Woman attacked for protecting the River Kruščica. “The violence against activists has to be investigated,” calls Arnika

27. 11. 2020 - PRAGUE / SARAJEVO
"We support Kruščica!"
PHOTO: Arnika

On Wednesday November 25th, in the early morning, unknown perpetrators stoned the house of one of the brave women of the village of Kruščica – Tahira Tibold, the first woman ever elected as a chair of the local community [1]. Environmental groups are convinced that the attack is connected with Tibold’s struggle to rescue the River Kruščica from the construction of harmful small hydropower plants by a private investor. Arnika and the Coalition for the Protection of the Rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina strongly condemn this attack and call on the police to investigate the whole incident thoroughly.

The struggle for the River Kruščica became an emblematic story of the fight for the preservation of wild Balkan rivers. After a 534-day-long blockade of a bridge, including being beaten by the police, fines, and legal charges, the local women succeeded in saving their river from planned small hydropower plants, the construction of which was determined to be illegal by a court.

Tahira Tibold has been involved in the struggle from the very beginning and her active role was recognized by the villagers of Kruščica, who elected her to be the chair of the Kruščica Local Community.

As the Local Community points out in its statement, the fact that it is an attack on an elected representative makes the whole incident even more serious: “We will not tolerate violence. This is not just an attack on one woman, your fellow-citizen, but also on the legal and constitutional order of Bosnia and Herzegovina, given that Tibold represents all the locals who elected her and gave her legitimacy. This is just one in a series of cowardly attacks by people who do not know how to deal with a woman who does not give in to blackmail, bribery, and threats. Since she took office, there has been continual pressure on her and her family. Hate speech and heinous lies were written on social networks, live threats were subtly made, and in this way they switched to physical assault.”

“The ongoing attempts at the excessive construction of small hydropower plants are currently one of the main social and ecological problems of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The resistance of citizens against these harmful projects is growing. The violent response of those who have their private interests in the hydro business is disturbing. At this stage, the international community should pay more attention to any intimidation of the people defending the environmental rights of their communities,” warns Zuzana Vachunova from Arnika.

[1] The Local Community is a form of self-government of a part of a municipality or an official city area. The Kruščica Local Community forms part of the municipality of Vitez.

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