|Geert Lovink on Fri, 26 Mar 1999 17:33:35 +0100|
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|Syndicate: ANEM alert: PRESS FREEDOM IN FR YUGOSLAVIA GRAVELY VIOLATED|
From: Marija Milosavljevic <firstname.lastname@example.org> ANEM press release PRESS FREEDOM IN FR YUGOSLAVIA GRAVELY VIOLATED Belgrade -- March 25, 1999 The Association of Independent Electronic Media in FR Yugoslavia (ANEM) today expressed grave concern over the increasing repression against journalists in FR Yugoslavia. ANEM condemned the decision of the Serbian government to expel all foreign journalists from countries involved in the NATO air strikes and the closures of two local media outlets one of which has resulted in the death of one man. On March 24, satellite equipment of EBU, European Broadcasters Union, was confiscated, regardless of the fact that the Yugoslav Federal Telecommunications Ministry had issued the EBU with a satellite broadcasting licence. According of EBU co-ordinator Bruno Beekman's statement to Belgrade-based news agency Beta, a group of ten men who refused to provide any identification came to EBU's offices at Belgrade's Hotel Intercontinental. Having inspected the EBU staff's identifications and forced them to stand face to wall, they took the equipment despite the fact that the staff had showed a satellite licence from the Telecommunications Ministry. Meanwhile, a group of 20-odd journalists who were observing the situation in Belgrade from the roof of the Hotel Hyatt were shortly detained. On March 25, Serb police closed down the Albanian-language daily Koha Ditore in Pristina and killed the newspapers security guard. Koha was the last remaining Albanian-language newspaper in Kosovo. Koha's owner Veton Surroi, currently in hiding, told media that the staff no longer had access to the newspaper's premises and that the lawyer defending the paper against charges under Serbia's Public Information Act had been abducted, together with his two sons. CNN's driver and interpreter were beaten up in Pristina the same day. Later in the day, majority of the correspondents of the Western media left the country as a result of the announcement of expulsion order by Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who said all correspondents of the media based in the countries who had participated in the NATO air raids against Yugoslavia had to go. His order accused journalists of "instigating NATO's aggressive activities which were aimed at destroying the constitutional order and territorial integrity of Serbia and Yugoslavia and of misinforming the world". In a news conference later in day, Yugoslav Federal Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic welcomed members of the foreign press to stay. "We need you because we need you to report the truth", Draskovic said. He later condemned Serbian Information Minister's expulsion order. Radio 021, an ANEM affiliate in Novi Sad, capital of the Vojvodina province, was banned in the evening. The official justification of the ban was that the station had not paid the frequency tax for February. ANEM expressed grave concern over these drastic violations of the freedom of the press in FR Yugoslavia and stressed the importance of the free flow of information for the establishment of peace, an effective resumption of political negotiations and stability in the region. ANEM pledged it would continue to provide its audience with as much professional information as possible despite gravely deteriorated conditions for the professional journalistic work. ANEM called all groups and individuals to support similar efforts.