WINGS OF HOPE - BOSNIA
I have developed a rather finely-tuned internal meter that
detects how effective, useful, and honest the work of a
non-governmental organization is. Along with exposure to NGOs
comes a certain amount of skepticism, as I've observed that
everyone in the "third sector" knows the right things to say to
foreigners, and everyone knows how to fill out an application
form for support from an international humanitarian agency.
These are the ABCs of NGO work - but also of humanitarian
profiteering. NGOs are to be found at every point along the
spectrum from altruism to exploitation.
Once in a while you find an NGO that is doing exemplary work. I
found one almost inadvertently, an organization whose members I
visited only because of the irresistible invitation of a friend.
But by the time I left the meeting, I was inspired.
The Foundation for aid to victims of war "Krila Nade," or
Wings of Hope - Bosnia, has been working to help people in
Bosnia-Herzegovina since the war period. Founded by a Dutch
organization of the same name, Krila Nade became completely
independent in 2004. Since then it has concentrated on service
to people in Sarajevo Canton. The organization defines its
updated mission as one of "empowerment and social inclusion of
vulnerable and marginalized groups, particularly women, youth,
and children through the promotion and protection of human
rights and mental health and support of education."
I spoke with Belma Žiga,
psychologist and staff member of Krila Nade,
about what this means.
Ms. Žiga described
a "multi-system, interdisciplinary model of social
inclusion" implemented by Krila Nade. The organization employs a
psychologist, a psychiatrist, and an educational consultant or
"pedagogue." "We work to educate people regarding the role of
psychologists and therapists, to reduce the amount of stigma
associated with therapy."
Krila Nade is the only center in Sarajevo where one can choose
different forms of psychotherapy. Each year, over two hundred
clients receive psychotherapy or counseling there.
In addition to providing therapy, Krila Nade implements projects
on several fronts including employment assistance, summer school
and special school sessions, adult education, and creative
workshops. As usual, implementation of projects depends on
available funding. One successful program that had to be
terminated was the support of a dentist who volunteered to tend
to clients' teeth without compensation. Materials were also
donated. Through this program over a thousand uninsured children
received dental care over a period of three years. Another
now-defunct program brought disadvantaged children to the
mountains, in wintertime, for lessons in skiing and
The work that most fascinated me involved pilot projects in
elementary schools. Ms. Žiga
told me that the organization's project of "integration
and inclusion," supported by the Soros Open Society Foundation,
is called, "Redefining culture, policy, and practice in
elementary schools in Sarajevo Canton."
repeatedly used the term "inclusion." At first I assumed that
this referred to the inclusion of non-Muslim students in the
learning process in the predominantly Muslim-populated school
system of Sarajevo Canton. I found out that "inclusion" referred
to something much more basic.
In previous reports I have mentioned problems with the
educational system in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Lessons tend to be
delivered as packages to be consumed by students without their
active participation. "Inclusion" refers to participation,
active learning that is necessary for a more effective
education. Ms. Žiga
explained, "Inclusion is a process of addressing and
responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through
increasing participation in learning, culture, and communities,
and reducing exclusion within education and exclusion from
education. There is a need to be responsible in the schools for
inclusion of all different aspects of diversity; not just
children with special needs, but also for gifted children."
I remember from my own school experiences that questioning was
at times a risky thing to do; most students accept without
resistance the social processing that is the main goal of
education. By they time they reach high school, critical
thinking is non-existent, or at least heavily suppressed.
In recent decades there has been a widespread fight against this
anti-thinking form of education in the West. In Bosnia, Krila
Nade is trying to introduce independent thought by way of active
learning in some of Sarajevo's schools. The organization is
implementing a ten-month pilot program in two elementary
schools. The program introduces a method of self-evaluation
called "Index for Inclusion," and it provides school
psychologists as well. One goal of the pilot program is to
assess policy, culture, and practice in those two schools.
Regarding this project, Ms.
Žiga explained, "In
the schools, students are passive, and there are human resources
that are not used. The students are not involved in the
educational process; they do not participate actively and
cooperatively in the learning process.
"Students at all levels, from age six to 25, are passive. They
only try to repeat what they have learned. So this results in a
situation where, when they finish school, they have a low level
"We have hoped to get the Ministry of Education involved and to
have them recognize the value of this type of work. But the
Ministry of Education, as soon as we mentioned psychologists,
they stopped the discussion and said, 'We have pedagogues, don't
mention psychologists.' That was the end of this. So we did not
ask for permission to have our psychologists in the schools. You
have to break the rules."
In Bosnian schools, there are problems that are more striking
than the simple, old-fashioned system of rote learning. There is
the notorious practice of corruption - especially in the
universities - where students are compelled, at times, to buy
passing grades with money or sex. I can't help but think that if
students were trained to question and to use their critical
thinking capacities from an early age, they would not put up
with such practices.
Krila Nade aspires to develop an educational culture in schools,
to encourage teachers to use the mental resources available to
the students. "It's not so hard," Ms.
After describing to me the school projects of
her organization, she asked me, "Do you think we are too
ambitious?" I said, "You are subversive, and for that, in order
to fight the brainwashing, you have to be ambitious."
Q: Do you get a good response from the teachers?
A: "They are tired of seminars about stereotyping and about
special needs. They act like they know everything - as if they
are from Star Trek. But, for example, they are not prepared to
deal with autistic children, or with ADHD.
"We made a survey with a questionnaire and asked what the
teachers wanted to learn, what they lacked in their work, and
what they felt they had to contribute. But in their responses,
they were not interested in a gender workshop nor in active
learning. There is a lot of work being done on active learning,
but the teachers are not using this knowledge in practice. There
needs to be more effort."
I left the Krila Nade office promising to try to help the
organization in any way I could.
For more on Wings of Hope, see
THE SEARCH FOR THE MISSING
There's not much in Bosnia-Herzegovina that's more painful for
the survivors of the war than not knowing where their missing
loved ones are. At the war's end there were some thirty thousand
people missing in Bosnia. Finding them has been an
excruciatingly slow task, especially in the first few years
after the war. At that time, it was dangerous to venture into
"enemy" territory and search for mass graves. Those who knew the
location of such graves were not talking. And when graves were
found and remains were exhumed, there was no scientific way of
establishing the identity of the remains until the introduction
of DNA matching technology at the end of the last century.
In spite of this, a number of courageous people dedicated their
lives to the search for the missing. It is hard for me to
imagine spending my days, for years on end, braving the
scorching sun or the chilling cold - and sometimes the glare of
watchful neighbors - to scrape in the ground for the bones of
the missing. Yet people like Amor Mašović, Jasmin Odobašić, and
many others have done just that. In performing this work over
the past seventeen years, they have brought a measure of
comfort, for example, to the widows of Srebrenica, by making
possible, so far, the identification of the remains of over six
thousand victims of that notorious set of massacres.
Scene of a mass grave, Zvornik
Prijedor municipality is another area where several thousand
victims went missing, and investigators gradually discovered
mass graves there as well. Dozens of mass graves were discovered
in that municipality.
Both with the war crimes related to Srebrenica and to Prijedor,
the fact of "secondary graves" has made identification of the
victims so much the harder. Secondary - and sometimes even
tertiary - graves are the result of the excavation of remains
from one mass grave and their removal to one or more additional
sites in order to conceal the crime. Such an additional crime
upon a crime tended to mix up the bones of the victims, so that
it has not been unusual for one person's remains to be found in
two or even more sites. It has been unusual, in fact, to find a
complete set of remains in one place.
In order to make a DNA identification, relatives have to provide
blood samples. For the more than 30,000 missing, to date over
90,000 samples have been received from survivors, many of whom
have moved to exile in the far corners of the world.
These are some of the factors that complicate the effort to
soothe a survivor's anguish by providing her with remains to
give a proper burial. For this effort, those who search for the
remains deserve praise and admiration.
I spoke with Jasmin Odobašić, former deputy head of the Muslim
Commission for Missing Persons. Until 2008, there were three
missing persons commissions, one for each of the main
ethnicities in Bosnia. In that year the commissions were
mothballed in favor of a nationwide Missing Persons Institute.
Odobašić became head of a department in that Institute, under
the direction of Amor Mašović.
Upon my meeting Odobašić, he immediately showed me some photos
of himself, his brother, and his father, black and blue after
having been beaten at the police station in their pre-war home
town of Prnjavor. Before the war Odobašić was an attorney and
the deputy director of a factory in that city. As a member of an
elite Muslim family in Prnjavor, Odobašić and his relatives were
targeted by the separatists who wanted to intimidate Muslims
into leaving. They were not put into a concentration camp, but
they were taken to the police station every day, and put to
physical labor as a way to humiliate them.
He showed me his photographs and said to me, "This is why I'm
searching for the disappeared."
Odobašić was rescued from Prnjavor via prisoner exchange in
1994. Immediately after the war he became engaged in the search
for the missing. Since he was from the Krajina, he employed his
knowledge of that region and its people to search for mass
graves more effectively. Under his leadership, teams of
searchers discovered the hidden resting places of over four
thousand victims in the northwestern part of Bosnia alone.
Mr. Odobašić spoke to me about the graves he had helped to
discover in Prijedor: "We first went to Prijedor illegally,
without permission from the local authorities, in 1998. There
was the big grave in Stari Kevljani where 456 remains were
recovered and of those, 352 were identified. In Jakarina Kosa
373 remains were recovered, of which 296 were identified.
"In Stari Kevljani the graves were six meters down. That site
was discovered in 2000, but not exhumed until 2004 because of
lack of funding. We were able to identify the specific bulldozer
that was used in that grave from the scrape marks, and we
determined that there was only one such bulldozer of that type
in the municipality.
"The people who were killed at Omarska concentration camp were
taken to Tomašice, which was a primary grave site. Later those
remains were moved to the mine at Ljubija, in 1994."
Odobašić has written one book about the exhumation process -
published at his own expense - and is compiling another: "My
book will be about one thousand graves in the Bosnian Krajina.
There were 1,025 graves in the region, and 4139 remains that
were recovered. In Prijedor alone there were 1962 remains
recovered; of those, 1463 were identified. All these graves that
were discovered have been noted with GPS locations.
"There were traces of the remains - sometimes they were not even
completely buried. You found a skull with gold teeth. There were
pits near Ključ. There was a five-month-old baby and a
four-year-old boy. We found documents as well."
I asked Odobašić how the mass graves were found: "I got
information from survivors, witnesses, and returnees. There were
some Serbs with a conscience. There were other Serbs who would
give information in return for a favor. There were others who
would get drunk and start bragging in a kafana, and someone
would hear the information and convey it. And then there are
people who will sell the information."
Odobašić noted that at times, he had received instructions -
including from the international community - only to search for
the remains of Muslim victims: "From 1996 to 1998 no one allowed
me to exhume Serbs and Croats, nor were they [searchers from
those ethnicities] allowed to exhume the others. We were not
allowed to exhume at Briševo [village in the Prijedor
municipality, location of a large massacre of Croats]. But a
victim is not an ethnicity; a victim is a victim. Every mother
cries the same.
"Then we found nine Croats, and I wrote to the OHR, 'I made a
mistake; shall I return the remains?' In one mass grave I found
fifteen Muslims, eight Croats, and one Serb.
I have found around 200 Croats, and I found some Serbs around
Odobašić has become a controversial figure in the realm of the
search for the missing. After many years of work, in 2010 he was
removed from his job at the Missing Persons Institute when he
made some public statements criticizing his colleagues. His
accusations have included venality and delay of identifications,
among other things. These are, naturally, shocking assertions.
Of such behavior, Odobašić says, "It is not unusual to steal
from a store, or on the stock exchange. But stealing from the
dead - never, that is a sacred question."
I have heard the kind of accusations Odobašić leveled before. My
"honesty meter" gave him a strong reading for sincerity. But
upon looking into his statements, I realized that I would have
to dig much deeper in order to know the whole story.
Sign indicating location of Čančari
mass grave, Zvornik municipality
SERBIAN TYCOON IN SLAMMER - RADONČIĆ AND DODIK NEXT (...or
ought to be)
A couple of weeks ago, the man often known as the "richest man
in Serbia," Miroslav Mišković, was arrested and jailed on
corruption charges. This is interesting on a number of levels;
the move has domestic and regional implications, and it
certainly pertains to Bosnia.
I wrote about Mišković in 2008, when his economic forays into
Bosnia-Herzegovina were being revealed. (See
.) Some of the wording that follows comes from that earlier
writing, as it is still valid.
This month Mišković, his son Marko, and nine other influential
players in the Serbian economy have been charged with criminal
activities in connection with the privatization of road-building
The owner of the complex of businesses called "Delta Holding"
first became known to the broader public when he served as
deputy prime minister of Serbia for a time under Milošević.
Mišković served as Milošević's main economic advisor and was, it
is alleged, one of Serbia's main wartime financiers. Since
Milošević's fall in 2000, Mišković has donated funds to various
political parties, including the Serbian Radical Party (SRS).
This is the SRS that, led by Vojislav Šešelj (now on trial at
The Hague), organized paramilitary formations that rampaged,
murdered, burned, and committed rape during the wars in Croatia,
Bosnia, and Kosovo.
Delta is Serbia's largest private company, and the
fourth-largest in the country after several state-run firms. A
December 14th news article read, "Employing about
5,000 people, it operates through 76 different subsidiaries,
dealing with farming, food production, retail, export-import,
representation of foreign companies, consumer goods, car sales,
real estate, financial services, and insurance."
Sometimes called the "true owner of Serbia," Mišković is the
owner of four large retail chains in that country, and he has
worked tirelessly to expand his empire into the rest of the
former Yugoslav republics. To date, Mišković owns property in
Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, and Bosnia. He does business in
Croatia and Switzerland, and as far away as Russia.
In 2007 Mišković was listed as one of the thousand richest
people in the world. He has specialized in buying weak companies
and, often as not, turning their prime real estate into shopping
centers. In Serbia, Mišković's sway is such that foreign
companies that wish to build shopping centers in Belgrade are
forced to build them on the periphery of the city, giving
Mišković an effective monopoly in the more lucrative areas -
where he prices his goods at 20% above the market rate. Mišković
is said to control 70% of Belgrade's retail market.
The present charges against Mišković and his business partners
hold that they withdrew money and property from privatized
companies and, in this way, stole some thirty million euros.
Investigative journalists discovered some of Mišković's crooked
dealings several years ago, but his power over the media
(through purchasing advertising, among other things) was such
that the information was swept under the carpet. One crooked
practice involved buying failing companies that were located on
very favorably located property in exclusive neighborhoods,
without paying for the valuable land, only for the derelict
building. Then, instead of reconstructing the factory or other
productive company, Mišković would tear it down and build a
shopping center or apartment building.
Serbian tax laws have allowed Mišković to buy a state company
through one of his off-shore holdings without being required to
pay taxes on that acquisition.
Mišković's wealth led to great political influence. He donated
to those in power and to the opposition parties as well, thus
buying a say in how governments were formed at various levels.
The financial manipulations by Mišković are far more involved
than what I have related here. But how and why did he get into
trouble? The fact that Mišković was taking advantage of the
Serbian economic system in such a crooked way, and costing the
state budget so many millions of euros, was something that was
bound to get him in trouble as soon as the authorities worked up
the resolve to take action. One component of that resolve is
that there is a new government in Serbia, headed by the extreme
right-wing leader of the ironically-named Serbian Progressive
Party Tomislav Nikolić.
Nikolić's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense,
Aleksandar Vučić, is the head of Serbia's campaign against
corruption. It is apparent that as Nikolić's new government has
gotten underway, pressure from the European Union has helped to
breathe some life into that campaign. What better way to show
your sincerity to the club you wish to join than arresting your
In this, there is a close parallel to the jailing of Croatia's
former prime minister, Ivo Sanader. Croatia is set to become a
member of the European Union in the middle of 2013. Sanader
unexpectedly resigned without explanation from his post in 2009.
The next year he was arrested in Austria for high-level
corruption charges leveled by the Croatian authorities. Just
last month, he was sentenced to ten years in jail.
This looks good to the EU. The question is, when can
Bosnia-Herzegovina ingratiate itself with the EU by arresting
its most corrupt tycoons?
Just the other day, on December 21, the US Ambassador to Bosnia
Patrick Moon came up with a bright idea. Speaking to the Bosnian
daily Avaz, he said, and I quote from an internet news posting,
"corruption in Bosnia was visible at all levels and that
ordinary people rightfully expected something to be finally done
about it. The political leaders must notice that, they must
speak against corruption and corruption cannot exist in
government, Moon said, adding that corruption should not be
prosecuted selectively and that such measures should taken
against everyone if there was evidence of it." (See
Hallelujah - Patrick Moon has, as they say in Bosnia, discovered
There's such a broad field of corrupt tycoons in Bosnia that one
could hardly know where to start. How about arresting RS
President Milorad Dodik? Such a move would not only remove a
very corrupt individual, but would also, perhaps, take some of
the wind out of the sails of the Serb separatist movement, of
which Dodik is the foremost proponent.
On the same day that it occurred to Ambassador Moon to light a
fire under the corrupt operators of Bosnia, Dodik was agitating
against corruption in his own entity. The press agency Fena
announced that Dodik has commanded the RS special prosecutor to
work more effectively in breaking up organized crime and in
fighting grave economic corruption. He cited public
dissatisfaction with a special prosecutor's progress in
anti-corruption work, and criticized that office for
intimidating the free press, which he called "absolutely
I don't see why intimidating the free press in the RS should be
a problem, since there is none.
Nor have I ever heard of an economic criminal (nor a war
criminal, for that matter) arresting himself in the RS, but it
appears that things are taking a turn for the better.
President Dodik commented on Mišković's arrest, saying that
"every fight against corruption is important," but that
Mišković's guilt had yet to be proven. Dodik praised Mišković's
investment in the Republika Srpska, and said that "it would be
good if Serbia had more investors like Mišković."
Perhaps a better parallel to Mišković than Dodik would be
Fahrudin Radončić, a corrupt tycoon who has entered into
politics in the last couple of years, and who was just recently
appointed to the post of Minister of Security. Radončić is
sometimes called "the Mišković of Bosnia."
It's a good parallel - Radončić even has business dealings with
Mišković. This relationship goes back to 2007, when the two
businessmen formed a company called Prezident Realty, together
with an off-shore firm based in Belize named Vanity
The story gets even richer as it is revealed, by Bosnia's top
intelligence agency SIPA, that the owner of this off-shore
company is Naser Kelmendi who, as I described in my first report
in this series, has been blacklisted in a report signed by
President Obama as one of Europe's top narco-traffickers. During
a political shake-up last summer a raid was conducted on several
gangster outfits in Bosnia, and Kelmendi has been on the lam
since then, allegedly back in his Kosovo home.
Kelmendi is an old friend and business partner of Radončić, as I
have written before. Once Kelmendi imported a couple of
reinforced Jeep Cherokees with bullet-proof glass from the US
and supplied one of them to Radončić.
Prezident Realty has purchased land in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and
Tuzla. In Sarajevo, Prezident bought a furniture factory called
Standard, with the intention of tearing it down and constructing
a shopping center.
Here's a timeline that tracks some of Radončić's progress from
rags to riches.
--1970s: After finishing trade high school in business in his
native Montenegro, Radončić finishes a college degree that
qualifies him to be an art instructor.
--1977: Joins the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and remains a
member for the next twelve years.
--1978 to 1991: Works as a journalist and editor in the capital
city of Montenegro.
--1991: Moves to Sarajevo (carrying his belongings, everyone
says, in two plastic bags), founds Avaz publishing house and
company for real estate and hotels.
--1993-1995: With financial help from the Bosniak nationalist
party SDA, expands his holdings into a media empire including
the influential daily newspaper Avaz.
--Mid-2000s: In Sarajevo, with money illicitly granted from the
Federation of Bosnia's Development Bank, builds tallest tower in
--June 1, 2012: Social Democrat Party announces break in
Parliamentary coalition with SDA and formation of new coalition
with Radončić's SBB (Party for a Better Future).
--June 1, 2012: On the same day, President Obama signs blacklist
that names Radončić's friend and business partner as a top drug
trafficker in Europe.
-- June 1, 2012: Also on the same day, President of the SDP
Zlatko Lagumdžija proposes Radončić for the post of Minister of
--July 2012: Radončić divorces his wife Azra, a hairdresser who
had never paid taxes.
-- July 2012: Radončić sells Avaz business complex to his
ex-wife Azra for 200 million KM.
--October 7, 2012 (election day): Fahrudin Radončić walks into
the voting station holding hands with Azra Radončić.
--Late November, 2012: Radončić is appointed Minister of
Security. In a financial disclosure form, he reports his monthly
income as 1404 KM. In the same disclosure, which asks if any
member of his family owns or manages any private firm, he
Other nicknames for Radončić: "The Donald Trump of Bosnia." "The
Berlusconi of Bosnia."
So you have a triangle composed of a high-level
Montenegrin/Bosnia media/real estate mogul turned politician (Radončić),
a high level ("controversial") Serbian businessman (Mišković),
and a high-level Kosovo Albanian/Bosnian drug lord gangster (Kelmendi).
One is in jail. One is (safely) on the lam. One is Minister of
Ah, well. I guess it will be "malo sutra"- a
colloquialism meaning, roughly, "never," or, "that'll be the
day" - before Radončić is arrested. Sadly, Bosnia-Herzegovina's
just not that ready to go to Europe.
THE MARCH FIRST COALITION
This posting wraps up my series of reports on justice and
activism in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I can't finish the series on
Bosnia, however, without telling you about one very interesting
development: the March 1st Coalition. Those who are
interested in the fight for justice in Bosnia will want to
follow the progress of this important campaign.
On December 18th, representatives of 27
non-governmental organizations met in Sarajevo and signed an
agreement to form the March 1st Coalition. Many of
the leading lights of the human rights movement were there: Edin
Ramulić of Izvor (Prijedor); Munira Subašić
of the Mothers of Srebrenica organization (Sarajevo); Bakira
Hasečić of Women Victims of War, Hajra Ćatić of Women of
Srebrenica (Tuzla); and Hatidža Mehmedović of the Association of
Srebrenica Mothers (Srebrenica).
The new coalition will campaign to register voters in the
locations where they voted before the war - thus the name March
1st, referring to the last time that people voted
before the war, in 1992.
The campaign is reminiscent of the recent registration campaign
"'Glasaću za Srebrenicu" (I will vote for
Srebrenica), which I described in my third report in this
series. Then, activists led by Emir Suljagić registered several
thousand displaced Srebrenicans to vote in their home
municipality last October. The result was a victory for the
independent mayoral candidate Ćamil Duraković, who was
unanimously backed by all the political parties that do not deny
that genocide took place in Srebrenica. After months of appeals
and delays, just this month the Central Election Commission
found it within itself to give a final confirmation to the
The March 1st Coalition's tactics will be similar,
though much grander in scale. Here, the campaign's goal is not
only to elect favorable candidates in the upcoming 2014 general
parliamentary elections. The goal is to make it possible for
enough officials to be elected in the Republika Srpska and at
the state level for there to be a change in the constitution.
This is truly an ambitious project that could, theoretically,
unblock the political stalemate and end the crisis that has been
in force in Bosnian politics ever since the Dayton agreement was
Emir Suljagić, initiator of the new campaign, explained that the
primary goal was to elect five favorable representatives to the
state-level Parliament from the RS. The presence of this many
"pro-Bosnian" officials in the entity and state-level
parliaments would make it possible for lawmakers to cooperate in
clearing hurdles to membership in the EU. Some of these hurdles
involve constitutional change, particularly in response to the
2009 decision by the EU Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg.
That court found the Bosnian (Dayton) constitution to be in
violation of international human rights conventions because it
discriminates against minorities. There are rational solutions
to this problem, but they have been blocked since the decision
The Coalition must work at several tasks in order to succeed. In
violation of Dayton's Annex 7 guaranteeing freedom of movement,
there are laws in preparation in the RS to prevent people from
registering in the place of their choice. The Coalition will
have to fight against these laws. The Coalition will also have
to ensure, as was done in Srebrenica, that there is a solid
electoral coalition of candidates who are not destroying their
chances by competing with each other. At present there are
enough sympathetic voters in the RS to guarantee three favorable
representatives in the state-level Parliament. Suljagić reckons
that an additional 80,000 to 100,000 voters would make the
election of two more representatives possible.
Another task is to establish in the Federation Parliament a law
that supports returnees to the RS, as was done in the case of
Srebrenica in the recent campaign.
The biggest job will be registering voters from the diaspora to
participate in this campaign. In the recent municipal elections,
out of 1.5 million Bosnians in the diaspora, only some 35,000
It is hoped that all the political parties in Bosnia that do not
deny genocide will participate. This includes the SDP, whose
behavior this year has been so unprincipled as to bring its
participation into question. This is particularly important as
SDP President Lagumdžija holds the post of Foreign Minister, and
he could thus have an influential role in promoting the
registration campaign abroad. I would not personally bank on his
cooperation; however, on December 13th the SDP
publicly announced that the party would support the campaign.
RS President Dodik has, naturally, come out in opposition to the
campaign, saying, "It is obvious that the atmosphere is being
created to repeat what happened in Srebrenica. We will certainly
not allow a new campaign."
Suljagić brushed off Dodik's words, saying that "Dodik is not in
a position to threaten anybody, let alone the citizens of
Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is only the president of one of two
entities in the state of Bosnia, in which there are more hungry
than there are satisfied people. If I were in his place, I would
take care to preserve the loyalty of his praetorian guard, that
is, the Ministry of Internal Affairs [the police], whose pay he
recently, once again, reduced by ten percent, because that is
the only thing that stands between him and the anger of the
Suljagić commented that the presence of the critical number of
favorable representatives in the state-level Parliament can lead
to the creation of the "foundation of a renewal of Bosnian-Herzegovinan
society on the principles of tolerance, truth, justice, equal
rights, and the protection of human rights on the whole
territory of the state."
These are, of course, admirable goals and the campaign is, in a
way, a rare attempt to strike back and the separatists and
plunderers who have been tearing the country apart for the last
twenty-odd years. One only wishes that the idea had been
promoted immediately after the war, but the campaign is worth
For a television screening of the public founding of the
campaign (in Bosnian), see
Late news: A December 25th news post reported that
police officials in Srebrenica were harassing members of the
March 1st Coalition in that city by coming to their
homes late in the evening and questioning them about the
location of some of their fellow members. One policeman
threatened to issue an arrest warrant for members who were not
immediately located. A communiqué from the Coalition condemned
the police actions as police harassment of non-Serbs and likened
atmosphere in the Republika Srpska to apartheid.