Appalled to learn that an effigy of Croatian journalist Ante Tomic, a reporter for the newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija, was publicly burned on 17 February, Reporters Without Borders condemns this act of symbolic violence and calls on the authorities to react.
The effigy was set on fire towards the end of a carnival in the small southern town of Proložac, after a speech in which Tomic, who is from Proložac, was declared responsible for all of Croatian society’s evils. “Is it possible in a European Union country in 2015 to symbolically burn a journalist before a crowd without being called to account in court?” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon asked. “This unacceptable act of aggression must be investigated for what is – a death threat.” This is not the first case of its kind in Croatia. An effigy of Vinko Vukovic, another Slobodna Dalmacija journalist, was burned in the main square of the village of Omis a year ago. Tomic was previously the victim of an attack on 23 February 2014, while on the terrace of a café in Split. A man threw a bucket of excrement in his face and shouted: “Now you can write about me.” Tomic reported the attack to the police, who said they could identify the attacker from surveillance camera footage. However, the police never arrested or even questioned anyone. Croatia is ranked 58th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.