On May 17, 2015, according to foreign news reports, 70-100 thousand people gathered at the biggest civil protest in Macedonian history. Regardless of their affiliation in every sense of the word, ethnic, religious, political, party, social, gender… They all gathered in the vast mass of people in front of the government to say NO to the regime that stole, lied, beat and killed. On that day, the citizens sent out a clear message: Never again regime!
We are coming!
That was our common Maiden, strong, but non-violent, civil and colorful, thunderous and determined. “We are coming!” – said the citizens then and demanded freedom and democracy. With the entire colorfulness, with all the differences and diversity, though with mutual respect, support and solidarity, they said NO. They said NO to the regime of both the “chiefs” and of Gruevski.
On May 17, 2015, the citizens came for their freedom. On that day, they determinedly rejected the regime that used lies and threats, caused tensions and divisions, carried out theft and violence. The people at that time had already been living for a decade in a country where the police and the courts were an instrument of fear, extortion and threat. They were beaten and dragged “by the ears” for a whole decade and were numbers in the big electoral thefts. Media darkness and organized theft of public money ruled. The endless lines of people on May 17, 2015 signaled a democratic spring for the country and for its return to the world map of progressive societies.
It was a protest without a single party mark, the flags of all ethnic communities were waving next to the Macedonian state flag. Many were tying the flags, to send a message of unity and peace. Slogans in all languages that are spoken in the country were written on banners and with much energy and hope.
The protest of May 17, 2015 was also the start of the 65-day Freedom Camp, when thousands of people stayed to camp in front of the government building. This was at the same time the biggest and longest lasting colony of artists, intellectuals and activists that had taken place in the country and much broader.
There were concerts and DJ entertainments everyday with music, panel discussions, speeches and presentations, protest marches, releasing “bombs” of the wiretapped conversations, promotions of books, art workshops – life.
I am proud for having participated in the protest and for having been part of the big family of thousands in the Freedom Camp. It was then that I promoted my poetic book “Who will pay the bill”, our beloved friend and colleague held an all-day art workshop “The colors of freedom”. My friends participated in panel discussions where we talked about the past, present and future all the way up to the 65-th day of the Freedom Camp, on July 21, 2015. We wrote texts, recorded articles, we socialized… Hundreds of foreign journalists were together with the freedom fighters, in the tents, while news about the peaceful civil resistance went around the region and across the world on a daily basis.
We thank you for “listening” to us!
I remember, on June 8, Zoran Zaev appeared on the small stage in front of the government and handed us folders with CDs and transcripts from wiretapped journalists and NGOs. Hundreds of journalists and top people of a dozen NGOs had been followed and wiretapped for years. Then, in regards to a question from a journalist as to how I felt after this realization, I replied that I had previously suspected that the government had been closely ‘watching” me and my friends. But despite the fact that I knew, the feeling was bad. When a person’s privacy is threatened, it’s like rape.
“I would like to thank them for having, nevertheless, listened to us. We thought that our messages, analyses and criticism had not at all reached them, that they weren’t interested in our work, but they had devotedly listened and recorded” – I replied to the journalist.
The “Little War”
The “little war” in Divo Naselje in Kumanovo preceded the protest, a bloody alarm that Gruevski’s regime tried to use to turn away the attention from the wiretapped conversations that Zoran Zaev exposed in the “Truth about Macedonia”. By this, he wanted to impede the big civil protest that had been called for for weeks at that time. The fierce clash between the police and terrorist group ended with eight policemen being killed, ten dead attackers and serious trauma for society.
The regime propaganda, by using this tragic event, tried to scare and divide the people, and if possible cause an interethnic conflict. As for its evilness, this event reminded also of a conversation that was exposed before that, between then Minister of Interior Gordana Jankulovska and the architect of the regime propaganda, Martin Protugjer.
Martin Protugjer: Should we have a war?
Gordana Jankulovska: Well, if it’s to show them who is stronger, we can crush them in an hour.
Martin Protugjer: Mhm.
But the citizens weren’t scared. They came!
Translation: N. Cvetkovska