Dinko Gruhonjic (photo: Media center Belgrade)

Professor Dinko Gruhonjić continues to receive death threats and face persecution over edited video

April 2, 2024

A threatening graffiti message signed “Srpska Vojvodina” and reading “Dinko-Šakić, you’re ready for your eternal home,” was written on the entrance to the building where Dinko Gruhonjić, programme director of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV) and professor of journalism at the University of Novi Sad, lives together with his family.

Right-wing extremists, but also representatives of the ruling party, have dubbed Gruhonjić “Dinko Šakić” in reference to the WWII war criminal and commander of Croatia’s Jasenovac concentration and extermination camp that was known for the mass murders of Serbs, Jews and others. Critics of the Serbian authorities are often likened to the Ustasha fascists, in an attempt to show how much they hate Serbia and how they’ve betrayed their own country.

The latest accusations against Gruhonjić utilise an edited video clip from a forum held last year in Dubrovnik (Croatia) that included critical discussion of the WWII Ustasha. The video montage presents Gruhonjić as someone who glorifies Šakić.

This prompted a veritable witch-hunt against Gruhonjić, with countless death threats, persecution and the loss of job that all came via social media. There was also a continuation of the campaign of threats against NDNV president Ana Lalić that was launched just a few days prior (see Media Brief #169, released 15 March).

An incursion of “students” at the Novi Sad college where he works, demanding his firing, was also organised.

The NDNV called for people to gather in support of Gruhonjić and whitewash the threatening graffiti, but four young men turned up just before the start of the campaign and kicked over the painting equipment. The police failed to react to this incident or the previous incursion into the university.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić stated that he would defend Gruhonjić’s right to a different opinion, but added in the same sentence: “Shame on you, Dinko Gruhonjić”, for allegedly glorifying the commander of the Ustasha camp, despite it already being known prior to this that the video footage had been altered.

Gruhonjić announced that he is certain that the campaign of threats against him was actually created by President Vučić himself.

The edited video resulted in Gruhonjić also being attacked by other politicians that hold senior government posts in Serbia, with the support of a section of public figures and professors who support the far right.

Reporters Without Borders, PEN International, the International and European Federation of Journalists, the OSCE Mission to Serbia and others all sought a response from the Serbian authorities and the protecting of both Gruhonjić and Lalić.