Monday, April 16, 2007

Vetevendosje's Busy Weekend

Vetevendosje activists were busy spray-painting UN vehicles over the weekend.  Roving groups of 20-30 activists sprayed "Vrases/Vrasjes" (Murderer/Killer in Albanian) on 14 UN and one private car (owned by a UN-employee) in downtown Pristina. An UNMIK International Police officer attempting to prevent the vandalism was sprayed. On Friday, around 25 activists attempted to spray-paint the blast barrier of Mission HQ but police intervened. A total of 21 activists were detained during the day. However, the blast barrier was sprayed again on Saturday/Sunday but no incidents/arrests were reported.  Fifteen of the arrested appeared in court on Saturday. One person was sentenced to 20 days for damaging property and obstructing police (probably the guy that sprayed the officer) while the others received suspended sentences. Two of the six activists remaining in detention declared a hunger strike, protesting against alleged Serbian products provided in the meals served.

Today (Monday) was quiet with no activities reported...maybe the fact that the police are now authorized to stop them from vandalizing UN property has made them think twice (finally!) Before UNMIK police were told that they could not stop the activists from putting up posters or spray-painting UN property but instead were supposed to try to take photographs so the activists could later be identified (should anyone decide that they would be arrested at a later time...which rarely happened). Now, the police commissioner has authorized the police to stop Vetevendosje protestors (it's about damned time!)  The building maintenance crews are tasked with repainting the blast barrier when it is sprayed and they've been keeping very busy.  If no one is going to stop the activists from spray-painting the wall and they only wait for the wall to be repainted before going and vandalizing it what is the point?!  The UN is just wasting the time of the workers and money on the paint :P  But things like this is why we have the joke that we are a UN-efficient organization :o)

There are photos of the activists and the graffiti on Vetevendosje's photo gallery.  It is interesting to view the photos of the arrests.  Rather than go peacefully with the police, it appears that the activists tried to run away and resist arrest.  Plus, some of their fellow activists are standing around with digital cameras and taking pictures...absolutely bizarre!