Amna Popovac: Let’s Tear Them Down

Two and a half decades after the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, people living here feel like they are surviving the 1990s again. They have the feeling that they are again in imminent danger of war, they are thinking about where to send their children to safety. I share the same feeling. I don’t mind watching the parade in Banja Luka and listening to songs to raise the morale of the army.

But then I look around and see a lot of differences between circumstances back then and now. Feeling tells me one thing and reason another.

I don’t see anywhere rattling of weapons, I mean the real ones, necessary for war. I remember the 1990s when we watched entire garrisons and tanks in motion and told ourselves that these were just ‘military exercises’. We all know what those exercises turned into.

As far as I remember from history lessons, no one has ever won a war without well-organized logistics and heavy weapons. Maybe there are some battles, but not war.

How Does Democracy Work?

What proves to me the most that this is not a rerun of the 1990s is the real concern for each other, all of us who now live in BiH and plan to grow old here. No matter what nation or interest group my relatives and friends belong to, we all agree that no one will fight for the benefit of the ethno-mafia. However, the majority realized that they have been keeping us in controlled chaos and the illusion of democracy for decades, all with the goal of eternal rule over their fief, that is Cash flows within them.

And when I look across the border, east and west, I even get hope for a better tomorrow. To the east and west of us, there are different methods of expressing civil revolt.

You probably know that new political winds have blown in Croatia. Some new, young and progressive forces, which look at the long-term well-being of society, are on the political scene. They won a couple of major cities in the last elections and continue to do so, building a modern Croatian society. I’ve known some of them for years, and I’ve shared college desks with some of them. And I can tell you, it is no coincidence that they now have the opportunity to run big cities and create laws and policies in the Republic of Croatia. None of them succeeded overnight. Behind them are years of working in the field, with people.

In Serbia, environmental associations take more and more people to the streets every weekend. The formal reason is the dirty agreement of the government to allow a foreign company the dirtiest and most destructive way of mining lithium. The real reasons are much deeper, and that is the years-long destruction of society and the use of the state apparatus to enrich the eligible. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?!

In Serbia, a significant number of people take to the streets, thanks to the long-term work of activists and getting to know the citizens, which is why they should get involved.

Every time I see how many people in Serbia come out to protest, I wonder what is wrong with us. Why aren’t more people protesting? It’s not that we don’t have reasons, we have them every day for more protests a day, but there is no way for a slightly larger number of people to gather on the streets.

What is interesting and good is that even when 15–20 people gather on the street, most of the media report it. In BiH, the media are much more open and accommodating, following and objectively informing about the protests, unlike in Serbia. Sometimes it seems to me that these 20 of us get more media support than the thousands more in Serbia. What’s the catch then?!

It seems that it is not yet clear to us how democracy works. No one will give us an organized society or introduce a ‘rule of law’ from Monday. Freedom must be fought for. But not with rifles this time. There is no need for that. Information is the weapon of the 21st century.

Certain processes in BiH have already begun and will be difficult to stop. Despite the small number of people who go out to protest in BiH, a large number follow them through the media and social networks. The diaspora, which so far has been mostly passive or used as a financier to its poor relatives in BiH, has become active, aware of its power and influence. What is unthinkable for most here, to raise their voice and say their demands clearly and loudly, is normal for the diaspora? And there are enough brave people in BiH, who know what is wrong and how it should be, but their voice cannot reach the world’s centres of power.

Our society is quite mature. However, we still need time for people to find out about the idea, accept it and get started. The goal cannot be achieved quickly. And the goal is a just society, in which everyone will have the opportunity for personal growth and development, regardless of belonging to a certain nation or political party.

Every protest in the Balkans is ‘let’s tear it down!’ like the ones in 2014 in our country when buildings were set on fire. But we no longer have anything to tear down in such a broken society. We need builders, not destroyers!

Our Human Rights

That is why, in my opinion, these protests in BiH, which are being held in front of various institutions, are an important turning point in the way we fight for our/human rights. They insist on dialogue, each time they submit a list of requests to the institution in front of which they are protesting and agree on the dynamics of the solution. And here comes the information lesson again as a 21st-century weapon. The people are taught that government is made up of people they have chosen, and the government is taught to send answers to its people.

In relation to the government, a conversation is now required, a change of government, not demolition.

It will take some more time for the people to fully understand their strength, but that will also come. There is no quick fix. There are two paths to the goal, violent and non-violent. The latter is better and more sustainable.

In Serbia, large numbers of people are protesting, because they have a precisely defined goal. We still do not have that in BiH, as well as the leaders who will lead to the goal. But it will come to that. The young forces have matured and are ready to take on their role in society. Are we ready to support them?!

Prethodna vijest

Amna Popovac: Hajmo ih rušit’

Naredna vijest

Otcjepljenje: Dodik je već otišao predaleko, neovisnost RS je moguća!