[Vive la révolution en Bosnie !] « Nous sommes en train d’écrire l’histoire »

« Je n’ai pas pris les armes pour cette Bosnie-là »

REPORTAGE À Sarajevo, un « plénum des citoyens » se tient quotidiennement pour organiser la contestation contre la corruption et les bas-salaires. Libération a suivi les débats.

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Pour ce manifestant, « la révolution est la seule solution ». Le 11 février à Sarajevo.

La jeune femme aux cheveux courts s’époumone dans son micro : « Je rappelle aux participants qu’ils s’inscrivent en leur nom propre dans les groupes de travail et qu’ils ne représentent qu’eux-mêmes. Nous ne sommes pas là pour qu’on nous manipule ». Sous les applaudissements, chacun s’efforce de regagner le groupe qui l’intéresse. Les six groupes désignés brandissent des affichettes : groupe pour les médias, groupe pour la formulation des revendications… Les autres parleront de coopération, de logistique, etc. « La formation des revendications, c’est sérieux, reprend la jeune fille. Il nous faut des juristes. Quant à ceux qui ne veulent pas entrer dans un groupe, rendez-vous demain ici à 17h30. D’ici là, qu’ils profitent de leur dimanche et du beau temps. » Il faut dire que le temps s’est mis à l’unisson de ce printemps bosniaque : en cette mi-février, il fait presque 20 degrés et le soleil réchauffe les cœurs et les corps.

Les Sarajéviens qui protestent depuis onze jours contre la corruption, les bas salaires, et l’aggravation de leurs conditions de vie redécouvrent la pratique de la démocratie directe. À l’instar de ce qui s’est passé à Tuzla, la vieille ville industrielle en capilotade d’où est parti le mouvement social, un « plénum des citoyens » se tient depuis mercredi [12 février] dans la capitale de la Bosnie-Herzégovine. Ses réunions sont quotidiennes et ouvertes à tous.

Ce dimanche, quelque 50 personnes se sont inscrites dans le groupe pour la formulation des revendications, une vingtaine dans celui pour les médias. C’est ce dernier qui aura désormais affaire aux journalistes, un rude travail après toutes les horreurs balancées contre « les vandales et les hooligans » qui ont incendié le 7 février la présidence de la fédération par des médias peu scrupuleux et souvent aux ordres. « Bien sûr que ce n’est pas bien de mettre le feu aux immeubles, mais sans cela, personne n’aurait fait attention à nous. Maintenant on en parle dans le monde entier », explique Djenita, une vétérinaire au chômage, qui ne manque pas une seule manif.

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Deuxième plénum de Sarajevo, vendredi 14 février.

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Limitation des salaires des responsables politiques

Le mouvement se veut sans leader, sans porte-parole. « L’idée qui est partie de Tuzla est de permettre que s’expriment des gens qui n’ont jamais eu la parole, et qui n’ont jamais été entendus », explique Valentina, une féministe italienne mariée à un Bosniaque qui s’est beaucoup investie dans le démarrage du plénum. Chaque soir, des dizaines de personnes s’inscrivent pour parler devant le millier de personnes que rassemble chaque réunion du plénum. « J’ai pris les armes adolescent, mais je ne me suis pas battu pour cet État-là », dit l’un des participants qui appelle les vétérans des guerres ex-yougoslaves des années 90 à se raccrocher au mouvement.

« Je travaille au tribunal et je peux vous dire que c’est une entreprise familiale », dit une autre en soulignant que le procureur a placé une de ses sœurs au parquet et une autre en tant que juge. « Je propose que chaque politicien en fonction verse 2% de son salaire pour soigner les enfants démunis », lance un autre.

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Les travaux du 14 février. Adresse des citoyens au Parlement du canton de Sarajevo.

En quatre jours, le plénum a déjà reçu plus de 1000 propositions et revendications qu’il fera suivre aux responsables du canton de Sarajevo. La Bosnie d’après guerre est divisée en deux entités : la republika srpska qui est un État centralisé, et la fédération divisée elle en dix cantons croates et bosniaques musulmans. Ce système, issu des accords de paix de Dayton de 1995, fait de la Bosnie-Herzégovine un État particulièrement coûteux. « Mais ce n’est pas cela qui est remis en question. Ce n’est pas Dayton qui est responsable des privilèges que s’octroient les politiciens, ou des privatisations entre amis », dit Valentina. Pour ne pas être accusés de faire le jeu d’un groupe ethnique ou d’un autre, le plénum a donc décidé de s’adresser aux autorités locales, celles du canton. Dix autres villes ont déjà créé les leurs, dont Mostar, où Croates et Bosniaques se sont réunis autour d’objectifs communs.

À Tuzla, le plénum a demandé et obtenu que le parlement local supprime le droit des anciens élus à toucher leur salaire pendant une année suivant la fin de leur mandat. La même revendication est avancée par le plénum de Sarajevo. Parmi les demandes les plus fréquentes, et qui ont déjà été soumise au vote des présents, figurent la nomination d’un gouvernement non-partisan d’experts et la limitation des salaires des responsables politiques à deux salaires moyens. « Un politicien ne peut pas gagner 6000 marks convertibles (3000 euros) quand des retraités touchent 120 KM (60 euros). Sans compter qu’ils ne payent souvent ni leur essence, ni leur électricité », souligne un participant.

Déjà le besoin de faire des sous-groupes se fait sentir. Les uns parleront de la santé, d’autres de l’éducation, ou des transports, bref de tout ce qui fait la vie quotidienne et qui fout le camp. « Je sens que nous sommes en train d’écrire l’histoire », dit Valentina. Avec un grand H, naturellement.

Presse contre-révolutionnaire (Hélène Despic-Popovic, envoyée spéciale à Sarajevo, Liberation.fr, 17 février 2014)

 

Sometimes a plenum is just a plenum…

“Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.” –Amilcar Cabral

Reading the news tonight (Feb 14), you could perhaps glean that something unusual is going on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Somewhere in between entertainment news, the war in Syria, and the squawking of local political party hacks, there would be a short report about the citizen plenum in Sarajevo or Mostar or Tuzla, or wherever else. You could even perhaps figure out that the people at these meetings are awfully unhappy with their regional governments, but not much more than that. And on the rare occasion that a somewhat longer piece got through the editorial desk, it usually consisted of first impressions by somewhat more famous participants. For example, Mladen Jeličić-Troka said about the plenum in Sarajevo: “this was a collective therapy session where everyone could air their grievances and use up some of that adrenalin”; Asim Mujkić claimed that “this form of citizen organizing is promising, and we should keep it as a corrective to the system of parliamentary democracy”; while Srećko Horvat went the furthest, saying that “the protests are not enough on their own. This is why it’s good news that all over Bosnia, plenums were being created, where citizens finally have a chance…to decide their own destiny.” For Horvat, the plenums are therefore “definitely the most important surprise coming out of the protests.” And so, only with Horvat’s commentary did anyone even remember to mention the protests — but alas, only for long enough to declare them less important than the plenum.

There is nothing weird or bad that a professor of political science (Mujkić) or an intellectual like Horvat would see the most value in that which is the most familiar to them: discussions and exchange of opinions in a public meeting. But there is something truly perfidious in the media that found it appropriate to interview intellectuals and cultural workers about the citizens’ plenums, even while a thousand of those citizens — in Sarajevo alone! — showed up and could have been interviewed at such plenums — they who used up their “adrenalin” to express just how much this system had humiliated them, denied them basic rights, made them bitter and brought them to the very edge of existence. Because, you see, had they interviewed them, they would have had to show the very thing that was nowhere to be found in yesterday’s news — namely, the deeply class-based nature of this rebellion, the sheer hunger and bitterness of these citizens who came not only for the “collective therapy”  as Jeličić would have it, but in order to transform some of that anger, sadness, and despair into some action for a better tomorrow.  Maybe then the media would also have to show the rather uncomfortable and unrefined expressions of the people who do not have any distance from the anger and social unrest that transformed into violence last week, the distance that highly educated cultural workers and professors whose opinions I was reading last night could have.

In other words, while that past Friday I could hear and read something about the socio-economic problems of workers, students, the unemployed, about the corruption of the entire government system in this state, about the kleptocratic privatization that was enacted over the backs of precisely those workers in Tuzla who brought out all of Bosnia onto the streets — tonight, I couldn’t find any of it. The violence that happened just a week ago was already well past us, there only in so far as we were all distancing ourselves from it, having forgotten, of course, that such violence is only a reaction to the kind of violence perpetrated by this state for over 20 years. And what is more important, that as soon as the violence stopped, so have the government step downs.

Today, we’re all talking about the plenums, but without any context or any idea what these people are doing there and what brought them into that gathering to begin with or what they are planning as their next step. To make matters worse, no one is questioning the causes or the consequences of this entire rebellion, but rather, most are reflecting on the psychological or the intellectual effects of the gathering itself. Well, damn it, it seems that the buildings of the cantonal governments went up in flames because they wouldn’t let us have plenums earlier!

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Grève des travailleurs de l’hôtel Holiday Inn.

This is also why, I guess, it didn’t occur to anyone to connect what was happening at the plenum in Sarajevo with today’s strike of all 140 workers of the Holiday hotel; that is, to show how these plenums were set up exactly for the purpose of organizing a more constructive type of rebellion than the spontaneous one that had engulfed all of Bosnia last week, and with such organization, bring about basic changes in this society so that it would no longer be possible for hotel owners to hold 140 workers as slaves for months! It also didn’t occur to anyone to connect the Mostar plenum with the shameful and cowardly attack on Josip Milić, the president of the Union of independent Labor Unions of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While fascists with baseball bats understand quite well who, why, and in what way is responsible for the rebellion, such a lesson escapes the Bosnian media. The same is in Tuzla, where you can find dozens of statements by professor Damir Arsenijveć, before you will hear just one interview with the workers of Dita or with some other everyday victims of this system.

What is a plenum and what is its purpose?

Catharsis is important, to literature professors as much as to those who are living the tragedy of “transition” in Bosnia today. OK, let that be one of the functions of the plenum. But the way the media have served up the plenums, it seems like they are a pure idyll of some liberal understanding of democracy, in which, you see, the people came to lead themselves out of trouble, on some magical path akin to the one Alice in Wonderland takes. Except, it’s unclear which way or by what means one should go on such a path.

What is lost in all of that is that a plenum is first and foremost a meeting of citizens, not for the purpose of the meeting itself, but explicitly for some other purpose. These people at plenums were not there to supplement representative democracy, nor were they there to fruitlessly complain – the latter is a sport so well developed in Sarajevo cafés that people don’t need an excuse to engage in it. Those thousand people who showed up tonight at the Youth Hall in Sarajevo came to plan out their next move: the torch had been lit in Tuzla Friday a week ago; people have been on the streets for 8 days straight; but now that spontaneity has to be organized into a program, into some plan by which they would reach the demands that were read out tonight.

Demands are one thing; the path to their realization something different. And that is precisely the purpose of the plenum: to organize that same crowd on the streets, but what is more important, to find a way to organize the 93% (in the Federation) or 88% (in Bosnia/Herzegovina as a whole) of citizens that support this rebellion privately but are still waiting on the sidelines, fearful or unconvinced that this could possibly work. To organize them to join the protests and a movement that will create some other system that should be more just than the one we have now. But that new system will not fall down from the sky at one of the plenums; rather, the small army that has gathered at the plenums will organize it in the streets and squares of the cities, at workplaces and unions, at universities and high schools, and in the final analysis, in the homes and lives of those silent 88% of Bosnia’s citizens.

So, to return to comrade Cabral from the beginning: People who struggle for something, never struggle just for ideas, the way it might seem to us professors at times; they always and in every case, fight for concrete improvements of their work conditions and life, as well as the work conditions and lives of their compatriots. So, when the next plenum starts in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar, Bihać, etc, remember these regular people and ask them what they think about the whole thing and why they are there. The answers might (un)pleasantly surprise you.

Marina Antić – BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA PROTEST FILES (version originale : MediaCentar Online, 15 février 2014)

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1 Response to [Vive la révolution en Bosnie !] « Nous sommes en train d’écrire l’histoire »

  1. bzz says:

    Révolte sociale en Bosnie : un soulèvement populaire au-delà des querelles ethniques
    http://balkans.courriers.info/article24295.html

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