Attacks against outspoken activists in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Za RTRS Edvin Kanka Cudic o napadu na.aktiviste UDIK-a u Sarajevu pic.twitter.com/EOjasEcvk0— UDIK (@NGOUDIK) February 18, 2017
On 14th February, members of the civic group, the Association for Social Research and Communication (UDIK), were verbally and physically attacked by unknown assailants near the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. UDIK coordinator, Edvin Kanka Ćudić, and two other members of the organisation believe they were singled out because of their affiliation with UDIK. The attack is thought to have been motivated by UDIK members' participation in a solidarity protest over the recent attack on an LGBTI nightclub in Zagreb, Croatia. The demonstration, which took place outside the Croatian embassy in Sarajevo, served to draw more attention to the alarming rise in homophobic and trans-phobic sentiment across the region. In a recent statement, the Coalition for the fight against hate speech and hate crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina commented on the attack:
'The Coalition for the fight against hate speech and hate crimes strongly condemns the homophobic attack on UDIK activists, and warns that the practice of not processing the attacks on LGBTI persons, activists that we witness since 2008 until this day, is a shame for the BiH institutions, and should be stopped.'
The Coalition and UDIK have called upon authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation of the attack.
On 7th February, the Alliance for the Coordination of Bosniak NGOs condemned the recent animosity directed towards Islamic religious leaders in Republika Srpska. The Alliance denounced the hate speech by pro-Serbian media as an assault on freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
Derogatory language and ethnic slurs towards journalists remains a major issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 27th January, the Managing Director of University of Sarajevo Clinical Centre, Dr. Sebija Izetbegovic, mocked a broadcaster’s accent before calling another journalist insane at a press conference. In a brazen display of contempt, by Dr. Izetbegovic ridiculed a journalist reporting for Al Jazeera.
On 18th January, 'N1 TV' crew publicly announced that the loss of their accreditation to enter the Palace Of Republika Sprska. The station, an official partner of American broadcaster CNN, was also barred from entering a conference and removed from official media mailing lists. The ban comes a month after the President of Republika Sprska, Milorad Dodik, referred to the the broadcaster as the “enemy’s TV station.”
A number of protests have taken place recently in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with no reports of violence. Some examples of recent demonstrations include:
- Zenica Steel Plant workers protested to demand insurance coverage during the plant's liquidation;
- Employees of failed businesses in Tuzla protested against changes to the Law on Bankruptcy;
- Businessmen from Teslic protested against frequent and unnecessary municipal inspections;
- Women in Srebrenica protested to draw attention to the many still missing after the Srebrenica genocide;
- Bosnia and Herzegovina Radio and Television employees protested over the worsening financial situation in their media outlet;
- Employees of one hospital in Sarajevo protested against the hospital board's sale of state property;
- Ivanica citizens blocked the BiH – Montenegro border crossing as a sign of protest over the loss of electricity and water for seven days;
- Members of the LGBTI community protested in solidarity with the community in Zagreb;
- Parents of children with disabilities protested against cuts to welfare benefits for their children;
- Family of Dženana Memic protested to demand that the authorities conduct a proper investigation into his mysterious death;
- Students protested in front of Sarajevo Cantonal Court as the suspect in a double murder of two college students entered the Court.