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Can the unexplained death of Dragičević affect Bosnia’s election?

May 25th, 2018
in:Humans
by:Katarina Panić
located in:Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia
tags:Bosnia Herzegovina, David Dragičević, elections, Muslims, nationalism

A small square in North West Bosnia’s town of Prijedor. Nearly two months street sweepers in this area have an additional job to do. Every evening they scrape candle wax from the asphalt. Monday, May 14th, was the 48th day in a row the group of people gathered to mourn young David Dragičević and to support his parents in reaching the truth about their son's death.

“We are ready for tomorrow”, says a woman in her seventies pulling out of a bag a black T-shirt. There is a picture of a young man with dreadlocks reading “Justice for David”. A suspicious death of 21-years old student from Banja Luka led to protests all over Republika Srpska (the Serb-dominated part of Bosnia Herzegovina). Now, protesters are about to go to Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo as well as the other places over Bosniaks-Croats-dominated part of Bosnia called Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina.

It was heavy rain. People around the woman asked for the price. Fifteen marks (some 7.5 euro). Marijana Jelača Dejanović wants one, a white one, not black. She is in her earlier fifties, married, a mother of two, attending the protests for the very first time, finding her voice after many years of being silenced.

“I've been crying for 26 years. Deep inside I knew the day I start to fight will come. Today is the day. From now on my voice will be heard”, Marijana told to fairplanet referring to the early nineties when bloody war broke out in former Yugoslavia, including Bosnia where tensions between Serbs, Bosniaks (Muslims) and Croats still persist.

David went missing on March 18th and his body was found six days later in a stream in Banja Luka. While the investigation into whether it was suicide, murder or accidental death is still ongoing, David's parents strongly believe their son was killed and, moreover, someone powerful is hiding his alleged killers.

“We are here to support David's parents. It is a shame for this city (Prijedor) only dozens of us are gathering day after day. The subject is dominating both the local and the national conversation. People talk about it everywhere: in bakeries, in shops, in schools, in cafés, but when it comes to taking actions, to appear in the street or to sign the petition, there is indifference, apathy, ignorance mostly. Yet, I believe the vast majority of people support the movement quietly, secretly, but they are afraid to show it publicly”, Gorana Balaban, the woman with the T-shirt told to fairplanet.

The case became a hugely divisive issue among people, media, politicians, especially because of upcoming general elections in Bosnia. Opposition parties ask for the Republika Srpska minister of interior dismissal, while the main government party seeks to protect him. Both are aware that thousands of people on the streets protest on a daily basis not only because of one particular case such as a young man's death but because of much deeper problems in this society — low living standards, mass migration, partocracy, corruption, nepotism and so on.

“I’m here every evening. I’m here to raise my voice against our way of life where some people are allowed to do whatever they want to do. This gathering is spontaneous. Everyone is welcome but as a human being not as a political party member”, Aleksandar Stojančić from Prijedor told fairplanet. He is 34, married, father of one, typical working-class representative.

He decisively refuses any political influence on the campaign “Justice for David” which is being driven by civil society. However, leading political parties in Bosnia have not much to offer to people and desperately want to keep the status quo. The opposition parties have no significant strength to produce the changes since they also had a power previously, but hadn’t managed to conduct the painful reforms. No new political parties between them. In October voters are about to go to the polls to have their say on that. There is no doubt David's case will partly direct some of them.

“I'm fed up with nationalism. I'm tired of politicians who create an image of an enemy out of my neighbours, my family member, my children's friends. I'm sick of them who intensify ethnic divisions as the elections approach. I also don't understand how come there are still people out there who believe them, who stick their heads in the sand like an ostrich, who don't care who is responsible for more than 20 percent unemployment rate or things like that”, Murisa Marić from non-governmental organisation “DON” from Prijedor told fairplanet.

There are another both unexplained deaths and unsolved murders in Bosnia over the decades, but none of them became the worldwide news. The case is surrounded by too many precedents: street protests, the highest ranked officials' visits to David's family, more than 200.000 members on social network group, cross-border campaign, Republika Srpska president's involvement and influence on investigation, Republika Srpska National Assembly special session, strong public pressure on police and prosecutor's office. A bit too much to expect the investigation will take place as it should in, let's say, usual, normal conditions.

Article written by:
Katarina Panić
Author
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Embed from Getty Images
A suspicious death of 21-years old student from Banja Luka led to protests all over Republika Srpska (the Serb-dominated part of Bosnia Herzegovina).
Embed from Getty Images
“I’m here every evening. I’m here to raise my voice against our way of life where some people are allowed to do whatever they want to do."
Embed from Getty Images
„I'm fed up with nationalism. I'm tired of politicians who create an image of an enemy out of my neighbors, my family member, my children's friends. I'm sick of them."

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