Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

New barricades on the way toward Ambrus

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Today Commisioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg had a press conference conserning Strojan Roma family and gave devastating critic on violation of human rights of Strojan family. Basically his message was that whole family can not be responsible for crimes of individuals (Strojan family of 25 members have five man and 12 children and Strojan family has a right to return to their home if they want to. About 2pm there was an alarm that Strojan family is coming to Ambrus and new barricades were set on the road towards Ambrus.

On the national news was told that alarm was caused by statement of Mirko Strojan that they are coming home. I’ll call Mirko tomorrow, but I doubt that’s true. The barricade on the way to Ambrus was set already yesterday and today at 11:20 I drove there to checked if it’s true. From the pictures you can see that it was true and even more Milan Muhič and Silvo Mesojedec were already there, talking with people. I have no idea what they were discussing about.


The crowd got upset when I started to photograh, but I know what am I doing. I didn’t hide for a bit what am I trying to do. I told them I’m photographer – journalist and it’s my job to take few pictures. “You have your job, I have mine. I don’t like it either, but I have to earn my living. Sorry!” That is a allways good argument for the start. Of course Muhič and Mesojedec knows that I’m working for Mladina and after few minutes I was told I had enough. OK, I stopped. Then I was approached by everybody yelling at me how we journalists are to be blamed for the tragedy that Strojan family. Actually I find no logic in this words but obviously our Prime Minister Janez Janša does. He said that problem is much greater then it should be because of “extreme politisation, huge media attention and internationalisation”. I guess he thinks everything would be fine if journalist would be sillent as they were in many, many cases in the history of Roma discriminaton.

Anyhow I was surrounded by a crowd explaining me what problems they were dealing for 20 years. And then Silvo Mesojedec, brain behind initiative to resettle few hundered Romas on the outskirts of Novo mesto, start to explain me how is he trying to help Romas to lead better life … It was a huge chaos and I was sqeezed with my back toward the tractor and a person stepped on my way to my car saying that I will not leave anywhere. Horrifying as it might sounds like I was completly calm and I was just listening to them. I knew that if Mesojedec and Muhič were present nobody is going to hurt me because they are leaders and they are definetly very very inteligent guys. And most importanly nobody was drunk, which was a great relief.

I have no doubt that in Strojan settlement crime was going on. Miha Strojan is drug addict on methadone treatment, I saw many bullet holes on Strojan’s trash bin and today on their father’s grave I saw guns ingraved. I saw something like that only in Kosovo. I clearly told them that I do believe them that situation was horrible, but I don’t think they are dealing the problem in appropriate manners. I told them they should have demended a police station in Ivančna Gorica and put a pressure on authority, not on 12 childern, five man and eight women. Crime can not be solved by crime.

d168_9544-bw.jpg _mg_5079_borut_peterlin.jpg d163_7803_borut_peterlin.jpgd173_1654_borut_peterlin.jpg

d173_1664_borut_peterlin.jpgd173_1662_borut_peterlin.jpg Roma’s shed that was burned by local majority on 25th of October when Strojans were hidding in the woods.

Then Silvo Mesojedec start to ask me who is this Nick Wood guy who wrote this unbeliveble article in New York Times and do I know him, where does he live and if I gave him some information. Of course I said, I gave him all the information I had! All the numbers of Strojan, Grm and Šinkovec from Ambrus. In the evening I recieved a phonecall from college from Dnevnik and he was coming back from Ambrus and warn me that some drunk people on barricades were asking my name, am I there and that they would like to meet me. Only now I realize that it was good I was booked that Sunday and I couldn’t took pictures for NYT, because if I would I would probably be responsible for everything. Infact all I do is take pictures and write this blog.

Mob didn’t scared me, but that warning from a college did. I think it’s not safe for me to go there anymore and I’ll go there only when police force will be arround. I’m affraid huge force will have to be implemented to establish law and order in this area.


Written by Borut Peterlin

17 November, 2006 at 01:27

Posted in Photojournalism

4 Responses

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  1. znova fantasticne fotke, vendar iz druge strani zalostno dejstvo. ne vem, ce si gledal danasnja Trenja (pop tv, slak) spomnil sem se nate in na tvojo “bitko” in ironija – gostje debatirajo o resnih zadevah, vmes pa se smejijo kot idijoti..


    17 November, 2006 at 02:16

  2. Prvic sem na tvojem blogu…kot ponavadi, super fotografije! Navidezna idila mirnega slovenskega podezelja je v zadnjem casu pokazala svoj pravi obraz…saj skoraj tezko razumem vso to zmesnjavo…si si mislil, da ti bo zaradi fotoreportaze ogrozeno zivljenje na domacih tleh? Hvala tebi in tebi podobnim za objektivno porocanje…nisem pa se povsem gotov, komu je vsa ta zmesnjava v korist…vedno so odzadaj vecji interesi…


    17 November, 2006 at 07:59

  3. Yesterday we were closing editorial in Mladina so I couldn’t watch Trenja on TV. Yes, reactions does give away if a person awareness of the situation they are dealing with. And faces of the mob on my picture does give away ignorance and adrenaline.

    First of all I don’t think my life is threaten. I’m sure some people would attack me if I would not consider their threat like “don’t take pictures” and so on. You have to know I’ve been in many situations like that and I allways got out of it unhurt. I guess I know where’s the limit. I also do martial art for six years so I’m not intimidated that easily.

    This situation is in nobody’s favour. We’re all losers. Although I do belive that some people build their career on Roma issue (Silvo Mesojedec receiveed really a lot of votes in Novo mesto) I believe that the situation simply got out of control. People on barricades are incapable of conversation where critic is allowed. If a doubt toward their action is expressed some individuals arround start to be very phisicly and verbally agressive.

    And truth is that at least all those 12 children are innocent and they are banned from their home just because they are Roma. If I would mention that to people at the barricade in the evening I would surely be attacked.

    It’s sad, but dialogue with mob and thier leaders is reduced to monologue.


    17 November, 2006 at 14:15

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