Ljubljana – The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has condemned in the strongest terms verbal and physical attacks on the media following an anti-government protest that turned violent Thursday evening.
“We strongly condemn the attacks on media workers and express solidarity with them. It is very worrisome to see that Slovenian politicians are greatly contributing to the increasing hostility and hatred towards journalists,” EFJ general secretary Ricardo Gutierrez said.
“We call on Slovenian officials to immediately stop intimidating and discrediting media workers,” he was quoted as saying in a press release by the EFJ, an affiliate of the Slovenian Journalist Association (DNS) which also condemned the attacks.
Several news crews were attacked by protestors last night and a photographer was beaten unconscious. After the protest, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs attributed a part of the blame for the protest turning violent to the media. “You’ve supported and fed them for months… and now here you have wounded police officers.”
Anti-government protests have been a mainstay of Friday afternoons for months, however, the groups organising the Friday protests have distanced themselves from the rally organised yesterday, mostly by a group named Anonymous Slovenija.
The Friday protesters meanwhile said that the protest yesterday was an attempt by the government to besmirch Friday’s peaceful rallies, which have now been moved back onto balconies, like during the first lockdown.
“Yesterday’s events were no protest… but a premeditated riot in which a small, unidentified group hijacked and abused a planned protest,” Jaša Jenull, one of the leaders of the Friday protesters, said today.
The violent protest had two objectives, Jenull believes. “The first objective was to legitimise through violence measures against the Friday protesters and demonise them. The second was to divert attention from the disastrous incompetence of this government to bring the Covid-19 epidemic…under control.”
Attempts to link Friday protests with those throwing granite pavement cubes and pyrotechnic devices at police officers is absurd and an attempt at manipulation by Hojs, Jenull said.