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Ongoing protests in the Bosnian Serb city aimed at protecting the environment from developers have morphed into a more overtly political protest against the entity government.
|Banja Luka: banner saying "The Park Is Ours" / Photo by Klix.ba|
Hundreds of environmental protestors gathered again on Thursday in the endangered Pico Park in Banja Luka, de facto capital of Bosnia's predominantly Serb entity, the Republika Srpska.
The protesters have vowed to save the green area from being turned into a construction site, from which a new residential and business complex will emerge.
Their protests, ongoing for ten days, are meanwhile steadily gaining more overtly political connotations, with some banners reading "End the tyranny of the criminal oligarchy!"
Fliers circulated by the protesters on Thursday in Banja Luka noted that such gatherings were not against the law and were intended to end the climate of political fear.
“When fear disappears, tyrants, dictators, autocrats and false authorities start to fall,” the fliers read. “It has started and will not end here.”
The protests started on May 29 after a construction company starting work on building a residential and business complex in the green area known as Pico's Park.
The Center for a Living Environment, an NGO, posted photographs online, warning of the start of construction work, after which locals started organizing through online social networks.
Posts urged interested citizens to gather and prevent the company from cutting down trees in the park and building the residential and business complex.
The head of the Centre, Miodrag Dakic, last week said that the authorities of Banja Luka in the last 10 years had seemed intent on turning all remaining green surfaces into concrete and construction areas.
|Banja Luka protests: A caricature of Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska - as a wood-cutter / Photo by Klix.ba|
Most of the banners displayed on Thursday mocked the current rulers of the autonomous entity and the city of Banja Luka, starting with the dominant Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, led by Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska.
One banner showed a caricature of Dodik depicting him as a wood-cutter. Another read “Banja Luka is ours, let's save it from Laktasi” referring to Dodik's nearby home town.
Since the campaign has begun organizing itself through online social networks, sympathisers from around the world have started sending in photos of themselves holding small banners stating their support for the protesters in Banja Luka and their fight to preserve the city's green lung from developers.
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