World refuses to act on banned Serb secessionist parade: Bosnians | Politics News

Is a Bosnian Serb police unit Parade in East Sarajevo on Monday, marking the “Day of the Republic of Srpska” outlawed, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a few kilometers away, hosted an academic event at the national theater titled “Day 9 January – the road to genocide”.

Almasa Salihovic, 35, a survivor of the Srebrenica genocide, said while those in the Serb-led organization in Bosnia speak of their pride in Republika Srpska (RS) as its only homeland their grief, other Bosnians recalled feeling their grief on 9 January 1992, a day that for them “marked the path to the bloodiest years of the war”.

“At the forum, we heard the messages that almost every year citizens who wanted a complete Bosnia – that the celebration of 9 January was unconstitutional, it was a threat to peace and it’s like rubbing salt in the still-healing wounds of the victims,” ​​Salihovic told Al Jazeera.

“If they are honoring a people, a country, that will be fine. But they are celebrating a day when political leaders under the leadership of [convicted war criminal] Radovan Karadzic has consciously decided to aim for genocide against some Bosnians. If the Serb public can’t see this, it’s scary to think whether these same goals will happen in the future,” she said.

On Monday, thousands of RS soldiers and police took part in the march marking the day, which was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia.

The court first banned the event in 2015, claiming it was discriminatory against non-Serbs in the 1.2 million-strong entity, but the RS authorities continued. continue to mark this day regardless of whether it is a public holiday every year.

Map of Republika Srpska Banja Luka Bosnia

On 9 January 1992, the Bosnian Serb assembly issued a declaration declaring the region an independent “Republic of the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, with the objective of joining the regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. self-proclaimed Serbs in the country with Serbia.

This move sparked war in Bosnia, which resulted in 100,000 deaths and a genocide in Srebrenicawhen Croat and Serb forces attempted to divide the country into Greater Croatia and Greater Serbia respectively.

The conflict ended with US mediation The Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in December 1995divides the country into two semi-autonomous parts – the RS entity with a Serb majority, comprising about half of the country, and the Federal entity, where most Bosnians and Croats live.

The Constitutional Court upheld the constitution of Bosnia formed as part of the Dayton accords. As the highest judicial body in the country, it has jurisdiction over the decisions of any other court, including those at the entity level. Last June, it blocked the RS from forming its own army at the entity level and other separate Serb organizations, arguing that the decisions taken by the Parliament of the RS were invalid.

Political scientist Jasmin Mujanovic said focusing police on these rallies was a “direct call” to genocide in Bosnia.

As the entity was a breakaway region, the RS police were “the main organizational focal point for directing the initial hostile takeovers, the distribution of weapons from Serbia, the first murders, and the deportations.” ,” he wrote on social media.

On Monday at what was essentially a military parade, armored vehicles blocked the main roads connecting the capital Sarajevo, located within the Federation entity, with East Sarajevo.

Senior RS and Serbian government officials attended, including President of the breakaway Srpska Republic Milorad Dodik and Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.

The sons of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic were seen among the guests standing near the top leaders.

For years, Dodik has continued to push for secession. He wants to merge RS with neighboring Serbia.

“We are not doing this out of grievance, but to show that we are ready to fight for our freedom,” Radio Free Europe quoted Dodik as saying at the event.

Local members of the Russian Night Wolf Motor Club march during a parade marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Srpska in Istocno Sarajevo, Bosnia, Monday, January 9, 2023. Thousands of people flag-wavingers gathered on the outskirts of Sarajevo to celebrate the outlaw holiday associated with the country's brutal ethnic wars in the 1990s and to attend a military-style parade held for occasion and was used by the Bosnian Serb separatist leader, Milorad Dodik, to show his allegiance to Russia.  (AP Photo/Armin Durgut)
Local members of the Russian motorcycle club Night Wolves march during a parade in East Sarajevo, Bosnia [Armin Durgut/AP Photo]

News agencies reported that the national anthems of Republika Srpska and Serbia were played at the parade.

Local members of The Russian motorcycle club was blacklisted by the US at Night Wolves participate in marches; in 2018 they were accused of promoting separatism among Serbs in the country.

Flags of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, backed by Moscow, were also seen in Ukraine.

A day earlier, in a sign that relations had never been better with Russia despite the war in Ukraine, Dodik awarding Putin in absentia with the highest honor for his “patriotic interest” in RS.

‘Push the red line further’

Some Bosnians have criticized the international community, especially the Office of the High Representative, Bosnia’s top body that oversees the Dayton accords, for their apparent indifference.

They say foreign officials should pressure the RS government to respect the law and cancel the celebrations, or at least speak out about what some have called the “orgasm of communism”. fascist” is on display.

Al Jazeera has reached out to OHR asking for feedback and the spokesperson sent this reporter a message link to a statement published online last month as well as a tweet posted on Monday, in which the agency wrote: “the actions and activities of the RS administration that designate and celebrate RS Day on 9 January may have consequences”.

Asked in an email if there were consequences and what those might be, OHR said: “We have nothing to add to the statements we have published.”

Fazila Efendic of the Srebrenica Mothers Association told Al Jazeera that if the international community wanted to react, they would have done it a long time ago.

In July 1995 in Srebrenica, Serb forces killed half of the Efendic family – 22 relatives, including her son, husband, uncle, niece and cousin.

“The weapon has stopped [shooting], but in another aspect through certain words and actions, the crime of genocide was prolonged. Only with the Dayton peace agreement, when they divided Bosnia into two entities, that was proof that [the international community] They don’t want Bosnia to become a normal country – instead they want a training ground for the next conflicts,” Efendic said.

She argues that Bosnia as a country – its institutions and organs – should have more power than its entities.

“When that happens, one can hope for something… it’s a horrible situation in which entities exist. Give me, [the creation of entities] is the worst that can happen after the genocide for Bosnia and its citizens. Little Bosnia [geographically] anyway,” Efendic said.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik speaks during a parade marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Srpska in Istocno Sarajevo, Bosnia, Monday, January 9, 2023. Thousands of flag-waving people gathered. on the outskirts of Sarajevo to celebrate an outlaw holiday associated with the country's brutal ethnic wars in the 1990s and attend a military-style parade organized for the occasion and was used by the Bosnian Serb separatist leader, Milorad Dodik, to show his allegiance to Russia.  (AP Photo/Armin Durgut)
Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik speaks during a military-style parade commemorating an outlaw ‘holiday’ linked to the country’s brutal war in the 1990s [Armin Durgut/AP Photo]

Kurt Bassuener, senior associate at the Policy Council for Democratization, a German think tank, told Al Jazeera that Dodik and Dragan Covic, leaders of the Croatian nationalist HDZ party in Bosnia, trying to see who can “push the red line further” and avoid Western condemnation.

“Part of the Western view is that we want things to not be a problem for us, we don’t want to spend a lot of energy on reforming a policy that has failed for 17 years,” Bassuener said, explaining interested in the views of the international community. Position.

“Everything is a test for Dodik and every time he is accommodated, he pushes the line further and further… he feels bulletproof. It was an undeniable element of his self-aggrandizement.

Sending European Union Forces into Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR), a reliable military deterrent on the ground, especially in strategic locations such as the northern Brcko district separating the two would be “the best way to deal with Dodik,” he said, but this has not been done.

“There was no strategy on the part of anyone,” Bassuener said. “Dodik is the only one who seems to have some sort of strategy…so he is continuing to advance.”

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