The Bosnian Constitutional Court has declared the holiday illegal because it discriminates against Muslim Bosnian Croats and Catholic Croat communities.
Bosnian Serbs held public celebrations to mark the national holiday of their self-governing Serbian republic, defying a Supreme Court ban on the commemorations and U.S. sanctions this week on their leader Milorad Dodik.
January 9 marks the day in 1992 when the Bosnian Serbs declared their own state in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It sparked a devastating war that lasted nearly four years, killing some 100,000 people.
The date also coincides with the Serbian Orthodox Christian holiday, the religious factor that led the Bosnian Constitutional Court to outlaw the holiday because it discriminates against the region’s Muslim Bosnian Croat and Catholic Croat communities.
Sunday’s march was attended by more than 800 armed police, including anti-terrorist troops, gendarmerie and cavalry, who marched through the streets of Banja Luka, the region’s largest city, along with students, veterans and athletes.
Onlookers and marchers waved Serb red, blue and white flags. Members of a special police unit sing songs referring to the Republic of Serbia as a country of Christian heritage.
Reporting from Banja Luka in Bosnia, Al Jazeera’s Liliana Smiljanic said that while the date was a “sacred” day for Serbs, it meant something for Bosnians. totally different things.
“them [Bosnian Serbs] Say it [January 9 holiday] Guarantee their freedom and the best conditions to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand, for the Bosnians … it was the beginning of the horrors of war they experienced in the 90s, and later the war crimes and genocide in Srebrenica,” she added.
The parade and other ceremonies were attended by senior officials from neighboring Serbia, including Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Parliament Speaker Ivica Dačić. Russian and Chinese diplomats in Bosnia and several officials from France’s far-right National Unity party were also present.
There is no sign of the Serb regiment of the United Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been deployed to the parade in previous years. Instead, the focus is on militarized police forces, who lead the parade with specially designed combat vehicles as helicopters hover above.
“Without a state, there is no freedom for the Serb people,” Dodik, who currently serves as a Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite inter-ethnic presidency, told a crowd watching the march.
pro-russian nationalists multiple threats Withdraw Serb representatives from Bosnia’s armed forces, tax system and justice system and create separate Serb institutions.
On Wednesday, he was hit with new U.S. sanctions for corruption and threats to Bosnia’s stability and territorial integrity.
The 1995 U.S.-brokered Dayton Peace Agreement ended a three-and-a-half-year ethnic war in Bosnia, dividing the Balkan country into two autonomous regions — the Republic of Serbia and a federation dominated by Bosnian Croats and Croats.
Al Jazeera’s Smyanić said: “Everything he has done and announced he will do is inconsistent with the constitution of Bosnia Herzegovina and the Dayton Peace Accords.”
“It’s the foundation of everything in this country,” she added.
Dodik separatist rhetoric Serb nationalists have been encouraged in recent months, and they have provoked incidents across Republika Srpska in recent days, shooting in the air near mosques during prayers, publicly praising convicted war criminals and threatening their Muslim neighbors.
He described the Bosnians as “second-rate people” and “treacherous converts” who sold their “original” [Orthodox Christian] The Faith of Dinner”.