The Government of Serbia and its institutions have the responsibility to keep the environment healthy and to inform the public about its condition, Eko straža said and called on citizens to participate in a protest for harmless air on January 10 in Belgrade.
“An all-out war is being waged against nature and public health,” informal environmentalist group Eko straža said. After episodes of extreme air pollution in the past few months, which became regular during the heating season, the initiative scheduled a protest to be held in the center of Belgrade on January 10 at noon.
The rally will end in front of the main building of the Government of Serbia, where the organizers will submit their demands on behalf of the citizens from the whole country and all its cities and towns. They said the gathering would be a protest for harmless air.
No room for political parties
Eko straža said political parties aren’t welcome and that their members should only participate on their personal behalf, without insignia that would show their affiliation. If such banners do appear, it will clearly indicate that a political party is trying to ruin and steal the protest, according to the statement. Same goes for any form of hate speech and vandalism.
Government failed its constitutional duty, Eko straža says
The Constitution of Serbia stipulates that the government and its institutions have the responsibility to preserve the environment and inform the public fully and in a timely manner on the current condition, the announcement reads. Eko straža claimed the authorities failed to do so and added the protesters would insist that decision makers fulfil their obligations.
Everyone breaths same polluted air
Moms, dads, grandpas and grandmas and the youth, people of different ethnicities and creeds, they all breathe the same air and no one is exempt from the issue, the environmentalist group stressed. It invited other citizens’ initiatives, environmentalist organizations, unions, experts and health workers to join the rally.
Eko straža said it wouldn’t appear with its insignia either and that it only scheduled the protest. It asked protesters to wear masks and stand at a distance of two meters from one another. The group said it intends to organize simultaneous protests in several cities including in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The organizers demand stricter policy toward pollution from coal-powered thermal power plants, heating plants and big industrial facilities and the closure of landfills where there were fires from methane self-ignition. Scientists and experts must be included in the creation of strategies to reduce pollution, they said.
The environmentalists underscored the subsidies for purchases of electric and hybrid cars need to be abolished and the funds redirected. They demand a ban on the sales of raw lignite and other toxic fuels. The authorities should replace heating systems that use fossil fuels and stimulate the switch of old heating devices in households with cleaner solutions, according to the call.
Eko straža said the government must annul the decision by the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to fire expert Milenko Jovanović.
The last big environmentalist protest in Belgrade was held in June.