Armin Amidžić – Bihać: On activism, politics and attempts to change it, and the most beloved river in the world
In Bihać, I spoke to a young man by the name of Armin Amidžić. I don’t know exactly how to introduce him to you since he has several hats and each is interesting in own way. Armin is one of the founders of ABC Association from Bihać, which has become recognisable not only in Bihać but throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina for all that they have done and done in these years since their establishment. In addition, Armin decided to actively engage in local politics with his friends. At the last elections, five of them were elected to the Municipal Council, and there they are actively trying to influence decisions concerning their city and to change politics from within.
For me, perhaps this is his most important role as it goes to show specifically directions in which activism could be moving. And his third hat, or role, is to promote the River Une. Since he is a private entrepreneur and engaged in tourism and like all people from Bihać, in love with the river and is actively working on its promotion and protection.
In any case, it was a great pleasure to meet him and talk to him and I believe that this conversation will be interesting to you as well.
Let me ask you first why did you go into politics?
The very first and the worst question. (smiley) I didn’t get into politics out of desire to be a politician or anything like that. I joined politics as a result of all the activism in the past year in both my head and heads of my colleagues because we felt urged that it is irresponsible to live in this society and not try to do anything. It just kind of becomes selfish because more and more young people are leaving and more and more people in the country are aware that so many things are wrong and not working, yet decide to be passive observers and observe what is wrong without doing anything about it.
I’m not saying it should necessarily be politics. A lot can be done with activities in your community and activism and joining some associations that do some good things in your community. So there are many ways to change your community but ultimately because of all that it is in politics and does not work in politics, in the end it is down to you that you have to go into politics just to help increase the average of those who are normal. I’m not saying that there in particular is normal or not, but let’s say we still need more young people in politics and more of those who want to truly and sincerely work for the benefit of their community and who will not tolerate to see something being stolen or something bad done, to only label it at that moment, and only later on say “Yes, we saw it, we knew that.”
Simply put, I believed we had something to say, far more than what these so far had to say and that there is a group now of us who want to be different, to change things as much as possible. Whoever expects changes overnight or over a short period of time, well, it’s simply not realistic and there will be no way to do something like this. But this is where we are, we are active and we will see the way forward. We are trying to be a positive change, at least that other people see in us that we came in with a sincere goal, with honest intentions and nobody can take it from us, this desire of ours to change some things.
You are one of the founders of the ABC Association. With all the things you’ve done, you are somehow synonymous with activism in Bihać.
ABC Association is something that is essential to every city, every local community. Not ABC as ABC, but everywhere there should be not one, but several groups of young people, to decide to make things different in their city. You can do things differently in hundreds of ways, it doesn’t have to be only one way or one activity, but whatever you see is not working in your society or what you want to be better or even if you want something to be done in your city, be the one to hold some activity that will change that thing, gather your people, form some teams, show that it can be done differently.
Anything else, such as expecting others to do something just doesn’t hold water and it will never be like that. Simply this is a disorderly society where initiatives are lacking the most. And that’s why I say that something like ABC is needed in every town.
We are a group of young people who felt the need to live in a more beautiful society and so we started our work and did things we thought were better or different. There are hundreds of things we did not do because we simply did not have time, but that’s why we call on everyone else to do what they think should be done.
I can’t remember all the activities we did but simply whenever we felt that this town needed something, as we knew the pulse of this town, and whenever we saw something was missing, that a reaction was needed, we were there to do it do. Maybe we weren’t there so many times, but whenever we could we were. We organised various charity activities when someone needed it, but we could do it only because others responded to such activities, such as our musicians, fellow citizens, and others who wanted to be part of that common Bihać story to help someone.
We also organised events, some socially responsible activities. As a part of our event, ‘Autumn on Fences’ we painted the Enver Krupić Gallery to cover graffiti. So we showed that it should be clean, that it should be well-kept, that such things should be taken care of. There are still dozens of other things we did. During floods, we were in Doboj providing rescue. I don’t even remember well all the things we’ve done but I’m always ready to react when needed.
You are a big fan of the Una River.
Yes, even within our association we have a project called “I Love Una”. We have almost 40,000 people on Facebook and we upload photos of the Una River every day, texts about the Una River, we have also organised a competition for the best verse on the Una River, the best river photo so we have now over 200 verses left in the archives about our beautiful river, as an eternal memory. Maybe sometimes later on these will surface and show the value of all those verses that exist.
Countless times we organised river cleaning activities. When they wanted to build a hydropower plant in the National Park, we were there, invited our citizens, we informed them what was going on.
Many times, information remains undisclosed. The media simply are not socially responsible enough today and the only way to change something is to fight for the things you’re passionate about. So we were simply passionate about the Una River and kept informing citizens of some intentions to build these hydropower plants and a lot of other intentions, so we even managed to change the decision of the Council that wanted to give permission to build on the Una River. And dozens of other things about the Una River – we’re always there.
I’m personally even engaged in tourism, so in this way I try to promote the Una River and so that other people see that the Una River can be valued in such a way that they make a living out of it but also to stick to some environmental norms and things that will not disturb the Una River.
The Una River is worth only in the sense if we keep it as it is. If we change its flows, if we make a hydropower plant, then no one will want to come to that kind of river. But surely it is good that in a way there is a brand of the Una River and the love of Bihać citizens towards that river. As we like to put it, this is the most beloved river in the world and we want our love to be a type of tourist product from the Una River and that’s why we love it so much and we talk and sing about it and paint it. So many great people who love the Una River and through our association, are trying to promote such activities.