news 12 Jun 13

Banja Luka Students Defy Police Ban on Protest

Bosnian students in Republika Srpska’s main city have vowed to flout a police ban and rally for better living standards for students and against corruption in higher education.

Kenan Efendic

Although police have refused to permit the protest scheduled for Wednesday in Banja Luka, students vowed that they would gather in front of their university campus and called on local residents to support them.

Inzko on protests

"Forbidding the protests in Banja Luka reminds me of North Korea," said Valentin Inzko, the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The protest has been forbidden because it is forbidden to say some things in Republika Srpska. They can forbid protests and demonstrations but they cannot forbid dissatisfaction which will be shown in peaceful way,” Republika Srpska’s student union president Nikola Dronjak told a press conference.

Banja Luka’s police department has issued a statement saying that the students must not march near schools and kindergartens.

The protests first erupted on Thursday last week when the students demanded the construction of a new block at their campus.

Later they added better living standards for students to their demands and also called for a fight against corruption in higher education.

They have called on the public to support them and struggle together against the “bad situation” in society and the “ruling oligarchy”.

The protests attracted major attention after Rajko Vasic, the executive secretary of the SNSD, the biggest Serb party in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, called the students “bastards”.

Vasic resigned after public pressure, but the students are now calling on the SNSD leader and president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, to expel Vasic from the party.

The protests are not connected with demonstrations in Sarajevo calling on politicians to sort out the deadlock over issuing personal identity numbers.

“We don’t support the protests in Sarajevo,” Dronjak said.

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