Serbia Action Alert (Additional Info) 23Jan97

Amanda Onion (
Thu, 23 Jan 97 14:11:45 EST

Jan. 23, 1997

His Excellency Slobodan Milosevic
President of Serbia
Fax: +381-11-656-862

Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) writes to express its deep
distress about today's reported beating of an Associated Press Television
crew member. CPJ is also greatly concerned about other police violence in
Kragujevac where opposition supporters in the city are protesting police
resistance to the transfer of Kragujevac's radio and television stations to
its newly-elected city officials.

The Associated Press has reported that a soundman from AP Television was
beaten during clashes between police and protesters in front of the city's
radio and television offices. Police also confiscated the crew's videotape.
Police officers remained barricaded inside the media offices to prevent the
demonstrators from entering. Tonight journalists and other demonstrators
plan to stand against police barricades in front of the media buildings from
midnight until dawn to protest the police cordon.

Kati Marton, chair of CPJ, wrote to you on January 15, 1997 about the
importance of developing an independent public television channel in the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The Committee believes this step is
essential to ensure the complete editorial independence of radio and
television news coverage. In addition to a state-wide independent public
channel, today's events demonstrate the need to authorize local
municipalities to grant broadcasting licenses.

As a nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of our
colleagues around the world, CPJ condemns the beating and censorship of the
AP reporters in Kragujevac. Further, CPJ respectfully urges you to find a
rapid, peaceful, and legal remedy to the issue of public radio and
television broadcasting in the municipalities of FRY. Yugoslav taxpayers
support broadcasting through mandatory television subscriptions in their
electric bills and they have the right to demand greater independence and
diversity in news programming. Furthermore, the current state monopoly over
television broadcasting runs counter to the notion of a free media and,
consequently, to the concept of a true democracy in FRY.

Thank you for your attention. We welcome your comments.


William A. Orme, Jr
Executive Director


Ambassador Zoren Popovic
Ambassador Dragomir Djokic
Open Society Institute, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
UNPROFOR, Belgrade
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Amnesty International
Article 19 (United Kingdom)
Artikel 19 (The Netherlands)
Canadian Committee To Protect Journalists
Congressional Committee to Support Writers and Journalists
Freedom House
Human Rights Watch
Index on Censorship
International Association of Broadcasting
International Federation of Journalists
International Federation of Newspaper Publishers
International Journalism Institute
International PEN
International Press Institute
National Association of Newspapers
National Press Club
The Newspaper Guild
North American National Broadcasters Association
Reporters sans Frontieres
Overseas Press Club
The Society of Professional Journalists
World Press Freedom Committee