An immediate cease of construction of all derivative mini hydropower plants on Serbian territory was the only demand of the anti-MHP protest held in Belgrade on Sunday. Roughly four thousand people gathered at the Student’s square in Belgrade to protest the construction of such hydropower plants in Serbia. The protest was organised by “Let’s defend the rivers of Stara planina” (ORSP) initiative, together with “Savski nasip”, “Right to Water”, “Let’s Not Drown Belgrade” (NDMBG), “Students won’t give away rivers”, and other organisations.
According to the organisers, the goal of the rally was to turn the public attention towards the problems caused by the derivative hydropower plants. Alarm sirens were sounded at the beginning of the protest, followed by a moment of silence for all Serbian rivers that have already been heavily damaged.
Among others, the protesters were addressed by the dean of the Faculty of Forestry prof. dr Ratko Ristić, professor at the Faculty of Biology, prof. dr Predrag Simonović, and Aleksandar Jovanović Ćuta, activist of the ORSP movement.
Desimir Stojanov, president of the local self-government of the Rakita village in Southastern Serbia, also held a speech. In the course of his struggle for protection of the Rakita river, Stojanov has been served with accusations for several criminal charges, while another Rakita local has been called to attend four court hearings happening simultaneously in two different cities. The locals of Rakita and neighbouring villages have been facing pressures and repression on the part of the state authorities and developers for months now.
From the Students’s square the protesters walked to the President’s headquarters, after which they went to the Serbian Government headquarters, where the rally ended.
Construction of more than 800 derivative mini hydropower plants, many of which are planned to be built in protected areas, seriously threatens the natural environment and local communities’ existence and development. Struggles against such river-grabbing, done in the interest of private capital, have been taking place in many locations across Serbia for a long time now. Sunday’s protest was joined by their representatives from Kraljevo, Pirot, Babušnica, Niš, Petrovac na Mlavi, Raška, and other Serbian municipalities.
M.J. and M.M.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was originally published in Serbian on Jan 27, 2019.