A protest rally was held in Zagreb on Sunday, calling for an investigation into a reporter’s death six months ago.
The rally was held under the slogan “I am sorry to bother you, I can’t breathe.”
Investigative journalist Vladimir Matijanic died from Covid-19 in August 2022. The 50 year old lived in Split, Croatia, and worked for the Index.hr news website.
After Matijanic contracted Covid-19, he and his partner repeatedly phoned the local hospital in Split. His case was not deemed serious enough to warrant hospitalization, and Matijanic died at home due to respiratory problems. Due to underlying health conditions, he had not been vaccinated against the virus.
Matijanic’s partner has insisted that his chances of survival would have been higher had he been admitted to hospital.
The Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) has called for an independent investigation into the circumstances of the reporter’s death, and for the resignation of Health Minister Vili Beros.
HND Chairman Hrvoje Zovko, with Matijanic’s partner Andrea Topic, presented the government with a petition signed by nearly 5,000 people demanding an independent investigation into the incident.
Sunday’s protest opened with a recording of Matijanic’s call to the Split emergency room, in which he told hospital staff, “I am sorry to bother you, I can’t breathe.”
“We will never give up on this issue. It is this arrogant system…The minister can say that what we are saying is malicious, but as long as he lives, he will not escape responsibility,” Zovko said.
Zovko said the protest is not against health workers, but against the health system.
Many people attended the demonstration having traveled on buses from Split, Šibenik, Vinkovci, Vukovar, Daruvar, Virovitica, Osijek, Slavonski Brod, Pula, Rijeka. Among the attendees were journalists, politicians, writers and actors.
Support for the demonstration was also provided by partner organizations, such as the Independent Union of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) and the New Optimism organization from Belgrade.
Topic reiterated that the protest was for better health care. At the demonstration, we read aloud several Facebook messages from Matijanic about Croatia’s struggling health care system.
One of the messages she read was dated 4 February 2014: “I am lying in a hospital that was built many years ago, in a bed that is long past its prime, with bedding that no one has at home anymore, and I am listening to news about the need to reduce skyrocketing health care costs.”
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