'Stop Police Brutality' petition signed by 10,000 people in Serbia was sent on Friday to the UN Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer, and the European Union officials David Maria Sasoli - President of the European Parliament, Christian Danielsson - Director-General of the European Commission for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, as well as to Serbia's police heads Vladimir Rebic, Director of the Police and Dragan Kujundzic, the head of the Internal Police Control Sector.
The initiators of the petition are 'Kreni-promeni' (Move-Change) and the Association for Protection of Constitutionality and Legality.
The sending of the petition to the UN was symbolically marked by three people at the East River, led by Bojana Novakovic, an Australian actress of the Serb origin, the Voice of America (VOA) reported.
"I think it's important for our Government to know that we who live abroad, send money home and have the right to vote, see what is going on in our homeland and stand by our people whose human rights were violated in July. This petition specifically relates to three cases, and I support an independent investigation into them," Novakovic told VOA.
She organised rallies in support of the demonstrators in Serbia last summer. She said that "the corrupt system" which "initiated the abuse by the police" could not investigate the violations of human rights it committed.
"That should be done by someone outside the system, and that's why we address the UN. The petition clearly says that people don't allow to be trampled. We all see that this is the first systematic police violence against people after a long time," Novakovic said.
She added that if the authorities believed they could get away with, as she said, "brutal abuse of citizens," they will continue to do so.
"It's important that we are aware that they do that in Roam settlements for decades and that when we fight for human rights, we include Roma in all kinds of activism," Novakovic said.
She added the petition was "the first step in a campaign to raise people's and the Government's awareness about the importance of putting an end to such behaviour," before the situation in Serbia became" like that in Nigeria and other countries where the police started ruling over the people."
The following is the full text of the 'Stop Police Brutality' petition.
Prof. Nils Melzer - UN Special Rapporteur;
David Maria Sasoli - President of the European Parliament;
Christian Danielsson - Director-General of the European Commission for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations;
Vladimir Rebić - Director of the police;
Dragan Kujundzić - Head of the internal police control sector
We, the signatories of this petition, ask for your immediate attention to the abuse of human rights in Serbia which occurred between July 7th and 11th 2020. We request an independent investigation and subsequent penalty for the brutal violence perpetrated by the police of the Republic of Serbia against its citizens while participating in a protest in July 2020.
Thousands of people of all ages, including the elderly, students and children, were present at the protests, which arose as a spontaneous reaction on to the inconsistency in the Government's enforcement of Covid-19 measures and a new curfew, which was only instituted following illegitimate re-election.
The use of force carried out in those days by members of the police was inhumane, inappropriate and used primarily against peaceful protestors, and sometimes even bystanders. All protestors exercised their constitutional right to free speech, as recognised in the Serbian constitution. On the three days of July 7, 8 and 9, members of the police tolerated hooligan attacks, protected violent behaviour but threw tear gas and brutally beat citizens in particular situations.
There is evidence that the tear gas used had expired more than five years ago. There is video evidence that police brutally beat random passers-by and abused them with disproportionate force. Among this video evidence, the footage shows an entire police platoon beating a citizen lying helplessly on the street; in an incident, a policeman knocks a boy with autism off his bicycle while another policeman put his knee in the boy's head. The disproportionate use of force is also visible in a video where a police officer hits a minor amongst a group of kids fleeing from them, and when three police officers approach and use nightsticks on the heads of three young men sitting quietly on a park bench.
You can see some of the video evidence here:
Authorities justified the intervention of the police in several statements after the incidents, while the director of the police, Vladimir Rebić, stated that "the police only reacted when their lives were in danger," a statement which is clearly not true.