REPORT #2 from BOSNIA
By Peter Lippman
June 5, 2010
Report index Report 1: Kozarac,
Prijedor. June 2, 2010 Report 2: Banja
Luka, Doboj. Tuzla
June 5, 2010 Report 3: Bijeljina,
June 16, 2010 Report 4:
Srebrenica and Bratunac,
June 18, 2010 Report 5:
June 25, 2010 Report 6:
Roses and Walnuts,
June 28, 2010 Report 7:
Sarajevo and Travnik,
July 7, 2010 Report 8:
July 25, 2010 Report 9:
Herzegovina and wrap-up,
August 12, 2010
To contact Peter
in response to these reports or any of his articles,
Here’s more about my travels and visits through northern Bosnia:
Banja Luka, Doboj, Tuzla. Just a “short” [a la Noel Malcolm’s use of
the word] review of latest experiences.
As I write this, it is again with much pain that I note the
incredibly brutal attack by Israeli commandos on the humanitarian
convoy of ships heading for Gaza with tons of building supplies and
other aid, including hundreds of wheelchairs. Israeli spin
notwithstanding, there is no excuse for the murder of at least nine
activists -- just as [to bring up the background] there is no excuse
for the three-year-long siege of Gaza, and associated atrocities.
For more information on this situation, visit
My main focus, for now, is to
talk to activists on the grassroots level. This is the least organized
part of society, due to a general sense of disempowerment and lingering
-- better, increased -- ethnic tension as a result of skilful political
manipulation. I am regularly told that people do not have a tradition of
volunteerism; that they are apathetic; that they don’t see a financial
benefit in volunteering. One has to be suspicious of the established
NGOs, some of which are corrupt [practicing “humanitarian
profiteering”], and some of which are in the pocket of one political
party or another.
The long-term hope for Bosnia is among young grassroots activists --
there are at least a few hundred around the country, and the RS is not
an exception. These are the people who understand that no one is going
to save them -- not the domestic politicians, and certainly not the
“international community,” which has just held a high-flown conference
in Sarajevo. There, they made their due contribution to global warming.
In Kozarac I had met a few members of the multi-ethnic Banja Luka NGO, “Zene
to Mogu” [Women Can Do It]. I visited their director, Sajma, in
Banja Luka. ZtM, with some 170 members, implements projects in the city
and nearby villages. They have funded the construction of a playground
in Vrbanje, where there are returned Muslims and displaced Serbs. Their
kids now play together. ZtM has worked with the local Roma, and set up a
desperately-needed maternity clinic in Celinac. The women of ZtM are
Sajma said, “Why did I choose Celinac? I am a teacher. I chose Celinac
because I started my teaching career there. I was like the children’s
mother in that time. I taught them everything, including folklore. Later
I moved on to another job. The war started. I stayed in Banja Luka
because of my elderly mother, who could not move. My husband is a Serb.
“This house was full of all kinds of people, Croats, everything. One day
two soldiers came to the door with weapons. They could have done
anything, but they wanted to know if we had firewood. One of them said,
‘Teta [aunt] Sajma, don’t you recognize me? We were your students.’”
About the situation in Banja Luka, Sajma told me, “There has been much
change in Banja Luka. After the war there was much criminal activity,
selling drugs, trafficking, and selling weapons. Now, people have
matured; they see what the stupidity was that they did. But the
politicians are still about the same.
“People are poor. About 80% are living below the poverty line. They are
not interested in politics; they want work. Women and young people have
the biggest problems. Pensions are very low, and young people are not
able to get employment. There is no production. This country could live
from tourism and agriculture.
“I am Bosniak, and my husband is Serb. When the war started, my son
asked me, ‘Mom, who am I supposed to shoot at?’ He left in 1992 and
ended up in London. My grandson is able to get work as soon as he leaves
high school. I went to London to visit my son. I saw Indians, Chinese
people, everything. I asked my son, ‘Where are the English?’ He
answered, ‘Mother, these are all English people.’”
Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka, destroyed 1993, under reconstruction
I met with “Martin,” a young
local activist in the recently-formed group, “Ostra Nula.” The name
means “Sharp Zero.” It has been the name of a brand of fine flour for
cakes, but Martin explained to me, “The government thinks we citizens
are nothing. But we will show that we can be a sharp nothing.”
Much like Dosta in Sarajevo [mentioned in journal #1], Ostra Nula’s
first action was a protest against rising prices and the cost of
electricity and telephone service: “We did a street action about
consumer rights, passing out leaflets. People don’t know that laws
protecting consumer rights exist. There is a prohibition against
companies unreasonably raising prices. We created a tent out of black
plastic garbage bags. Inside we displayed the relevant laws, as though
they were hidden from the public in the dark.”
Martin told me that on the whole the action was well-received, but
“people are confused here. They have nothing to eat, but people say,
‘See, we have the Republika Srpska.’ And if you are protesting anything
that the government has done, some people say you are ‘against Serbs.’
It is a sad story. When we did that action on the street, some people
ask us, ‘Who sent you?’” This reflects the idea that all political
action is supported by one party or another, that no one can act
independently as a citizen.
Martin continued, “Everyone fought for something in the war, but
ordinary people have nothing. Not only the tycoons are responsible for
this. We are, as well, because most people are not willing to look
beyond one meter in front of themselves.”
I was intrigued by this rare acknowledgment of personal responsibility,
and I asked Martin how he developed this attitude. He answered, “It’s
just a normal thing. You can be here for five days and see it all. I
don’t know how other people don’t see that. Maybe it’s because I was
raised that way, although my parents don’t like that I’m involved in
Describing another project, Martin said, “We had another protest in
March, where we carried posters reading “41 KM,” “160 KM,” “320 KM,” and
“0,” referring to what all the others receive, who don’t receive
welfare, a pension, or the lowest wages [320 KM], respectively. Four of
us carried these posters. We passed out 500 leaflets. There were about
15 people handing out leaflets, which explained the figures. The
leaflets did not enter into the question of why the situation is this
way; we simply wanted to initiate discussion. We got a good response.”
Such grassroots activity is relatively new in the RS. Martin told me,
“It is a success if we have 20 people who come out to an action.” Martin
points out the paradox that “people know that things need to be changed,
but they won’t do anything about it. Everyone knows that the politicians
are stealing, but if a journalist asks someone about this, he will say
that he doesn’t know, because people are afraid to say anything. If
someone says that he knows who sold such and such a company, he could
lose his job. It should not be considered a disgrace to protest.
“We can’t live a normal life. We are ghettoized, can’t travel. This is
an imprisoned society. We are closed both to Europe and to other parts
of Bosnia; there is no collaboration, for example, with Sarajevo
There are a few brave people in the RS who are more prominent, such as
the valiant journalist Slobodan Vaskovic, who collaborates with a
Federation TV program called “60 Minutes.” This is an exemplary show
that exposes corruption wherever it exists, i.e., among the leaders of
all three ethnicities. Its director, Bakir Hadziomerovic, has received
death threats in Sarajevo. In Banja Luka Vaskovic has received death
threats, which are not to be ignored. Martin told me that Vaskovic now
has to move around with police protection. Not long ago Dodik banned
broadcasting of shows from Federal television, and now people can only
watch them in the RS if they have cable access.
Banja Luka feels like a real city, not a town like Prijedor. It is
spread out and there are fine parks and big, glassy office buildings in
the center of town -- most notably, the ostentatious new RS government
building constructed by friends of Dodik with money raked off from the
sale of state-owned corporations to foreign investors in Serbia and
Russia. This is one of Dodik’s several scandals; he has been under
investigation for this and other boondoggles by the state security
agency, SIPA, for many months. Nothing yet has come of that
investigation; Dodik does not completely control SIPA, but he has his
own men in that agency.
People are not out in the street in Banja Luka protesting Dodik’s
malversations. While I was there, there was a massive gathering of young
people to celebrate their graduation from high school. The graduating
girls were decked out like parade-float princesses in satin and heels,
looking as glamorous and glitzy as Las Vegas. Their boys wore tuxedoes.
They filed down the main pedestrian walkway, with hundreds of admirers
and family standing on each side enjoying the procession. A couple of
Rom brass bands from Serbia -- which you never see in the Federation --
followed them, in and out of the line, playing “Erdelezi” [the theme
song from Kusturica’s film “Time of the Gypsies”] over and over again.
The baritone player kept gesturing to people to stuff money in the bell
of his horn, without much success.
Kids are out by the hundreds in the kafanas, play-station joints, and on
the street. That’s the “normal.” Regardless of their apathy or political
delusion, as the case may be, or who their heroes are, you want them to
enjoy this time of their lives. Later, it is going to be hard.
Clarity and confusion come in varying mixes in Banja Luka, as elsewhere.
One young activist with good ideas about what to do in Banja Luka was
asking me what happened in Sarajevo during the war. He asserted
that “there are more returnees to Banja Luka than to Sarajevo.” That’s
probably an exaggeration; the statement revealed lack of awareness of
the Serb authorities’ fierce and ongoing obstruction of the return of
displaced Serbs to the Federation. (Yes, obstruction of return of their
own people. This was a corollary of the ethnic cleansing project, after
I moved on to Doboj, where I
slept one night on the floor of a vacant room upstairs in the synagogue,
constructed in 2003 -- the only synagogue built in Bosnia-Herzegovina
after the war.
I had visited Doboj only once before, in early 1999. Then a local
activist for refugee return, Aleksandar Sakota, showed me around. He was
a decent man who wished for his old Bosniak friends to return. One day
he took me up the hill to the ancient fortress to view the town and
surroundings. From there, he told me, “Over there is where I was on the
front line.” It was with some dissonance that I learned he had fought in
the Serb army. I asked, “Isn’t it paradoxical that now you’re working to
bring back those people whom you fought against?” He said, “No, we
understand each other well. It’s the people who stayed down in the town
and tormented the Muslims, they’re the ones who don’t want them to come
Fortress at Doboj
Those tormentors are still in power in Doboj.
I made acquaintance with a local man, “Vilko,” who showed me around
town. As we were sharing coffee, Vilko told me, “There is much support
for Milorad Dodik; he is a strong leader. The RS is better-organized
than the Federation. Dodik will win the election [upcoming, this fall].
He helps the various ethnic communities, the Catholics…the Ferhadija
mosque in Banja Luka is being rebuilt; the synagogue has been built. He
arranged the sale of large companies and built the government building.
Yes it was expensive, but… [in this way, sidestepping the issue of the
the scandal]. Dodik supports the Razvojna Investiciona Banka [evading
the fact that this “development bank” exists primarily to “develop”
Dodik’s and his cronies’ bank accounts]”
Vilko continued, “If the Muslims and the international community achieve
what they want in the strengthening of Bosnia’s central government, then
the RS will be nothing but an NGO.”
It was a bit difficult for me to maintain a flat affect in the face of
these assertions, and I don’t know if I succeeded, but it was important
to me to hear Vilko’s attitudes. I asked Vilko what he thought about the
ongoing controversy regarding the arrangement of a nationwide census in
2011. The Serbs and Croats want there to be an ethnic designation in the
census, and the Bosniak leaders are mostly opposed to this. Their
reasoning is that when it is shown that the population of the RS is
shown to be overwhelmingly Serb, this fact on the ground will be
manipulated to favor increased separation of powers for the entities.
Vilko said, “The Bosniaks don’t want there to be a census with ethnic
designation, since it would show that “Sarajevo is 90% Bosniak, Tuzla is
100% Bosniak.” Tuzla is, in fact, the least ethnically-cleansed
municipality in Bosnia, but either Vilko does not know this, or it
doesn’t fit with his ideology.
I’m afraid many people in the RS -- especially those who gain advantage
from being “politically appropriate” -- hold similar opinions.
Vilko told me that my old friend Aleksandar Sakota had passed away.
Vilko did me a favor by setting up a meeting for me with Momir Dejanovic,
local activist and leader of the
Center for Human Politics.
This NGO implements several projects nationwide; one compares promises
that candidates have made with their implementation after election. This
type of project is always certain to reveal what people already know
about their leaders -- that they lie.
Dejanovic’s evaluation of the general political situation in Bosnia is
that ethnic division has happened and that it is a reality, and that the
principal problem today is corruption. He says, “We are struggling
against corruption. This is the basic problem in Bosnia-Herzegovina, not
the existence of entities and national division. We have sent reports
about corrupt practices to prosecutors here in Doboj and in Banja Luka,
calling for prosecution, but without much success.
“There are companies that owe millions in taxes, and they have paid
nothing. We could construct the entire [freeway] corridor “Vc” with the
funds that are embezzled. The Federal prosecution has initiated
preliminary investigation. Recently one of the bigger debtors, Kekerovic,
who owed 7-8 million Euros, was arrested.
“We have filed complaints regarding conflict of interest, with no
results. In the RS, punishments are mild. There should be more
transparent proceedings, with stricter sanctions. Usually, transgressors
only get something like a ‘warning,’ if they get any punishment at all.
“We filed a complaint about corruption against our mayor. He was a
police chief during the war. He must have been involved in war crimes.
In Doboj several dozen Bosniaks and Croats were killed, hundreds
mistreated, and several thousand robbed and expelled. Almost all the
Muslim and Catholic houses of worship were destroyed. No one from the
leading political infrastructure has answered for that.
“We want to encourage other people in other municipalities to take
similar action. But few people will involve themselves in this kind of
work, because it is risky.”
I commented that there seems to be an unending list of criminal charges
that are filed, and eventually dropped, due to “lack of evidence.” That
list includes a remarkable number of the highest political leaders in
all three ethnicities over the last 15 years.
Dejanovic replied, “The parties and many individuals are seriously
corrupt. There was a reform of the court system carried out on the state
level in 2002, but it was not successful. Laws were changed, but the
reform came up lacking. Our research has shown that 80% of prosecutors
are re-elected. They are people who won’t live up to their
responsibilities; they aren’t prepared to bring the court system to an
equal level with the other two branches of government. And the police
are not de-politicized. They are not independent; they are under strong
political pressure. We need to strengthen their investigative capacity.
“All this goes very slowly; we aren’t strong enough. We have not had
good experience with our research; from one hundred complaints filed,
only one resulted in a mild sanction, that is, a warning. And the
prosecutors process fewer than five percent of complaints.”
Dejanovic provided more specifics on corruption in Doboj and the RS,
detailing political padding of the staffs of public institutions: “Two
or three years ago the OSCE tried to press reform, but they failed.
There were 160 employees in the local administration then, and now there
are 250. One can become a municipal employee if he is a member of the
right party or has personal connections. …The RS railway system has
3,500 employees; there should only be 2,000. I believe that by next year
there will be 4,000.
“The local administration is totally unreformed. The mayor comes to the
municipal building once every ten days. He has seventeen advisors --
maybe more than Obama [I ventured that Obama has sixteen].”
This is a picture of the system that the tormentors of Doboj -- not the
ordinary people -- fought for.
View of Doboj from the fortress
It rained a week in Tuzla, into
the month of June. Soon though, I’m sure we’ll be complaining about the
My friend “Amira” told me that a neighbor of hers jumped from her
balcony and killed herself. She had co-signed on a loan, and when the
borrower defaulted the bank came to Amira’s neighbor and demanded 30,000
KM. That woman was only receiving a pension of around 300 KM per month.
[ 1 KM currently equals about $0.65]
The atmosphere in Tuzla is, as before, saner and more pleasant than
anywhere else in Bosnia. Tuzla has remained relatively multi-ethnic,
although many Serbs who left on the eve of the war, or during the war,
never came back. The local government has remained in the hands of the
anti-nationalist SDP [Social-Democrats] since before the war, and you
don’t feel the insistent Bosniak dominance that prevails in Sarajevo.
Meanwhile, development of tourism and infrastructure improvement proceed
apace here. The smelly old swamp was turned into a park with a
salt-water lake some years ago; now there are two lakes and a waterfall
-- of salt water [!].
But not everyone is happy in Tuzla.
I visited the office of Zene Srebrenice [Women of Srebrenica],
the widows organization run by Nura Begovic and Hajra Catic. They showed
me dozens of snapshots that people had given them of their lost loved
ones. Holding snapshots in my hand, looking at aged photos of ordinary
people who were killed, I felt at least a piece of the impact of the
atrocity that was committed.
The organization is participating in the promotion of an interesting
project, the stub srama, or column of shame [check out stub srama
on the Internet]. It is to be a monument in the form of the letters
“UN”, about 12m wide and 8m tall. Some international organizations are
helping with the financing. It is to be erected on private land, so
there may be a chance of success for the project.
Meanwhile, local authorities have erected a large cross near the
memorial cemetery at Potocari.
To date, over 3,700 identified remains exhumed from mass graves have
been reburied at Potocari, and another 800 to 1,000 are expected to be
reburied during the annual commemorative ceremony this July 11th.
The women tell me that this amounts to fewer than half of the total
victims; they are convinced that something like 10,000 were killed, well
over the usually-quoted number of 8,000+.
Hajra Catic with photo display of victims of Srebrenica massacre
Although things are in most ways
better in Tuzla, the young people, perhaps because they have fewer
worries than elsewhere [and more freedom of expression] have plenty to
complain about. They are active regarding national issues, but they are
also very concerned about local problems including lack of services for
young people -- and, apparently, worsening corruption on the local
I met with Gordan Isabegovic and Damir Dajanovic, two very bright young
men who are leaders in the local youth NGO, “Revolt.” This group, in
existence for about five years, organizes protests against tuition
hikes, crime, environmental destruction, and some local issues.
Nationally, Revolt collaborates with other local organizations rather
than forming branches of its own group.
Gordan says, “We are not connected with political parties, even though
people assume that. That is a manifestation of the typical
conspiratorialist thinking. It is difficult to attract people to action,
because of the high level of apathy. Volunteerism is weak, when people
see no financial benefit from the work. People will only come out and
demonstrate for concrete reasons, such as the murder [of young Denis
Mrnjavac on a Sarajevo streetcar a few years ago]. We have relative
success, since we have good ideas. We have local influence, not
national, especially in the RS. There, there is a media blackout. We
have about 30 active people, and we expect about 50 to be involved in
“We have four goals in our campaign: 1. To expose the mistakes of the
government in relation to their promises. 2. To emphasize the importance
of issue-based voting as opposed to ethnic-based voting: health care,
social assistance, education, and corruption are real issues. 3. To
motivate people to vote. 4. To be in contact with politicians to
pressure them to increase social expenditure. …On health care, we have
caught politicians during a debate and pressured them to make promises
to fight corruption. These are the things that constitute our strategy.”
Revolt has been active regarding a currently burning issue for the youth
in Tuzla. They have a traditional hang-out center by the theater near
the river Jala: “The police were starting to bother people at the
gathering place by the theater. We reacted; now it looks like it will be
ok to stay there. We sent out a press release calling on the authorities
to leave that place alone.”
I asked Gordan and Damir what they expected to be the result of the fall
“The upcoming elections are probably the most important ones since the
independence of Bosnia. For the last four years, the government has done
nothing to bring us closer to the EU. The economy has never been worse.
Political tensions are also worse than they ever have been. If we don’t
make a change in these elections, pardon my language, but we will be in
deep shit. We can’t afford four more years, or people will completely
“SDP [the Social Democrats] has lost real progressive power, it became
the progressive party of the Bosniaks. They are nothing in the RS. Now
there is Nasa Stranka and the NSP [Krsmanovic], but they have few votes.
The SDP plays a good role in Tuzla, that’s why Nasa Stranka is not
strong here. They avoided running a mayoral candidate in the last
“There could be changes in this Canton and in the Federation, probably
not in the RS. Our goal is to expose the mistakes that the government
has made in the Canton and the Federation, and on the national level. It
is hard to affect what happens in the RS, since all the media are
controlled, except for one newspaper [probably Stav, of Slobodan
Vaskovic] and one television station. Our strategy is to change things
in the Federation now, and then work for change in the RS in 2014.
Change that happens here could affect what happens in the RS.
“In the Federation there is the new party, the SBB [Stranka za Bolju
Buducnost - Party for a Better Future, led by Fahrudin Radoncic, the
notoriously corrupt publisher of the Sarajevo daily Avaz], which will
attract dissatisfied voters. But the SBB has a concealed nationalism.
Radoncic is like Dodik. In 2006, voters wanted to change things, and
they elected Silajdzic. Now those people will vote for the SBB. We hope
that not too many people will vote for them.”
“I want to stress that the officials of the international community are
not innocent in all this. They speak as if they expect change, but they
mainly support the members of the government, which works against the
interests of the citizens; they never punish the politicians. They are
responsible for what is going on here, because they created the Dayton
constitutional system. It is a great hypocrisy!...if you had a
population of Swedes, or anyone from any other well-organized society,
living under the present Bosnian system, even they would not be able to
solve our problems, because there are too many possibilities to obstruct
good governance. I don’t mean to exonerate the Bosnian politicians, but
the international community collaborates, morally and legally, with
Q: What about William Hague [the new British foreign minister? He seems
interested in Bosnia -- at least he knows where it is on the map.
“I don’t think anyone there is really interested in Bosnia and the
Balkans in general. I see the EU ultimately as being interested in
Bosnia as a source of cheap labor.
“It is ironic that some people in the the international community are
using ‘terrorism from Bosnia’ as a boogeyman, when the population of all
Bosnia is smaller than any big city in Europe, and many of those cities
have far more potentially real terrorists than there may be in Bosnia.
In one municipality in Berlin or London there are probably more
extremists than in Bosnia; here, it is maybe one percent of the people.
“Neither Damir nor I are Muslim, but the Muslims here are the most
progressive in the world; they are highly tolerant, more than those in
Europe. The Wahabbis [Muslim extremists] do not have support here among
ordinary people. Muslims here want to preserve their own identity. There
have been confrontations when the Wahabbis have tried to take over local
mosques, for example, even shooting.
Q: It seems to me that the incident during the Queer Festival in 2008
had a big impact, and really frightened people.
“That was about 100 Wahabbis, 100 idiots. They violate the traditions of
ordinary people; they are not part of our tradition. Also, Bosnia is
still a homophobic society. It was a big problem, too, that the festival
was scheduled during Ramadan. Otherwise, it probably would have passed
without incident. [I disagreed with this, saying that Ramadan was just
an excuse.] I am sure that the Queer Festival could have happened in
Tuzla, or some other city, without a problem, even during Ramadan,
because it would have been supported by us and other people.”
Town square, Tuzla
Another day, I met with Danijel
Senkic, leader of the organization Front, and with Suzana Hrustic,
president of Mladi anti-fasisti [Young anti-fascists]. Both
groups work against nationalism and corruption. One initiative they
collaborated on was the recent proposal to outlaw fascist organizations
such as the Ravnogorski Cetnicki Pokret [Ravnogora Chetnik
Movement, political heir to the WWII wartime Serb nationalist and
monarchist leader General Draza Mihajlovic -- one of his contemporary
adherents, among others, is Vojislav Seselj, now on trial at The Hague].
Activists collected 60,000 signatures in a support for the proposal The
measure was, however, defeated not long ago at the state level when
Dodik’s party, the SNSD, voted against it.
Danijel and Suzana say, “These days, anti-fascism is associated with
Communism. We must separate the two concepts. Anti-fascism is not a
political program. The SDP likes to have a monopoly on anti-fascism.”
The two organizations are quite displeased with the SDP, both nationally
and locally. They are, apparently, much more ready to confront local
corruption than is Revolt. They have nothing good to say about the mayor
of Tuzla, Jasmin Imamovic, and apparently the feeling is mutual.
Danijel: “We criticized Imamovic because of the attempt to remove the
youth gathering place. I spoke on RTV-TK, in an informative program.
Then someone from the SDP threatened the program director. Some members
of SDP have arrogantly called us liars, even though councilors from the
SDP supported our initiative. Recently, the municipal council decided to
support keeping the area as a youth gathering place, on May 27th.
There is a plan to build a stage there.”
Suzana: “We express what is on our minds. The gathering place for
youth has been there for 25 years. Much love started there, many
marriages. But the city does not have a feeling for that place.”
Danijel: “At the big Tuzla waltz [May 7th, to break the
Guinness record], Imamovic gave a talk, and young people whistled at him
because he had previously reacted poorly to a letter from the Front,
calling for more services for young people. He had said that this was
not a priority for Tuzla, that tourism and building a pool were
“Now they have built a new building on Solni Trg [“salt square”],
in a place where there was supposed to be a stage. They say that that
building is intended to become a museum of innovation, but we have found
out that there will be a gambling place there! A party colleague of
Imamovic’s from Srebrenik was given the contract to build the building.
He tendered the highest bid, but Imamovic’s excuse was that he said he
would build it the fastest.”
The building is not complete, but in its present form it quite ruins the
quaint atmosphere of the square. Later I talked to a friend of mine, a
local professor, who said, “I don’t know about all those allegations,
but what about that ‘secret’ bank account Jasmin has in Italy, where the
contractor deposited 100,000 KM?” I asked Amira about this, and she
said, “Everyone knows about that. Jasmin Imamovic has entered into the
category of serious criminality.”
Danijel continued, “The SDP here is ok, actually, but Imamovic is the
problem. For the last year and a half, he has refused to meet with non-SDP
municipal councilors. Originally, I voted for him. He had a good start.
Now, maybe because he’s in his last term, he is trying to seek some
Q: What are your expectations for the elections?
“Our people are strange. I spoke on television; maybe I exaggerated when
I answered a similar question. I said that our people are masochist and
the government is sadist. We persistently vote for them, and they
persistently rule in the same way. This is the only possible conclusion.
We live in the ‘stupid Balkans.’ We have to wait for change. The young
people think differently.”
We brought up the issue of Muslim extremism in Bosnia, and touched on
the notorious incident of the fall of 2008 [click
here], when Wahabbi
activists attacked and shut down the Queer Festival.
Danijel: “During the Queer Festival many NGOs reacted against
homosexuals. However, we criticized the reis [chief Bosnian Imam Mustafa
ef. Ceric]. I was speaking on the radio, and the speaker asked me, ‘What
is the problem with homosexuals?’ I answered, ‘Their problem is that
they can’t choose their sexual orientation, they are born with it. Then,
they are born in a patriarchal country, so they have to escape from
their families and sometimes even their friends. Sometimes they even
escape into the ranks of the Wahabbis.’ I then heard a ‘beep-beep-beep’
Flowers laid at memorial to 71 youth killed in bombing in the center of