An orchestrated campaign against N1 television journalist Vanja Djuric and Nova S television journalist Zeljko Veljkovic has been going on for days due to comments published on the X social network. The situation culminated when Vanja Djuric’s phone number was publicly shared on the X network, so the harassment and persecution of the journalist continued with calls and messages via phone.
On January 15, an unknown person published on the X social network a video of a minor girl in national costume singing songs dedicated to Kosovo at a public event. Vanja Djuric left a comment on that post: “How is she so small, and she sounds like some old lady from the Kosovo cycle”, while Zeljko Veljkovic wrote: “General return to the Middle Ages”, which was followed by a campaign against the two journalists led by politicians from the government and the opposition. Journalists received a lot of offensive comments on social networks that contained hate speech and threats, and there were also calls for the expulsion of journalists from Serbia. The fact that they come from critically oriented media has caused special insults, threats and hate speech.
After that, Vanja Djuric deleted her accounts on social networks, and what is at the heart of the incident is the unauthorized publication of her phone number on the social network X with an invitation to users to contact the journalist and say what they think about her comment, so the harassment continued via phone.
“Here is the phone number of Vanja Djuric, who spat on our Pavlina, so tell her what you think of her since she deleted the Tweeter…”, was stated in the tweet.
Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS) strongly condemns these threats and the publication of Vanja Djurić’s phone number. The case was reported to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for High-Tech Crime and IJAS expects the competent authorities to take all the necessary actions as soon as possible in order to stop the pursuit of journalists and thus show that such campaigns of persecution are inadmissible.
“It is unacceptable that in 2024 we have to deal with the lessons of tolerance for different opinions and remind citizens and politicians that they must understand and accept that people have different opinions, and we must not allow journalists to be targeted and persecuted because of their attitudes. Government representatives and politicians are particularly responsible, and instead of condemning hate speech and sending a message of tolerance, they incite further insults and threats with their statements. We strongly condemn the attacks on the journalists of N1 and Nova S, and we expect the competent authorities to take a strong stance and prevent further attacks on journalists”, says Zeljko Bodrozic, president of IJAS.
The SafeJournalists network, which represents media professionals in the Western Balkans, joins its member IJAS in condemning the threats and hate speech, and asks the competent authorities to take all measures and actions within their jurisdiction to make such targeting and threats unacceptable. The Network once again calls on the representatives of all political parties to stop inciting attacks on journalists with their rhetoric and to be guided by democratic principles in their speeches.
The SafeJournalists network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders about this case.
Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and the rights of all citizens.
Pristina – Skopje – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Belgrade – Podgorica, 18.01.2024
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
BH Journalists Association
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Independent Journalists Association of Serbia
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro