The Center for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) has received the news about mass anti-Roma riots in the village of Jabuka near Pancevo with great concern, as well as the information about recent attacks on Methodist Church in this village in connection with the riots and the initial passive reaction to the attacks which the police demonstrated.
Considering the seriousness of the situation the CDCS draws the attention of the public to many-day-long racist incidents in the village of Jabuka near Pancevo. After the crime committed on 10 June which involved an underage Roma boy who is reasonably believed to have stabbed and disfigured his peer-ethnic Serb, the atmosphere of lynch arose against the Roma in this village. The villagers of Jabuka organized a crusade in the atmosphere of lynch and revenge through the Roma part of the village. They used the stones and bricks to break the windows of houses and the Methodist Church whose worshippers are mainly the Roma. According to the witnesses one house was set on fire. Everything happened in the presence of the local police which did not react. The promise given by the Mayor of Pancevo that she would organize food to be delivered to the Roma because they were afraid to leave their houses, only increased the fear. The latest and more adequate statement of the Head of the Police Headquarters Pancevo and the Mayor of Pancevo may only ease the fear and not release it. After four days of abuse against the Roma the Mayor of Pancevo said that “it is beyond any civilized and human behavior to use a tragic event as a reason to call on lynch”. The question is why she underestimated the fact that the Roma citizens could not leave their houses for days and why she did not ask help from the gendarmerie which is formed for such situations?
The CDCS draws the attention of the public and the Ministry of Interior to the fact that now and always and not after a many-day-long racist abuse they must be aware that sanctioning of crime begins and ends on a perpetrator and that in a rule of law there is no such thing as a collective guilt. Anti-Roma has never been an expression of sense of right and rightfulness anywhere, but only an expression of pure racism whose occurrence was indicated to in the latest report of the Amnesty International.
The CDCS calls upon the Ministry of Interior to act in accordance with the law and not to wait for five days to react as it has been the case so far, and the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights to stand for marginalized groups exposed to the anger of hooligans and to defend them.
The CDCS expects that a continuous trend of decrease in number of ethnic and religion based incidents will not be interrupted with the events similar to this one in Jabuka.