14 Jan 2022, 20:43

UN concerned by hate speech in Bosnia, Serbia

    GENEVA, Jan 14, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - The United Nations voiced concern Friday

at hate speech and incitement to violence in Bosnia and Serbia, fearing
inflammatory acts will escalate ahead of elections this year.

   Bosnian Serbs celebrated their national day on Sunday marking the creation
of the Republika Srpska (RS) -- Bosnia's Serb entity that was declared three
decades ago.

   It was one of the events seen as putting the country on the path to the
1990s Bosnian War that killed over 100,000 people.

   Rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell said the UN was "deeply concerned"
by incidents that saw individuals "glorify atrocity crimes and convicted war
criminals, target certain communities with hate speech, and, in some cases,
directly incite violence".

  She said people had chanted the name of convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic
during torchlight processions, sung nationalistic songs calling for the
takeover of locations in the former Yugoslavia and fired shots in the air
outside a mosque.

   Local media and victims' associations highlighted that in Foca on Saturday
several hundred people attended a fireworks display organised by Red Star
Belgrade football supporters at which a large portrait of Mladic was unveiled
on a building.

   The former Bosnian Serb general was sentenced to life imprisonment for war
crimes in Bosnia, in particular for the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of

   - Tensions ahead of elections -

   Serbia and Bosnia will hold elections in April and October respectively,
and Throssell warned that "continued inflammatory, nationalistic rhetoric"
risked exacerbating an "extremely tense" political environment in 2022.

   The office of the UN high commissioner for human rights said the failure
to prevent and sanction such acts, which "fuel a climate of extreme anxiety,
fear and insecurity in some communities", was a major obstacle to
reconciliation and building trust.

   Bosnia was effectively split in two by the 1990s peace accords, giving one
half to the country's ethnic Bosnian Serbs, with the other governed by a
Muslim-Croat federation.


  Last month, RS leader Milorad Dodic, the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite
presidency, set in motion plans to withdraw from Bosnia's central

   The move earned fresh financial sanctions from the United States, with
Washington chiding Dodic for attempting to undermine the peace accords.


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