
- 2 Girl found in the Amazon rainforest with neighbour Grover Morales after going missing for 7 months
- 3 Tim Berners-Lee on creating the web: 'I never expected all these cats'
- 4 Malaysia flight MH370: Pitbull song lyrics bear uncanny resemblance to missing plane mystery, according to YouTubers
- 5 First Kiss viral video was just a clothing advert starring actors
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Corporate / Commercial Solicitor - Buckinghams...
£20000 - £23000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The world's leading mobile adver...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Construct...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are currently ...