Enemies in War. Brothers in Peace
Two decades ago these men were the worst of enemies, looking at each other over the front line, strategizing how to kill each other. They wanted to fulfill dreams about nation, freedom, and independence. In those years they blindly followed an ideological approach to life, or perhaps tribal based on their families or ethnic groups. Their aims were not accomplished, but the sacrifice remains. At the end of the war many of them joined the Bosnian national army forces, hoping to work on improving security situation under NATO; that also would not happen.
The federal government decided to downsize the national armed forces. The soldiers were demombilized with promises of a paycheck that never came. Approximately one thousand man who once fought against each other come to the plaza in front of the seat of the federal government several months ago, establishing a permanent tent camp. They started a hunger strike and asked the government to find funds in the upcoming budget for them. Some money was actually budgeted for this purpose -- without being distributed.
During the last Balkan war, Semir Kasipovic was a member of Bosnian Army later. Later, he joined the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the time of protests, during March and April, he was unemployed without the slightest chance of getting a job in the near future.
“I don't know how to get a job," he says. "Nobody wants to hire me. I live by charity. People bring me a pound of potatoes to cook,” Kasipovic says.
During the cold days and nights on the sidewalk in front of the Parliament, Kasipovic was joined by many Serbs and Croats who were his mortal enemies. They embraced each other as brothers and closest family. They forgot all about fighting. Former Republic Srpska Army member Rade Zivatovic said in those days that incredible thing is that those who create the laws don’t obey the same. His colleagues from the Croatian Council of Defense (HVO), the main Croatian armed force during the war, agreed.
In the past couple of weeks one of the verterans died due to complications from a hunger strike upon previous health problems. Others returned to their homes expecting positive news from the Bosnian government. But there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
The government had told them: "Listen guys. We’ll put you in the budget, and you’ll get your pensions." But they didn’t tell them that the veterans' pensions would be the first budget line on the chopping block when they started funding their own political projects.
In some other country they might be seen as heroes, well worth of every respect, but in Bosnia today they’re third class citizens. In an recent interview to the Bosnian Face TV they said they would be ready to go again and fight for same ideals for which they fought in the war; but truthfully, they wouldn't fight again if they knew what to expect of the post-war future.
Esmir Milavic is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist