Bosnian Serbs celebrate independence day by defying bans and sanctions


The Bosnian Serbs staged public celebrations to mark the national day of their Autonomous Serbian Republic with the Armed Police Force Parade on Sunday, defying the ban on the commemoration of a Supreme Court and US sanctions imposed on them this week. Chief Milorad Dodik. January 9 marks the date in 1992 when the Bosnian Serbs declared independence, starting a war in which 100,000 people were killed. It also coincides with the Serbian Orthodox Christian holiday.

It was this religious component that led the Bosnian Constitutional Court to declare the holiday illegal because it discriminated against the Croatian Catholic and Bosnian Muslim communities in the region. More than 800 armed police, including members of counterterrorism units, gendarmerie and cavalry, participated in the parade alongside students, veterans and athletes through the streets of the largest city in the region, Banja Luka.

Crowds of spectators and demonstrators waved red, blue and white Serbian flags. Members of a special police unit sang songs referring to the Serbian Republic as a state of Christian heritage. There was no sign of the Bosnian Joint Armed Forces Serbian regiment, which had been deployed for the parade in previous years. Instead, the focus was on the militarized police force, which led the parade with specially designed combat vehicles as helicopters flew overhead.

“There is no freedom for the Serbian people without the state,” said Dodik, currently a Serbian member of the Bosnian interethnic tripartite presidency, in an address to the crowd watching the parade. Dodik, a pro-Russian nationalist, has repeatedly threatened to withdraw Serbian representatives from the Bosnian armed forces, tax system and justice system and to create separate Serbian institutions.

Last Wednesday, he was freshly sanctioned by the United States for corruption and undermining the stability and territorial integrity of Bosnia. The Dayton Peace Agreement brokered by the United States in 1995 ended a 3.5-year ethnic war in Bosnia, dividing the Balkan country into two self-governing regions – the Serbian Republic and the Bosnian-dominated Federation and the Croats.

Dodik’s secessionist rhetoric in recent months has encouraged Serbian nationalists who in recent days have provoked incidents across the Serbian Republic, shooting in the air near mosques during prayers, publicly praising convicted war criminals and threatening their neighbors Muslims.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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