The “Bosnian Spring”: Anniversaries, Protests, and an Uncertain Future

Sarajevo

Sarajevo

30 years ago this week, the 1984 Winter Olympics began in Sarajevo.

20 years ago this week, the Markale marketplace massacre in Sarajevo shocked the world.

This week, riot police in Tuzla clashed with demonstrators fed up with the political and economic status quo. (Protests quickly spread; see the updates below.)

This summer, Sarajevo will mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Sarajevo, bearing a message of peace. The Vienna Philharmonic is scheduled to perform. And by sheer, wonderful coincidence, Bosnia & Herzegovina’s national soccer team will make its first appearance in the World Cup.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s history is tragic, its future uncertain. Here’s hoping that enough good people, there and abroad, will invest in that future, so that history can finally be on Bosnians’ side.

Update, Feb. 11: Thanks to able translators, an impressive — and growing — collection of Bosnians’ own statements and commentary about the ongoing, peaceful demonstrations is now widely available, in English, at the new site “Bosnia-Herzegovina Protest Files.”  

Update, Feb. 10: More analysis of /political fallout from the weekend’s protests. See The Balkanist’s live blogs and updates page; the BBC’s “Bosnia Unrest: Bruised and Bitter in Sarajevo,” on the multi-ethnic and multi-generational character of the protests; and Slavoj Žižek’s “Anger in Bosnia” (The Guardian).   

Update, Feb. 9: Citizens are back in the streets of Sarajevo Sunday afternoon, demanding sweeping political reforms and the release of demonstrators arrested Friday. A few fresh links: Jasmin Mujanović’s “It’s Spring At Last in Bosnia and Herzegovina” and his updated “Demands of the People of Tuzla, Sarajevo, and Bihać;” statement from the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo on the protests; Eric Gordy’s observations and predictions and Florian Bieber’s  Thoughts on the Bosnian Protests; and impassioned statements from Valentina Pellizzer, Nick Semwogerere aka “Smooth Deep,” and Damir Nikšić.

Update, Feb. 8: here is a link to a “Declaration by Workers and Citizens of the Tuzla Canton” and Jasmin Mujanović’s latest post “The Demands of the People of Tuzla and Sarajevo.” See also Elvira Jukic’s powerful piece “Sarajevo, My City on Fire” and Tim Judah’s BBC article “Bosnian Protests: A Balkan Spring?

Update, Feb. 7: protests are spreading across the country, to cities like Sarajevo, Mostar, Bihać, and Zenica. Here is a link to an article in English in The Sarajevo Times.

Photograph by the author.

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About Tom Simpson

Tom Simpson teaches religion, ethics, and philosophy at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. Born in 1975 in Olean, NY, he earned the Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Virginia, where he specialized in American religious history. He writes, teaches, and lectures about religion in America, popular culture, Mormonism, and Bosnia. He lives in Exeter with his partner, Alexis Simpson, and their two children.
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One Response to The “Bosnian Spring”: Anniversaries, Protests, and an Uncertain Future

  1. Rick Simpson says:

    Thanks for the information and updates on Bosnia, Tom, as always.

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