"Run as if you're carrying the news of Gruevski's imprisonment" sign at Wizz Air Skopje Marathon 2016. Photo by Protestiram Facebook Page.
“Run as if you’re carrying the news of Gruevski’s imprisonment” sign at Wizz Air Skopje Marathon 2016. Photo by Protestiram Facebook Page.

Another citizen of Macedonia suffered physical attack for expressing a dissenting political opinion this Sunday. The attack took place at Skopje Marathon, when three men assaulted activists holding a sign against impunity of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who is under investigation for gross corruption.

Activist and analyst Ivana Јordanovska explained the incident via a Facebook post in English:

There hasn’t been a major incident, but it’s obvious that the regime considers even the use of force as a potential weapon. At the Skopje marathon today, a citizen holding the protest sign “Run as if you’re carrying the news of Gruevski’s imprisonment” has been attacked, for no other reason, by a group of alleged petty criminals. Citizens have recognized the black shirted guy as employed at a state-owned company, while it’s been claimed that his brother is employed at the private security company owned by Gruevski’s cousin. No official reaction by the police thus far, although the incident has been reported.

The Skopje Marathon is one of the biggest public events in the capital of Macedonia, with thousands participants. In recent years it is sponsored and branded by Wizz Air, a carrier receiving government subsidies to provide “cheap” flights from Skopje to different airports in Europe.

During the marathon, as elsewhere in the world, both participants and onlookers use the opportunity to express support for various causes – from wearing T-shirts with their companies logo, to kids with grandparents holding signs such as “Mommy run faster, I can’t wait to get my ice-cream after you finish,” to political messages. This year, many participants used the occasion to show their support for the Colorful Revolution by using stickers, t-shirts and banners.

Leftist movement “Solidarnost” (meaning “Solidarity”) published an article named “Who are the hooligans here?” stating that the attacked citizens were their activists. Within the article they presented photographic evidence from the incident, including several photos composed into an aimated gif.

Animated gif with photos depicting the attack on activist at Skopje Marathon. Photo by Solidarnost, used with permission.
Animated gif with photos depicting the attack on activist at Skopje Marathon. Photo by Solidarnost, used with permission.

“Solidarity” stated that other activists were also under pressure to remove the stickers or other means they used to express their opinion about current events. They concluded:

Денешниот инцидент подеднакво нѐ растревожува како и фактот дека транспарентот беше подготвен за минатогодишниот маратон и за жал тој сѐ уште е актуелен. Сепак, транспарентот со содржина „Трчај како да ја носиш веста дека Грујо е во затвор!“ ќе конкурира за најдобар натпис на маратонот. Доколку освои награда, средствата ќе бидат искористени за солидарно плаќање на казни и легални трошоци на активист(к)ите кои се соочуваат со проблеми поради нивното учество во протестите.

Ги потсетуваме сограѓаните и организаторите дека Скопскиот маратон е во чест на победата над фашизмот (9 мај 1945). Очигледно е дека и денес ние сѐ уште се бориме со внатрешниот фашизам кој користи сила во обезбедувањето едноумие, се заканува и тепа бидејќи не му се допаѓа нечиј транспарент. Повторуваме – нас ќотекот и притисокот нема да нѐ заплашат, туку само нѐ мотивираат да бидеме погласни и поистрајни во борбата. Ќе дадеме сѐ од себе што поскоро Груевски да оди во затвор, а потоа ќе трчаме наоколу да ја шириме добрата вест!

Смрт на фашизмот, слобода на народот!

Честит 9 мај!

Повторно ќе победиме!

This incident griefs us also due to the fact that this sign was made for last years’ marathon, and unfortunately it remains current today. Still, the sign with the content “Run as if you’re carrying the news of Gruevski’s imprisonment!” will be in the competion for the best sign of the marathon. If it wins an award, the funds will be donated for paying fines and legal fees for the activists that face legal problems due to their participation in the protests.

We remind our fellow citizens that the Skopje Marathon takes place in honor of victory over fascism (May 9, 1945). It is obvious that today we still struggle with domestic fascism which uses force in order to prevent pluralism of opinions, threatens and beats people when they don’t like a sing. We repeat, we shall not be intimidated by beatings and pressure, they provide additional motivation to be louder and more persistant in our fight. We will give all we can for Gruevski to go to jail as soon as possible, and then we shall run around spreading the good news!

Death to fascism, freedom to the people!

We congratulate May 9!