The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) vehemently condemns the protest of the residents of Deliblat at Kovin in response to the announcement of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration that a group of migrants would be accommodated in the School Recreational Centre Čardak pavilions in the Deliblato Sands Special Nature Reserve. The protest and road blockade by a group of residents in Deliblat has regrettably been staged at a time when both Serbia and the world are in dire need of solidarity, tolerance, help and support to successfully combat the coronavirus pandemic that has rocked the foundations of the whole world.
Unfortunately, the protest organised in Deliblat demonstrates the high degree of xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination in our society. Migrants and asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable groups in Serbia and protests such as this one merely stoke the atmosphere of hate and lynch of migrants that has been on the rise lately. Rather than keeping mum, the relevant state authorities must react swiftly and efficiently, especially in light of the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has led Serbia to declare a state of emergency and limit the freedom of movement and assembly to protect the health of the population.
The BCHR is thus all the more surprised that the authorities allowed the assembly of a large number of people in Deliblat and their blockade of the roads with their farm machinery, notwithstanding the risks such actions pose to public health. Has the state demonstrated its impotence when it gave in to the protesters’ demands and abandoned the idea to accommodate the migrants in Čardak? Will protesters foment hate and intolerance of migrants across Serbia? To recall, it is in the interest of public health that migrants and asylum seekers, who are not granted permission to rent private accommodation, live in the centres run by the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, which is
under the obligation to provide them with the requisite accommodation.
The BCHR calls on the relevant state authorities to condemn the incident and again appeals to all Serbia’s citizens to show their solidarity and humanity in these difficult times, not only towards each other, but also towards migrants and asylum seekers. Although we are under a state of emergency, all of us, nationals of the Republic of Serbia, must not forget that our Constitution protects fundamental human rights even during a state of emergency. We hope that the Deliblat protest was an isolated incident and that the state will clearly and unambiguously respond to all such events in the future and protect everyone’s human rights.