“I Will Vote for Srebrenica” Initative under Threat

On November 26, 2012, the District Prosecutor's Office in the city of Bijeljina summoned Mr. Emir Suljagic along with two other leaders of the "I Will Vote for Srebrenica" civil society initiative under the pretense of conducting an investigation into the campaign. "This is an open attack on the human rights and freedoms of non-Serbs in Republika Srpska (RS). This is unprecedented" stated Mr. Emir Suljagic.

This Srebrenica civil society initiative successfully mobilized thousands of Srebrenica survivors scattered across the globe, as well as those who were not from Srebrenica to register and vote in the October 7th local elections. ACBH has long advocated for the election laws in BiH to be changed and for Srebrenica to continue to be granted "special status." In 2008, Srebrenica was granted exceptional electoral status to allow Bosniaks expelled from Srebrenica and living elsewhere to vote in the local elections. The city – 80% Bosniak before the war is now predominantly Serb. 

The previous exception that upheld voting rights for former residents had not been extended to the 2012 municipal elections – opening the door to "genocide by ballot" and leaving Srebrenica to be run by the present Serb majority that continues to deny the wartime genocide and ethnic cleansing. Instead of leaving it up to the politicians and the very complex and inefficient political structure, the citizens of BiH rallied together and started the "I Will Vote for Srebrenica" campaign in order to encourage and register BiH citizens to vote in the municipal elections in Srebrenica. BiH citizens by law are allowed to change their residency status and vote in whatever entity they choose; however, the RS authorities unlawfully intimidated individuals that came to register to vote in Srebrenica. In addition, they llegally removed over 200 names from the voter's list. By doing so, Milorad Dodik and the authorities of Republika Srpska systematically violated Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Accords.

"Despite all of the setbacks, the campaign was a success however the authorities of Republika Srpska are violating human rights yet again and are attempting to stifle the voice of civil society. This is unacceptable and we urge the U.S. and the EU to put a stop to this at once. We thank our friends in U.S. Congress, especially members of the Congressional Caucus on Bosnia, the U.S. Helsinki Commission as well as the U.S. Department of State for their hard work in advocating and working towards a BiH that is united and democratic. BiH should be a safe place for all of its citizens and we hope the U.S. and the EU will help put an end to this type of discrimination" said ACBH President, Admir Serifovic.