Note from the editors: Following the developing situation in Montenegro, where a popular uprising is slowly emerging against the 25-year rule of the governing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) dominated by the figure of Milo Djukanovic, LeftEast is including a statement below that was signed by many prominent individuals and activists in Montenegro’s public life, including community leaders, feminist organizers, LGBT activists, etc, and circulated in the days before last Saturday’s protest.
The statement calls for a cross-class, multiethnic and civic movement to emerge and support the demand for the country’s first, free and fair elections that wouldn’t be under the control of the ruling party.
For the past week, regime media have gone into overdrive attempting to intensify ethnic cleavages, spread paranoia about ‘foreign plots,’ and create the fear of violence and civil war. Some opposition figures have similarly engaged in this theme. The below statement is an attempt by long-time activists in Montenegro to shift the public discourse away from ethnic cleavages and violence and towards building a civic movement for change.
Friday night the streets of Montenegro were filled with people, with many who were on opposite sides of the country’s independence referendum marching shoulder to shoulder. It captures the mood of the Saturday demonstration until the moment that a group of masked men began attacking the police cordon in front of parliament, which was the trigger for the crackdown.
We will continue to follow the situation as it develops.
We, the undersigned citizens of Montenegro, over and above any party affiliations, particular interests or identities of whichever kind, and motivated only by our civic concern and responsibility for the common good of Montenegro and our desire to preserve its constitutional order and freedoms, including the rights of its citizens, call on all citizens of Montenegro to sign this:
Which we are directing to the state leadership of Montenegro, to all those fulfilling public functions, as well as to all party leaders, trade unions, NGOs, citizens’ associations, and media, as well as to both foreign and domestic publics. We stand together in defence of Montenegro, its peace, statehood, and republican constitution, as well as the human and civil rights of all of us regardless of our political, ideological, identity or other differences.
We, the citizens of Montenegro, resolutely protest against:
+ The violent dispersal of peaceful civic protests on Saturday, 17 October 2015, and the subsequent police assaults on citizens and their deputies, which violated in the crudest manner Montenegro’s Constitution and republican system;
+ The denials and abuse of the civic, non-partisan character of the protests that took place on Sunday (October 18) by any political party, media, or interest groups, for any purpose other than the defence of Montenegro and the rights of its citizens;
+ The irresponsible actions of all political actors in the government and the opposition, who in recent days have exploited the civic, non-partisan character of these protests for their own narrow party or other particularistic interests, or for the purpose of destabilizing Montenegro and stirring civil unrest;
+ Any calls for rioting, conflict, violence and civil war; whether these calls are coming from the government, the opposition, party leaders, media, interest groups or individual citizens;
+ Any bloody-minded demagogues who in recent days have accused Montenegro’s citizens of returning Montenegro to the time of pre-independence national divisions by protesting, along with our opposition to any promotion of nationalist and cultural-fascistic rhetoric or the spreading of lies, hatred, discord, and unrest among Montenegro’s citizens.
Given the above, and in the interests of Montenegro and all of us, we the citizens of Montenegro, unblemished by corruption, the advocacy of particularistic interests or any nationalist programs, while also taking note of the political irresponsibility and lack of maturity of our political leaders, as well as the hateful and nationalist rhetoric emanating from certain media and public figures who are poisoning the public space in Montenegro and distorting our place in it, on the day that the Constitution of Montenegro was adopted eight years ago, we raise our voices and demand the following:
1. That the protests must be civic in nature.
2. That the protests must be peaceful and non-violent;
3. That the protests must be in defence of the Constitution and Montenegro’s republican system.
4. That the protests must be democratic and in defence of human rights and civil liberties.
Therefore, we appeal to the citizens of Montenegro, to come out on Saturday, October 24th (on the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Charter, which upholds the same elementary demands for survival and the expansion of civil liberties and dignity) to prevent the further degradation of the constitutional order and to demand the formation of a Government of National Unity that will organize the first free and fair elections in the country.
Long live Montenegro!