SHORT REVIEW OF THE EVENTS COVERED IN THE RESEARCH
The project research, which resulted in this book encompasses a wide range of sources starting from University Library’s archives, old and new video material, a large number of professional and nonprofessional photo archives, interesting stories and memories of eye witnesses. The overall material obtained was neither small in size to fit in a hundred or so pages, nor was it appropriate to filter it out without allowing it to acquire the appropriate size in order to achieve the desired communication with everyone who would look at it. These pages could not accommodate all the slogans from the research, however only a selection of slogans, which as we concluded, would best testify for their time and could also trigger some reflection and convey the message in a humorous way. We committed ourselves to providing the readers with a brief overview of the events covered in the research, containing a short explanation. We have tried hard to ensure an accurate and an unbiased information on the events that took place, without any intention of analyzing or expressing any opinion on the reasons, the course, the outcomes or the consequences of those events, considering that this is not the purpose of this book. Although the topic of the research cannot be totally devoid of political context, the challenge of this research remains to be the protest as a socio cultural phenomenon and its medium, the slogan transmitted via words, as the means of expression.
– 1968, In a massive commemorative rally, Skopje youth and citizens honor the murdered black leader Martin Luther King.
– 1968, A group of citizens express their revolt against the war in Vietnam by protesting and giving support to the Vietnamese people.
– 1968, Parallel to the great student protests in Paris and throughout the world, the Macedonian students join the expression of global dissatisfaction by holding a series of rallies at the University St. Cyril and Methodius, of which the most massive one took place at the Faculty of Law.
– 1968 and 1981, Albanians in Kosovo protest, demanding to become constitutional nation within the former SFRY and Kosovo to be proclaimed as the seventh republic of SFRJ. Protests began at Pristina University and have escalated afterwards. They were supported by the Albanians in Skopje and Tetovo.
– 1984, Employees of the factory “Idnina” from Kratovo are striking for 82 days against
the merger to Sileks Factory ownership of Ljubisav Ivanov Dzingo. At the same time, this was the longest and unique workers strike in former Yugoslavia.
-1987, Vevcani residents protest against the water supply plans for the villages of Oktisi and Ellen Kamen exploiting the water from the Vevcani springs.
– 198? Citizens from Tetovo protest against the demolishing of fence walls of the Albanian houses.
– 1988 and 1990, Mass protests held in Skopje against the Greek anti-Macedonian politics and the denial of the Macedonians.
– 1991, Todor Petrov, President of the World Macedonian Congress, organizes protests against Greece, on the southern Macedonian – Greek border.
– 1991 – 2000, A series of protests held by workers coming from numerous enterprises that went into bankruptcy (MZT,Godel, FAS-Car Shell, Slavia Centro, Goblenka, Frotirka, Partizanka,Spectar, Ilinden, Vlecha, JAS – Skopje …) throughout the whole territory of Macedonia.
– 1992, Serbs in Macedonia protest against decision for independence of Macedonia.
– 1992, A group of citizens in Skopje express their revolt by protesting against the construction of refugee camps.
– 1992, the Farmers Union expresses dissatisfaction with the Government’s agricultural policy by organizing a mass protest.
– 1992, Citizens in Skopje hold a peaceful protest to support the independence of theMacedonia.
– 1995, Macedonian University and high school students protest against the opening of
The University of Mala Recica.
-1997, Massive demonstrations held throughout the territory of Macedonia by students and high school students, against the draft Law on the introduction of Albanian Language in the Curriculum of the Pedagogical Academy.
– 1997 – 2012, A series of protests by the defrauded depositors of the savings house TAT that damaged thousands of citizens in the biggest pyramidal financial fraud in Macedonia, ever.
– 1997, Protest in Tetovo and Gostivar against the decision of the Constitutional Court, against displaying of foreign national flags in public places.
– 1997, “Jugomarket” depositors protest over their unpaid savingsdeposits.
– 1999, Citizensin Skopje are holding pro-Serb anti-NATO protests, on behalf of the NATO Alliance bombing of Belgrade.
– 2001, Protests in Parliament due to the events in Aracinovo, when rebels were allowed to leave the village with assistance of the American troops and the European Union Mission in Albania, where as the IK on the Macedonian side, was ordered to retreat.
– 2004, Protest against the draft law on new territorial division of Macedonia.
– 2007, Students at Tetovo University protest expressing supportfor Kosovo`sindependence.
– 2009 – 2017, Informal group of students at the Faculty of Architecture “The First Archibrigade” protests for an extended period of time against the architectural and
urban developments in the city of Skopje.
-2010 – 2017, The Activist Organization “Freedom Square” holds a large number protests against “Skopje 2014 Project”.
– 2011, A large number of citizens are protesting against the murder of Martin Neshkovski, brutally beaten to death by a police officer from the Special Police Forces “Tigers”, during the election victory celebrationof the ruling political party VMRO – DPMNE.
– 2011 – 2015, After the murder of Martin Neshkovski, many citizens continue to protest for extended periods of time expressing their revolt against the police brutality.
– 2011, tobacco manufacturers across the country are protesting by blockades, demanding the state to approve of higher purchasing prices for the tobacco.
– 2011, Veles citizens, led by “The Green Coalition”are protesting against the re-starting of the operations of the Smelter Plant in the city of Veles.
– 2011 – 2015, Reporters and media workers protest, demanding freedom of the media and freedom of speech.
– 2012 – 2015, the Citizens Association AMAN, as well as other citizens protest against the unlawful measures of the Regulatory Commission as well as against price increase of the electricity, central heating and gasoline.
– 2012 – 2016, Bankrupt company workers and workersdeclared as redundant,protest in favor of a resolution of their economic and social status.
– 2013, Civic organizations and citizens protest against the draft Law onabortion, according to which, the right of a woman to freely and independently decide about her future was violated.
– 2013 – 2015, Protests in support and release of the journalist Tomislav Kezarovski, who was sentenced to four and a half years in prison in 2013, for publishing a newspaper article.
– 2013 – 2018, Several year protests held by citizens and associations for animals rights protection, demanding justice and protection for the animals. Here are the protests against the Euthanasia Law, better hospital conditions in the Vardariste day care hospital, against the poisoning of street dogs and so on.
– 2014 – 2017, Citizens, workers, civil society organizations come to “1st of May Protests” demanding better social justice and labor rights.
– 2014 – 2015, Protests against the draft Law on Freelance Employees, which required payment of higher Government taxes and contributions.
– 2014 – 2015, Students organized as “Student Plenum” organize mass protest against the announced educational reforms, urgently demanding withdrawal of the Proposal on external testing and greater autonomy of the universities.
– 2014, Several hundred employees from “EMO” Ohrid and “Eurocomposite” from Prilep,
protest in Skopje, demanding from the Government payment of their unpaid wages and social contributions.
-2014 – 2016, Protests against the construction of small hydroelectric power stations are being held in several locations across Macedonia.
– 2014 – 2018, Protests by“Eurocomposite” employees requesting unpaid salaries and their severance package.
– 2014 – 2018, Multiple annual protests against air pollution are being held, where concerned citizens demonstrate their revolt against the enormous air pollution and failure to take measures against the same.
– 2014, Citizens’ protest against the maximum life sentences imposed on the multiple murder case at Smilkovo Lake.
– 2014 – 2016, Several CSOs united under the “Come on” initiative and organized protests against the policies of the current government.
– 2014-2016, “I love GTC” initiative, organizes several day protests in defense of maintaining the existing outlook of the City Trade Center.
– 2014 – 2016, Protests of “Save Radika” Initiative against the construction of the Lukovo Pole Dam.
– 2015, After the broadcasting of the intercepted conversations (“the bombs”) by the opposition leader Zoran Zaev, many citizens protested massively against the current government under the motto “I Protest!”.
– 2015, A large number of high school students from several high schools in Skopje go on a march to express their protest due to the introduction of a new concept of taking the graduation exam. Protests are also held in other Macedonian cities.
– 2016 – 2017, Mass protests from 2015 continues as a Protestant Movement “Colorful Revolution” which continuously and massively articulates the dissatisfaction with the decisions of the government in power and calls for responsibility, mobilizing a large number of citizens who express their revolt by coloring and throwing paints on the Macedonian institutions. Initially, the protest appeared as a reaction on the abolition by the President Gjorge Ivanov, in Skopje and afterwards in other cities. Although the abolition was quickly withdrawn, the series of protests continued until the collapse of the rule of Nikola Gruevski.
– 2016, By holding a peaceful gathering in Skopje and Bitola, support is given to Bitola Mayor Vladimir Taleski, charged with abuse of power.
– 2016, The workers of “Jugohrom” from Jegunovce are organizing a peaceful gathering before entering the factory, where they express their anger at the closure of the factory, believing that it is not the main air pollutant in Tetovo.
– 2016, ”Colorful Revolution” organizes a protest in support of the activist Pavle Bogoevski, charged with taking an active part in the Colorful Revolutionprotests.
– 2017 – 2018, The Association “For Macedonia” organizes protests in several cities in Macedonia by using the Declaration known as the “Tirana Platform” as a motif. The Association continues the protests, by criticizing the goverment policy.
– 2017 – 2018, The employees of “Feni”, Kavadarci protest against the bankruptcy and the closure of the factory.
– 2017 – 2018, Mass protest of the citizens of Valandovo for stopping the construction of “Kazandol” mine, as well as “Ilovitsa” and “Borov Dol”mines. The “Freedom Square” Initiative also joined this protest and gave its support, by protesting in Skopje.
– 2017, The Albanian Cultural Association protests against the verdict in the case entitled “Divo Naselje”, during which eight defendants were sentenced to a life sentence, and 13 were charged with 40 years in prison.
– 2017 – 2018, Citizens and environmental activists protest with organizing civil actions and performances against the urbanization of Ohrid coastline.
– 2018, Protest due to declassification of the crime in the case of the death of the young kid Almir in Kumanovo, who was run over by car as a result of an argument causing public disorder in a day care hospital.
– 2018, Several thousand residents protest against the construction of a landfill in the village of Godivje by blocking part of the highway Kicevo-Ohrid.
– 2018, The Political Party” Levica“organizes protests against Macedonia’s membership in the NATO Alliance.
– 2018, A large number of citizens protest against the signing of the Prespa Agreement and the changing of the name of Macedonia.
A FEW WORDS FROM THE AUTHORS
ABOUT THE SLOGANS…
The project we have entitled “Slogans, slogans” triggers multilayered analogies in itself. If we go for the literal translation from either French or Italian it represents “Words, Words”.However, if we look it up in the Macedonian grammar books, it represents a motto, a coin word, a slogan or a banner carried during demonstrations or according to Ferdinand de Saussure, it represents either a secret word or specific language. If we opt for the “free translation” in the context of the idea behind the project, it means “Why exactly slogans/words?” All of us use words, well arranged in various narratives, which often define the manner in which we perceive a certain issue.
The “issue” of the protest, as a public expression of dissatisfaction is probably as old as the mankind, if not older, merely, the shape and tactics are changing. While digging through some written sources in order to obtain a general idea about the history of protests, so as to select a chronological framework to be discussed in more detail, it dawned on me that it concerns a complex phenomenon, whose fields of research are constantly descending and overlapping, up to the point where we reached the conclusion that “we couldn’t put two and two together”. The protests continued their sequence, popping upone after another, therefore it was hard to know at what stage of the research it was appropriate to bring it to an end and summarize the material, considering that there was always a big “NO” to the question whether it was “Sufficient or Not?”. Come what may, we have set the time period between 1945 to date (“today” being a relative term, consequently, in this case it refers to “around the end of the summer 2018”).
Although for me personally, the focus here is on the word itself, it is inevitable not to dive into the historical context of the slogans, even briefly (and perhaps unintentionally even into the political context) of the protests, whose slogans are cited on the pages of this book. Starting from 1945, in the case of Macedonia (which made part of the former SFRY), we can conclude that the public expression of dissatisfaction was either very rare or covered insignificantly by the media. In addition to this, archival documentation was almost inexistent. In 1968 the world was at a boiling point, student protests during which Sorbonne was turned into a hospital and the Bundestag converted into a haunted fortress were gradually spreading out. However, an interesting fact was that there was hardly any mention about the events taking place in Belgrade on the pages of “Nova Makedonija” and “Politika” (as the capital of the federal state), which strongly supported and joined the world trends. The eye witnesses and participants of the protests honored us by giving testimonies voiced in their own words, recorded or not recorded in history books. The conclusion is that the Script is an abstract precondition of what we define as history. At the beginning of the 1980s, the overall climate changed to a certain degree. An apparent boldness was observed in the public expression of dissatisfaction. After the independence of Macedonia, bigger democratization of the society was observed, followed by a series of protests, expressing solidarity, raising the voice in favor of the democratic rights and freedoms, an murky reaction to the desperate transition period, the cry of the young and the old, university and high school students, “ours “vs.“yours”, connecting various groups of interest, starting from NGOs, citizens, individuals or groups, who were either in agreement or disagreement with their claims, programs, priorities or commitments that they have set for themselves.
In other words, the protest become a daily routine whereas its medium – the slogan was reaching out to the last resort – the voice of the people! At the very beginning, when the idea for this research was conceived, the most interesting and the most promising for me were the inscriptions on the banners, which are an indispensable segment of any protest. These words, which were accompanied by a lot of laughs on my part, can involuntarily make you penetrate into their meaning, at times by trying to dive into profound philosophical and linguistic analyzes or at times, by a making a sincere approach to their simplicity and wittiness. The necessity of the participants in the protests to convey the message, forced them into coining the words pragmatically, in order to reduce the message of an extremely summarized language construction, a topic which was widely used by many people either in the past or later on, who wrote extensive texts (journalistic,scientific etc.) written in a form of a slogan, which became their principal medium. Its goal of the medium is to inform, to criticize, to demand, to make a statement, to give an opinion.. Marshall McLuhan, one of the most prominent founders of the media theory, claims that the medium is “an extension of the man” and it is not a concept of a tool used for communication flow, but it also contains in itself the content of the communication, i.e., the “the medium is the message”. The slogan, as a medium (lat. Medius – something in the middle,intermediation) within the historical context enables the communication, in terms of the historical event, it is an observation and a recording of the social relations of the time. The medium as such, is neither permanent in its nature, nor in its historical significance. However, its existence was only made possible by its own communicativeness (“We only write slogans, and you don’t give a sh….” Photo by E. Trencheva, a photography at the beginning of the book).
As for the language used in the slogan, the most interesting aspect is the simple and sumemorized expression of what is to be said, usually infused with a lot of sarcasm and wittiness. Every word in the slogan acquires its meaning based on the human activity for which it is meant to be used. The end use of certain terms is not restricted to an unchangeable meaning of the term, on the contrary, its meaning will be determined by its use (“I will paint everything on your list”, “Family doctor – grandmother Rada” …). In any case, the creative act of writing parodies is indeed impressive, without any intention of creating an artistic product, however it often borrows language structures from the art (such as literature, poetry, music …) (“In Skopje, somewhere on a sidewalk, VMRO was celebratingthe summer shows, while…. killed was a child “,” Biljana’s was not bleaching her canvas, Biljana loved women and revoltions she did lead “…), phrasing it in their own style.
In an attempt to understand how big is the power of the words written as a slogan, I tried to observe these protests as organized or spontaneous mass actions, which are charged with collective energy that initiates a communication between its participants and those who are simply watching it from a different angle, who become the observers of the event or passive participants. These slogans (often of manipulative by nature) tailor the person into a new information-receiving subject and often their power is so great that it causes a complete “massage” in all spheres of social life, it incites a creation of an opinion or an attitude and it determines the course of life. However, this raises additional questions and aspects of the phenomenon of protest, which require specific research and interpretations.
The overall goal and the final result of this research was to present the selected slogans which stirred up our thought process in a visually entertaining format, whereas the words written above were only an attempt to explain from my own perspective and in my own sincere manner “Why exactly slogans/words?, feeling the desire to see in writing that which has inspired me to start the research in the first place.
The principal tendency of this research project is to visually depict the phrased articulations of rage, criticism, dissatisfaction, including occasional humor and satire as part of the protests that took place and are still ongoing in Macedonia, by selecting and presenting the more significant or more interesting slogans written on the banners that were proudly carried in the hands of the protestors.
As a collective act of portraying social issues, the protests represent the most powerful instrument for sending out a message of adisapproving public. The words written on a banner, being used as a medium for direct transmission of criticism and dissatisfaction, most often express emotional states, beliefs, moral messages, political affiliations and cultural diversities.
The written banners, containing clear and straightforward messages are meant to communicate and give voice to the protest and thus, convey their criticism which are going to reverberate among the general public.The slogans are often anonymous, created for a specific momentum. Although valid for short time, they have a lot of impact and power insummarizing the harsh criticism and the demands of the community, that are directly addressed to the centers of power. The written becomes verbal and vice versa.
The emotions are the generators of ideas which motivate the protesters. They can color the protest movement into either violent or peaceful. The protest usesits own power and creativity in order to channel the individual emotions of dissatisfaction and rage and convert it into collective ones, from which the demands for making social policies changes emerge. The slogans are the visual component of interpreting people’s voice and thought, where the word is the mostpowerful tool for sending a clear message.
During the last 30 years, the Macedonian society has tried to establish a fragile culture of protests for expressing its revolt and criticism. This is how numerous social movements, plenums, civic initiatives and associations started to mobilize themselves, to unite and march together, in order to channel all dissatisfaction and anger and encourage societal, social and political changes. In some cases, successfully in some, unsuccessfully. This is why we considered it appropriate to summarize and register the words/slogans of these brave attempts, into a picturesque narrative.
This research touches upon a small segment of possibilities that slogans can offer as a topic for further research and analysis. Consequently, we leave the option of future complementing and exploring of the topic open, however within a different discourse.
We have witnessed throughout history that the protests have contributed to great social changes. When the world was going wacko (slavery, a 12-hour day, women’s rights …), every available “weapon” was used to convey the voice of the people. There were whistles, balloons, red cards and circles, pots and naturally, a sheet of paper and a marker. Since it concerns a very specific medium, the author of the slogan has very tiny space to transmit his/her message which is to be received few seconds afterwards. This is the reason why it has to be creative, witty and humorous, using just a couple of words.
Whether they are used to provoke a smile, make someone rethink their attitude, or join a cause, the slogans must be created with a real passion (either out of frustration, anger or disappointment) and convey a sincere message.
Ever since we became aware of our existence, we have observed events taking place both at home, in the world and on the Inter- net. This is the reason why collectively, we should always remember that, our voice is important and must be heard, whether it be against political parties, large corporations or any other injustice.