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news 07 Feb 15

Bosnians Hold Protests to Warn Authorities

A year on from the mass protests of February 2014 against corruption and poverty, new demonstrations are held across Bosnia.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

 

  Protests in Sarajevo / Photo by Elvira M. Jukic / BIRN

Bosnians held demonstrations across the country on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the start of protests of February 7 2014 - and remind local leaders of how little they have done to improve matters over the past year.

Police agencies across the country said they were prepared for all scenarios, including violence. Yet there was no need for police interventions since the memorial protests gathered between few dozen and few hundred people in several towns including Tuzla, Zenica, Mostar and Sarajevo.

“This appeared to be more a meeting of journalists and policemen,” said BHTV reporter from Tuzla, Marko Divkovic, in his report to BHTV news, referring to the fact that in Tuzla, like in most other towns the number of policemen and media crews almost exceeded the number of demonstrators.  

Protests in Sarajevo gathered few hundred people, but some protestors said the event was not well organized as people gathered in two groups in different parts of the city centre.

“There will be no violence here, there is more police than civilians,” one protester, Dzafer Alic, told Balkan Insight.

He complained that regardless of protests, situation in the country was not getting any better.

“People don't have anything to eat. Hungry people are on the streets,” said another protester in Sarajevo, Mirsad Dzano.

Last year’s protests turned angry when hooligans joined the demonstrations and set fire to government buildings, overturned cars and fought with police. Several hundred policemen and protesters were injured in street clashes, which brought scenes unseen since the end of the war in Bosnia in 1995.

Although disgruntled workers and other citizens continued holding protests in Tuzla and other places throughout last year, they never grew into something bigger.

Sakib Kopic, from the Solidarity Union of Tuzla, told Balkan Insight on Friday that protests that are being organized on Saturday are only a warning. He said that demonstrators will wait for all governments to be formed, and will then give them 100 days to undertake reforms. If they do not “protests will become radical,” he said.

Some of the protesters told Balkan Insight that there was no organization or a plan of the protests but that the people came on their own.

 

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