On Friday, March 4, 2016, there was a homophobic attack on the staff and visitors of the Kriterion Art Cinema in Sarajevo. Four young men stormed into a café, shouting derogatory words, insulting and threatening, throwing bottles, ashtrays and glasses. Staff were threatened that they will burn down the Kriterion and drop a bomb in case they called police.
One man was seriously injured, as it was confirmed by a medical examination, and one woman was physically assaulted. Thirty people present at the Kriterion at the time survived severe psychological abuse.
According to media reports, police allegedly detained all four men, who were released after police took their statements. Media statements state that the motive behind this attack is unknown, and that the incident was characterized as violent behavior.
We, the undersigned civil society organizations, strongly protest this act of violence. We are reminding about the homophobic attack that took place on February 1, 2014. Even then, Kriterion Cinema was attacked by young men, because of its connection with the LGBTI community. We emphasize the concern that this attack, as well as the 2014 attack, will not be prosecuted in any way and that due to impunity, it will send a message to the bullies that attacks on vacant and open places are welcome.
The police and the prosecution must clearly characterize this case as a hate crime based on sexual orientation. It is inadmissible for police to make statements that this is a case in which the motive is unknown, bearing in mind the nature of the attack and the statements taken by the police from those present and witnesses.
Institutions at all levels of government must finally recognize hate crimes as a reality of our society, and must systematically combat hate crimes. Violence against members of minority communities and facilities associated with them not only targets them, but targets all citizens as well. Friday’s attack on Kriterion confirms this statement.
Coalitions of civil society organizations:
Initiative for monitoring European integration of BiH
Women’s Network of BiH
Coalition for the fights against hate speech and hate crimes
Sarajevo Open Center
Zašto ne, Sarajevo
Vaša prava BiH, Sarajevo
Civil Rights Defenders, Sarajevo
Women to Women, Sarajevo
CURE Foundation, Sarajevo
Youth Initiative for Human Rights BiH, Sarajevo
Association for Social Research and Communications UDIK, Sarajevo
Center for Political Studies, Sarajevo
Tuzla Open Center
Helsinki Citizens’ Parliament Banja Luka
Youth Center Quarter Prijedor
Quir activist association Banja Luka, Banja Luka
MEDIA STATEMENTS ABOUT THIS ATTACK MAY BE TAKEN TOMORROW, SUNDAY, MARCH 06, 2016 at 3:15 PM AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE IN ART KINO KRITERION, OBALA KULINA BANA NO. 2.