Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites played a crucial role in fomenting the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year. The sites that many Americans use primarily to socialize and stay in touch with friends and families have become key tools for political protest and action. In Macedonia, it was thanks to posting on social media sites that the brutal killing of 22-year-old Martin Neskovski by a member of the special police force on Sunday night was revealed.
Citizens also used social networks to organize protests against police brutality and the silence of officials. According to Global Voices Online, it was due to this pressure that the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) officially announced that Neskovski was beaten to death by a member of the “Tigers,” the special police force, in the central square of Skopje, Macedonia’s largest city.
The killing of Neskovski, who was from Skopje, occurred near the city’s central Macedonia Square and “during the peak of the political celebrations after the ruling VMRO DPMNE party declared victory in the general elections held that day,” says Balkan Insight, which provides more details:
“I was sitting when I saw a police officer, a member of the special forces, chasing a young boy. The boy tripped over a wire and fell,” one witness told local NetPress news agency on Monday.
“The member of the special unit started beating him all over and the boy did not resist,” he added.
The witness said that the police officer then attempted to resuscitate the young man. After five minutes, the witness said that the policeman’s colleagues came and dragged the boy’s body towards a nearby building several hundred metres away from the square.
Other eyewitnesses told NetPress that they saw the same boy covered in black plastic bag lying in front of the building. They said the body was surrounded by police officers.
Protesters demanded to know why it took days to identify Neskovski. Indeed, the police had at first “said no such incident has been reported.”
BoingBoing quotes a reader who gives this account of how Macedonians used Twitter to protest:
However, the social media expressly organized themselves to protest against the silence and mysticism surrounding this case. As it was believed that the murdered man’s name was Daniel, on Twitter the hashtag #daniel was and is still being used to coordinate protests. [The hashtag #martin was used after his identity was learned.] In today’s press conference of the MOI it was revealed that the special police force member did in fact take action on the young man but ‘was unaware of killing him.’ It is believed that after hearing about the alleged murder, the ‘Tigre’ reported himself to the special police force chief and is currently giving a statement.
According to Global Voices Online, Macedonia (or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM) has over 850,000 Facebook users and fewer Twitter users. Apparently some of the Facebook pages that Macedonians used to call for protests have disappeared. As Global Voices Online quotes MOI spokesman, Ivo Koteski, “the police will block any online content which, according to them, incites violence” — although the protesters hardly seem to be the source of the violence.
Below is a video of a protest in Skopje:
Photo of Macedonia Square by INkubusse MacedoniaSquareSkopje.JPG: Cukiger (MacedoniaSquareSkopje.JPG) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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