What happened in Bogovadja? Migrants threatened to kill workers unless they kissed prayer rug
Migrants in Bogovadja forced a female worker to kiss their prayer mat, and then threw objects at the building where employees of the Commissariat for Refugees were located
The Citizens' Ombudsman determined during a supervision procedure of the work of the Asylum Center in Bogovadja that security in this center is not enough to maintain safety during major unrest such as what happened on December 17, and that most of the migrants who participated in the unrest after forcing a worker of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migrations to kiss a rug they use for performing their religious rituals, have now been transferred to the reception center in Presevo.
During the supervision on December 28, representatives of the Department for Emergency Actions of the Citizens' Ombudsman determined that the space and facilities used by the Asylum Center in Bogovadja are owned by the Serbian Red Cross, an organization that hired the private company Dekapolit to provide security to the facilities in this center.
According to Marija Kerekes Ristic, one of the acting managers of the Center, the security hired by the Serbian Red Cross is not enough to ensure safety during major unrest such as that on December 17, because there is a single security guard day during the day there, and two during the night.
She accidentally stepped on prayer mat
Milena Ribac, also one of the acting managers of the center, explained that the incident occurred on December 17, 2020 when the worker, while collecting dirty blankets, along with the security guard, and giving out clean ones, accidentally stepped on a prayer mat. Several migrants protested because of this, but they quickly calmed down and continued to pray. However, twenty minutes later, a group of about 50 migrants started shouting in the hall of the premises.
Feeling threatened, the workers left the building and headed for the one used by the Commissariat staff, but the migrants followed them, surrounded it and started throwing various objects at them, and then started banging on the windows of the administration building. The employees immediately called the police, but at first only one patrol came with two police officers, and much later, several patrols arrived, representatives of the Asylum Center in Bogovadja said.
They threatened to kill them all using wooden poles
The migrants demanded that the worker who had stepped on the mat must leave the Center and apologize, which she did, and then they asked her to kiss their prayer mat, which she did, but the situation did not calm down, as now the migrants sought an apology from the security guard, while at the same time threatening to enter the building carrying wooden poles and killing everyone unless they received an apology, the Citizens' Ombudsman has determined.
The security guard apologized to the migrants in English, but refused to kiss the mat. When a large number of police officers arrived and made a circle around the Center, the migrants started praying in front of the administration building and then retreated to the building where they are accommodated, and started smashing things there.
They've been transferred to Presevo
At around 5 pm that day, two buses of the Commissariat arrived from Sid, when employees separated the youngest migrants and those they knew did not participate in the riots. The others, 79 of them, were sent to the Center in Presevo, so now 95 underage migrants are accommodated in the Asylum Center in Bogovadja.
On December 24, the Citizens' Ombudsman, at his own initiative, after learning from the media that a group of migrants in that center forced a worker to kiss a rug used by migrants to perform their religious rituals, initiated a procedure to check the work of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migrations in order to determine all the circumstances related to this case, and the level of security in that center.
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