Human Rights March Held in Rijeka

By 19 May 2018

ZAGREB, May 19, 2018 - Hundreds of people gathered in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka on Saturday for a March for Freedom, organised in reaction to the anti-abortion March for Life which was happening at the same time along a different route.

Mayor Vojko Obersnel said he was proud to be participating in this march. "We must win. This battle will not be easy, but we will win, because we are carried by the truth and our energy," he said. "Today we must talk about not just women's rights but about other rights as well, because the rights of victims of violence, ethnic minorities and same-sex unions are being threatened," the mayor said and added that "the large silent majority must wake up and say enough is enough."

"We don't want to live in a country where our rights are being taken away from us. Every freedom was won, in blood, starting from freedom in general to freedom for minorities, freedom for the individual, freedom to vote and freedom for women," Obersnel said, stressing that he could not side with those trying to restrict these freedoms by using manipulation, lies or non-transparent financing. "Don't be afraid to say no, don't be afraid to speak out. We can win only with a loud truth and a loud no," Obersnel said and added that he hoped other cities would join them.

The marchers were also addressed by civil society activists, university professors, and artists.

The March for Freedom was organised by the civil society initiative "Citizens of Rijeka", who said that this was their reaction to the March for Life. They said they wanted to stop growing conservatism and attempts to restrict the right of minorities and individuals to freedom of choice, women's right to abortion, the right to protection against violence, the rights of same-sex unions and other rights.

Police estimated the number of marchers at 550, while the local newspaper Novi List put their number at 2,000.

The March for Life was held in Rijeka for the first time, drawing about 1,500 supporters, according to police estimates. Organisers of this march said that its purpose was to raise public awareness of "the fact that life lasts from the moment of conception until death" and the importance of life. "This is an educational and peaceable event," said Maja Šimić Rosandić, a member of the organising committee.

At one point the pro-life marchers were blocked by a group of 15 protesting girls who were soon removed by the police. The March for Life ended with a music programme, without any speeches.