Almost four days after the death of Martin Neskovski (the kid’s real name) the Macedonian media and police continue to pretend that nothing has happened. Every day the square is filled with young protesters, who gather under the slogan “Stop police brutality”, but you wouldn’t know if it was up to the local newspapers and TV stations. This deliberate attempt to make this issue go away by simply not talking about it is the biggest admission of guilt the police and the government could ever give. No words could ever be as strong as their silence.
Igor Spasov, the alleged killer, has been arrested and will stay in prison for 30 days, but every one else with connections to this case is happily denying any responsibility. Gordana Jankuloska, the Minister of Interior, refuses to resign on the grounds that she sees no political motivation behind the killing; even if that were true (which I’m pretty sure is not) the simple fact that a cop brutally killed a young man should be reason for her to step down. Only a shameless person could think otherwise.
The police, on the other hand, is doing everything they can to keep the investigation as far away from public eye as possible. The coroner’s report, for example, was sent to them on Monday at lunch time, but they have only commented on its contents yesterday. In fact, later that day they actually denied having any such information in their possession. Everything is prepared to try to make the case go away and be forgotten. It is, then, up to the citizens of this country to stand up for Martin and respect his memory by demanding justice. I’m afraid he won’t get it any other way.
Last Sunday Macedonia held early parliamentary elections, which saw the ruling party VMRO-DPMNE confirm their majority, though by a smaller margin that the previous elections three years past. The voting went on without much fuss, unlike the previous elections in 2008, and despite some minor irregularities all international organizations deemed the vote as fair and correct. However, the day was not to end without tragedy, as during the celebrations of DPMNE’s supporters in Skopje’s central square, a 23-year-old kid, so far identified only as Daniel, was beaten to death.
So far, much is unclear about how the incident started and who perpetrated the crime. Many rumors are circulating, mostly because most of the mainstream media, controlled by businessmen connected to the government, chose to largely ignore it, and the police has not been very open to discuss it as well; this has given space to speculation. The strongest rumors indicate that it was a member of the Alpha team, the Macedonian police special forces, who has beaten young Daniel to death. The reasons for this brutal attack are also unclear, as many point out the youngster tried to attack the party’s supporters, some one from the prime minister’s entourage or even the prime minister himself.
No matter what the cause may have been, there is obviously no reason for such brutality. The fact that it happened on election’s night, along with the fact that most media close to the government has chosen to ignore it (as well as the first statement from the police, claiming there were no external signs of violence on his body), leads me to believe that the attack on Daniel was politically motivated; regardless of what he might have done, this represents the abuse of force typical of an arrogant leadership boarding on dictatorship. It’s a cause for concern, one more in a country where intimidation techniques have been used more often than not to quiet dissent and silence the opposition.
From all the smoke screens caused by the media and police silence and their attempt to dismiss this as a minor incident, there is one thing that remains clear: Macedonia is going down a dangerous path. Maybe it’s a little too early to make a clear judgement on what happened on Sunday night, but it seems to be part of a pattern that has been a trademark of Nikola Gruevski’s governments. There is no space for the voices of those who have a different opinion from the current rulers. None of us can say what were Daniel’s political views, but whatever those were, they seem to have been the reason behind this attack and his death. I can only think of one type of country in which this is a common practice: third world dictatorships.