Human Rights on the Agenda Protest March: Together for the Better Future

dsc_0691-smallHuman Rights Day is celebrated on 10 December since 1950, when two years earlier, by signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which are inherent in all human beings regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status.

This year several organizations headed by the Sarajevo Open Centre, Foundation CURE and Civil Rights Defenders from Sarajevo, decided to invite all civil society organizations, activists and citizens to protest walk, indicating the violation of the rights and dignity of all of us, calling out institutions and country, that as a signatory to the Universal declaration is required to provide protection, services, answers and solutions to its citizens on the brutality with which we live from day to day.

People who came to the march came from their own personal motives and reasons. And no, this was not pride; this was a march, a protest, for the rights of all of us!

For those who were not with us this time, you should know the messages we have sent! Yes, it was Saturday and institutions did not work – the building of the Federal Parliament, building of the Sarajevo Canton, the Presidency and the Parliamentary Assembly were not working, they were empty, except perhaps a doorman or security, but we were intentionally stopping in front of the mentioned institutions symbolically sending our messages.

If you were there, you would have seen that banners carried different messages: that we demand clean air, while government is assuring us that the air we breathe in is not polluted; we demand Student Parliament to be returned to students, and not to the party protégés who represent their ideology (mainly national parties); we demand that not even one woman should be invisible (housewives, Roma women, women with disabilities, single mothers); we demand that workers’ rights must be respected and that tax reforms that affect the working people are not in our favour; we demand prosecution of murderers and criminals and more effective and faster reaction of Prosecutors, while we are being killed in the streets of Sarajevo; we demand faster, more adequate access to medical services, while they are abolishing clinics and wanting to close the hospitals; we asked for the public space to be returned to the citizens, at a time when there are fewer parks and playgrounds.

This was a march and protest for all of us – for safe streets, for a dignified health services, for workers’ rights, for hijab, for minorities, for lesbian, gay and transgender people, for sanctioning hate speech, for everything that affects each and every one of us.

People we passed by during our march-route were waving, applauding, read banners and stood with us.

Protesters were people from different spectrum of organizations – organizations that provide our youth (informal) education, which is not provided by the state school system; organizations that help those in need; women who are on the field helping other women; organizations that help victims of violence in the absence of that aid from the state.

There were citizens whose parents are waiting months for procedures in hospitals, young people whose friends and school colleagues were killed on the streets of Sarajevo by drivers, young and old who want to have a decent payment for their work and all of us who are tired of waiting for the state and government to do its job. The same government we pay, that in best case scenarios, expresses its deep concern over injustice towards its citizens. In the worst case, they assure us that all is well, that the air is not polluted, that our health care is accessible, that they work on the worker’s rights and that this city is safe to live in.

For those of you, who weren’t with us, and read a few lines on march in your favourite news portals, all you’ve seen were rainbow flags. Yes, there were rainbow flags; there were other flags as well. And we will continue to walk, to talk, to carry flags and banners to call names of those in power who do not do their job, and we will keep protesting and demanding.

If you were with us you would’ve known that we have finished the march-route in front of the Faculty of Philosophy commemorating the murder of two female students, with a minute of silence, who were killed by a driver who has had a series of fines.

We care, and you – who you were not with us this time, we invite you to come next year. Bring your flags, banners and demands.

This concerns all of us.