Journalists attacked during Serbian president’s visit to Kosovo

September 16, 2018

Journalists of Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW), Belgrade-based investigative production company Insajder and Serbian pro-government news agency Tanjug were attacked during the recent visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to the northern part of Kosovo.

The attacks took place at barricades that were erected on roads leading to the village of Banja (south of Kosovska Mitrovica), in an effort to stop Vučić’s visit to this place inhabited by Serbs. The journalists were challenged and intimidated, but were not hurt in these incidents.

At one barricade, gathered citizens stopped and surrounded a vehicle of Insajder journalists, only to forcibly open the car door once the vehicle began moving and attempt to drag one of the lady journalists from the car, while others in the crowd pounded on the car. Finally, however, the Insajder team managed to pass.

Around a dozen protesters surrounded the vehicle of Deutsche Welle female journalists Sanja Kljajić and Elona Elezi. After claiming to have been “provoked” by the car’s Serbian licence plates, they asked Kljajić to present her personal documents “to check if she is a Serb”.

According to the testimony of these DW reporters, the Kosovo police remained stationary throughout, merely watching what was happening, while local Albanians employed at a nearby petrol station helped them to remove their Serbian licence plates and set off towards the north of Kosovo.

The Tanjug team was initially provoked verbally, then targetted with bottles thrown by demonstrators at a barricade in the village of Vojtesh, on the route from southern Kosovska Mitrovica towards the settlement of Banja.

According to an Insajder report, some 240 media workers from 47 newsrooms were accredited to report on Vučić’s visit. However, despite the obvious security risks in Kosovo itself, the journalists had to organise their route and make their own way to the places the Serbian president planned to visit.

Journalists’ associations from Serbia condemned these incidents and requested that the competent authorities identify and punish the attackers.