SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — Hundreds of Roma protested against police brutality in North Macedonia’s second-largest city Saturday.
Chanting “No justice, no peace” and “Justice for the Roma,” the protesters marched peacefully in downtown Bitola to the southern city’s main police station. A group of children gave flowers to officers who cordoned off the building.
The protest came after the country’s Avaja nongovernmental organization posted a video on social media allegedly showing a police officer brutally beating and kicking a Roma man in Bitola a week ago.
“This is a gesture of reconciliation and we want no more such events to happen. We want a better future,” said Ramzi Medik, an activist from the NGO Bairska Svetlina, or Bair’s Light.
North Macedonia’s interior minister earlier said two police officers were suspended over the beating. Human rights groups said beatings are a disturbingly frequent occurrence.
Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski said one of the officers was also charged with unjustified use of force. His colleague was suspended for allegedly doing nothing to stop the beating of the man, who had been involved in a car crash.
“The Interior Ministry strongly condemns any case of violence, especially when it is committed by a police officer,” Spasovski said. “No such act can be justified.”
Roma make up about 2.7% of North Macedonia’s 2.1 million people.