Interview: Milica Ubavić “Don’t let your life be ruled by prejudices, fears and other people’s interests”

Milica Ubavić is first and foremost a Banja Luka woman with heart and soul, who remembers her city even through the most difficult times and who, as she says, survived many exoduses with her fellow citizens, and thus believes that Banja Luka will fight with its brave fellow citizens through this difficult period in which it is now.

She is a teacher of Serbian language and literature, and she took numerous generations of students on the road from Banja Luka’s school desks. In Banja Luka, she finished elementary school, high school, pedagogical academy and philological faculty. As a civil activist, he has been fighting for the truth about the murder of Banja Luka student David Dragičević for two years. It is her vow as a teacher and educator, because this fight is a fight for all those she taught to step out of school into the world of adults. That world must be better for them, to be safe above all. And that certainly isn’t now. The basic human and democratic rights of every human being have been violated, and youth is leaving school to another world. Milica essentially stood in the square in March 2018 next to her students, because children and youth actually started that fight for truth and justice that continues today. This story reminds us of another difficult time, when professors and teachers also stood by their students in Šumarice near Kragujevac on October the 21. 1941. Along with our students, for better or for worse, we can freely say that the personal slogan is Milica Ubavić.

Dear Milica, you have been in education and in contact with young people for many years. How much did that affect your attitude and determination to get involved in civil activism?

Last summer in Parkić, a former student of mine, now a young woman, approached me at a protest and enthusiastically said: “I knew you would be there!” I never thought about the influence of educators on students outside the classroom and the educational process, nor is nonverbal communication an area we can fully control. This sympathetic line from Parkić confirmed to me that we all, without exception and often unconsciously, represent some political option or philosophical position. The work with children did not affect my essential commitments at all, but it did have a concrete activity and engagement in the marathon two-and-a-half-year protest of the informal group of citizens Justice for David and in the political subject Justice Movement.

From the first day, you were a participant in the protest in Banja Luka of Justice for David. Did you have problems because of your activism?

First I had big problems at work, and then I went to the protests. Let me explain. About ten years ago, I was faced with a very obscure mechanism by which power functions. A new type of party functionary has appeared – the absolute master of your destiny. The brutal murder of David Dragičević, which horrified Banja Luka and the entire country, and the reckless cover-up of that crime by the current government, among other things, showed everyone how that government works. Most of all, I was struck by the dehumanization of the victim, a well-known tactic of Nazi Germany. It is difficult to force an honest majority to participate in the crime in any way, but with strong propaganda, that is also possible. I knew immediately that nothing could be done there, I knew the mental structure of the killers and accomplices, I knew that they would not stop until they destroyed the Dragičević s family. There is no point in whether any of us will have problems, the goal is to get out of this mud together and build a healthy society. If that doesn’t happen, then, at least for me, it doesn’t matter what happens. Who would want to live in such a country at all? I do not.

What is your attitude towards the discrimination against you by the members of the Ministry of the Interior, because you yourself were accused of disturbing public order and peace by standing in front of the Church of Christ the Savior in Banja Luka? The court ruled that you did not commit any offense.

We claim that there is discrimination, that the most important institutions have been privatized, that the laws are arbitrarily interpreted as if we were in the market, and not in the state of the 21st century, and every misdemeanor report is proof that we are right. Are we, the citizens, to blame for such an attitude of the police and institutions in general towards ourselves?

Photo: Milica Ubavić, private archive

Citizens do not have a subservient and serf mentality. Civic awareness is acquired, developed and nurtured. A crucial role is played by the school, which is obliged to enable the child to think critically and solve problems creatively from an early age. It is a very annoying and unpopular topic. But also the answer to why every school reform has failed.

How did you decide to take that step to enter political waters and try to change something in your city with your work through the City Assembly?

The most important thing now for the Justice Movement is to enter the City Assembly and participate in deciding its fate. We can be very loud and visible. We have simple and concrete goals: transparency in the work of all institutions, legality in work and strict sanctioning of non-compliance with the law, inventory – accountability, security, healthy environment … everything that concerns normal, everyday life. High politics and some foggy, far better future do not interest us at all, because we know very well what is behind it.

How did your family and friends react to your decision?

Positive, with a small dose of fear. This fight lasts a really long time and goes with some of its natural course. My friends have been with Justice from the beginning, so nothing is controversial or unclear to anyone. Together we got rid of some stereotypes and prejudices for these two and a half years, and in that sense this activism had a positive effect on personal growth and development.

What are your goals that you will advocate for at the local level if you enter the City Assembly as a councilor?

We enter the Assembly as the Justice Movement, not as individuals. This is a kind of “pre-political” time and will firmly adhere to the Movement’s program. The biggest problem is definitely the privatization of institutions. This practice must stop once, but someone must also raise their voice. That is why we insist on going uncompromisingly to the end, which everyone resents, because there are no negotiations about the basic postulates of a healthy society.

How do you see your city in the future?

The future of Banja Luka is in the hands of its citizens. We can get more concrete, cut the remaining alleys, additionally poison the air and make a sewer from Vrbas. On the other hand, we can be the economic, cultural and tourist center of the region, a university city, an area where healthy home-made food comes from … It depends only on us.

Photo: Milica Ubavić, private archive

Do you think that the citizens of Banja Luka are sufficiently awakened and aware, and therefore ready for change?

The citizens of Banja Luka are exhausted, tired, disappointed, and even scared. The future is uncertain for us, and the results of the work of the previous government are visible at every step and are not at all commendable. Nothing improves our quality of life, on the contrary. The elections will show how ready the citizens are for change, or better, how apathetic and uninterested they are in their own future. I am an optimist in this case.

What would you like to say to your fellow citizens at the end of this interview?

I can tell my fellow citizens the same as I tell my students – think critically, with your head, do not let your life be ruled by prejudices, fears and other people’s interests.

Retrieved from: Author: Slobodna riječ

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