A Primer on the “Bosnian Spring”

Above: “We are hungry in three languages.” The speed at which events are unfolding in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) virtually defies belief. Nevertheless, a tremendous collection of analysis and insight has already begun to emerge from both the foreign press and, still more importantly, local activists, journalists and academics. My own op-ed on Al Jazeera’s website, It’s Spring at last in Bosnia-Herzegovina, hones in on the question of democratic participation and the reactionary logic(s) of the existing constitutional order in BiH. I argue that:

The fury on display in the streets of BiH over the past few days was an ugly sight. But what is still more hideous has been the past twenty years of corruption, thieving and manipulating on the part of the entirety of the BiH political establishment. Already, they have attempted to deny any personal responsibility and to offer duplicitous temporary solutions. It is much too late for them. For the people of BiH, however, this is merely the beginning. Tumultuous days are no doubt ahead, but as long as the citizens of this little land do not forget the fear they inspired in their rulers tonight and continue to press their demands, together, they may yet usher in a truly democratic Spring.

Eric Gordy’s text also intervenes pointedly into the debate about exactly how to characterize these events in BiH. Importantly, Gordy notes that the driving motivation behind these uprisings is socio-economic rather than ethno-national and that there is genuine energy for change contained within these facts:

This is not, at least in its gentler daytime incarnations, one of those protest movements that shouts a lot and has no orientation. Well, the part of it that has been setting stuff on fire may be, but there are meaningful parts of it that have been engaged in a different kind of articulation. The six demands from the Tuzla workers, include investigation of illegitimately obtained public property, elimination of special privileges for the political class, and formation of a new government that excludes participants in the existing one (which has since resigned). The eleven original demands of the Tuzla protesters, published by the group “Jer mi se tiče,” include social welfare and the right to work. There are a few other documents with lists of demands out there, and there will a be few more over the next few days, but they have some themes in common. They want an end to the self-serving of the political class, they want to be able to work, and they want social rights improved across the board. None of them are basing any claims on nationality, religion, or any of the other divisions that characterise BH in the stubborn international stereotype of it.

Florian Bieber also provides for a review of what has been published in English language blogs and the press, citing both Gordy and myself among others, and argues that as it pertains to the international community, re-engagement in BiH will require taking seriously the democratic demands that have already begun to be coherently articulated:

Finally, international actors will need to tread carefully as well. Sometimes, silence is golden and if any message should be clear, the strategy of talking to six party leaders and thinking that this is the way to change Bosnia for the better has failed and should be over. Before designing a new grand strategy for Bosnia, it would be better to ensure that citizens get a better say in how the country is governed, a new strategy–certainly needed–should come then.

On this point, I must also sildenafil citrate 100mg acknowledge the tremendous work being done by my colleagues at the BH Protest Files project. The point here has been to translate as quickly as we’ve been able to, the actual declarations of the citizens, workers and students of BiH, as well as the analysis being produced by local academics and observers. Among these texts Larisa Kurtović’s powerful call for democratic, citizen-led transformation must be singled out:

What has to change is the basic relationship between the powerholders and the citizens who pay their absurdly high salaries for very little meaningful work, the citizens who are the source of the tax revenues from which the state lives, and who with their work created the factories and firms the sale of which the governing parasites have used to build their private villas and buy their luxury Audis. Those are the same parasites who have brought citizens to the end of their patience, and sometimes to the edge of existence. The children of this arrogant, self-satisfied oligarchy do indeed have “much to lose” – but they do not have more right to life, to a future, to security, to ambitions and dreams than have the children of workers in Tuzla or than the young “delinquents” who set fire to the building of the cantonal government and other objects on Friday, the 7th of February. In the name of those sacrificed children – because of whom the citizens of this country protested sildenafil 25 mg price in 2008, 2013 and 2014, children who this octopus-state has betrayed by destroying the firms where their parents worked, the entire system buy sildenafil online ireland of social protection, health care, public education, and even the pathetic means for issuing identity documents – citizens must continue to come out to the streets and by considered methods demand a different, better future than the one that is cynically smiling at them from the abyss into which they have been staring for the past 22 years. The floodgates are open – forward!

Tremendous change is coming to BiH, that much is clear. We are seeing the emergence of an incredible network of citizens, scholars and policy makers who have activated themselves and are creating, as we speak, the opportunities for a genuine democratic transformation in this country. BiH’s international interlocutors can no longer claim that they have no local partners but the established political oligarchs. Concrete, considered, effective policy demands are being issued by the people of BiH and if the international community is interested in actual reforms in this country, it would behoove them to take these appeals most seriously, indeed. Jasmin Mujanović | @JasminMuj