The United Nations has voiced deep concern over hate speech and incitement to violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia, fearing inflammatory acts will escalate ahead of elections this year.
The concern was raised on Friday over incidents during the celebrations of the national day of Bosnian Serbs on January 9, marking the creation of the Republika Srpska (RS), Bosnia’s Serb entity.
Incidents saw people “glorify atrocity crimes and convicted war criminals, target certain communities with hate speech, and, in some cases, directly incite violence,” rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell said.
The creation of the RS was one of the events seen as putting the country on the path to the 1990s Bosnian War that killed over 100,000 people.
Throssell said people had chanted the name of convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic, sung nationalistic songs calling for the takeover of locations in the former Yugoslavia, and fired shots in the air outside a mosque.
The former Bosnian Serb general, also known as the “Butcher of Bosnia” was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular for the Srebrenica genocide and the siege of Sarajevo.