NEWS
Macedonia: Journalist arrested while covering rally in Skopje

This article is part of Index's media freedom mapping project that monitors censorship in the European Union. Our correspondent explores the case further.

18 Jul 2014
BY CHRISTINA VASILAKI

lajm-mediafreedom

Besim Ibrahimi, intern for the Albanian-language newspaper Lajm, was arrested on Saturday, 5 July during a rally against the jailing of alleged extremist ethnic Albanian Muslims for the “terrorist” murders of ethnic Macedonians. The journalist was accused of taking part in the violent protests, while he was covering the rally under the instructions of his editor. Ibrahimi was released on Sunday, but the prosecutor has not yet decided if he will file charges against him or not.

“The policemen from the special units approached me and forced me to lie on the ground. When I told them that I am a journalist and I am here only to cover the protests, instead of releasing me, they beat me with batons and kicked me,” Besim Ibrahimi told Index few days after his prosecution.

“One of them told me ‘you’re not a journalist, you came here to protest’ and another was shouting ‘hit him, hit him’. And they just kept beating me until my glasses broke too. When they put me inside the vehicle, along with two other guys who were also treated inhumanely, they started using some hate language like ‘I will kill you Albanians’, ‘Albanian scum’”, he continued.

Ibrahimi spent 24 hours in the police station in Kisella Voda and was released on a promise to appear in court after a decision by the Court of Skopje. According to Ibrahimi, his case is currently under investigation and he aims to present evidence in order to withdraw the claim.

The Journalists’ Association of Macedonia, ZNM, strongly condemned the arrest of the young journalist and expressed its concerns “for establishing this extremely undemocratic practice in Macedonia of arresting journalists without having hard evidences.”

As Ibrahimi explained to Index, the Macedonian government controls almost the 90% of the media and the Albanian-language newspaper Lajm is targeted by the pro-government media. “They accuse us of fueling the protests. Albanians in Macedonia are facing state discrimination.”

The recent ethnic tensions in the country were raised when life sentences were handed down to six alleged Muslim radicals for the killing of five ethnic Macedonians at Orthodox Easter in 2012.

On Friday, July 4th thousands of protesters gathered outside the criminal court building in Skopje. According to media reports, the protests turned violent with the riot police firing tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon into the crowd and some protesters throwing bricks and rocks. Six people in total were detained and 20 police officers -as well as some protesters- were injured, the police reported.

Albanians make up a quarter of the country’s 2.1 million population.

More reports from Macedonia via mediafreedom.ushahidi.com

Police pressure journalists during protests in Skopje

Telma TV under government pressure


This article was posted on July 18, 2014 at www.indexoncensorship.org

2 responses to “Macedonia: Journalist arrested while covering rally in Skopje”

  1. NDF says:

    Firstly let’s remind ourselves that five ethnic Christian Macedonian men were murdered in cold blood just for being Macedonian by Muslim Albanian men.

    Any Albanian taking part in this protest is guilty regardless. I too, if I were the police would have beaten any fAlbanian that attended the protest.

    Who knows if this journalist is telling the truth since he is of Albanian ethnicity. Why aren’t the Albanians condemning the murder of these Macedonian young men? Instead they are hurling rocks because they say those accused of the murder are innocent. Well why don’t the Albanians bring forward those responsible? Just like the Balkan wars the Muslims once again cry victim when in fact they are the perpetrator.

    Furthermore, one has to query the motive of the journalist whom wrote this article. I can see just by her name that she is of Greek origin. We all know how “free” Greece’s press is. In fact it ranks at the bottom of the EU countries & is ranked 84 world wide in the 2013 Press Freedom Index. Albania doesn’t even make the list.

    Now all Macedonia needs is a leader like the Egyptian Abdel El Sisi and start to arrest those journalists on Macedonian land that collaborate with the terrorists to write articles like this.

  2. Peter says:

    Republic of Macedonia has a constitution,in it,all citizens have equal rights.If anyone wants to bring harm to the state as it happened at the Smilkovci lake,than the state has the right to bring those terrorists to justice as any civilized nation.
    Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia are very lucky to be in Macedonia.
    Compare Macedonia’s Human Rights and those of the Republic of Albania,Greece and Bulgaria,and tell the world who is facing state discrimination against the minorities in their respective states.
    Mr.Ibrahimi,the least you should do is apologize for your ill thought comment if you are truly a journalist.
    Journalists like you are the ones who bring harm to the state by wrongly accusing the state of discrimination.