May 21, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – The Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBH) sent an open letter last week to Dr. Zlatko Lagumdzija, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) expressing our grave concern about the election law in Srebrenica. We urged Dr. Lagumdzija and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of BiH to respond swiftly and help with the process of registering those individuals that live outside of BiH to vote in the upcoming October elections.
On July 11, 1995, the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, a declared United Nations safe haven fell to the Serb paramilitary forces led by General Ratko Mladic, a war criminal whose trial began last week at The Hague. The fall of Srebrenica marks the final act of brutal ethnic cleansing and genocide in BiH, where over 8,000 men and boys were slaughtered within a five day period.
The town was granted exceptional status in 2008, allowing Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica who are no longer living there to vote in the local elections. The city – 80% Bosniak Muslim before the war is now predominantly Serb and the special agreement that was made in 2008, will not occur in 2012; ultimately leaving Srebrenica to be run by the present Serb majority that continues to deny the genocide and ethnic cleansing. In addition, such an event would only add to the culture of exclusion that has developed in Republika Srpska since the Dayton Peace Accords.
The international community is holding Bosnian politicians responsible for what happens to Srebrenica. Therefore, we urge Foreign Minister Lagumdzija to take all necessary actions and ensure a just outcome by facilitating voter registration through the appropriate BiH government ministries and BiH diplomatic posts in the U.S. and encouraging citizens of BiH in the U.S. to vote in the Srebrenica election through direct appeals to Bosnian American communities.
ACBH has long advocated for the election laws in BiH to be changed and for Srebrenica to be granted a "special status." In the meantime, we ask all Bosnian Americans who are from Srebrenica to TAKE ACTION and register to vote in the October 7 municipal elections by filling out the form found: HERE
The last day to register is July 24, 2012; you must have a Bosnian issued identification card, a Bosnian driver's license or a Bosnian passport in order to register. Once you have filled out the form, please send a signed copy of the form along with a copy of identification to: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax the necessary documents to +387-33-251-333 OR +387-33-251-334.
For those that are not from Srebrenica but would like to participate in the local elections can do so by changing their residency status. This can be done by going to Srebrenica in person and having a new identification card issued which would allow one to vote in the October 7 municipal elections.
The United States alone is home to thousands of Bosnian Americans who come from Srebrenica and to over 250,000 individuals of Bosnian descent. We ask you all to stand in solidarity with the people of Srebrenica and help ensure a just outcome.
*To read this article in Bosnian please click here.*
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ACBH is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of Bosnian Americans and works to improve relations between the United States and BiH. ACBH advocates for a democratic, multiethnic, and indivisible BiH with a primary goal of advancing the integration of BiH into the EU and NATO.