Aida Sejdić – Bihać: On problems of activism in Bosnia and Herzegovina and what could bring the change  

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Hana:

You know that my focus of interest for the project of “Humans of BiH” are the so-called “fixers”, those who fix something within their local community and the setting they live in. Somehow, those who always attract my attention are activists, men and women, those who’ve dedicated a part of their life, devoted their free time to actively work to change things for the better. One of them is Aida Sejdić from Bihać, known since the Plenum in February of 2014.

She was very active in Bihać and became well-known throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina as an activist who spent a lot of time on the street together with those who were trying to make changes at the time. It was interesting to talk to her a few years later when Aida was quite out from the whole activism deal. It is interesting to hear what she has to say about everything now. If anyone can say something about the activism then it is surely her.

Aida Sejdić:

What matters in activism is in principle the most difficult question. My view is that’s not so important if you are active yourself, but how active are people by your side and how much can you work with people.

Many of my friends who had been with us since February 2014, finding their place in all that, now perhaps turned more to projects and all NGO approach. I didn’t and don’t really know if it’s my fault or not. In any case, unless you join an NGO, well, that probably slows you down a bit.

Those people who are supposed to be with you, not by your side but with you, the people you work with and whom you want to make changes with and who are in this country … I simply don’t know if people are afraid or just don’t know how to win the fight for changes.

As for activism, here you really need to be persistent and really want it with all your heart, to dedicate your whole life to it. It’s not a 9-5 job but a lifelong journey and dedication. And that’s the only way to be non-stop active and make a change.

In your opinion, would there be progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina if there were more activists working on changes?

I think so. I think it would, but it is really difficult to succeed here.

Back then, people expected some instant change. When those changes didn’t happen they simply lost their motivation. Not motivation, but simply lost interest in anything, even protests that were gladly attended by so many. And then it simply stopped.

Now, it is necessary to reach out to some critical mass and those active people. But judging by myself, I don’t know much would that even be possible. We are not even educated enough, or ready enough for sacrifice and working on changes.

Maybe one day someone smarter, more persistent, more willing to take it all on his shoulders would actually come and change something.

But we literally have a huge layer of dissatisfaction among people and regardless of how big is this layer of dissatisfaction, we have an equal number of those just sitting and waiting for something to happen on its own. Is it even possible to do something at all?

I don’t know. I saw it on my own skin that our people are somehow more receptive and it’s easier for them accept the falsehoods served to them by political parties (those that brought us here where we are now in), rather than to take your side and fight for the truth that they too are aware of themselves, but instead deny it.

It is easier for them to accept that everyone is a bad guy, everyone are traitors, all of them are just for their own benefit than understanding that we are there to change something together and make it easier for us all.

I will not say, and I don’t even know if that better life could ever really happen even for a moment only. But if we all stood together and fought against our true enemy.

At one point, they thought of me as enemy, at least I got that impression. And I was with them on the street and I was the one who had the courage to say loud and clear what most of them had on their minds. At one point you just have the feeling that they are turning against you and consider you their enemy. Whether it was the lies that political parties came up with or they expected much more in a short time, I honestly don’t know, but you just come to the point when everyone blame you for some of the things you are fighting against yourself.

That’s why I do not know. As much as I want to believe that we will change one day and that one day we will realise who our true enemies are, I’m equally uncertain that this day will come and that will happen.

Because that same year, in 2014, the SDA party won at the general election. The same party that had been in power for most of the time and brought us to where we are now – they won that year. Thanks to whom? The very same people who had turned to streets and demanded a change. And what was the change at the end? Just to throw out the SDP from power and to have the SDA come back again? I don’t know. Cannot be wise here. I cannot figure out what our real problem is.

In essence, the point of it all is, as Saša Janković said in the elections in Serbia, we are the people we are waiting for.

Yes, true. We are the people. But one needs to clear this dilemma individually, and decide for yourself and chose to be one of those people.

In our world, in our country, something can be done through activism but at the end of the day, it is again politics deciding whether or not these changes will come.

Finally, no matter how difficult it was for me to admit and despite the fact that I’m not clear on this with myself, I still think those who honestly and sincerely enter politics, they are the ones who could probably bring the biggest change. Of course, provided that they are consistent, that they stay who they are and do not falter.

Still, I think the politics will have a final say whether positive or negative changes will occur in our society, regardless of activism. Activism is the one that can support or criticise politics in a negative sense, but politicians and politics are the ones making the most important decisions in our society. Not just in ours but in any society really.

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