After the terrorist attack in the Bosnian city of Zvornik on 28th of April, government of Bosnian Serb entity Republic of Srpska (RS) began arresting an increasing amount of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslim) citizens.
Attack on Zvornik police station
In an attack on Zvornik police station, by what seems to be a radical Islamist, one officer was killed and two other’s wounded. Later it was revealed that the deceased officer Dragan Đurić and wounded Željko Gajić are on the list of participants in Srebrenica genocide. It has been unofficially confirmed that job of Đurić during the genocide was to “secure and police” the area. Other wounded police officer Stevo Milovanović is not on the list.
The list of participants of Srebrenica genocide contains more than 800 names of public employees that are suspected to have participated in the massive crime. The list is made by Srebrenica commission, formed by government of RS in early 2000’s after intense international pressure.
War crime victims, especially women that have resettled after the war, often point out that it is not a rare case when they see their rapist or a torturer in uniform of RS police.
After the attack Sanel Menzil, from the town of Kotor Varoš, was arrested because of his Facebook status. He wrote that he does not condone the terrorist attack, but criticized the decision to have a country wide day of mourning for the killed police officer while government of RS refuses to acknowledge Srebrenica genocide and have a mourning day on the anniversary of that crime. He did say that late Đurić killed father of the attacked Nerdin Ibrić during the Bosnian war, which is a false claim that circulated social media after the attack, but pointed out that he would have the same opinion if the case was reversed.
Arrest was made legally due to the National Assembly of RS’s recently passed Law of public security and order, which defined social networks as “public space”. The Law is ambiguous and does not specify what exactly is an “offence” or a “crime” on social networks, therefore, it is left to the government to interpret that part as they wish.
That was underlined especially when a guitar player Adis Kušmić, from city of Banja Luka, was arrested after he posted a Facebook status criticizing the President of RS Milorad Dodik.
“Someone should say to ‘dear’ Dodik and others like him that there are so many of us Bosnians on Facebook, that they can’t arrest us all”, are the words Kušmić was arrested for, reason for the arrest was – “suspected terrorist activity”.
He was arrested on 6th of May, with another 30 Bosniaks in RS for the same excuse, and to this day reason for the arrests remain unclear. Until today, not a single person arrested has been charged for terrorist activity as the court has ruled that there is not enough evidence for such a charge. Only six of the arrested will face charges but for illegal possession of weapons and only two still remain in prison.
Lawyer Jasmin Mutarović, in a conversation for klix.ba, pointed out that the only “connection” between the arrested with terrorism were accusations by the prosecutor which stated that “they are connected by ideological and religious motive to reach certain goals by means of terrorism”.
For more simple understanding – all of the arrested are Muslims.
To make maters more dubious, one of the arrested is Ramo Kadrić, a resettled refugee from Srebrenica who has restored the old Orthodox monument a year ago – certainly, not something a radical Muslim would do.
Most of the arrested had owned guns with proper license and some of the other had “a propaganda material” in form of CDs and books. Among the evidences for “terrorism” is a famous movie about Islamic prophet Mohammad “The Message”.
This is the same police and the same legal system that raided news portal klix.ba in December because they published a wire tapped conversation between prime minister of RS Željka Cvijanović in which she talks about buying electoral support – clearly breaking the law. However, no legal action has been taken against her.
Arrested for carrying flags of Republic of Bosnia and current Bosnian flag
These cases are not the only where government and police of RS tries to intimidate resettled refugees.
On the 2nd of May four young man from northern town of Bosanska Gradiška have been arrested for “promoting national hatred”. Their “crime” was carrying flag of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Police said that they carried a “war flag” of Bosnian Army which “offends Serbs”, however, it was later shown that they carried a flag of Republic of BiH and a current flag of BiH.
“I have a lot of friends of other nationalities and religions, I even have one Jewish friend which I’m very proud of since it is very hard to meet a Jew here, as there are not many of them in Bosnia”, said one of the arrested men for Face TV.
At the same time, RS police ignores fascist Chetnik groups in their area that follow and ideology which caused hundreds of thousands of dead and was the main ideology behind atrocities committed by Yugoslav and latter Bosnian Serb army during the Bosnian war.
Recently a group of high school graduates in Vlasenica carried a Chetnik flag during their graduation parade. During war around 2600 Bosniaks have been killed by Chetniks in Vlasenica.
It is important to note that there is no law in Bosnia that would forbid carrying any flag of any kind and that these arrests are made just by what police interprets as “hate speech”. In this case, hate speech was even carrying recognized flag of Bosnia, as well carrying a flag under which Bosnia was admitted to United Nations.
While citizens of Bosniak nationality that live in the RS are a target for their Facebook posts of “hate speech”, police choose to ignore hate speech of Chetniks. In many Facebook pages of those movements and posts of their members hate speech is impossible to miss, even calls are made for extermination of all non-Serbs from the area of, what would be, Great Serbia.
Activists and resettled refugees in RS have pointed out that recent arrests have one purpose only – implanting fear in Bosniaks that have returned to their homes.
Rehabilitation of a Fascist and a Nazi WWII collaborator in Serbia
These events come as court in neighboring Serbia decided to rehabilitate Nazi Collaborator and Chetnik leader from World War II Draža Mihajlović.
Mihajlović was executed by communist authorities in 1946 for his crimes of collaborating with the enemy and is responsible for thousands of butchered non-Serbs during that time. His goal, as portrayed by his own words, was creation of Great Serbia, “clean” of all non-Serbs.
Rehabilitation of Mijalović means that the court decided that he did not have a “fair trial”.
This decision was met with strong opposition in Bosnia, Croatia and some in Serbia.
“This is not only a rehabilitation of Draža Mihajlović, but of all Chetnik movement that killed Croats, Bosnians and even anti-fascist Serbs. Those who glorify him today should know these facts. He was a notorious war criminal who is a quisling and whose army spilled a sea of blood in the service of occupying forces”, said former Croatian president and the last president of unified Yugoslavia Stjepan Mesić in an interview for N1.
“We are witnessing an attempt to revise history and relativization of victory and defeat, crimes and punishments. Serbia, as a victim of such attempts has a responsibility to fight revising history and relativizating historical facts”, said Serbian Minister of foreign affairs Ivica Dačić.
“This is the same case as rehabilitating Hitler, Mussolini or Pavelić (Ustasha leader responsible for thousands of killed Serbs). For us, Mihajlovic remains a criminal. He was a fascist”, said Croatian Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic.
Facts are that, not only did forces of Draža Mihajlović collaborate with Nazis, but in some instances fought side by side with Ustashas that, at the same time, killed thousands of Serbs, Roma, Jews, Bosnians, anti-fascist Croats and others in camps like Jasenovac.
Just before court decision, protests were held in front of the court. On one side, Serbian ANTIFA protested the decision and on another Chetnik groups celebrated it.
Another law to suppress freedom of speech in preparation
National Assembly of RS is preparing to adopt a new law concerning NGO that have foreign founding. With this proposed law, NGO’s are forbidden to do any political activity or campaign. With the tested formula, definition of “political activity or campaign” is vague, leaving it to the Department of justice to make decision of what would be considered breaking the law – just as in the case of the Public security law. Therefore, if this law would be passed, it would allow government to freely and legally impose heavy fines on NGOs that they deem unwanted.