Derek Mitchell, the President of Washington's National Democratic Institute (NDI), condemned on Tuesday the recent arrest of Milan Vujic, an activist from Serbia's northern city of Novi Sad after he published a tweet about an attack on an opposition leader's daughter.
„I must also note another incident recently in which a close colleague of NDI young Serbian man who belongs to the European Democratic Youth Network, EDYN, was subjected to police detention and interrogation without formal charge or legal counsel,“ Mitchell told the „ONE YEAR LATER: Serbian – American relations facing the COVID -19 challenges“ conference.
He added that „such actions have a chilling effect on free speech and association, and undermine Serbia’s democratic credentials.“
Vujic was detained on March 26 after he tweeted news about an attack on the daughter of Dragan Djilas, the leader of the opposition Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP).
Djilas spoke to the Belgrade Vreme weekly about the attacks on his children, who, as he said, „were beaten and suffocated“ several times.
Vujic was interrogated for five hours and said he was asked about details of the attack. He said he knew what he read in the media.
Some NGOs said the interrogation aimed at pressuring political opponents and that „everyone can be arrested without reason or a warrant.“
„Those attacks must be condemned unambiguously by all those in Serbia who seek to advance democracy in their country,“ Mitchell said.
He added that „NDI has been concerned, for instance, with the recent use of the Serbian parliament as a platform to launch false and inflammatory accusations against NGOs such as the Center for Research, Transparency, and Accountability, or CRTA.“
Vujic has spoken several times during protests against President Aleksandar Vucic, and last year was physically attacked and had to undergo surgery.