Anti-government protests continued across Bosnia for the sixth day on Monday, as thousands called for the resignation of officials and an end to the unemployment, corruption, and the political paralysis that have stalled political and economic reforms.
Protests began Tuesday, Feb. 7 in the northern city of Tuzla, once an industrial center, when thousands of factory workers took to the streets to protest the closure and privatization of local factories.
The protests escalated the next day when police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators, who threw stones at local government buildings and set tires and trash on fire.
By Friday, Feb. 10, the civil unrest had spread across the country, with protestors targeting government buildings; police responding with tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrests; and several local leaders resigning.
In Sarajevo, the country's capital, anti-government protestors fought with riot police who used tear gas and water cannons to dispel protestors trying to force their way into governmental buildings, including the presidential headquarters.
Around 175 people were reported injured in Sarajevo after Friday's clashes, including 93 policemen.
By Monday, Feb. 10, protests had reportedly spread to over a dozen Bosnian cities, as well as Belgrade, Serbia. Solidarity protests are planned for several European cities, including Zagreb, Croatia, and Podgorica, Montenegro, later this week .
Some Bosnian politicians have dismissed the protestors as young hooligans exploiting political and economic difficulties in an election year.
Protestors have countered that the movement reflects widespread dissatisfaction across generations and Bosnia's ethnic groups. So far, the protests have largely occurred in the heavily Croat-Muslim half of the country.
Demonstrators have also accused police of using excessive force and beating detained protestors.
Over the weekend, a mobilizing group called UDAR created a Facebook page and published a video it said captured the people's frustrations and demands.
An estimated 100,000 people died in the Bosnian Civil War that divided the region’s Serbs, Croats, and Muslim Bosniaks. The U.S.-brokered 1995 Dayton Pact ended the civil war and created a decentralized power-sharing system based on ethnic quotas.
With memories of the civil war still raw, commentators say that for years Bosnia’s Serbs, Croats, and Muslims have largely tolerated political and economic inertia rather than risk returning to conflict and reopening old wounds.
Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor
Contact Miriam Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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