Student Protest '96
December 20th, 1996
Gatherings at Plato
An enormous number of people gathered at Plato today, probably because of the great project announced for today - the blocking of traffic in the centre of the town completely by blocking three bridges across the Sava.
Among the people who addressed the students today were Svetlana Velmar-Jankovic, our famous writer, reporter Mirjana Bobic-Mojsilovic, Dejan Mladjenovic, professor at the School of Music Arts, Vlado Djukanovic, assistant at the Institute for Serbian Language, Jovan Cirilov, manager of the Jugoslovensko Dramsko Theatre, Vojislav Kostunica, associate of the institute for Philosophy and Social theory, and our guests, students from Germany, representatives of the Free German University. Some telegrams of support that reached us by Internet were read, and then the "walk" started.
The aim of today's walk were three bridges across the river Sava - Branko's, Zeleznicki and Gazela bridges. The idea was to divide into three groups and keep the traffic on these bridges blocked for about half an hour.
But when several tens of thousands of students reached Branko's bridge, it was already blocked by two cordons of police in Brankova Street, and another two in the two side streets, so thanks to the police the traffic was at first partialy, and then completely stopped on that bridge. At that time many people were walking across the bridge, and two buses of the city traffic and some pedestrians were stuck between the two cordons. The police did not allow them to pass for half an hour - persuasion was pointless. Even bystanders were provoked by the police action and booed at the police. One third of the students stayed in Brankova street, and the rest of the procession proceeded towards the other bridges. A press conference was held right in front of the bridge and the steering board of the student protest had used the occasion to underline that the police has been violating one of the fundamental civil rights: freedom of movement. They also thanked the police for blocking the bridge and so doing the job the students had set out to accomplish themselves. Traffic was completely stopped on Zeleznicki, and moved very slowly on Gazela bridge. Most of this was accomplished with the "help" of the police, whose interference kept the traffic stopped for about three hours, instead of the planned half an hour.
At the traditional place, in Kneza Milosa Street, where a cordon of police was placed once again, the students refused to stop, and only thanks to the student security was an incident prevented, so no unwelcome events occured today either. A gathering at Plato has been scheduled for the usual time tomorrow again.