Police use water canon at protest against Covid pass mandate

Ljubljana – A group of several thousand protesters again gathered in Ljubljana on Wednesday to protest against the Covid pass mandate in what was the third such protest. Starting in Republic Square, the rally moved to the ring road, which was closed for a while, as the police tried to break up the crowd, including by using a water canon.

The rally started in the city centre but since the parliament building was fenced off and police started restricting movement in near-by streets, the crowd moved to Celovška Street and continued all the way to the Ljubljana ring road, blocking traffic as it progressed accompanied by a police helicopter.

Police used a water canon and according to media reports also tear gas to disperse the crowd, which however turned back towards the city centre again and continued rallying in Republic Square. Now, most of the protesters have dispersed.

The Ljubljana police department said the protesters had been asked to leave the site for their own security.

The protesters opposing the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) requirement today raised the issue of the death of a 20-year-old, who died within a fortnight after receiving a shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Her father addressed the crowd.

The rally demanded immediate lifting of the PCT requirement and immediate government resignation.

Protesters were also critical of media reporting, and obstructed some journalist crews reporting from the scene, including the teams of commercial TV stations Kanal A and POP TV. They were throwing different objects at them and spat on them. A security guard accompanying the teams sustained light injuries.

A group of protesters also stopped in front of the building of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, where police also used the water canon.

The Slovenian Association of Journalists (DNS) responded by urging people to respect the work of journalists in the field and not put them in danger, as they are merely doing their job. It also called on media outlets and police to provide for the safety of journalist crews working in the field.

The Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) also expressed concern over the violence against journalists, saying it had become a regular feature at protests. Since cameras recorded the attack on the journalist crews today, the ZNP expects police to find the perpetrator and take appropriate action.

Prime Minister Janez Janša commented on the events on Twitter by saying that attacks, threats and violations of Covid-19 rules were not the constitutional right to assembly. “The leadership of the Ljubljana police is obviously not capable of preventive action, it’s time for the Interior Ministry to take action,” he tweeted.