BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) —
Bosnia’s Serbs on Thursday observed a public holiday that has been declared illegal by the country’s top court and criticized by other ethnic groups because it celebrates an action that triggered the country’s devastating war in the 1990s.
Several thousand people, including senior officials from the Serb part of Bosnia and from neighboring Serbia attended a parade of more than 2,000 police personnel, war veterans and others in the northwestern town of Banja Luka, Bosnia’s biggest Serb-run city.
The Jan. 9 holiday marks the date in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared the creation of their own breakaway state in Bosnia, t riggering the four-year war that killed more than 100,000 people and left millions homeless.
Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats argue that the holiday does not represent all of the country’s ethnic groups. Bosnia’s Constitutional Court also has ruled that the law which established the holiday was unconstitutional.
Bosnia’s Serbs insist that the holiday is not directed against anyone but serves to celebrate their entity. Zeljka Cvijanovic, who is President of the Serb entity in Bosnis, said Serbs “want to live in freedom … we wish no harm, but we want to mark our day.”
Belgrade backed the Bosnian Serbs during the war.