Mass JMBG Protests in Sarajevo: ‘Go Out and Fire Them’

July 1, 2013 3:01 PM

By: Nevena Šarenac

On the square in front of the BiH institution buildings in Sarajevo, a mass protest was organized today by citizens, who in a peaceful and democratic way expressed their dissatisfaction that BiH authorities have not adopted a decision on a law on the unique master citizen number (JMBG) by the deadline set by citizens of 30 June.

The peaceful protests began at 10:00. Minute by minute, the number of citizens increased, and people from many other BiH cities arrived, including from Tuzla, Mostar, Srebrenik, Lukavac, Gradačac, Bihać, as well as a smaller number of people from Zagreb.

Under to slogan ‘Fire Them on 01.07’’, citizens are expressing a form of rebellion and are demanding the resignation of politicians. The message ‘Go out on the streets and fire them’ is clear.

Those who gathered carried a number of interesting banners, and there were loudspeakers so that everyone could hear the music, and automobiles that passed by expressed their support by honking. The square in front of the BIH Parliament was secured with a fence, and the gathering was secured by a strong police presence.

In addition to the amendments to the JMBG at the state level, citizens are requesting for parliamentarians to reduce their salaries by 30 percent and that the money be invested in a fund for sick children.

Today’s protest was attended by a number of parents with their young children, students, retired people, mine workers, dissatisfied employees, farmers, representatives of the academic community, cultural institutions, etc.

“Today is a day of savings and civil disobedience. We are firing politicians, because they have to feel what it is like when citizens do not give them money’’, said civic activist Nihad Aličković.

One of the representatives of the academic community, Assistant Professor at the Philosophy University in Sarajevo Salmedin Mesihović emphasized that this is a nationwide protest, and that the JMBG is only the reason for the expression of dissatisfaction due to the general chaotic situation in BiH.

“For this salary, people who have a significantly higher salary than ordinary citizens are to blame for this. This simply cannot be! The current structure of power of the government caused the total moral collapse of people and it is best for them to quietly withdraw, but that is unlikely. You should at least learn some lessons from history and think twice about what is happening’’, said Mesihović.

One of the participants at the JMBG protests is actor from Sarajevo Feđa Štukan, who told citizens that “there is no standing, because we have stood long enough’’.

“The stagnation that has lasted 20 years and our silence gave politicians incentive to do whatever they wanted. We are as guilty as they are because we did not resist. Now the situation has changed. We will provide constant resistance’’, said Štukan.

He told citizens to open their eyes and not to trust people who ‘steal and lie’.

“These are wonderful moments for the country. You can finally see that we are not stupid, that we cannot be used by others whenever they want’’, said Štukan.

Some of the protestors see a way out of the current situation in special elections in BiH. They said that young, educated and expert people should be brought to government, who with their knowledge could create something new in BiH, because with “these politicians we do not have a chance, because they are deep in corruption and crime’’.

Representatives of the third generation, retired people in BiH gave support to the JMBG protestors. They said they are here for their grandchildren and for the future of BIh.

“Numerous injustices are being committed against these people. We do not expect any solutions from the current leaders. Maybe it would be best to have special elections held and to change the entire government’’, said one retired person at the protest.

The protests due to the failure to adopt a law on the JMBG was prompted by the news of baby girl Belmina Ibrišević, who was not able to go to Germany for immediate medical treatment because she did not have a JMBG.

An informal group of citizens gathered on 5 June before a meeting of the Council of Ministers of BIH in front of the building of BiH institutions in order to exert pressure for the state government to adopt a law. Even if the Council of Ministers adopted a temporary solution on the issuance of a JMBG, citizens were not satisfied and continued to protest with the demand for an immediate adoption of a state-level JMBG law.

On the next day, on 6 June, they blocked the buildings of the BIH institutions, and in the early morning hours did not allow employees and around 250 foreign citizens who were attending a conference inside the BiH Parliament to leave.

During another round of protests on 11 June, where estimates recorded around 10.000 protestors present, the deadline was set for 30 June for an adoption of a law on the JMBG, but this deadline was not met.

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