The protest on 16.05.2015, the twelfth day of the protests, was small and peaceful. The demonstrators stayed in front of the police cordon near the building of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia. They worked on preparing banners and canvases for tomorrow’s protest.
The protest on 17.05.2015 will start at 13:00 in front of the Primary Court Skopje 1 building in Skopje. There, they will once again repeat the demands of #Протестирам. From there, together with the Student Plenum, the demonstrators will march to the Government at 13:55. At 18:00, they will symbolically gather at the place where they have been protesting every day, at the boulevard Kliment Ohridski.
On the 15th of May, the eleventh day since the start of the protests, citizens’ protests continued in Skopje. Once again the police prevented the protest outside of the Government. The protesters who arrived outside the government marched towards the Parliament.
The slogans “Resignation”, “He is finished”, “Nikola the little dictator”, “No justice, no peace”, once again reiterated the demands for resignation of the government, urgent release of the activists detained into custody since 5 May onwards and the formation of a transitory Government, which will work towards democratizing the institutions.
A citizens assembly took place outside of the Parliament, where the protestors in an open plenum discussed the protest on Sunday for May 17, when the largest opposition party-SDSM alongside a coalition of supporters under their coordination, will start a protest at 14:00.
The Student Plenum called for a student march on May 17. The march will start at 13:00h. from the University Saint Cyril and Methodius.
“The Government has dared to stand in our way, to block our struggle by demonstrating force. Our colleagues have been arrested because they used their constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and demonstrated their opinions. The Student Plenum is calling you to join the Student March, where once again we will demonstrate that our actions and positions are incontestable, over all party-political lines and always on the side of the students. We call you all to jointly fight for the creation of a fertile soil on which we will create the true values of a society and the true materials necessary for a good quality higher education,” states the Student Plenum in their public announcement.
The leader of SDSM, Zoran Zaev, held a press conference in the party’s headquarters May 15 to announce a new series of a the leaked wiretapped conversations implicating high Government officials. At the press conference, Zaev announced that the protest planned for the May 17 under the coordination of the major opposition party.
The new series of leaked 16 phone conversations contained racist comments by top officials of the current Government. The comments by officials, themselves ethnic Macedonians, were directed at an ethnic community in Macedonia.
On the tenth day of the protests, on the social media and on the streets, there is a growing atmosphere of unity and togetherness over the common goals and demands of the people.
Artan Sadiku comments on the evolving movement on his fb status.
Vasko Lazarevski highlights the irrelevance of the differences between the protesters as they are all united on the front for democracy, as he writes: “I really do not care whether you believe in the afterlife or in the omnipresent Force, whether you are or aren’t a member of a political party, whether you listen to folk music or techno, whether you are annoyed by hipsters or football fans, whether you prefer one bar or another, whether you are Trotskyist or a libertarian. All that matters is that we stand together on the same side of the barricades and to actively support and demand these three things:
1. Immediate resignation of the entire government and taking responsibility for their actions
2. Immediate release of all imprisoned activists
3. Forming a government that would enable the democratization and realization of fair democratic elections
Supporters of #Протестирам (#Protestiram) resumed rallying again on 13 May, the ninth day since the onset of these protests. Protesters gathered around the designated meeting spot, the government headquarters. They were banned anew from rallying there, again in violation of citizens’ democratic right for peaceful assembly and protest. Shouts “Macedonia hearts resignations” and “Down with the Government” echoed along the marching route for the day.
The protest concluded peacefully, in front of the Parliament building. There, activists addressed and reminded the crowd of the three demands proclaimed by #Протестирам, including the resignation of the entire Government and urgent release of the activists detained into custody since 5 May onwards.
The struggle continues! #everydayat6 #секојденво6
Photo: Vesna Ilievska
Sound and Sight of #Протестирам (#Protestiram)
Speeches in front of the Parliament
Marija Grubor: We entered this struggle showing resistance on different fronts, but now we come united, as citizens against those who work against our interest!
Aleksandar Donev: We have a responsibility after our three demands are met to vote together a new Government that will fear us, the people! We protest #everydayat6 for Martin, Tamara, for Kumanovo, for the Skopje they brutally violated, for education, for public health, for those discriminated against!. Hand in hand!
Heated debates and mixed reactions ensued on social media after the resignations of three top Government officials. Some celebrated, others remained skeptical, while Government supporters praised those now resigning for their previous work.
“To say ‘well done’ tonight feels like saying ‘happy new year’ to work colleagues at a work party two weeks before New Years Eve. You are happy, but you know it’s still early…” – writes Vladimir Deskov on his facebook wall.
Commenting on the “exit strategy” of the top officials, Aleksandar Kovachevski writes “you can’t leave the bar before paying for the tab.”
“А maxi-destruction looms above our heads if they continue to strategize with this mini-reconstruction. I am no longer interested in the survival of VMRO, but the survival of all Macedonian citizens, because Macedonia is not VMRO! The dreams for a Great Macedonia brought this country to a level as low as this. The dreams for a Great Macedonia, mounted on a horse, with guns, swords and other weapons triggered the most primitive urges of hatred in each and everyone of us. Look at the young people on the streets, they don’t need a Great Macedonia, nor a Great Albania – the world is their home!” – writes а professor and columnist.
While initially rumored to have resigned, the Minister of Education denied his resignation as the Highschool Plenum continues their protests and camps in front of the Ministry of Education and Science. Playing on a famous statement from late journalist Nikola Mladenov, they write: “We want quality education, and they want a spineless mass. And with this, there can be no compromise!”
Three top government officials have handed in resignations as Prime Minister Gruevski seeks exit strategies to stay in power in an atmosphere thick with pressure from the diplomatic corps, the citizens’ movement #Protestiram (#Протестирам), opposition parties and in the aftermath of the incident in Kumanovo. A clash between the police and an armed group left eight members of the special police forces dead. In the evening on 12 May, resignations letters were received from Minister of Interior Gordana Jankuloska, Minister of Transport and Communications Mile Janakieski, and the Director of the Administration for Security and Counterintelligence Sasho Mijalkov.
In an official statement following incidents in Kumanovo, Vice-President of European Parliament Alexander Graf Lambsdorff called on Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to step down. For the EP Vice-President Gruevski poses obstacle to easing inter-ethnic tensions and to new elections that will be held in democratic conditions.
With distrust about the democratic capacity and the intentions of the Government, the Student Plenum calls off participation in the government-led working groups for a new law on higher education. During the May 5 protests special police forces stormed into a city library and in later days took two students into jail custody. These are two among the reasons that led members of the Student Plenum to rule unanimously in favor of a decision to call off all negotiations with the Government.