Statement on the banning of the “Mirëdita, dobar dan!” festival

Image: “Mirëdita, dobar dan!”

Civil Rights Defenders condemns in the strongest terms the recent decision by Serbian authorities to ban the “Mirëdita, dobar dan!” festival. This festival, scheduled to take place in Belgrade during June 27-29, is an important platform for fostering cooperation and peacebuilding between Kosovo and Serbia through art, culture, and public debate.

The banning of this event represents a severe infringement on the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly. It is deeply troubling that a peaceful and constructive initiative aimed at bridging divides and promoting dialogue is being met with such measures.

In the weeks leading up to the event, there were escalating calls from authorities and officials to ban the festival. This period was marked by a pervasive negative narrative, with attempts to discredit and undermine the festival’s objectives. Moreover, there were also numerous threats directed at both organisers and participants, heightening the atmosphere of intimidation and fear.

On the day of the event, a group of people gathered to protest and blocked the venue where the opening was scheduled to take place. Following this demonstration, the authorities announced the ban due to security concerns. In situations like this, authorities have to ensure the safety of participants and organisers, as well as to uphold their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Rather than succumbing to pressure and banning the event, the authorities should have taken measures to protect those involved and to facilitate a peaceful and secure environment for the festival. The ban of the festival is unconstitutional and represents a significant setback for human rights in the country.

We stand in solidarity with the organisers and participants of “Mirëdita, dobar dan!” and call on the authorities to immediately reverse this decision. It is imperative that the rights to freedom of expression and assembly are upheld and that efforts to build peace and reconciliation are supported rather than stifled.

Civil Rights Defenders will continue to monitor the situation closely and advocate for the protection of human rights and democratic freedoms.

Read the full statement of the organisers by the link.

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