The people of multi-ethnic Macedonia are organizing a March for Peace this Saturday as an expression of concern that the recent hate crimes are a harbinger of civil war.
The march is scheduled for Saturday, March 17, 2012, at 2pm in Skopje City Park, and the word is being spread via this Facebook event [mk], Tweetvite event [mk], the Twitter account Zaedno za mir (Together for Peace) and the hashtags #PEACEmk, #ZaednoZaMir, #zzm or #marshnamirot.
The initiative [mk] is organized by activists and around 50 civil society organizations, with the involvement of artists and media personalities from all local ethnic groups who do not want to see a reprise of the 2001 conflict (also known as the “second halftime” [mk] concept). They say:
FOR Living together instead of living side by side!
FOR Calming of the tensions!
FOR The good of all people!
FOR Society without violence!
Without prejudice and manipulation!
We welcome all who strive towards the reduction of the tensions and raising of the awareness of living together!
This is an issue of civic and human consciousness.
Let’s plant the seed of love.
We want it and we can do it!
The march comes as a reaction to a series of violent inter-ethnic developments, including slow [mk, sq] and controversial reactions by the authorities to the murder in Gostivar after/during an argument over parking space on February 28, the after-funeral protests and the stoning of select shops, followed by a series of violent incidents involving “spontaneous” “revenge” attacks – beatings of the passersby on the streets of several Macedonian cities and in the public transport in Skopje, leaving dozens of people with serious injuries.
All this was accompanied by biased media coverage, up to the level of open hate speech [mk] in most of the ethnically/linguistically-divided commercial media that remain operational. The period of the deterioration of the security situation in Macedonia started in late January, and was preceded by long-term efforts of nationalist mobilization instigated by the ruling ethnic Macedonian and ethnic Albanian parties within their “own” ethnic groups, and judicial “tradition” of impunity or leniency towards perpetrators of de facto hate crimes. (The concept of hate crime is not present as such within the Macedonian legal system, even though instigating ethnic or racial hatred is a felony.)
Participants of the initiative have been expressing their commitment to live together with their peers from different ethnic groups by providing translations of the call, and also by producing various other works. For instance, graphic designer Nebojsha Gelevski-Bane created the poster above, and theater and film director Srđan Janićijević posted another pro-peace graphic, and a video ad.