By: Shankar Chawla
In an age where mass shootings plague nearly every country as a daily occurrence, the effort citizens and the media put forth to promote awareness makes an extraordinary difference. Concerned individuals hoping to prevent greater loss possess the aptitude to incite significant reform in their communities. This month, Serbia has survived back-to-back mass shootings, including one at a school on May 3rd and one just outside the nation’s capital on May 4th. Eight teenage students and a school guard were killed during the first attack leaving seven more individuals wounded, six of which were children. A separate shooter opened fire during the second altercation, taking the lives of eight civilians in two villages and wounding fourteen more. As of May 31st, many names of the victims remain inaccessible.
In response to the two shootings, tens of thousands of mourning citizens rallied in Belgrade opposing the governing populist party. Protesters bore the slogan ‘Serbia Against Violence’ and demanded greater measures be taken against future tragedies. Those partaking in this call to end the despair believe that Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vučić ought to assume accountability for the recent acts of hate and violence which terrorized the nation. The president’s underhand political movemaking and wrongful manipulation of the press have catalyzed recent acts or contributed substantial social and psychological motives to their formulation. However, protesters’ statements and beliefs are left largely unacknowledged by their leader, who has released many statements in retaliation to the anti-violence movement. “What gives them the right to block other people’s normal lives?” Said Vučić after accusing the protesters of “abusing the tragedy.”
‘Serbia Against Violence’ stands against both gun violence and violence in the media, or corruption. It is an ambition to usher in an era free of the hindrances posed by social negativity. As we can ascertain from the aforementioned Serbian incidents as well as those tearing up numerous innocent communities, unrestful political environments often trigger violence. Yet, these hazardous national situations can also incite demonstrations and efforts via those who wish to shape and heal their societies. This Balkan country and its people have, through activism, set a new precedent in responding to gun violence. We must not await another tragedy but instead pursue a path of advocacy and to permanent prevention. Following the protests in early May, Aleksandar Vučić has stepped down as the leader of the Serbian Progressive Party as of May 27th but he remains the head of state.