Serbia Flood: State leaders Being Irresponsible and Incompetent

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Anonymous Serbia: Interview with prof. Dr. Darko Trifunovic

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Anonymous Serbia The series of events happening from the beginning of rains, the number of villages, towns, bridges, houses and evacuees has been increasing by the hour, continuously from Thursday 15th May when the evacuation started in Cacak , until the night of Thursday to Friday, when the Kolubara flooded Obrenovac. Today, at a time when the state of emergency has been lifted, except in two cities and 17 municipalities, we decided to announce last night’s conversation with Dr.Darko Trifunovic , to reveal the real extent of the disaster.

Darko Trifunovic has helped citizens to organize the evacuation of people and animals as outstanding expert in the field of security, LL.M., and Secretary of the Institute for Security Studies, Faculty of Security Beogradu.Darko is founder of the first ” Eco – School of Law ” in Serbia, as well as pan – African organization of law students and young lawyers AFLS . In addition, prof. Dr. Darko Trifunovic , is one of the first president of ELSA (European Law Students Association and the Young Lawyers)

Floods in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia

Anonymous: Is this the moment when we are having a humanitarian crisis?

Darko Trifunovic: We are having a humanitarian and political crisis, it is obvious that the politicians who run this country had not adequately responded to an emergency and for that there are many indications municipal, city and those at the Republic of Serbia level. It is surprising and devastating the fact indicating that the Kolubara river, for example, flooded village upstream from Obrenovac and not one from the Republic government, in charge of the emergency situation, was able or qualified to adequately react and anticipate the catastrophe that occurred in Obrenovac . Already on May 15th was flooded a good part of the Municipality of Obrenovac but even that was not enough for the authorities to take proper protective measures.

10300156_531496506962008_6903781898418322767_nA large part of the citizens of Obrenovac did not hear the siren of a general danger, so it is questionable whether the same was activated? That’s a unique scandal! If we remember that the Belgrade Mayor publicly called on citizens of Obrenovac not to leave their homes, ” Mayor of Belgrade Siniša Mali appealed today to the citizensof Obrenovac, not to leave their homes. – We hereby ask citizens of Obrenovac not to leave their homes and to contact the Operations Center of the City of Belgrade emergency number 1985 for all the necessary information. ” – said the Mayor. According to that we ask a legitimate question whether Sinisa Mali, Mayor of Belgrade should respond to the humanitarian disaster that befell Obrenovac e.g. for failure to take all necessary and proper measures for the protection of citizens’ lives, animals and property.

Unfortunately this statement e.g. Sinisa Mali plea, had a tremendous impact on the lives of the citizens of Belgrade and Obrenovac . I had a situation where one of the people did not want to evacuate in times of flood culmination for exampel on May 16th, exactly at the moment when Sinisa Mali urged citizens not to evacuate and stay at home. I can not tell if the people did not evacuate for personal reasons, or their decision had been affected by politicians’ statements such as these of Sinisa Mali but it is a clear phenomenon that politicians in Serbia are increasingly interfering in the profession for which is neither educated nor trained. And it ‘s not just politicians. General Diković had been posted in Sabac to strengthen levees on the river Sava which is profession of a civil engineer in the field of hydro – technique. It’s even worse that someone sent over 10,000 young people from Belgrade to Sabac to work on swollen river without training, spontaneously and without equipment. You need to ask the question wheter and whom should answer for jeopardizing the lives and safety of these young people?

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Anonymous: Who participated in the evacuation? Information in the media are fragmented; there was the RS army, the police, the gendarmerie and the organizations that work on a voluntary basis. When was the city closed and for whom? How is it possible that in such environment robberies occurred?

Darko Trifunovic: Firstly, in the rescue party participated citizens of Obrenovac who were actually left to themselves and it is best seen on May 16. On the spot, they found a few members of the gendarmerie, the Serbian Army, which has quarters in Obrenovac, and members of the Obrenovac police. It must be emphasized that the fittest and most organized were members of the Ministry for Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation who came with special boats and made a great contribution in the rescue and evacuation of citizens of Obrenovac. Great courage and dedication was demonstrated by members of the Mountain rescue team as well as by the volunteers who came in their boats, radio amateurs and other civil sports initiatives.

However, the absence of the state, poor coordination between services and total disorganization were noticeable at every turn. Instead of the state and state institutions being ready for a situation like this, all this has “befallen” them? Drainage channels have been neglected and clogged. For years nothing had been invested in this field. Army e.g. Obrenovac quarters did not have a pontoon bridge and boats. Radio link did not work, and Telenor was the only mobile operator that operated, and intermittently MTS, people were sent alerts through mobile telephony and television that did not work because there was no electricity. Instead of rubber boats and powerful engines in them to complete the evacuation as soon as possible, someone sent to Obrenovac – crawler’s amphibians that crushed submerged cars in urban area of Obrenovac and jeopardized further evacuation. Damaged cars have become a serious obstacle for inflatable boats and there were many drilled boats.

The situation has improved considerably a day later, on Saturday 17 May, when significant power of the security services of the Republic of Serbia (Gendarmerie, SAJ and the police) and the Army of Serbia were dispatched. Also, the next day came other rescue teams, but I emphasize all this was only in the days after the floods! The most difficult situation was on May 16th, and then we saw that Serbia does not really have an adequate and quick response to a emergency situation such as was the case on Obrenovac . Most tragically sounds that Serbia does not have analytics that monitor and warn of threats to the citizens of Serbia, and on the basis of the same organize all the necessary protective measures. I put emphasise (for the umpteenth time) on the replaced the roles, and that the politicians took over the jobs for which they were not competent. Of course, by that, they took responsibility for all omissions and consequences that are reflected in the lost lives and property damage.

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Anonymous: Had they in time taken protective measures, the consequences would have been much less severe, which could be seen in the protection of human life, animals and property. Darko, what was the reason to go to Obrenovac ? What has motivated you, which was your role there on the spot?

Darko Trifunovic: By chance, I happened to be in Obrenovac on May 15th and when I saw what was going on I decided to stay and help, because it was not just my civic and moral duty but also a professional orientation, since I’m a Ph.D. in security, defense and protection. In fact, at this point, if you take into account the above, I was one of the most competent for the situation. However, the situation on the ground was chaotic in the sense of poor communication and coördination . I did what I could. Together with the citizens, the remaining members of the police, the gendarmerie and the army of Serbia, we have organized an evacuation point in Nemanjina street, collecting boats and other vessels, drew “captured” people out of their houses and buildings. The evacuation went in two directions. One to elementary school ” Jefimija ” and the other to the Obrenovac hotel . On spot, we gathered rescued citizens from neighboring homes and buildings, a large number of people waiting for the evacuation. Station organization was such that we had order and priorities and, responsibilities were divided among citizens and members of the security services. This organization gave a maximum efficiency, their heroism and self-sacrifice have shown citizens, volunteers, and members of the army, police and gendarmerie.

10366245_10203852711226049_6141465535518111107_nAnonymous: We cannot help but ask about your own personal experience. If you can share with Anonymous Serbia how was the first day in Obrenovac like? What is it that you will never forget ? What was the most difficult situation ?

Darko Trifunovic: The worst day was May 16th. People needed organizing, guidance. Most people were confused, surprised and did not know what to do in the first moment. From one of the buildings we saved the young man who was carrying injured dog in his arms. One of the rescuers, I can no longer remember the uniform he was wearing, demanded that the young man left his dog, which he resolutely refused. I approached them both and expressly stated that the boy and the dog are instantly geting in the rescue vehicle. The look on young mans face spoke a thousand words. Also, trough the swollen water we came by boat to evacuate a family. Grandmother who could hardly move due to her weight fell into the water while entering the boat. A savior immediately jumped after her at the time when the current was so strong that it could have taken them both. Brave young man evidently risked his life to save this old lady. Some villages brought the girl who’s both parents died to their home. She had nowhere to go and no one to be with. For her, the evacuation was more painful than any other. We all watched after her in particular.

And then comes the night. Silence and water all around. Being wet and freezing, we continued to save people. Those that we have brought to the check point were waiting for help, whose arrival was uncertain. Most people looked at me and one brave man from Obrenovac,who lives in the nearby and whose house was already full of those we rescued, or those who had come from other submerged sites. Than,an explosion. They blew a transformer somewhere in the distance. We were all startled by the sound of detonation because it was night, there was water and uncertainty.

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Anonymous: Obrenovac and events related to the flood are, at the moment, wrapped in silence. Still none of the officials talks openly about the fact that the dam was dynamited. What really happened ? Couldn’t they just open the dam ?

Darko Trifunovic: This question I cannot answer because it was not in my neighborhood.

Anonymous: In his job description Cuckovic was to sound the alarm for Obrenovac. Reports and witnesses confirm that did not happen. Similar reports of no warning alarm from citizens in Doboj, Bosnia. Following the publication of the first report on #OccupyTamara the link to the first report here. ie. Anon; Chuchkovic confirmed at a press conference that he was waiting for ” order ” / ” warning” from RMZO and Srbijavode / Vojvodinavode.

Darko Trifunovic: None of the people with whom I had contact, and it was hundreds of them, heard the siren. Either it was not there or the siren could not be heard well, in both cases it does not reduce the responsibility of all those who were in charge of alerting citizens of Obrenovac about the general danger. If Mr. Chuchkovic was waiting for the order, then he should publicly state why and by whom. Why the general danger siren was not sounded?

Anonymous: Who is legally responsible in this situation to respond first? What do you think about the testimony of Sindjelic from TENT on the refusal of coöperation and mobbing to those who were willing to help in time, before the flood? How do you explain this failure?

Darko Trifunovic: Ministry of the Interior and Local Government had to react first. If they responded, citizens would have been alerted and it would have certainly reduced the suffering and the enormous damage that has been caused. I think Mr. Sindjelic is completely right and that he acted out of sincere and patriotic reasons. However, when politics interferes in the field we have a chaotic situation with serious consequences, just as we have, unfortunately, seen in Obrenovac.

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Anonymous: Anon Serbia is here to enable the flow of information and to prevent censorship. How do you see the role of our movement in situations when a lot is posted on the internet, and little has been officially confirmed?

Darko Trifunovic: All free and uncensored media play an important role in the democratization of society. Censorship is characteristic of dictatorships in which Serbia has actually been for the past 50 years. What is the background of bad comunication in the case of Obrenovac remains to be investigated.

Anonymous: Our international friends have never heard of a government itself seeking help and the donations and opening accounts for payment. What is your view on donations campaign?

Darko Trifunovic: Serbia as an EU candidate shall have the same rights as any member country of the Solidarity Fund and IPA. For these funds, Serbia must apply as a state. Otherwise, Serbia is, in fact, one of the largest recipients of EU funds in the world. It is the largest recipient of EU funds in the entire Western Balkan region with 200 million euros a year. The EU has invested in transport infrastructure in Serbia (Freedom Bridge, Zezelj bridge and Gazela bridge, roads and border crossings), in health care (ambulance, mammography , medical waste treatment), air and water quality, solid waste (Subotica, Sremska Mitrovica Uzice , Pozarevac ), accession EU programs such as Erasmus and the reform of public administration to offer better service to citizens. In recent years, aid has been increasingly focused on the preparations for EU membership.

Anonymous: For all of us who were not directly threatened these days are very difficult. So much humanity and brotherly solidarity has not been seen so far. Neither has all this propaganda! What can people who transmit and disseminate information via internet expect?

Darko Trifunovic: We all know what was said by Verica Barac on the situation in the Serbian media, when she asked to be done “an identity card” of the media which, as it turned out, was never done. She claimed that the media is in the hands of tycoons and so called political mafia and political parties. To this kind of criminal system, every free media is an obstacle or a potential danger.

Source Anonymous Serbia
Translation Ivana Ivanc

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