After years of apathy, silence and orchestrated protests, a number of people woke up today and joined the new and rather massive protest in Sarajevo against the dysfunctional, corrupt and destructive government of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH). A beautiful June day, and the “baby siege” protest atmosphere still in the air additionally motivated people to come to the square in front of the Parliament and of the Council of Ministers buildings. Yet, these buildings were empty today. Parliamentarians, Ministers and their support staff who have for years been draining the life out of people and the country, today received a day off. Nothing special – since almost regularly they refrain from doing anything useful anyway; the addition of being physically absent from work is likely to just result in savings. At least on electricity, food and water – because they will all receive their daily salary, while some will also claim overtime for the time they spent under “siege.”
The proclaimed support coming from some political parties is filthy and immoral, as much as is the attempt to frame the violation of basic human rights (of which the personal identification number is one) as a nationality issue. In the preceding days, BH politicians have actively attempted to do both. It began with the incoherent statements made by a Serbian Democratic Party (SDP) MP about Serbs imprisoned in Sarajevo, and her interpretation of the protest slogan: “Together Against Fascism” as a malicious message geared towards the Serbs and the Republika Srpska (RS). This prompted the BH politicians to start cautioning that these protests contribute to the deterioration of the country’s reputation. It is hard to imagine that anyone has contributed more to the dreadful reputation of the country than those governing it; the public recognition of this has swiftly reduced the political parties’ support for the protest and fortunately silenced them.
It is difficult to judge if BH, where for centuries things have progressed much slower than anywhere in Europe, experienced some kind of civil awakening. Today’s events certainly speak in favor of this, as do the activities planned for the upcoming days in other BH cities, such as Banja Luka. Although the protests still do not have a clear organizational structure, nor are they connected to each other, they do have a very clear focus. The authorities in both entities will certainly (as they are already preparing) attempt to introduce confusion into the ranks of protestors as well as politicize and frame these activities in the context of nationally related events. This is definitely the most dangerous thing that can happen; however, it seems that, fortunately, citizens are successfully resisting. Protests that do not have a defined political or national goal are the worst nightmare for all BH politicians.
It is interesting to note something from today’s protest, something that gives me hope. There was not a single flag, poster or symbol of the state, party, religion or nationality to be seen. Today the Citizens came out to protest. Citizens who have for so long endured and kept silent, waiting for something to happen, waiting for a change. Who knows why only this spring, they realized that nothing will change on its own and that the people in power are the real cancer of the society and the country. Maybe it was the baby with no personal identification number that tipped the emotions of people and got them moving. Maybe similar events around the world have demonstrated that something can actually be changed. Perhaps it was the weather. Ultimately, it does not matter.
What is important is that, for these protests, the nationality of parasites in power is not important. Today’s protest was not against the Serbs, Bosnians or Croats, but against all of them together. In BH, so deeply divided ethnically and religiously, it is only in exceptional cases that something is not associated with ethnicity or religion. Today I am happy to say that this has been the case with the protest currently taking place in Sarajevo, where the majority of banners are with the drawings of babies and baby pacifiers. It’s really hard to find examples of protests against the government with such colorful iconography – but that is Bosnia. Bosnia, from which good news originates very rarely. Bosnia, to which others compare themselves when they want to be fooled into how good they are doing. Bosnia, that has for more than 20 years been paying its own debts as well as those of others. Bosnia that has more mass graves than successfully operating factories.
I still do believe that this country and its people have the energy needed to prevent these unscrupulous bloodsuckers that we have been tolerating for years, to arrogantly parcel and destroy this little slice of land. Somehow I believe that Bosnia will prevail and survive the various Dodik, Tihic, Izetbegovic, Lagumdzija and Covic-types and their sycophants. And Herzegovina will prevail, as well.