On Friday night, March 4, 2016, staff and the visitors of Art Cinema Kriterion in Sarajevo were victims of a homophobic attack. Four young men stormed into Kriterion yelling homophobic slurs, threatening with violence, throwing bottles, ashtrays, and glasses. They also threatened to throw a bomb in case the members of Kriterion’s staff of call the police.
One young man has sustained severe injuries and one girl was physically attacked. Around thirty people present in Kriterion at the time were subjected to grave psychological harassment.
According to the media reports, the police arrested the four attackers, who were set free after they gave their statements. Media reports also stated that the motive of the attack is unknown and that the incident was characterized as violent behavior.
We, the undersigned civil society organizations, strongly condemn this act of violence. We remind you of the homophobic attack on February 1, 2014, that also happened in Art Cinema Kriterion, because their doors are always open to the LGBT community. We emphasize our concern that this attack, just as the one in 2014, will not be prosecuted and that the lack of penalty will send the message to the perpetrators that the attacks on free and open spaces are permissible in this society.
The police and the prosecutor’s office must clearly characterize this criminal act as a hate crime on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is unacceptable for the police to publicly state that the motive of this case is unknown, having in mind the character of the attack and the statements that were given by the witnesses.
Institutions on all levels must finally recognize that hate crimes are the reality in our society, and that they must systematically stand and fight against violence. This attack in Kriterion is a clear demonstration of how violence against the marginalized and minority groups and inclusive places is not only a threat to them, but it also endangers all the citizens of BiH.
Civil society organizations:
Initiative for Monitoring the European Integration of BiH
Women’s Network of BiH
Coalition for Combat against Hate Speech and Hate Crime
Civil society organizations:
Sarajevo Open Centre
Why not (Zašto ne), Sarajevo
Your Rights BiH (Vaša prava BiH), Sarajevo
Civil Rights Defenders, Sarajevo
Women to Women (Žene ženama), Sarajevo
The CURE Foundation (Fondacija Cure), Sarajevo
Youth Initiative for Human Rights BiH (Inicijativa mladih za ljudska prava BiH), Sarajevo
Association for Social Research and Communications – UDIK (Udruženje za društvena istraživanja i komunikacije UDIK), Sarajevo
Centre for Political Studies (Centar za političke studije), Sarajevo
UŽ Seka, Goražde
Tuzla Open Centre (Tuzlanski otvoreni centar)
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (hCa) (Helsinški parlament građana) Banja Luka
Kvart – Youth Centre (Centar za mlade Kvart), Prijedor
Banja Luka Association of Queer Activists (Banjalučko udruženja kvir aktivista – B.U.K.A), Banja Luka
PRESS STATEMENTS WILL BE GIVEN TOMORROW, SUNDAY, MARCH 6, 2016, AT 3:15 PM AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE IN ART CINEMA KRITERION, OBALA KULINA BANA 2.