Today's first-ever "Pride Parade" in Belgrade was staged
successfully as numbers of policemen were protecting participants.
However, what surrounded the event was a brutal manifestation
against the Serbian government's pro-European course and its latest
foreign policy turn. The violence that spread through the streets of
Belgrade was well-organized and obviously thoroughly prepared. The
facts that 80 police officers were among some hundred-odd injured
and that premises of the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party of
Serbia were devastated testify that all this was an assault against
the law and order and, above all, against the government's
A powerful organization obviously stands in the
shadow of everything. Young people, mostly "football fans," were
used as instruments as usual - and they seized for violence not only
to destroy but also to plunder. Today's developments - except by
their proportions and the attitude of law enforcement officers -
associate the riots in the streets of Belgrade after Kosovo's
independence declaration. Masterminds are the same. A part of the
Serbian Orthodox Church that seriously threatens with a schism,
various right-wing groups, political and other players are hiding in
the background. The interview conducted with Bishop Amfilohije
Radovic on the eve of the Pride Parade was most indicative. Labeling
homosexuality a mortal sin, he said, "Staging the so-called pride
parade in the region overclouded by Euro-American civilization
forebodes its ruin."
The Serbian society is homophobic and any
"different" sexual orientation is treated as disease and socially
unacceptable behavior. A change in such perception is only one of
many changes in the value system Europe expects Serbia to make.
However, today's outburst of violence proved that origins of
intolerance in Serbia go much deeper: the society has not yet
broached the 1990s wars or radical nationalism that keeps
undermining Serbia's normalization.
In such political context, vandalism marring
almost every public event, is nothing but a constant endeavor at
destabilizing the government and the country.
The Helsinki Committee demands punishment of all
those who took part in violence against citizens of Belgrade and
destruction of the city. And it also expects the authorities to
thoroughly investigate the background of today's developments.