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Macedonia: Views from Abroad on Protests Against Police Violence

This post is part of our special coverage Macedonia Protests 2011.

Ordinary people's reactions to the protests against police brutality in Macedonia indicate the strength of the grip of the traditional media, which is not very keen on relaying such “unpopular” news, and highlights the opportunities for solidarity once the information gets through.

Jovana Tozija, a Macedonian woman residing in Germany, wrote [mk, en] about the reactions of her friends:

Many of my international friends asked what’s going on in Macedonia after they saw me spamming on Facebook with links to sites with strange letters and when they saw that I'd changed my profile picture. I briefly explained to them the incident with the murder of Martin Neshkovski. Here are their responses and my personal analysis of their initial instant reactions.

A Russian woman: So? The police killed a man. Why are you making such a big deal out of it? There is nothing you can do about it.

Obviously, the awareness about freedom of speech in this country is not on the highest level. I don’t know if it is because they are afraid or because it is not developed enough. But I do know that there is over-centralized power of the oligarchs and there is literally nothing you can do about it.

An Iranian man: Only one person was killed?

This was his instant reaction. It’s not easy for him as well. He has seen worse. Last year, during the green revolution in Iran, the government was killing young people, just because [Ahmadinejad] would not recognize the electoral fraud. A bunch of progressive young people were protesting and they failed. Many of them were killed and Ahmadinejad is still in power.

A German woman: How can it be that for 2 days it was not known who the boy was and the case was not reported?

The people of this country are used to the fact that the institutions do their job by default. She was not interested in how a member of the special police units could kill a young man, but how the case could stumble throughout the institutions.

A Croatian man: OMG, the police is going to send us to our graves.

I don’t have a comment on this and don’t know what to think about it. I suppose he is a proponent of the [ACAB] theory.

Bulgarian blogger Yurukov wrote [bg] on his blog several days after protests started:

Why no Bulgarian media have informed about this protest for a week? Why do I have to learn about it from Twitter, and only because by chance I follow several Macedonians? What are they waiting for? An official position from the Ministry of the Interior or from [Prime Minister Boyko Borisov]? Has it come that far? Are we afraid that the media would be blamed for inciting unrest if the protests spread to Bulgaria? Why even the publications that are considered freer keep silent? Or should we wait for the news to become popular, so we can talk about it?

Yurukov noted that in the week after the protests started, only two internet portals published information in Bulgarian: Dir.bg and News.bg. (In addition, these two exceptional media outlets did not post follow-up articles in the next few weeks.)

The website Stop police violence published an article [mk/sr] about the support for the protests from the female choir “Kombinat” [sl] from Slovenia:

We are sending a photo of support, taken during our concert in [Celje], dedicated to you, who protest against police brutality in Macedonia. We'll send you [a petition] signed at the concert. People in Slovenia have no idea what's going on in Macedonia, because the media do not write or speak about it… Accept our solidarity and support, we are with you in our thoughts and hearts…

No Pasaran!

Kombinat concert in Celje, Slovenia. Photo by Kombinat, used with permission.

Macedonian protesters keep inviting people from abroad to show their support for the protests by writing or making videos about them.

This post is part of our special coverage Macedonia Protests 2011.

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