Dear friends of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
We are inviting you to join us today in the “White Armband Day” campaign that aims to draw attention to the discrimination, and continued denial of crimes that were committed against the non-Serb population by the local government in the city of Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
This campaign hopes to counter human rights violations such as the refusal of Prijedor’s local authorities to permit the construction of a memorial for the innocent civilian victims that were killed in the notorious concentration camp at Omarska.
The date May 31, 1992 was the beginning of the campaign of extermination of the non-Serb population in Prijedor, which resulted in the ethnic cleansing of 94% of the Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Bosnian Croat (Bosnian Catholic) population from the Prijedor municipality. Today, the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBH) commemorates the 27th anniversary of when the Serb authorities in Prijedor ordered all the non-Serb residents to mark their houses with a white flag or sheet, and to wear a white armband if they left their house. As a result of ethnic cleansing of the Prijedor municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the town of Kozarac – 53,000 of its Bosniak residents were expelled from their homes, some 3,176 unarmed civilians were executed, and 31,000 civilians were interned in various Serb run concentration camps. This was the first time since 1939 – when the Nazi decree required the Polish Jews to wear white armbands with the Star of David on their sleeve – that members of an ethnic or religious group were marked for extermination in such a manner.
In May of 2012, the Prijedor police banned a public gathering commemorating the brutal murder of 266 women and children during the war of aggression against BiH, and the municipal assembly passed a directive to criminally persecute human rights activist from Prijedor.
On December 10, 2012, as the international community commemorated the 64th International Human Rights Day, the Prijedor police placed itself above BiH’s smaller entity’s Republika Srpska law and banned a peaceful march that aimed to mark this anniversary.
In 2013, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) uncovered one of the biggest mass graves in the Prijedor municipality at the Tomasica mines. ICMP is in the process of excavating Bosniak and Croat victims that were killed in the summer of 1992 by the Serb forces.
Today, thousands of people all over the world commemorate, and draw attention to the ongoing human rights abuses of Prijedor’s non-Serb population, and call on the local authorities to allow for the construction of a monument for the 102 children that were killed in 1992.
Please join us today in wearing a white armband and stand in solidarity with the victims of human rights abuses in Prijedor. ACBH urges the international community, as well as international and local human rights organizations to stand with us in defending the freedom of peaceful assembly and basic human rights of marginalized groups in Prijedor.