Translation of original text Uvod u bosanskohercegovačku pobunu is done by Nenad Popović.
Since the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a home to people who have survived a war but are struggling with surviving the peace. Older generations of BiH citizens are comprised of people who naively believed that the creation of a new country and a new society will bring them much, only to lose the what they previously had. Other than the fact that no one really won this war, or got exactly what they wanted, most have lost even their basic existential security. Post war privatization of companies has destroyed the economy crippling healthy businesses, then selling them for change to those who never intended to continue operating those businesses but just to strip the little meat left on their bones.
As opposed to the older generations, younger never really had anything. Youth which should be bearing the weight of social development have spent their entire lives listening either about war, or about fairytales of a better future that constantly fail to turn in to reality. That is what their lives have been spent experiencing.
During the time the middle class has been completely destroyed and a new elite has been born. Elite consisting of war and post war profiteers with coupled governmental and monetary power is holding this small, but thoroughly divided country, under absolute control. One might say that such situations are nothing unusual, that similar situations are gripping a lot of countries in the region, also a part of eastern European countries, but many divisions are what makes Bosnia and Herzegovina unique in many aspects.
Consisting of three constituent peoples, two entities, one district, ten cantons within one of the entities, and on top of that cities and municipalities, Bosnia and Herzegovina represents one big political and administrative mess which very few people actually understand. Poorly defined jurisdictional power within different levels of government is making it hard to solve even those problems that the political elite shows some interest in, and in an effort to cover up their own incompetence, political leaders reach out for the old Roman recipe of divide and conquer, by bringing up the ever present issues of the ethnic affiliation. And lo and behold the ethnic division works still, going on a quarter of a century.
Every constitutive people have their own fears. Bosniaks , being the most numerous ones, fear the dissolution of the country, seeing how they are the only one not having a spare one. Serbs and Croats hope to create a independent state, meanwhile fearing an eventual shift in structure of BiH which would cost them their current position. Such a situation gives ample opportunities to create false sense of fear and danger and to put oneself as a protector of its own group.
These are the reasons that helped the elite to create a level of autism that surpasses all surrounding countries.The issues of real problems falling on deaf ears of politicians is ever present everywhere, dealing with high politics they tend to drift high in their thoughts and understanding of the real world. But compared even with the closest neighbours, Serbia and Croatia, it is apparent that political elites of BiH are especially successful in reaching for new worlds distant from reality. It is readily apparent to anyone who follows the media reports on politics in BiH that the main issues of political leaders are they themselves and talks on any important subject is sooner or later reduced to personal bickering through which they are trying to create an illusion of a difference among them and political ideals they are striving for. Whenever they run out of interesting topics about their political adversaries, an issue that can easily be put in an ethnic context quickly arises and the story continues anew.
Lulled in their lofty positions, completely out of touch with their citizens, politicians fail to grasp the reality of living in BiH, and when presented with the inescapable truth, they try desperately to turn it to their own advantage and to keep their status. For the longest time every issues coming from below have been solved in the same manner that Josip Broz Tito solved student rebellion (he sad that there are right, but didn’t really make any change), with stories about the importance of unity within the ethnic corps, and a rare promises that most of the time failed to be kept. All divisions and fears that I previously mentioned have been repeated so many times that they have become a part of the conscious and subconscious model of thinking for every individual, and an average citizen has a very hard time getting free from them, even when they are faced with existential problems. Another hurdle in leaving these frames of thought are pressures from ones surroundings, potential labelling, social isolation, problems of many different sources.
However hunger is hunger, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina that feeling is starting to get less metaphoric and more literal fast. Psychologists would do a better job of explaining the natural urges influence on conscience and subconscious, and I will only state that the impact has already occurred in the minds of many citizens of BiH. A critical mass has been established, ready to put their existential problems above the ethnic ones and to make their issues clear to the leading elite, and so the protests have started. This has of course happened gradually, it took many years for different dis-empowered interest groups, each on its own, demanding their rights without any understanding from those which are addressed to make class divisions apparent and unite the broader group of citizens under a common goal.
Courage of one group has given courage to others and rebelling has finally reached wider frames. But the already established problems and divisions, coupled with the fact that the protest are mostly contained in parts of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the majority of Bosniak population, has left the room for elite to use well known methods of division.What is heartening about the whole situation is the fact that these protests have established new forms of citizen interaction. Several cities have started civic plenums with the idea of articulating the demands and to continue the activities after the protests so that voice of citizens can be heard even after the anger has been discharged in the streets.
You can read about the political elite ploy to limit the protest and turn them into advantage for them in the next part of this text called Let them eat baklava – Attitute of elite on the uprising in BiH.
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