The SOLIDARNA Foundation and 22 other civil society organizations joined GONG’s appeal to the Government of the Republic of Croatia, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović to open Saint Mark’s Square to citizens, the area of the key democratic institutions, the Parliament, the Government of the Republic of Croatia and Constitutional Court.
For more than two years, ever since October 12, 2020, and the attack with automatic weapons on the security of the Government, the executive power has been protecting itself from new attacks with police metal fences, so that it is much more difficult for citizens to gather on Saint Mark’s Square.
No one knew about the new Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) estimate
The public has never received an adequate explanation of the extent and nature of the danger of new attacks on the Government, Parliament and Constitutional Court buildings from the SOA security assessment, although this is precisely the document that the authorities refer to when they forbid citizens from entering Saint Mark’s Square.
It was only in February of this year, after Gong sent a query to the SOA about whether a new security assessment had been issued, that the SOA replied that it had, in November 2022, two years after the first one in 2020. Until then, the new assessment had not been made public at all. SOA did not disclose the details of the assessment to Gong, stating that it was classified data that was sent to the appropriate address in the Ministry of the Interior (MUP). The MUP, on the other hand, did not even confirm the existence of a new security assessment a month after Gong’s inquiry.
Although it is possible to register a protest at that place, citizens are discouraged from doing so by the enclosure of the area and the fact that, since Saint Mark’s Square has been under such a regime, the police have not released more than 400 square meters for announced protests.
Respect the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia
The Square is a place where key democratic institutions are located, which makes it politically significant without equal in Croatia for the free gathering and expression of a political position, i.e. the fundamental and constitutional right of citizens.
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, any limitation of freedom or rights must be proportionate to the nature of the need for limitation in each individual case. Gong therefore believes that this security regime excessively limits the freedom of assembly and movement of citizens.
Gong previously called on the government to open Mark’s Square to the public in March and May 2022, and launched the #Open campaign, which calls for the barricades to be removed. In February 2023, Gong determined that the police had released only 200 square meters for the purposes of one protest.
It’s time for St. Mark’s Square to finally open to citizens. The security of the institutions of the legislative and executive authorities should be organized in such a way that the space is simultaneously open for free assembly.
The public has every right to know all the facts about the level of danger, except for those that must remain secret, in order to truly ensure that any restriction on the right to free assembly in front of the Government, the Parliament and the Constitutional Court is clearly explained and strictly limited.
Appeal to the Government to open the Square of St. Mark is signed by:
Hrvatski savez stanara-građana EU
Kuća ljudskih prava Zagreb
Centar za mirovne studije (CMS)
Savez udruga Klubtura
Roditelji u akciji
Hrvatsko novinarsko društvo
Sindikat novinara Hrvatske
Centar za građanske inicijative Poreč
Rehabilitacijski centar za stres i traumu
DKolektiv – organizacija za društveni razvoj, Osijek
CESI – Centar za edukaciju, savjetovanje i istraživanje
Udruga žena Vukovar
Agencija lokalne demokracije Sisak
Documenta – Centar za suočavanje s prošlošću
Platforma za međunarodnu građansku solidarnost Hrvatske – CROSOL
Inicijativa mladih za ljudska prava
SOLIDARNA – Zaklada za ljudska prava i solidarnost
U DOBROJ VJERI
Greenpeace u Hrvatskoj