Thousands march against violence in Serbia after two mass shootings

Thousands march against violence in Serbia after two mass shootings. (Photo/TRT)

Thousands have rallied in the Serbian capital Belgrade, with the protesters calling for the resignation of top officials and the curtailing of violence in the media, after back-to-back shootings stunned the Balkan country.

The "Serbia against violence" demonstration saw members from across the country's political divide come together on Monday after last week's shootings — where 17 people were killed in less than 48 hours, including nine at an elementary school in Belgrade.

"We demand an immediate stop to further promotion of violence in the media and public space, as well as responsibility for the long-standing inadequate response from competent authorities," the leftist Let's Not Let Belgrade Drown party said in a statement.

More than ten thousand demonstrators gathered in front of the country's parliament before taking to the streets to rally near Serbia's government offices.

"We are here because we can't wait any longer. We've waited too long, we've been silent too long, we've turned our heads too long," Marina Vidojevic, an elementary school teacher, told the crowd.

"We want safe schools, streets, villages and cities for all children."

Resignation of top officials

The protesters also called for the resignation of a number of top officials — including the interior minister and head of Serbia's intelligence agency.

On Sunday, the country's education minister stepped down, citing the "cataclysmic tragedy" caused by last week's school shooting in his resignation letter.

The opposition is also demanding that reality shows known for promoting violence should be taken off air along with banning pro-government newspapers that regularly stoke tension with crude articles targeting political dissidents.

President Aleksandar Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party slammed the protest, calling the opposition groups participating in the rally "faceless evil... that dares to use a national tragedy for their own interest", according to local media.

Following the shootings, Vucic vowed to "disarm" Serbia with an ambitious plan that would crack down on legal and illicit firearms in the country.

Serbia has the highest level of gun ownership in Europe, with roughly 39 out of 100 people owning firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey research group.


Source: TRT World