Bosnia must deal with Mujahideen
SARAJEVO, Jul 19, 2000 -- (Reuters) Moslem refugees blocked roads for a second day on Tuesday to the Bosnian village of Bocinja where some 200 Mujahideen face eviction from Serb-owned homes.
The demonstrators, who came from the nearby village of Bakotici, said they were protesting local authorities' plans to evict them from Serb houses they were occupying there.
But Dzevad Galijasevic, head of the local government in the municipality that runs the area, said on Monday that the neighboring villages were part of the same "Bocinja problem".
He accused the Mujahideen, including 65 from Islamic countries who settled in the area after fighting beside Moslem government forces in the Bosnian 1992-95 war, of running a "para-community" in Bocinja.
They ignored laws, did not pay taxes and held armed night watches in the village, Galijasevic said.
Galijasevic said that municipal authorities lacked the power to address the problem and accused the government of the Moslem-Croat federation and of the canton of tolerating the situation.
The federation is one of two entities making up Bosnia. The other is the Bosnian Serb republic.
Alun Roberts, a spokesman for the UN policing mission in Bosnia, said international police were watching the situation but it was up to local authorities to evict the Mujahideen.
He said some evictions were scheduled to take place next week. They are part of a Bosnia-wide property repossession and refugee return program that international organizations overseeing Bosnia's peace process are trying to speed up.
Spokeswoman Capt. Susan Kelly of the NATO-led Stabilisation Force told reporters that the international community could not get directly involved in the evictions.
"The matter of Bocinja is the matter of the local authorities. We will obviously monitor the situation but it is their responsibility," she said.
Roberts said cantonal police had been asked to provide a security plan for the Bocinja evictions but had not done so.
"If the negotiations and evictions fail it will be a definite obstruction..." he said.