Several hundred citizens gathered for a protest in front of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) building in Sarajevo blocking traffic. They were called to take to the streets by the ReSTART BiH Association and the Association of Independent Intellectuals Krug 99, asking for the resignation of High Representative Christian Schmidt. According to an N1 reporter, the participants are already arriving in buses into the Bosnian capital.
Civic activist and protest organizer Suad Djozic said that by appearing in front of the OHR, the citizens will confirm that they are in favour of the country’s civic concept.
“We must stop the further dismantling of the state, i.e. the cementing of the ethno-feudal concept of organizing BiH society into three ethnic groups,” Djozic said, among other things.
According to N1 reporters on the scene, citizens are gathering in the park opposite the OHR building. They say that more buses will arrive in Sarajevo from other cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Traffic is blocked, and a large number of police officers are securing the area.
The Office of the High Representative, in charge of overseeing the implementation of the civilian aspect of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war on Bosnia, expressed their support for the announced peaceful protest.
“Peaceful demonstrations are a fundamental right in a democracy and of crucial importance for a pluralistic society. I respect this. I look forward to an objective exchange on common topics,” High Representative Christian Schmidt said today.
“Peaceful demonstrations are a fundamental right in a democracy and of crucial importance for a pluralistic society. I respect this. I look forward to an objective exchange on common topics," High Representative Christian Schmidt said today.— OHR BiH (@OHR_BiH) March 31, 2023
One of the organizers, Azra Zornic, the appellant before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the case against Bosnia, addressed the gathered citizens criticizing High Representative Christian Schmidt's work:
“Some politicians who received the votes of the citizens betrayed their trust and supported the High Representative to arbitrarily change our constitution in a retrograde manner, affecting only one entity. A message to Western diplomats: Do not test our patience through an incompetent diplomat who is leading our country into oblivion with his ignorance. Send us a capable representative instead of one whim the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) awarded the Order of Ante Starcevic,” Zornic pointed out.
She said that they reject any form of discrimination against citizens.
“We demand the resignation of Christian Schmidt, who has proven himself unworthy of the position of High Representative. We demand full democracy, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, even if it requires a complete change of the Dayton Agreement, which has become a brake on the development of BiH,” she stated.
Ante Starcevic is a 19th century Croatian nationalist considered to ve the father of the nation in Croatia. The Order of Ante Starcevic was awarded to Schmidt in July 2013, but the controversy stems from the fact that the same Order was given to convicted war criminals like Jadranko Prlic and Dario Kordic.
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