Hundreds of people rallied at Zagreb's main square at 5 p.m. on Saturday for the Freedom Festival protest in response to coronavirus prevention measures.
They carried banners which read “Take off the mask, turn off the TV, live life to the fullest”, “COVID is a lie, we're not all covidiots”, “Parents and children are inseparable”, “Better the grave than to be a slave”, “Free life is our power”, “Normally, period” and “We believe in the strength we have”.
The festival was organised by the Rights and Freedoms initiative. Participants arrived by bus from Dubrovnik, Split, Sibenik, Zadar, Rijeka and Istria.
Since COVID-19 appeared, unprecedented measures which restrict fundamental rights and freedoms have been imposed, and our goal is to preserve the achievements of democratic society in which one cannot tolerate decision making based on panic and propaganda or on copying instead of examining, the organisers said.
They insist on the preservation of human rights, freedoms, knowledge, solidarity and mutual respect.
In the morning, participants organised events accompanied by music outside nursing homes, where they asked residents to open their windows and balconies to hear that they are not forgotten and to cheer them up with music and messages of encouragement.
Zagreb police told Hina they were notified that a public rally called the Freedom Festival would be held and that they would see to it that it proceeded safely.
Assistant Interior Minister Damir Trut said on Friday the protest's organisers committed to adhering to all epidemiological measures stipulated by the Croatian Institute of Public Health.
Medical association says festival is deception and demagoguery
The Croatian Medical Law Association (HUZMP) said on Friday it was appalled by the announcement of the Freedom Festival because, according to a press release, it was a protest against individual and societal health organised under the slogan of freedom and that this meant it was about deception and demagoguery.
“At a time when the world is facing the highest ever numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths, when hospitals in Croatia are quickly filling up with everyday hospitalisations of new patients, the HUZMP is appalled by the announcement of a so-called freedom festival,” the press release said.
What freedom of speech are we talking about and who will cultivate it if there is no general safety and health, and who will enjoy freedoms if the processes and institutes of medical science, prevention and treatment are being belittled, the HUZMP asked.