This post is also available in: Bosnian
Posters of Ratko Mladic went on display on Monday in the windows of the municipality building of East New Sarajevo in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity.
“No one can blame just the Serbs and just one side in the war, and with this, we are not doing anything wrong and no one should be offended by this,” the mayor of East New Sarajevo, Ljubisa Cosic, told BIRN.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia convicted Bosnian Serb Army commander Mladic of genocide and other wartime crimes in a first-instance verdict last November. An appeal is expected.
Cosic explained that the posters were intended as a show of support, saying that “Ratko Mladic was the general of the Army of Republika Srpska, an army in which our fathers, brothers and friends defended and finally created Republika Srpska”.
Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have legal regulations prohibiting displays of support for people who are convicted of war crimes.
“All three sides here [Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs] have the right to do this, but the public only reacts when we do it, and I am surprised by the pressure and hate that I can feel these days because of this,” Cosic said.
The posters drew condemnation from representatives of Bosniak war victims.
“This is, unfortunately, nothing new, since this kind of support is quite constant,” Murat Tahirovic, the president of the Victims and Witnesses of Genocide association, told BIRN.
“For the victims and for those who survived, this is very hard to see,” Tahirovic added.
Bosnian public broadcaster BHRT reported that black-and-white posters were first spotted on February 23 at the municipal building, which also houses the War Veterans’ Association of East Sarajevo, the Slavija Handball Club, the Crafts Chamber of East Sarajevo Region and a transport company called Centrotrans East Sarajevo.
The posters were taken down and then replaced on Monday with colour images of Mladic in uniform.