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Two non-governmental organisations have called on the competent authorities to press charges for hate speech used at a protest rally outside the offices of the Electronic Media Council in Zagreb on Tuesday, organised by the local branch of the Homeland War Disabled Veterans' Association (HVIDR) in protest at the temporary revocation of the broadcasting licence from the local Z1 television channel.

"With their statements today protesters have clearly shown that they are fond of hate speech and that the real purpose of this siege is to destabilise the key media regulator by insisting on the resignation of members of the Electronic Media Council. We call on the competent institutions to press charges," the Human Rights House and GONG said in a joint statement in the evening.

It said that during the protest some of the protesters shouted, among other things, "For the Homeland Ready!", a salute used by the Nazi-style Ustasha regime that ruled Croatia during World War II.

"Hate speech has nothing to do with freedom of speech and is its opposite. It is an act of labelling, exclusion, humiliation and lynching (...) that makes any dialogue impossible," the two organisations said.

They were particularly concerned about the presence of several MPs and Parliament Deputy Speaker Ivan Tepes at the rally, saying that in that way they supported efforts "to undermine the democratic media and the rule of law in Croatia."

The two NGOs called on the government, the president and other institutions to condemn such incidents without hesitation. They expressed their support for the Electronic Media Council's decision to revoke the broadcasting licence from Z1 for three days.

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