Gong and 24 civic associations to Plenković: Clear St. Mark's Square for the free assembly!

15. March 2023.
Gong and 24 civic associations to Plenković: Clear St. Mark's Square for the free assembly! 1

Gong and 24 civil society organizations appealed to the Government of the Republic of Croatia, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, to open St. Mark's Square, where the main democratic institutions Parliament, Government of the Republic of Croatia and Constitutional Court are located, to citizens.

For more than two years, since October 12, 2020 and the attack with automatic weapons on government security forces, the executive branch has been protecting itself from new attacks with police metal fences that make it much harder for citizens to gather in St. Mark's Square.

No one knew about the new SOA's assessment

The public has never received an adequate explanation of the scale and nature of the threat posed by the new attacks on the government, parliament, and constitutional court buildings from the SOA's security assessment, despite the fact that this is the very document the authorities refer to when they ban citizens from entering St. Mark's Square.

It was not until February of this year, after Gong sent a request to the SOA asking whether a new safety assessment had been prepared, that the SOA responded that it had been done in November 2022, two years after the first assessment in 2020. Until then, the new assessment had not been published at all. The SOA did not share the details of the assessment with Gong, saying it was classified data that it sent to the relevant address at the Ministry of Interior, which did not confirm the existence of a new security assessment even less than a month after Gong's request.

Although it is possible to register a protest at this location, citizens are discouraged from doing so by the fencing around the area and the fact that since St. Mark's Square has been under such a regime, the police have not cleared more than 400 square meters for announced protests.

Respect the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia

It is a place where the most important democratic institutions are located, which gives it an incomparable political importance in Croatia for the free assembly and expression of a political attitude, i.e. a fundamental and constitutional right of citizens.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, any restriction of freedoms or rights must be proportionate to the nature of the necessity of the restriction in each individual case. Therefore, Gong believes that this security provision excessively restricts the freedom of assembly and movement of citizens.

Gong had previously called on the government to open St. Mark's Square to the public in March and May 2022, launching the #Open (#Otvaraj) campaign calling for the removal of the barricades. In February 2023, Gong noted that the police had opened only 200 square meters for the purposes of one protest.

It is time for St. Mark's Square to finally be opened to the citizens. The security of the institutions of the legislative and executive branches should be organized so that this square is at the same time open for free assembly.

The public has a right to know all the facts about the extent of the danger, except for those that must remain secret, to truly ensure that any restriction on the right to freedom of assembly before the Government, the Parliament and the Constitutional Court is clearly explained and strictly limited.

The appeal to the government to open St. Mark's Square is signed by:


Croatian Union of Tenants-EU Citizens

Human Rights House Zagreb

Center for Peace Studies (CMS)

Union of non-profit organizations Clubture

Roda - Parents in Action

Green Action

Croatian Journalists' Association

Trade Union of Croatian Journalists and media professionals

Centre for Civil Initiatives Poreč

Rehabilitation Center for Stress and Trauma

DKolektiv - an organization for social development, Osijek

CESI - Center for Education, Counseling and Research

Women's Association Vukovar

Local Democracy Agency Sisak (LDA Sisak)

Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past

Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity - CROSOL

The Civil rights project Sisak

Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR)

SOLIDARNA- Foundation for Human Rights and Solidarity

ACT Group


Greenpeace Croatia

Green Istria

Public is Good initiative

Gong and 24 civic associations to Plenković: Clear St. Mark's Square for the free assembly! 2