Why this story matters:
On March 1, a Bosnian portal called Avaz published a story entitled "They beat us like animals". It detailed how veterans had been trampled and attacked with police dogs and tear gas. The story was accompanied by several photographs of police brutality.
A short inquiry revealed that the veterans had not been mistreated, and that the photos were from unrelated protests in Croatia and Montenegro.
Those websites poured oil on the flames of a politically tense situation between veterans and the Bosnian government for the sole purpose of getting a few cheap clicks out of their readers. Journalists often blame politicians for their lack of accountability, but these days, the criticism could go both ways.
Details from the story:
- Protests in Bosnia started Feb. 28 by dissatisfied war veterans who wanted to pressure the Federation of BiH to fulfill their requests.
- Protestors spent days and nights outside in the cold, blocking high-traffic roads.
- Although some protestors were physically removed by the police, there was no record of police brutality.
- Several websites used an famous picture taken during large protests in 2014, when a man was pushed into a river by a police officer. It was later marked as "used for illustration purposes."
- Other sites used photos of protests in Croatia and Montenegro -- where cases of police brutality was recorded -- as images for the Bosnian veterans protests.
- Images of veterans supposedly freezing under piles of snow were taken in Ukraine but attached to stories about the Bosnian protest.