Albanians from southern Serbia stage protest

PREŠEVO -- Albanians from Bujanovac, Medveđa and Preševo staged a protest in Preševo on Wednesday.

A scene from the protest in Preševo (Beta)
A scene from the protest in Preševo (Beta)

The Albanians organized the protest in order to turn the Serbian government's attention to discrimination allegedly experienced by the Albanian national minority.

A protest walk of several thousand Albanians was organized prior to the protest rally taking place in front of the municipal assembly's building.

The protesters carried Albanian, U.S. and European flags, as well as numerous banners in Albanian language demanding from the Serbian state bodies to recognize their rights to native language, jobs, inclusion in institutions, etc.

The Albanians blew whistles and shouted slogans requesting for a stop of discrimination in different fields.

The event was organized by the political parties from Bujanovac, Preševo and Medveđa, based on the decision reached by officials of the three municipal assemblies in Preševo on September 3.

There was another protest rally in Bujanovac on September 13 dubbed “It's enough“ organized due to the issue of education in Albanian language.

No members of the Serbian Interior Ministry in uniform were noticed in Preševo on Wednesday except for a few traffic policemen.

The protesting Albanians called on the Serbian government to make it possible for the three municipalities' economy to develop further and to put an end to, as they said, discrimination against the Albanian community in terms of education, employment and freedom of movement.

The several thousand protesters underscored that problems in areas important for the life of Albanians in these three municipalities were not being resolved, which was why citizens had to insist that their position should be improved.

The protest was a peaceful one and no incidents occurred. Only representatives of Preševo youth addressed the protesters in Albanian, while local political leaders of Albanians backed their requests by attending the protest.

Preševo Mayor Ragmi Mustafa told Tanjug that the protest was staged because of general discrimination in the territory of Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa.

Serbian MP Riza Halimi told Tanjug that Albanians in these three municipalities had been dissatisfied for some time now because serious daily problems of the population in the three municipalities were not being resolved.

Halimi warned about the increasing emigration not only among young Albanians whose university degrees were not recognised, but also among entire families who were leaving the area in search of jobs in Kosovo and EU member countries.