Bosnian Serbs celebrate outlawed holiday

Published January 10, 2022
BANJA LUKA (Bosnia): Bosnian Serbs hold Serbian and Republika Srpska flags during a parade to mark their autonomous republic’s national holiday on Sunday.—Reuters
BANJA LUKA (Bosnia): Bosnian Serbs hold Serbian and Republika Srpska flags during a parade to mark their autonomous republic’s national holiday on Sunday.—Reuters

BANJA LUKA: Amid Bosnia’s greatest political crisis since the end of its 1992-95 inter-ethnic war, the country’s Serbs celebrated an outlawed holiday on Sunday with a provocative parade showcasing armoured vehicles, police helicopters and law enforcement officers with rifles, marching in lockstep and singing a nationalist song.

Addressing several thousand spectators gathered in Banja Luka, the de-facto capital of the Serb-run part of the country, Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik disparaged sanctions Washington slapped on him last week over his alleged corrupt activities and threats to tear the country apart.

This gathering is the best response to those who deny us our rights, who keep imposing sanctions on us, Dodik said.

It proves to me that I must listen to you, that you did not elect me to fulfil Americans wishes but to fulfil the wishes of Serb people, he added.

The Jan 9 holiday commemorates the date in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared the creation of their own state in Bosnia, igniting the multi-ethnic country’s devastating, nearly 4-year-long war that became a byname for ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The holiday was banned in 2015 by Bosnia’s top court which ruled that the date, which falls on a Serb Christian Orthodox religious holiday, discriminates against the country’s other ethnic groups Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats.

During the war that killed 100,000 people and turned half of the country’s population into refugees, Bosniaks and Croats were persecuted and almost completely expelled from the now Serb-administered half of Bosnia.

After the war, under the terms of the US-brokered Dayton peace agreement, Bosnia was divided into two semi-autonomous governing entities Republika Srpska and one dominated by Bosniaks and Croats.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2022

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