"Nasa Borba" (English) - Discrimination against the Serbs - a step toward the ethnic division of Bosnia

Friday, June 7, 1996


Discrimination against the Serbs - a step toward the ethnic division of Bosnia

The situation in the [Moslem-Croat] Federation calls for alarm. At the press conference, Serbian representatives said that the human rights of Serbs are being recklessly violated, and unless the government and international community act swiftly, the idea of a multinational Bosnia will lose its "reality component."

Milan Obradovic
"Nasa Borba" correspondent in Sarajevo

Srdjan Dizdarevic, the president of the Helsinki committee of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that "as time goes by, the human rights of the Serbs within the Federation, particularly in the reintegrated areas around Sarajevo, are increasingly violated." Speaking at the press conference, Dizdarevic noted that the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs is in process; Serbian property is being confiscated, they are evicted from their apartments and houses, and their right to work is flatly denied. "What is currently going on in Sarajevo leads to a definitive schism... along three ethnic and political lines. We consider this the last chance, five past twelve, to summon the international community and internal factions to act responsibly and efficiently in Sarajevo," emphasized Srdjan Dizdarevic.

The representatives of the Sarajevan Serbs Democratic Initiative (from reintegrated areas) believe that the integrative process in particular may be completely blocked if the Sarajevan Serbs continue to find themselves targets of physical abuse and other forms of repression. Their data was presented to journalists, indicating that over two thousand buildings have been burned down and looted, while three thousand homes were illegally occupied. One hundred and fifty severe threats to individuals have also been reported, and in twenty cases, the execution of such threats resulted in serious bodily injury. Goran Kapor, the president of the Initiative's executive committee also mentioned the case of Djordje Lalic, a resident of Ilijas, and his treatment in the Kosevo Hospital. Having suffered serious injuries, Lalic received "a certificate from a surgeon, [stating] that he was beaten badly, but should have been even more."

Mladen Pandurevic, head of the Commission on the Human Rights Protection of the Serbian Civic Council of B-H, observed that about 20,000 Serbs would like to return to Sarajevo. However, that is impossible since their houses and apartments are inhabited by the exiles from eastern Bosnia. Several trucks with Tuzla license plates have also been noticed towing away furnishings from abandoned premises. Pandurevic emphasized, however, that "this press conference is not aimed against the Bosnian refugees exiled from the territory of Republic Srpska who are searching for space to live in." Adding that such actions cannot be justified, but are understandable, Pandurevic noted that "the culprits are not to be found among these people, but in the government that is absolutely incapable of helping them, in any possible way."

There is ample cause for alarm, the representatives of the Serbian Civic Council concluded, and it is up to the Government, the police, and the international community to keep the idea of a multicultural and multinational Bosnia a realistic one.

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