Do not forget the “bloody Thursday”
Nataša Stojanovska even today worries when she thinks of entering Sobranje. So it is from April 27, the day that the Macedonian media have called “bloody Thursday”. At that day, at the “Pres Hall” of Sobranje, were attacked the opposite deputies of that time and journalists who followed the press conference of the newly elected mayor of parliament. Eight months have passed since then, but for Stojanovska the traumas are with her even now.
“I still have not enter in Sobranje, I did not have the courage or strength to enter, although once I have tried to enter and drink coffee with the people I experienced the ‘bloody Thursday’ in Sobranje. But, believe me, I came back, “says Stojanovska.
What was happening at April 27 at Sobranje?
For the events of April 27th, the Organized Crime Prosecution is developing investigations into one of the most serious offenses against the country for which Macedonia’s laws provide for at least 10 years in prison. Among the suspects are the police officers and deputies of that time ruling VMRO-DPMNE party that is in opposition today. As investigations are ongoing, few journalists have the courage to say who the guilty ones are for the violence against journalists, though April 27 was not the only case.
Five years before, on December 24, 2012, journalists for the first time were driven out of the Sobranje gallery plenary hall from where they were attending sessions. They were not allowed to report from meeting where they were deciding for the budget. Among them was Snežana Lupevska Sozen.
“They have warned us that we have to go out from there. Anyway, we refused because we had to report from that event. Violently, drawing us off, they pulled us out of the gallery, “says Lupevska.
On the question, if they asked for help, she answers: “There was no one from whom we could ask for help. Those who were supposed to protect you that are the security and the police, in fact they were committing the violence. ”
But, the Macedonian courts have not seen this as a case that journalists have been prevented from reporting. Even the Supreme Court has said that their right to report has not been violated. But the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had another opinion and made the decision in favor of Macedonian journalists.
Snežana Lupevska says that she “had self-censorship and fear”.
“Not all journalists signed the accusation. Only five of us. We have received adequate indemnity, the state paid for that indemnity, and along with that, what is more important, we received a moral satisfaction. ”
The moral satisfaction came five years after that December 24th. And while journalists in Skopje physically prevented to report, interior commentators, who were critical of the previous government, were under the full blockade of municipalities.
Aneta Daskalovska lost her job at the time when she wrote how rich and how was enriched the Mayor of that time of Bitola Vladimir Talze. On the other hand, it was impossible to reach to any information from local governments.
“Any request for information from the municipality of Bitola was silently rejected, without giving me any answer. If they accidentally picked up their phone, his people from the media service would found any reason, so it was shameful of what they doing. Their way to take you away was, they would hear your question, and they would say, ‘yes, yes, write an e-mail, we will answer you.’ The e-mail that never came back. Or, I cannot answer you about it, you know, my kids are sick, I’m not at work. There were such excuses, “says Daskalovska.
She says that her example is an extreme, but from Taleski’s insults from the position of mayor were not spared even other colleagues.
“He started offending the journalists who were asking questions. That is to say, at an event, a public event is the question, and he answers with the words: You are charlatans, “says Daskalovska.
Gjabir Derala from the Nongovernmental Organization Civil explains that such a report was implemented by a force structure that is related to politics or directly derive from it. And this lasted for 11 years.
“The authority simply turned the media in tripod, the microphone holder. For the media they were not the public eye. Rather, they have closed the public eye and have turned the media into a microphone holder with whom they can talk without interruption, “says Derala.
Macedonia’s new government, elected after April 27, promises transparency. The government led by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev from Social Democratic Party of Macedonia (SDSM) speaks of another report related to journalists and the media in general. From the first decisions was the decision to remove the inscription of secrecy from some information and to allow journalists to have access to information.
So, is there any change in the report of power to journalists?
“The difference lies in the fact that nobody implements politics so brutally. I hope that there are improvements even with editors and owners, “says Lupevska.
“I think when politicians are in opposite, they are transparent. Whenever you call them, they will say something, they will add something, even themselves will be ‘whistling’. But if they come to power, this transparency lasts for a month or two. And they would not be anymore. It’s done! “, explains Daskalovska.
All interlocutors agree that it takes time for things to start functioning as in any democratic country. Nataša Stojanovska says she should not be allowed to forget April 27th.
“The impunity of the event that happened on December 24 in Sobranje, when they dragged the deputies and the journalists, brought incident of April 27,” says Stojanovska.