Authorities in Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity continue to deny the right of Bosniaks to be taught the Bosnian language in schools and maintain discriminatory policies toward Bosniaks as a result of international institutions not reacting to such breaches adequately for years, RS Vice-President Ramiz Salkic wrote in a letter to international institutions in Bosnia.
The letter addressed to the Office of the High Representative and Peace Implementation Council, institutions which oversee the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, as well as to the EU Delegation and OSCE Mission in the country, came following developments in the eastern town of Zvornik, where Bosniaks several Bosniak children missed the first day of school after the principal changed the language they were learning from ‘Bosnian’ to ‘Language of the Bosniak people’.
According to Salkic, the new school year began “in the old environment of systemic discrimination and apartheid in the educational process in the RS entity, which is fully Orthodox and adapted to Serb children."
"The goal of such an education system in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina is for all those who are not Serbs or Orthodox to leave it, or to put it better, to be expelled from it," he argued.
"This (RS) government does not accept the rulings of domestic and international courts regarding various parts of daily life which mainly concern Bosniaks, the truth and justice. This government doesn’t implement decisions by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Supreme Court of the RS, the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia,” he wrote.
“The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has clearly stated that the entity government has no right to impose the name of the language of Bosniaks in the RS entity, but they only have a right to do this according to the RS entity Constitution,” he added.
Salkic mentioned that the RS Supreme Court has also ruled that the RS government has breached the rights of Bosniak parents and students by depriving them of their national group of subjects.
“All of this was not enough for the government in the entity to end the apartheid and the discrimination they are committing against Bosniak children,” he stressed.
International institutions have clearly stated repeatedly that the existence of the Bosnian language is not questionable and this is also clearly stated in the Constitution and the law, as well as that parents and students are those who decide what language they will be taught in schools and not the government, he wrote.
This behaviour by RS authorities was encouraged by international institutions only mildly reacting to such breaches throughout the years, he stressed, adding that that the international community must stop the years-long “agony” of Bosniaks in the RS.
"Consider this address as an appeal by disenfranchised Bosniaks in every sense in this entity and an invitation to take steps so that you will not have to express regret in the future. It may be too late in a few years,” he wrote.