The attack by hooligans in Banja Luka on journalists and LGBTIQ activists is not an isolated incident. Everything that happened before and after it shows that the problem is much bigger - this incident is a testimony that minorities in Republika Srpska are undesirable, and that the system has a way to deal with them.
Maybe that sounds excessive, but after all, only such a conclusion is logical. Because the authorities in Republika Srpska demonstrated a gruesome method of reckoning: labelling - dehumanization - intimidation - reckoning - persecution.
WHO WANTS TO BE A MODEL
Regardless of the violence to which activists and journalists were exposed, the president of Republika Srpska and the mayor of Banja Luka stood by their positions. Milorad Dodik stated that he belongs to the opinion that recognises only the traditional family consisting of a father - a man and a mother - a woman, and that children should be raised in this respect, and Draško Stanivuković emphasized again that Banja Lka will remain a bastion of traditionally patriarchal family values.
Thus, the highest representatives of the authorities in Republika Srpska once again declared journalists and activists as persons whose way of life and actions are in contradiction with the traditional values that they allegedly represent. They have repeatedly declared them harmful to society and destroyers of the values on which it rests. When Stanivuković says "we in positions of responsibility are obliged to protect our people", he is consciously singling out minorities he does not like from "our people". Following these instructions, every citizen who wants to be considered "exemplary" has the obligation to protect these values, to stop and punish marked pests.
This is why the behaviour of the police, which, let's remember, is only one of the pillars of government, is completely logical. The police did not prevent the escalation of violence even though they had timely information that it might break out. They didn't even try to protect the victims, on the contrary, their inspector told them to leave the office and thus literally handed them over to the hooligans who surrounded the building. They watched what was happening with folded hands, and one patrol expressly refused to help.
The behaviour of bullies is also logical. They roamed the streets freely, with torches and death threats, as lynch mobs traditionally do. Thanks to Dodik and Stanivuković, the football hooligans on that Saturday night were not ordinary thugs but "exemplary respecters of traditional, patriarchal, family values". That evening, they are honoured with the title of knights who defend the attacked city from immoral barbarians. In defence of family values, they beat women and, as a traditional "thirty to one" bulwark, fell on a journalist and smashed a bottle on his head. Because that's how children should be raised…
SHE IS NOT OURS
Of course, the behaviour of the citizens who denounced the victim to the thugs when she tried to hide among them is also logical. They listened to the authorities' instructions that these were harmful elements of society, an undesirable "scum", and reported in chorus: "She is not ours". She is not theirs, she doesn't belong to them, and she doesn't even look like them, because none of them want to be a minority like her, to be so cruelly rejected by society and persecuted in the streets. They handed her over to the lynch mob, even though they knew her intentions. They agreed with these intentions and approved the violence.
In the end, the police officers told the activists and journalists who sought protection in their station that they could not guarantee their safety and recommended: "that they go to Sarajevo or some other place". This was also said to people who are permanently settled in Banja Luka. If the pillar of power, in charge of security, tells you that he cannot provide it to you, the victim cannot know whether they really cannot or will not. What they know for sure is that they have to leave such an environment if their life is good.
What can we call it? What does that mean? Is it "persecution" or "humane resettlement"?
Both sound terrible and are terrible. It also evokes eerie memories.
SATURDAY NIGHT LYNCH
Unfortunately, it is now certain that it will not stop there. The Association of Journalists of Republika Srpska, close to the government, accused, among others, "unprofessional media for the escalation of violence". Allegedly, the media, not Dodik and Stanivuković, opened the hunt for undesirables. This attitude of the Association of Journalists will surely be used to justify the adoption of a rigorous law by which Dodik plans to discipline the rare media that he still has not brought under control.
It was expected that the President of the RS did not take responsibility for the events. Until now, he has made more dangerous and harmful statements for the stability of the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he has never renounced or retracted. That's why he continues freely. And this time, he repeated the opinion he represents, although he is fully aware that such a statement can bring new persecutions. Stanivuković follows in the footsteps of his political role model. Without any empathy for the victims, he accused non-governmental organizations and announced that the method of their financing would be reviewed. Just as Milorad Dodik announced - that he will soon deal with journalists, government critics and non-governmental organizations in Republika Srpska. Saturday night's lynching can be a demonstration of how they intend to do it.
If you think that lynching in Banja Luka does not concern you, because you do not live there or because you are traditional, religious, have an exemplary family or are loyal to the government, you are mistaken. No one is safe, because the measure of social values is in the hands of fickle people, who easily change political positions and worldviews. Because of this, it can easily happen to any of us that, on any Saturday evening, a circle of people suddenly separates around us and someone says: "This one is not ours".