Srebrenica Mayor Urges Bosniaks to Vote in Polls

Srebrenica mayoral candidate Camil Durakovic and his campaign manager Emir Suljagic said the October local elections represent a critical point not only for the iconic town but also for the country.“The war is not over,” Suljagic told students attending a two week summer university in Srebrenica, occurring during the annual commemoration of the 1995 massacre in which more than 7,000 Bosniaks were killed.“We are still fighting the same war. One of the front lines of that war is right here, right now, and that’s what we are doing,” he said.

“The stakes are still the same. And what we are fighting for is our right to life, to live where we want to live in accordance to our rights and our beliefs,” he added.

Suljagic, who resigned last year as education minister for the Canton of Sarajevo, has been spearheading a campaign to register voters in Srebrenica.

In 2008, the international community and the government made an exception to the election law allowing Bosnians to vote either in their current or pre-war domiciles, which was not extended for the upcoming October elections.

Suljagic is spearheading a campaign to get Bosniaks [Muslims] to come to Srebrenica to register and voter for the acting mayor, Camil Durakovic, who is standing again in the autumn local elections.

Bosniaks made up 80 per cent of Srebrenica’s pre-war population but now are a minority in the town, the scene of the infamous Bosnian Serb 1995 massacre that courts have since qualified as genocide. They now fear that a Serb will win the autumn local elections in the town.

“I want to have a prospect in this country as a citizen of this country and I am personally willing to go to the extreme of that particular fight,” Suljagic said.

“I am doing the only thing that I can do now: busing people in, registering them to vote,” he added.

Durakovic told the students that he needs to win because Srebrenica still lacks the psychological support to incentivize the return of the town’s former majority population of Bosniaks.

He said Srebrenica still has not come to terms with its past, which is essential for moving on.

“It has been 17 years now,” he told the students. “Seventeen years after the mass killings, you have people living together. Is that enough? Since the war ended we have had no physical accidents, I have never had any reports on Bosniaks attacking Serbs or Serbs attacking Bosniaks. They live together, socialize, they live. But the moment we touch the past, everybody takes their starting position.”

Another panelist, Alma Masic of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, a regional NGO, said citizens are no sufficiently involved in the reconciliation process.

Durakovic, Masic, and Suljagic expressed their frustration and disappointment at a recently announced decision ofthe Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska, to hold commemoration for Serb victims in the 192-war for the entire week of July 7 until 12, including in the town of Srebrenica, during the Bosniak commemoration at which 520 Bosniak victims found in the past year will be buried.

The Srebrenica Summer School, in its third year, is being led by Dr Hariz Halilovic, a Srebrenica native who is a lecturer in anthropology at Monash University in Australia.

There are 30 graduate student participants from all over the world, including Mexico, Hungary, Serbia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada.

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