Serben som valde att slåss för Sarajevo

20 mars, 2012

I mars för 20 år sedan, efter segern i en folkomröstning som bojkottats av majoriteten av de bosniska serberna, så förklarade Bosnien och Hercegovina sin självständighet. En månad senare började kriget. Här är några observationer från Jovan Divjak, serben som blev general i den bosniska armen och valde att slåss mot sina ”egna” för att försvara Sarajevo mot de bosnienserbiska styrkorna.

On February 29th and March 1st, 1992, the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina were called to vote in the referendum on independence for the country. What do you remember of that time? 

”Today I look at what happened then very differently. Then I voted enthusiastically for the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, because the policies put in place in ex-Yugoslavia were such as to oblige therepublic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ask for its independence, as Slovenia and Croatia had. What then seemed to me completely acceptable was the fact that Europe had given us the task of using the tool of a referendum and of deciding. The results are well known and naturally I have no wish to call them into question, but I do want to point out one detail: when the other side opposes and refuses to celebrate March 1st as the Independence Day of BiH, I would point out that between 10 and 15% of Bosnian Serbs in the larger cities like Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica and Bihac voted, so the Serbs voted too, not just Bosniaks and Croats. ”

What was the atmosphere like during the referendum? Apart from enthusiasm was there also fear? What influence did the war in Croatia have, the threats of the SDS and the skirmishes which had already taken place on BiH territory?

”Answering for myself, not, I wish to specify, for what those days may have meant for others, I was not afraid, though maybe others were. I behaved as I did at elections, going to vote among the first, this being my right and duty as a citizen . Some people don’t go to vote either at elections or referendums. For me it was useful and I believe, with my vote to have given my small contribution towards the independence of Bosnia – Herzegovina. So for me it was quite a solemn occasion . Some people dressed up for it and put on a tie. I went to express my position according to which Bosnia and Herzegovina has a right to its sovereignty. Even more so considering the winds meanwhile blowing from Belgrade and the areas with a Serb majority. One of the reasons for the fear was the threat of Karadzic in the autumn of ’91, ”If you get your State, there will be war and there will be one People less..” For me at that time it was one more reason to react. We should remember that already in ’91 the Serbian nationalists had proclaimed their autonomy, the so called autonomous Serbian territories.. They had effectively brought about secession. On January 9 this year the 20 years of the Republika Srpska were celebrated. This was secession. The proclamation of the Republika Srpska went against the sense of Bosnia and Herzegovina which was then a legal republic within the Yugoslav federation. This was one more reason for going to vote for independence.”

As a citizen of Sarajevo, an intellectual, but also a member of the Civil Defense, what did you expect after the referendum, what possible scenario? 

”I didn’t for a moment imagine it would come to war. Now the experts and intellectuals say it was known. I didn’t know. maybe I was naive at the time but I hadn’t the slightest idea it would come to a war. What happened Slovenia and Croatia, for instance, for us was far away. Dubrovnik, Vukovar and even what happened in Bijeljina, were all somehow far away. Even if I had said to some journalists that a war could break out, I was convinced it could never hit Sarajevo. In those days in no way did I think that, until the special forces of the SDS opened fire from the roof of the Holiday Inn on the peace demonstrations of April 5th, until Olga and Suada were killed, until the first bombardments began.”

Through the referendum the majority voted in favor of  a Bosnia and Herzegovina sovereign and independent, a state of citizens entitled to equal rights, of the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Muslims, Serbs, Croats and those belonging to other peoples living there. Which aims have been achieved?

 ”Unfortunately not even one, because one of the groups, one people of Bosnia and Herzegovina has not accepted it. The expression ”State of Bosnia and Herzegovina” is used, but in fact it doesn’t exist, it exists as a geographical concept, but in politics, in culture, in education and in reality it is not to be found. Do you know that the train from Sarajevo to Belgrade has three carriages? One for the Federation, one for the Republika Srpska and one for the Serbian Republic, and passengers buy tickets for their own respective carriage and enroute the engine is changed. This is mad, a clear image of what this country is.”

 Is Bosnia and Herzegovina of today a State of citizens or of people belonging to national groups?

”Unfortunately the second is true, only the second. The rights are only for who in a precise area belongs to its national majority group. Bosniaks and Croats in the Republika Srpska do not enjoy the same rights as the majority of the population; Croats and Serbs in Sarajevo do not have the same opportunities as Bosniaks, and likewise in the areas with a Croat majority discrimination takes place towards others. I would call this assimilation, segregation in the schools as in all aspects of life. We talk a lot about cases of two schools under the same roof (when in the same building two different scholastic institutions coexist, following two different syllabuses, according to the nationality of the student, e.n.), always forgetting that in most places where a national group is decidedly in the majority, those belonging to other groups are often obliged to follow the main syllabus, except for during the lesson on religion. So all over there are processes of assimilation and segregation. Over and above the syllabuses, shall we take a look at the choice of text books? Let’s pretend you are a Croat and have written a mathematics text book. Your book will not be used in Bosniak. schools. And if I as a Bosniak write an English text book? It certainly will not be chosen in a school in the RS. Even if recent history is not present in school texts, other ways have been found to differentiate education on a national basis. What about Santic? I don’t think that in a school in the RS, teaching Santic, Emina is mentioned. Another subject will certainly be chosen. If Tadic, President of Serbia, comes to Pale in the Republika Srpska and inaugurates a school called Serbia, what can it mean? Today the new generations are being brought up in hatred. Much more than in 1995.”

(Källa: Bosnia Daily den 20 mars 2012)

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