Grenade Attacks and Gunfire against Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina

07 February 2004

According to ERRC research, conducted in partnership with the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Republika Srpska (HCHRRS), during September 2003 there were two grenade attacks and gunfire against Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most recent incident occurred at 1:30 AM on September 23, 2003 in Bijeljina. On September 24, 2003, Mr Mehmedalija Suljić, a 34-year-old Romani man, testified to the ERRC/HCHRRS that he was sitting on the front porch of his house with his friend Mr Djordje Jovanović, a 24-year-old Romani man from Serbia, and his 24-year-old Romani neighbour Mr Nedzad Hidanović, when a grenade exploded beside a car parked in front of the house. Mr Suljić, Mr Jovanović and Mr Hidanović sustained cuts to their hands and faces. The police reportedly arrived soon thereafter and checked the area for perpetrators. As of January 6, 2004, the police investigation was ongoing.

The evening before the attack, Mr Suljić reported, gunshots had been fired in front of their house. Mr Suljić's brother Ahmet testified to the ERRC/HCHRRS that at around 1:00 AM on September 22, 2003, he went outside to the garden where he noticed a man about twenty metres away from him. Ahmet stated that he asked the man what he was doing and the man raised a gun, which he pointed at him. According to Ahmet, he shouted to his brother that there was a man with a gun, and then he fell to the ground, at which point several gunshots were fired above him. The man then fled. The incident was reported to the police, who came to investigate the following morning. The police reportedly did not find any evidence. Mr Ahmet Suljić also informed the ERRC/HCHRRS that at the beginning of August 2003, an unknown person set fire to the haystack in front of his house. Soon thereafter, his wooden shed was burned down, followed by his brother's about a month later. According to Ahmet and Mehmedalija, though the police had not identified any of the perpetrators as of the date of their interviews with the ERRC/HCHRRS, they suspected nearby ethnic Serb refugees were responsible for the attacks.

An earlier incident took place at 10:00 PM on September 13, 2003. Mr Husein Nuhanović, a 58-year-old Romani man in the town of Kozluk in the Tuzla Canton in July 2003, testified to the ERRC/HCHRRS on September 18, 2003, that he and his wife were in bed when they heard an explosion outside their home. According to Mr Nuhanović, he and his wife did not go outside until the morning because they were afraid. In the morning they saw that a grenade had exploded approximately 10 metres from their home. No damage was caused to the house. Mr Nuhanović informed the ERRC/HCHRRS that he reported the incident to the police, who began an investigation into the incident. Though he had no proof, Mr Nuhanović believed that ethnic Serb refugees occupying Romani property in the town were responsible for the grenade attack. According to Mr Nuhanović, ethnic Serb refugees, who occupy properties owned by Roma in the town, regularly curse the "Gypsy origin" of Romani returnees such as Mr Nuhanović, and they have threatened them and told them to leave the town. The police investigation was ongoing as of January 6, 2004.

(ERRC, HCHRRS)

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