Student Protest '96 - '97
January 31st, 1997
The 71st day of the Student Protest and the first day of the eleventh week of the boycott of classes because of the manipulations of the November 17 elections was an interesting one.
The protest day started with the gathering of the students at their individual schools at 11 o'clock. Actually the schools were grouped into five units, according to the school locations (since the Belgrade University has no campus but is spread out over the city). The groups gathered in front of the Supreme Court in Nemanjina street, in order to express their protest. The procession of about 1,000 members of the Lawyers Association by pure accident passed through Nemanjina street and stopped to join the students. During the hour's wait for the group from the School of Transportation, about 10,000 students gathered and then went for the planned walk. There was no police to prevent them in their intentions and members of the traffic police even helped in managing the traffic from the side streets.
The walk went up Nemanjina street to the Slavija Square, into Srpskih Vladara street to Terazije. The lawyers, who lead the procession headed towards the Republic Square while the students turned "counter-right" into Prizrenska street and Brankova. They then went up Carice Milica street in order to pass by the Tanjug Press Agency which they hadn't visited in a while. They whistled and booed in front of the building protesting the false and twisted information and picture the agency was spreading of the protests and events in Belgrade. From there the students continued through Zmaj Jovina and Knez Mihajlova streets to the Plato, where the loudspeaker awaited.
The students were addressed by a number of people. The first guest to speak was the president of the Belgrade Lawyers Association, who said that the coincidence in Nemanjina only proved that the lawyers were "heading down the same path as the students" and that their demands are essentially the same. The next person to speak to the the gathered students was Linda from Gruningen, Holland who brought the petition of the students and professors in this city which expresses their support of the Belgrade students in their fight for democracy. The petition was signed by 5,000 people in only five days. Letters from the syndicate of the workers from the University clinic, and of the Association of the preschool workers was read. The students were joined by the teachers from Pancevo who were the first to go on general strike, and the representative spoke. A delegation from the Paraplegic Association also spoke to the students. The last to speak was Ceda Jovanovic from the Initiative Board, who announced an evening walk for tomorrow and invited the students to gather at 6 o'clock at the Plato.