Celebrate with your heart, not your gun: A campaign in the Balkans hits the bull's-eye

Jan 5, 2016


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A man in Tuzla was accidentally wounded in the stomach during a New Year’s Eve party when his good friend fired a gun as part of celebrations. A girl died in downtown Skopje as she celebrated New Year’s Eve. A photographer was wounded in Podgorica while working at a wedding. A soccer player in Sarajevo collapsed during a game because he had a head injury from a stray bullet sustained the day before at a wedding. While celebrating the birth of his son, a man in Crvenka fired a gun and his stray bullet injured a 14 year old girl playing outside her house.  While playing at a wedding in Novi Pazar, a toddler shot his dad in the stomach.

Each year throughout the Balkans, many are left dead or wounded in similar incidents by celebratory gunfire. Shootings happen across the region at weddings, after the birth of a child, during religious festivals and holidays, New Year’s Eve, and even after sporting event victories.  To raise awareness about the dangers of celebratory gunfire, SEESAC is running a regional social media campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Google.

Titled “Celebrate with your heart, not your gun,” the campaign covers Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Addressing the audience in their local languages during the period of the year with most gunfire, the Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the SEESAC team has already reached over 630,000 people during the first week alone. The campaign had the biggest reach among those that are 18-34 years old.

The campaign is a continuation of efforts by SEESAC which has been working to raise awareness about the dangers posed by weapons and ways in which to legalize and surrender illegal arms.

The campaign will run until January 20, and can be viewed using the hashtags #dontruintheparty and #whokilledsanta.

* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).