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Anti-violence protests spread across Serbia

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Thousands gathered in Belgrade in front of the National Assembly for the latest anti-government rally on June 24, marching once more to demand action from the government and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic after two mass shootings in early May.

This is the eighth time demonstrators have taken to the streets of Belgrade since the first rally on May 8, with demonstrations this time occurring concurrently in 10 other locations, including Nis, Novi Sad, Kragujevac and Subotica.

Numbers in Belgrade were lower than in previous rallies — possibly because of the protests in other cities — and there was no sign of the radicalisation talked of at previous protests. However, despite the lower numbers the crowd didn’t seem defeatist.

The protests started when the shootings — which resulted in the deaths of 18 individuals — led to widespread discontent among the Serbian population but have since broadened as protesters raise a wider range of issues. The protesters accuse the president and the ruling party of fostering a culture of violence through the media and are asking for the dismantling of the responsible regulatory bodies, and a ban on reality shows and journalistic outlets that print fake news and promote violence.

The June 24 rally started with a march by a group of students in front of the National Assembly in downtown Belgrade. The students held banners that said “The students will not keep quiet” and “Stop the violence”. As classical music played, people could be heard talking of the constant change of pace in the protests as something good, perhaps trying to remain hopeful.

Soon enough, there was an address from the master of ceremonies, radio host Smiljan Banjac, but it was somewhat less invigorating than the previous one when the call for “radicalisation” was made. There were no plans for blockades at this week’s protest.

Banjac announced that the students will have the main say during the evening.

Mia Puric, a first-year student of the Medical Faculty in Belgrade, said that the protests gave the students hope to fight for their own rights, and said students have raised the question of unpaid internships.

Source : BNE

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