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Response to NYT Editorial on Bosnia

1 August 2006

Dear Sir,

We read with concern your Editorial “Now Some Good News”, (Aug 16 2006). Your picture of Bosnia as a ‘mostly harmonious country…now free of ethnic violence’ is very different from the reality. Bosnia today is a society where segregation and discrimination, far from being reduced, are entrenched in law.

In Bosnia, the Bosniaks (Muslim), Croats and Serbs, have been given official superior status as “constituent peoples”. Minorities including the Roma and Jewish communities, are officially labelled “others” and have a second class status. They are legally excluded even from the Presidency of the country, making Bosnia the only country in Europe where citizens are legally denied political participation on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.

This segregation is a product of the ‘robust international’ (but also unaccountable) force that you laud. While it is true that the international community did not stint, finances and forces have been focussed on providing short-term solutions.

The international community should be wary of applauding a model that has entrenched discrimination, not removed it, and of applying this model in Iraq. Both countries deserve a democracy which is not rigidly divided, but where all peoples are given full equality regardless of ethnicity or religion.

Yours faithfully,

Clive Baldwin
Head of International Advocacy
Minority Rights Group International
54 Commercial Street
London, UK

Claude Cahn
Programmes Director
European Roma Rights Centre
H-1016 Budapest
Naphegy tér 8.

Sheri P. Rosenberg
Clinical Professor of Law
Director, Human Rights and Genocide Clinic
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Yeshiva University
Brookdale Center
55 Fifth Avenue
New York, USA