TUE, 25 APR 1995 21:23:31 GMTDanilovgrad Left Without Gipsies
Over three thousand people gathered in front of the Police Station demanding the release of 20 detainees, arrested by the police the previous night on charges of having set fire to the settlement of the "coloured" and throwing an explosive device into the flat of one them. The crowd dispersed after several hours, only after learning that most of the arrested had been released.
This is not a scene from an American movie some thirty years old, when racial conflicts raged there and when the Ku-Klux Klan stormed through America and persecuted Negroes. This scene happened several days ago in Danilovgrad. The reason: the rape of a fourteen-year old girl by two of her peers - Gipsies.
It all began with the rape of the girl, on Saturday, April 15, at about 10:00 p.m. After only two hours the police arrested the perpetrators. However, a bit after midnight about a hundred revolted citizens gathered in front of the Police Station in Danilovgrad demanding an extraordinary meeting of the Assembly to bring a decision on expelling Gipsy families living in the Danilovgrad settlement of Bozova Glavica. The more radical ones wanted to get hold of the perpetrators.
The atmosphere of lynch was effective: in panic the Gipsies abandoned their tumbledown houses and fled the city. Saving their lives they left behind almost everything they had. A day later, about 3,00 p.m. fire broke out in their settlement burning down cabins, furniture, stacks of hay, several cars...Eye-witnesses say that fire-fighting brigades came only after the fire had reduced everything to ashes.
Several hunderd citizens watched the fire burning the property of the "coloured". Among them were several policemen dressed in "American" uniforms. All this reminded some of the horrors inherent in racial hatred.
It is interesting to note that the building of the Police School for training policemen is adjacent to the burned down Gipsy settlement. The guardpost is only several meters from the place of the fire. That is why it is surprising that nothing was taken to prevent arson and to call the fire-fighting brigade in time. Especially in view of the fact that some Danilovgrad residents were ready for a lynch.
The following day the only daily in Montenegro, "Pobjeda" from Podgorica, published the names of the rapists and their national affiliation. "As immediately established, this act was committed by the Gipsies Nebi Berisa and Hasaj Gazmet". By publishing their names and not stating their age the readers were led to believe that they were persons of age. However, one of them is 14 and a half and the other 15.
Mass hysteria or rather the blindedness of individuals assumed such proportions that on the same day that the "Gipsy settlement" was set on fire, some time before midnight, an explosive device was thrown into the flat of a Gipsy in the Danilovgrad settlement of Glavica. No one was hurt. The flat had already been abandoned.
The Montenegrin police did its job. That same night and next morning it arrested 20 people on charges of arson and of using explosives. Some of them were over fifty years old. This was why around noon over three thousand citizens gathered demanding their release. They dispersed in the evening hours after learning that 12 of the twenty arrested had been released.
We asked the mayor of Danilovgrad about the current political situation in the city and whether the city would possibly do something to house the Gipsy families who had, through no fault of their own, lost the roof over their heads? Milorad Kadic, the lord mayor sent a message, through his secretary, "that he was too busy to talk". His deputy also had "an important meeting". The head of the Danilovgrad police station was "on consultations in Podgorica", but even if he had been there, the policemen told us, " it was the job of the minister of police and not his to talk to the press".
The Danilovgrad residents also met us with a wall of silence. They do not wish to speak of this event publicly. Nevertheless, from informal conversation we learned that some are glad that "there are no more Gipsies" in Danilovgrad. Others think that a whole nation cannot be blamed for the rape of a girl by Gipsies.
The situation is calm in Danilovgrad. Everything is under control. Gipsies do not live here any more. The only question is who will now clean Danilovgrad's garbage.