Anti-austerity protests rock Bosnia

Protesters in Bosnia-Herzegovina set fire to government buildings Feb. 7, in the worst unrest the country has seen since the end of the 1992-95 war. Hundreds have been injured in three days of protests over unemployment and privatization of state industries. The presidency building in Sarajevo was set aflame, and riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas in both the capital and the northern industrial hub of Tuzla. Angry demonstrations are also reported from Mostar, Zenica and Bihac. Elderly residents supported the protests by banging cooking pots on their windows and balconies. Four former state-owned companies, including furniture and detergent factories, employed most of the population of Tuzla, but filed for bankruptcy shortly after being privatized, throwing thousands out of work. The leader of the Tuzla region, Sead Causevic, told Bosnian state TV that the "rip-off privatization" had already taken place when his government took office, and called the workers' demands legitimate. Bosnia has the highest unemployment rate in the Balkans at roughly 40%. Privatization that followed the end of communism produced a handful of oligarchs, but almost wiped out the middle class and sent many workers into poverty. (BBC News, DW, Feb. 7)

  1. Croatians march in support of Bosnian protesters

    A rally in support of the workers' protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina was held in Zagreb on Feb. 13, bringing several hundred to the srteets. Two women were arrested for "insulting police." The protest was organized via Facebook "to support workers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and point out that Croatia's fundamentally undemocratic system, too, deprives workers of their rights and prevents development of alternatives that would be to the benefit of the majority of people." (

    A Facebook photo from the Zagreb rally showed a banner with a slogan borrowed from the Tuzla protests: "One working class, one common struggle." Red-and-black anarcho-syndicalist flags are seen in the background.