[Also see our Call for Solidarity]
In revolt against the current government, citizens in Macedonia have taken to the streets to fight for justice and peace. This website documents the happenings surrounding citizens’ protests united as #Protestiram, a movement demanding: resignation and responsibility from the current government, release of all detained activists, and formation of a new government to democratise state institutions. We source testimonies and texts by citizens—protestors and media outlets. On this pages you will find part of the history of the citizens resistance that demands alternatives to the current forms of social organising, for justice and peace. We act united to create conditions for a different present.
The protests calling for resignation of the current government kicked off on 5 May 2015 after years of discontent and a series of protests by non-government organisations, citizens’ associations and students that were raising kindred demands. Rallied anew on May 5, protestors jointly took to the streets after new information became available on the murder of the 22-year old Martin Neshkoski. In 2011, he was killed by a member of a police special task force at a celebration of the election victory by the ruling party. The new information, sourced from leaked wiretapped phone calls, implicate the Minister of Interior Affairs Gordana Jankuloska, Prime-minister Nikola Gruevski and the Head of the national Agency for Security and Counter Intelligence Sasho Mijalkov, cousin of the Prime-minister. All three can be heard allegedly plotting to cover-up facts that the murder of the boy was committed by police and thus avoid political responsibility.
On 5 May 2015, following a call by Neshkoski’s family, citizens and activists took to a peaceful protests in front of the Government headquarters with a demand for justice and responsibility for the attempted cover-up. Protestors called for resignation by the Government of Prime-minister Gruevski. Taking the police by surprise, protestors rallied in the thousands within a very short period. At a point, they breached the cordon of police officers, yet remained to protest peacefully.
In response to these developments, a large number of police units was immediately dispatched to the Government headquarter. Employees of a private security agency SGS, owned by Sasho Mijalkov, also showed up. Consolidated, the police and the private security agents attacked the protestors. At the same time, provocateurs were infiltrated and stirred violence among the groups of peaceful protesters. In an atmosphere thick with tension, provocateurs started throwing objects towards the police, an act that police officers used as invitation to crackdown violently on protestors. Armoured vehicles and water cannons arrived shortly after to intimidate protestors. Police resorted to excessive use of force, eventually dispersing protestors. Special police task forces were hitting unarmed and peaceful protestors, chased them down city streets, far away from the government headquarters. People were beaten and arrested for no reason. Forcing their entrance in the city library “Brakja Miladinovci,” police forces attacked and molested students who found themselves there preparing exams late that night.
The protests resumed on May 6 and following a public call announcing that protests will take place every day at 6pm until the government concedes to resign. That day, protests spread outside of Skopje, in Bitola and Prilep. Protestors in Skopje, however, were prevented to rally in front of the Government, a breach to the constitutionally granted right to peaceful assembly with Art. 21 of the Constitution. Large number of special police task forces used armoured vehicles to block the access to the government headquarters at intersections encircling the building. Protestors, then, walked to the Parliament. By the end of the protest, provocateurs arrived to stir violence again. They failed. Peaceful protesters, mainly women, joined hands to form a live shield in front of police officers who were guarding the Parliament building.
Running into with barricades that prevented rallying in front of the Government headquarters again on 7 May, protestors walked first to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and ended the protest in front of the Parliament. Peaceful, yet again, protests were also held in the city Strumica.
On May 8, protests took place in Skopje, Bitola, Prilep, Strumica, Kavadarci, Kumanovo, Ohrid, Sveti Nikole and Shtip.
An armed conflict in Kumanovo on May 9 changed the flow and form of the citizens’ protests. At 6 pm that day, group of citizens rallied in front of the Government building in Skopje. They observed one minute of silence to pay respects to the police officers who were killed and injured in the incident. They stood in solidarity with the families of the deceased and the citizens of Kumanovo. They expressed support to the detained activists since the onset of the protests and demanded their release. The rally ended at the building housing the EU delegation in Skopje. There, citizens called the European Union to break their silence as democracy is being killed in Macedonia, candidate country for EU accession.
Observing the two-day national mourning, citizens gathered at a peaceful rally in the City Park in Skopje on May 10. In a citizen plenum, those present at the gathering reformulated the goals of the protests. #Протестирам (#Protestiram), a broad citizens’ movement was established, fusion of previous movements and initiatives. Their demands are:
- urgent resignation and responsibility from the Government
- urgent release of all activists detained since May 5, 2015
- formation of Government to democratise state institutions
These demands will be reiterated every day, at 6pm! Join! #Protestiram #Протестирам