BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - Interview on the mass struggle "Justice For David"

We are glad to publish a Inteview with antifascist und revolutionary activists from Bosnia and Herzegovina on the big mass protests going on since months against murder, state-corruption and the political situation under the slogan "Justice for David". Last week were again protests where over 30.000 people in different cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina went on the streets to go on in their struggle. The results of the sunday's election, where only around 53% went to vote, shows that the biggest part of the masses have no trust in this parlamentary spectacle. The antifascist and revolutionary forces show that they try to bring the protests and struggles further.

The protests and struggle on „Pravda sa Davida“ in Bosnia are lasting now for months, even in Austria there have been manifestations in Vienna and Graz. What are the demands of the struggle, are they going beyond the clarification of the case?

"Pravda za Davida", headed by the father of David, Davor, seeks that the Republic of Srpska entity government reveal the truth behind the murder of David Dragičević. They claim that the highest organs of the government and the people in it not only know the truth behind the murder and hide it, but are actually participants in the murder. While it was mostly a local movement in Banja Luka, and also Republic of Srpska (RS), it spread to other cities of RS but also to Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where parents of other murdered children and youth appeared asking for truth, but also from emigrates and refugees with Yugoslavian origin from all around the world. There are no "political" demands except those forementioned, but as the time passes and the elections are getting closer, subtle political elements are showing in the movement, not directly, though. Movement was clear: they accept anyone who supports seeking the justice for David, no matter which party they come from, and reject anyone who is against it. They represent themselves as "apolitical" movement, however naive that might sound to us. So, yes, the only real aim behind this movement and the protests is to find those guilty for the death of David, nothing more, nothing less. All those around them, from opposition to foreigners are, of course, seeking to push their own agenda, but their success is questionable. That is yet to be seen in future processes.

Who is participating in the protests, which role do the women play in the struggle?

Protests are attended and supported by various classes, parties, ages, genders, etc. You can find extreme rightists there and also communists. It is, indeed, noticeable, that women play a big part in the movement and the protests. From friends of David to mothers that are afraid that their children will suffer the same fate, since the situation in the entity, country and Banja Luka has becoming more and more unstable, and was getting worse for at least a decade back. Women of all ages, more than men, have been open and loud about their support of this movement and protests. Can we know why? Not precisely, but from analysing the concrete situation, it is noticeable that, as the situation in the country in every sense is desperate, it is especially so for women. More men than women are employed, but also employed in better conditions. Women, as in every class society hence also in capitalism, are one of the first victims when the society enters a crisis. In this society not only they have a harder time generally, but have more responsibility, so they have less to lose than anyone else. Men might have historically gained a supremacy and domination here, like in other countries, but definitely, women are the pillars of this country. Victims of war, abuse, rape, poverty, husbands, family and society in general, the state, imperialism - exploited and repressed, downthrotten economically and ideologically since breakup of Yugoslavia where they have achieved an avid level of emancipation, it is only natural that women are the forefront of many struggles, and also of this one, for whatever reasons and whether they are known or unknown to them.

How is the media in Bosnia reporting about the protests?

The state media and big private media in RS, which are in service of the government and the ruling party, are representing this movement and the protests as an attempt to destroy Republic of Srpska, and as being financed by foreign power to destabilize the region. It is a classical rightist propaganda using conspiracy theories and making the population afraid for their well being. In this way, they have lost a lot of credibility, even within their own ranks, but they are still backed by state power and money. Only one big media, that is in the opposition center city of Bijeljina, have supported the protests, of course, for their own political reasons, but nevertheless, they have gained on popularity. The people don't trust them equally, but in this specific case, they have taken the right stance, even when their motives are for their own political gain. Most of the independent, smaller and progressive media do support the movement and the protests, and while their influence is limited, it has definitely increased.

Is there Repression?

Repression is on every step, especially for those directly involved in the movement. The forementioned Bijeljina's media's journalist Vladimir Kovačević was recently assaulted, and has had an attempt on his life, but he has survived. Protests were organized in his name also. Murders, arson, spying, threats, etc. are increasing, especially since the election campaign is under way. The campaign and the protests can't be separated now, as it will probably be even more obvious in the upcoming weeks. Elections are to be held on October the 7th. People are being followed, fined, raided by police, and even death threats on public media are adressed towards some, even journalists that in any way try to talk about the corruption of the current government. People who are protesting peacefully are being accused of being terrorist and imperialist spies, traitors, etc.

The father of David threatened to prevent the election, if there will be no results in his son‘s case. How do the struggle develops regarding the election?

That is still not known to the public. A big interview was held last week by the members of the movement for one liberal media, where the father again claimed there will be no elections. Many consider those statements empty threats, which is probably, since the protests are really not militant, but also lack a political orientation, and no actual organizational structure or aim is formed except to find the truth behind David's murder. So, in the current position, objectively, there are no possibilites for Davor to stop the election. What he has, not so subtly, mentioned in that interview, is that he will use individualistic methods, and that he does not mind dying. We can guess what he has meant by that. Will he use them? We don't know. Some lower level inspectors were arrested on the charges of destroying the evidence in David's case, and also the president of RS, the man many claim that knows the truth but protects his people in the government, said that he will reveal something before the elections, meaning to clarify the case. We don't know what, or is that only a trick to soothe the people and the movement, it will be seen.

Were there new formations of initiatives or organisations from the protests? Which character do they have, will there be something like a new election allience?

No, protests led to no new political formations. Only many members of the opposition parties tried and still try to appear as progressive and to jump in the movement's bandwagon, since for them, there is no other way to gain any popularity since they have been without no ideas or ways for decades. Political games in Bosnia don't work that way. When results of elections see the light of the day, then new alliances will be made if needed be, and it would be no wonder that today's opposition would pact with someone from the government, with some minor party except the ruling party. Besides that, no other party or movement appeared.

In 2014 there were great revolts in Bosnia. Do the protests now rely on that?

Protests that happened in 2014, had no effect on Republic of Srpska, and as such, have no effect now. Same as these protests and movement, they were characterized as "external" factors that try to destroy Republic of Srpska, and no violent clashes appeared in RS or almost any kind of protests. Bosnia is a deeply separated state, and two entities that comprise Bosnia live almost as separate countries. With Justice for David now, people are coming closer, with parents from both sides seeking truth for their murdered children and closing in the ethnic, national and religious barriers between the peoples, but, as has happened few times before, it will be short lived. To achieve that in long term, we need a serious and a communist political force. Even social-democrats that feed on the "socialist" and Yugoslavian heritage of our peoples, have hugely decreased in popularity, and have no effect in the today's society, while nationalist politics can always produce many results and get the masses on the streets. At least, it was like that up until now.

What is your assessment in this struggles?

It is a liberal and narrow protest, and the movement guards itself from all sides. We do influence many progressive individuals within and around it, but no serious result can come from this. Even if this somehow leads to change of government, it will change nothing. But this is nothing to get us worried. What we can see from this is that is the first mass movement in RS since the end of war, and that is a big thing. For all those activists that were demoralized, this shows the truth that we as Marxists always knew, that the masses are the real heroes. So, while with this specific movement we cannot do much, we definitely can use the potential we know we have and those that have seen the hipocricy of the bourgeois government and the society. It is a small step, but an important step.

How can the antifascists and revolutionaries in the other countries support the struggle?

Main enemy is at home. We have to fight fascism, repression and imperialism wherever we are. This concrete struggle might be over soon, but our struggle will continue. So, what antifascists and revolutionaries around the world can do is spread the news of our situation, and also of other repressed areas in the world, push for international support or gatherings if some extreme crisis appears, and work with people from these area, and try to understand their situation and where they come from, and why are they such as they are, knowing what kind of things happen in the places where they come from. Population is emigrating more and more, so especially the antifascists and revolutionaries from the European Union will have a big influx of people from around here. They must try to reach and influence them, to understand the reasons of our and their situation back home, and the ways they can support the struggle.

Thank you for the Interview!

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