Two tragedies, two murders, united two brave fathers, two families and numerous activists from all over BiH in search of justice, regardless of religion and nation. BiH rulers use every opportunity to incite hatred and nationalism. They do this with the aim of distracting the public from real and crucial issues. They are aware that united and aware citizens are a great threat to crime in their ranks. We can rightly say that the informal groups of citizens Justice for David and Justice for Dzenan, as well as the legal struggle of their lawyer, Ifet Feraget, are a sociological phenomenon of post-war BiH. New pages of BiH history are written with a positive example of unity and perseverance.
By: Dzenita Strukan; Photo: Milica Vekic
It is an unacceptable fact that we live in a country where, as lawyer Feraget often says, there is an attempt to create a discourse of neutralizing the responsibility of all those whose responsibility is evident. We pay dearly for the guild of our apathy and low level of awareness of the rule of law, justice and freedom, and a life worthy of a man. It is hard to shake off the impression that we have culturally become a reality show people, bullfighting, turbo-folk, partocracy and nepotism. We vowed collective silence and interesting disapproval. But our country Bosnia and Herzegovina, although it starts where all logic ends, has its heroes. Every era has them. These are honest people who have dared to seek, no less and no more, than their basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the European Convention. One of them is a young woman from Banja Luka, Sofija Grmusa, the president of Citizens’ Association Path of Justice (Put pravde) and an active member of Justice for David (Pravda za Davoda) from the first day.
“I knew David, we were neighbors and lived in the same block. He was my younger sister’s best friend. At the criminal press organized by the Ministry of the Interior, two days after the discovery of David’s lifeless body, they criminalized David in the most horrible way. I knew everything they said about him was a lie. That was a sufficient motive for me to stand up and stay with his parents, until we get the final justice for David “, states Sofija.
From the beginning of the protest until today, members of Justice for David have been exposed to intense pressure and threats, police violence, slander and provocations. Despite this, they did not give up in the fight for justice.
“After all the harassment, insults, misdemeanor and criminal charges, only one thing is worth it. That those who took one young life are criminally liable. But also all the participants in covering up the murder and persecution of David’s parents and members of Justice for David “, Grmusa points out.
Sofija, as one of the most prominent activists, was arrested for the first time on December 25, 2018, on the day when police brutality reached its peak. Masked special forces beat with their truncheons bare-handed, peaceful and dignified citizens gathered in the square, mostly elderly people, women and children. David’s parents, Davor Dragicevic and Suzana Radanovic, were also arrested that day.
“For me personally, those days are the hardest I have ever lived in my life. In those days, ordinary citizens were persecuted by the RS Ministry of the Interior, as if they were the biggest criminals. They hunted us like wild beasts, ”she recalls in disbelief.
From April 2019 to October 2020, the communal police destroyed David’s heart dozens of times at the confluence of the Crkvena and Vrbas. It is a space marked with flowers and candles, at the place where David’s tortured body was found. After each of their acts people planted new flowers. This is called Defiance. This resistance to evil and villains, the struggle between love and hate, is reminiscent of the battle between David and Goliath. Members of Justice for David visit and maintain the estuary with David’s grandmother every day.
“This place is one of the saddest in this city. It must remain as a reminder and memory for all generations to come. I would like to point out that the orders issued to destroy the flowers at the estuary come exclusively from the Centar Police Station. The mention of David bothers them the most. It is also clear why is theat so “, notes Sofija.
She says that since 2018, no one feels safe in a city where murderers and classmates walk freely, while hundreds of lawsuits are being conducted against Justice activists for David because of the shout “justice”.
At the end of 2019, Sofia and her colleague Aleksandra Ninić Vranješ filed a lawsuit against the RS Ministry of the Interior, due to the discrimination to which they were exposed. In December last year, the Banja Luka Basic Court ruled that police continued to discriminate against members of Justice for David. However, Sofia says that the verdict does not mean any satisfaction to her in relation to everything that David’s parents and people who support them in the uncompromising fight have gone through.
“In the last three and a half years, we, have lost our private lives. We have subordinated them to the struggle for truth and justice. I say this with pride, because what is worth fighting for if not for human life? One thing is for sure, and that is to go to the end “, adds Sofija.
Citizens’ association Path of Justice carries out a series of activities aimed at domestic and international institutions. Behind them are two international conferences and five public debates. With these and similar projects, they insist on establishing the rule of law. Since July this year, as part of the Anti-Corruption Campaign, they have been surveying the public about the work of prosecutor’s offices in the RS.
“We organized an anti-corruption campaign with the aim of raising public awareness about prosecutors. We have the opportunity to see how uninformed citizens are and how closed and non-transparent the prosecutor’s office is as an institution. Our Third International Conference will be held on October 30 in Banja Luka. The public will then have the opportunity to hear a detailed analysis of the research. I must point out that the citizens are mostly of the opinion that, according to the hierarchy, politicians are the ones who appoint judges and prosecutors to their positions. “It is a devastating fact for the judiciary, which should be impartial,” she said indignantly.
Sofija explains that the ethnic divisions that political parties in both RS and FBiH persistently heat up serve exclusively as a cover. Fictional conflicts are used to cover up crime and the enormous enrichment of several families. It is unequivocal that ethnic divisions are one of the greatest barriers to the progress and recovery of our society, which has fallen into a deep moral crisis.
“We believe in the victory of justice. By resolving the Dragicevic and Memic cases, we will not need judicial reform. But if judicial institutions do not do their job and do not tackle crime, only worse will follow. “BiH will become a country of the elderly in a few years, and as such it will be a burden to the whole of Europe,” Sofija believes.
The members of Justice for David have experienced much in the past three and a half years. It is difficult, as Sofija says, to single out anything as the most important. The most difficult moments for her were David’s disappearance, the discovery of his lifeless body, police persecution, the exhumation of David’s remains and their relocation to Austria.
“Strength is something that cannot be found. We carry it within us. Truth and justice are the values that guide us. We do not want a country where murderers and criminals walk freely. Everyone must understand that power is in the people and that this is our state. Justice for David and Dzenan means justice for all of us “, says the fearless Sofija.
Justice has no alternative, and it is a human and moral duty to serve it and to stand up for it. Without truth, justice is unattainable. The truth is the child of time. It is often repressed, but never defeated and destroyed. The ancient Romans often said: “The truth will live forever!” The “wounded stone” will stay in Sarajevo, in Ilidžanska alley to whisper in silence about Muriz’s strength. Two fragrant quinces will remain in Banja Luka, as a symbol of Davor’s love. Some new kids will learn about fatherly love, courage, kindness, honesty and perseverance that have fought against the evil and injustice of a rotten, ugly and criminal system.
This text was created as part of the project “Free Media for a Free Society”, implemented by the Association of BiH Journalists and the Association of Electronic Media in BiH, under the auspices of the European Union. The content of the text is the sole responsibility of Citizens’ association “eTrafika.net” and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.