The silence hanging over eastern Bosnia

Banner photo by Al Jazeera

This piece by Edin Ikanović was published by Al Jazeera on 14 March 2014 at

In the entity where I live, I don’t hear many people whistling out loud, let alone staging rebellions.

It’s March in Bratunac, as it is everywhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina. While I watch citizens throughout the cities in what we call the Federation rise up and rebel against years of injustice, in the entity where I live I don’t hear many people whistling out loud, let alone staging rebellions.

My name is Edin Ikanović, from the village of Pobuđe proper, near Bratunac. I came back, and the only thing I have left is the plain struggle to create something better from the reality in which I am now living.

I’m pleased to see young people in Sarajevo coming together, unemployed people who have the opportunity to finally say what they think about these years of deceit, intellectuals who finally have a forum for offering a different narrative from the one that’s been served up to us since the end of the war.

I know this is all a big game being played by titans, in which everything ultimately comes down to the ballot box, where the majority decides – but somehow I think that what began in early February will force people, at least a little, to reflect and to vote more sensibly, differently.

On the margins, on the brink

Again I’m sorry: I’m sorry that all those people are not living the same reality that we in Bratunac are, who can’t possibly fathom the problems that afflict the province, the community on the margins, on the brink.

I am waiting for the day when people who call themselves citizens, Bosnians and Herzegovinans, will start spending more time in the cities off the beaten path, grasping all the profound consequences of the persecution, the distress, the great emptiness, and the silence hanging over eastern Bosnia.

I believe that when that day arrives, they will reflect and realize that no change can come to our country unless that change encompasses its entire territory. The struggle for social rights must be a struggle from the Drina to the Una, which must also recognize the reality of groups facing discrimination, minorities, those whose voices are not being heard – and not because of how they voted, but rather because they have not even had the opportunity to vote out the political structures that have been the standard-bearers of the program to persecute them and bring about their disappearance.

It’s March in Bratunac.

In a city full of my friends, I get together with people and we talk about something better for everyone. We’re waiting for summer, when the streets will be filled, after the arrival of the sons and daughters of Bratunac who are now living in places from Canada to Switzerland.

Meanwhile, police summonses are arriving at my door. They say someone has confirmed to them that I’m planning to organize protests in the Srebrenica area.

I light a cigarette and look at the sky. It’s quiet in Pobuđe. The protests are far away from the Drina. The protests are far away from us. We have another source of hope: The elections are in October.

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