Defiant Bosnian Serbs celebrate banned ‘statehood’ holiday
BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnian Serbs are celebrating a banned “statehood” holiday in stubborn defiance of the west and their non-Serb compatriots.
A handful of international guests attended the celebration on Tuesday in Banja Luka, the largest city in the Serb-run part of Bosnia. They included Anatoly Bibilov, president of Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia.
The January 9 holiday commemorates the date in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared the creation of an exclusively Serb state in multi-ethnic Bosnia. The act ignited the country’s fratricidal 1992-95 war, which claimed 100,000 lives.
After the war, Republika Srpska became a semi-autonomous region of Bosnia. Non-Serbs who returned to their homes there view the holiday as a celebration of the expulsions they suffered.
Bosnia’s constitutional court banned the holiday in 2015, but Bosnian Serbs have refused to accept the ruling.