15,000 furious, anti-government protesters descended upon Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia. Riot police were quickly dispatched, setting up a heavily armed perimeter around the government headquarters. Aggressive protesters stormed the cordon and were viciously beaten back with batons and tear gas. The casualties were counted as the crowd dispersed; there were more than twenty five serious injuries and at least sixty arrests. The President of Croatia, Ivo Josipovic, has called for protests to remain nonviolent; his pleas has been ineffective. Larger protests are being planned for tomorrow.
What are the Demonstrators Protesting?
There are two major issues that the protesters are attempting to resolve:
1) Notable Croatian heroes from the Serb-Croat War of Independence are in the process of being extradited. These protesters carry banners proclaiming, “Croat defenders are heroes” and “Stop the prosecution of Croat defenders.” This group represents the majority of the protesters; many are veterans who fought in the Serb-Croat War of Independence who feel fellowship with their imprisoned comrades.
2) Anit-government demonstrators who are advocating for an elimination of alleged corruption in the government and execution of new economic policies. These dissenters are furious with the Croatian economic decay and outdated technology of the small Mediterranean country. These protests are dominated by young radicals with violent impulses.
What other Protests Have Taken Place?
This latest protest has been by far the largest, climaxing the rising anger sweeping across Croatia. Two days ago, on February there a massive, violent protests rocked Zagreb. Civilians armed with torches, stones, and other makeshift weapons fought with police, but were beaten back. There were 58 known arrests. The ruling political party, the Croatian Democratic Party, speculated that these protests were funded and organized by opposition leaders.
Meanwhile there is a continuous protest in the city of Osijek. These protesters want to combat unemployment and improve their standard of living. Innovative leaders used Facebook and other social media sites they were able to organize peacefully The protest is scheduled to continue until conditions improve in Croatia.
How is the Government Reacting?
The Croatian Democratic Party has restrained from using aggressive methods; currently their reactionary style has only used riot police who only defend themselves if attacked. Ivo Josipovic has called for the demonstrators to disperse, pleading that their protests will weaken Croatian attempts to enter the European Union. Military forces have been placed on standby, but it is unlikely that they will be used in the near future.