Media war against migrants rages in Bosnia

A hate campaign against migrants and refugees is unleashed by the Bosnian media, as the state fails to uphold its obligations to migrants under international human rights law.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: Istinomjer
Media war against migrants rages in Bosnia - NewsMavens
Camera. Pixabay

Why this story matters:

One after another, state officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina are issuing more and more radical statements about the migrants currently seeking refuge in the country. Some are now even calling for a complete border shutdown. The media are lending a helping hand by labelling them as potential terrorists, criminals, violent, and even disease-ridden. 

The obnoxious hate campaign is reaching new heights every day, with little regard for the inhuman conditions the refugees are facing, and even less regard for facts and accurate reporting. 

"Dramatic scenes in Sarajevo center as migrants attack and loot", writes "Avaz" in a textbook hate-speech article. "They are spreading serious diseases," other media sources "report". 

The claims of robberies and fights which "Avaz" peddled were refuted by the local police, as well as the claims of supposed drug use among migrants. The article was illustrated with photos showing nothing more than a crowd formed around a man who was handing out food to people who had been sleeping in one of Sarajevo's parks for weeks. Nevertheless, it was presented as an "attack".

The state clearly has no plan or intention to provide help to the migrants and refugees, leaving them to fend for themselves out in the open. Humanitarian aid is mostly coming from Bosnian citizens, who have long been organizing help far more efficiently than any state institution and in spite of the shameful propaganda coming from the media, particularly those influenced by the political parties in power. 

Details from the story:

  • Sarajevo, Bihać and Velika Kladuša are where most of the migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers end up after they reach BiH.
  • CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović -- a Bosnian citizen herself -- has recently sent a letter to the BiH minister for human rights, urging them to honor their international obligations and provide shelter for those in need.
  • Meanwhile, a number of civil society organizations and the Press Council in BiH, have reminded them of the same and called on both the media and the political actors to stop the discriminatory "profiling" of refugees in the public arena.
  • These appeals, however, don't seem to resonate, as the biased reporting and inflammatory statements continue -- to the dismay of numerous Bosnian citizens who themselves experienced war and the plight of being a refugee some twenty years ago.
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