Sarajevo Queer Festival organizers still under threat

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights activists and the participants of the Sarajevo Queer Festival continue to receive death threats. On 25 September one of the main national dailies, Dnevni Avaz, published the names of all individuals who were injured in the attack that took place on 24 September after the opening of the festival. The names were then published in two other dailies – Oslobodjenje and Nezavisne Novine.

Additionally, a YouTube video appeared on the Internet the same day, threatening the organizers of the event and showing digitally manipulated images of one of the organizers to make them look as if they were beheaded.

Due to high security concerns, the organizers, Udruženje Q, were forced to close the festival on 26 September 2008. After a violent attack on the evening of 24 September, the organizers decided to make the festival a private event. They changed locations of the scheduled events and many of them were cancelled. Despite these changes, the on-going atmosphere of intimidation, death threats and violence forced the organizers to cancel the festival.

Udruženje Q filed a complaint with the police on 27 September 2008, following the violent attacks against the participants of the festival. Some of the attacked individuals are afraid to file a complaint as they fear for their safety.

One of the activists, a Danish citizen, who had been helping festival organizers, was among the attacked. It is reported that he has left Sarajevo, as he feared for his life following the attack and his name being made public.

To this date, no state, entity or cantonal government official has made any statement condemning the attacks.

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure that the organizers and the participants of the festival are efficiently protected against death threats and any other form of harassment.

To date, Amnesty International has received no reply from the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the request to carry prompt investigations and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.