Five Austrian and German journalists are being publicly pilloried for their critical coverage. Croatian right-wing extremist magazine Hrvatski Tjednik published photos bearing journalists’ names, photos and employers after critically reporting on an annual gathering of right-wing extremist groups in Bleiburg, Carinthia.
“The intimidation of journalists is always an attempt to silence independent reporting. This is unacceptable in a democracy, “criticizes ROG president Rubina Möhring. Reporters Without Borders Austria will therefore also point this out in a letter to the Croatian ambassador in Vienna.
The journalists Tanja Malle (Ö1), Srećko Matić (Deutsche Welle), Olivera Stajić (Standard), Krsto Lazarević (World, Deutsche Welle, Republic) and Danijel Majić (Frankfurter Rundschau) are not pictured somewhere in the sheet, but on the front page.
“If journalists are to be intimidated, we all are the target,” says Rubina Möhring. Reporters Without Borders Austria condemns in the strongest terms that journalists are personally defamed and abused with abstruse insinuations. The five journalists are portrayed as the “Young Communist International, which could not prevent the commemoration in Bleiburg”.
Such attacks and bad slander must not become the norm. One of the journalists concerned, Olivera Stajić, told Reporters Without Borders Austria: “The fact that independent journalists are pillboxed as ‘enemies of Croatia’ with stolen photos is a border crossing that worries me a great deal.”
The Ustascha meeting in Bleiburg is an annual commemoration meeting at the Loibacher Feld near Bleiburg / Pliberk in Carinthia, where also right-wing groups, mainly from Croatia, participate.
Already in the past there were attacks on press freedom in connection with the meeting. Croatia is ranked 64th out of 180 in the press freedom ranking for Reporters Without Borders, and Austria has fallen 5 places from 11th to 16th this year.