June 22, 2019 - The demonstrations organized by the movement ODUPRISE represent the example of nonviolent resistance. The police seemed to be unready for the rally when they did not have the chance to beat and attack citizens, opposition activists, journalists. The judiciary was surprised by no misdemeanor and other reports. But the power quickly came to an idea, writes the weekly independent Monitor.
During the Caravan, a tour of the cities of Montenegro, organized by the ODUPRISE Movement in April, officials of Budva, Herceg Novi, Bijelo Polje, and Pljevlja and security departments of Zabljak, Kotor, Tivat, Mojkovac, Kolašin, and Savnik filed 11 misdemeanor proceedings against seven persons. Due to the blockade of the CEDIS premises (Montenegrin electro distribution system) in Podgorica, police filed misdemeanor charges against eight people.
ODUPRISE activists, police say, blocked employees and citizens and hindered workers in securing work.
"When we were in Brussels at one of the meetings, I said that protesting in Montenegro could serve as an example of how peaceful and without hate speech. For four months and over ten protests, there was no broken flower; people came out in front of their locals to greet us. And the reports are spitting over us," says Omer Šarkić from the ODUPRISE team. He explains that the misdemeanors are seen as pressure and financial depletion of activists who have little or no income. "When a city caravan went, I reported a protest in front of the Assembly from where we went for a tour. Additionally, the police have titled Mirsad Kurgaš in some towns for misdemeanor malpractice. So, those letters are written," says Šarkić.
Kurgaš explains, "I still have not been able to count all the entries, I know they are over 10. They are announcing the Caravan from the cities of Bijelo Polje, Savnik, Kolasin, and I have already received applications for Tivat, Kotor, Budva. In Kotor, they wrote that I was the organizer of the gathering. I was there, but I do not know on which basis they have concluded that I am the organizer."
"I wrote an application for the event I did not attend, and in the report, it is written that I am the organizer," Demir Hodzic has a similar experience. He said that the police are writing reports for the protest in front of CEDIS explaining protesters wanted to enter the premises. And we were tied to the chains in front, and of course, the entry did not fall into our minds. There is a recording of a cop we put on social networks. They applied to drunken behavior. And we are just about to agree with the police to immediately report suspect faults to our gatherings that face the detective, and we were not drunk. The police have legitimized us instead."
Due to the failure to announce a public gathering in front of the Supreme State Prosecutor's Office, in mid-April, the police used all legal remedies, so complained Hodžić because of the violation he had committed in Article 33 of the Law on Public Conferences and Public Events (non-reported public gathering). And others: Slaven Radunović, Vladimir Dajkovic, Dragan Sošić, Mirsad Kurgaš, VM, Nenad Čobeljić, Džemal Perović, NG, Danijela and Vanja Đurišić are suspected of a violation of Article 11 of the Law on Public Order and Peace- hindrance of the official in the exercise of legal powers.
"It's an attempt at pressure because we are not scared of their games. It is a clear message to citizens that to expect if they protest," says Hodzic.
He recalls that for one of the earlier offenses he had been in the court for eight months and that the application was finally dismissed. "I hope there are independent practitioners in the courts who will see what stands behind this. This is all part of the process necessary to reach an independent judiciary and police, and ultimately a sovereign state," concludes Hodzic.
Dragan Sošić states that he has not yet received all the applications at his address, but that he counts that they will eventually be over 10. "These are mostly financial penalties that we do not have to pay. My account is blocked, and the threat is, if not pay, a month in prison. So this is tremendous pressure on both our families and us."
"They have the effect of scaring the other citizens to think twice about whether to protest, because it's a blow to the wallet for many of the biggest punishments," Sošić says.
Failure to report a gathering, graffiti, interfering with official duty, and drunk behavior is some of the applications that Mirsad Kurgaš received. With the help of the Human Rights Action, he submitted the report against the police for discrimination.
"For the protests against cutting the cypresses in Bar, the three applications are united. Recently, police officers at the Bar Court for Misdemeanors gave a two-hour statement. I am being charged to disturb the official on duty. We know that our judiciary is often not tried by law, but I hope there are professionals in the courts," says Kurgaš.
In addition to institutional threats, there is also informal pressure. Kurgaš told Monitor that he was recently invited by an officer of the National Security Agency, duly presented and sent his warning.
"All this is a confirmation that for them, the free citizens are the greatest danger. The epilogue of this is the fines. I do not have, and I will not pay. I do not sound like Josip Broz and the famous non-recognition of the court, but I do not acknowledge these punishments because I consider that citizens have a constitutional right to protest. And my protest has always been peaceful," says Kurgaš.
At the beginning of July, a trial was scheduled for the blockade of CEDIS. Then in Podgorica Hodzic, who is waiting for a job in Sarajevo, Sošić, who found a seasonal job on the coast and Kurgaš from Bar, will gather. And they also announce that, in addition to a court gathering, protests ODUPRISE will not stop.
Text by Pedja Nikolic for Monitor - Independent Weekly