Let's protect the rivers and those who fight for them!

Freedom to the rivers
PHOTO: Dinno Kasalo

Because of plans for the construction of a large number of hydro power plants on the rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country is at risk of losing its greatest natural values. The rivers and water are for the common good of all of us and of future generations. But the decision-making authorities see them only as a tool for making a fast profit for individuals. The destruction that the massive construction of hydro power plants brings to both nature and society is permanent and irreversible, warns the Coalition for the Protection of the Rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the occasion of March 14th, the International Day of Action for Rivers.

"In Bosnia and Herzegovina numerous individuals and associations are fighting against hydro power plants and for the preservation of rivers. On the occasion of March 14th we want to emphasize the role of river protectors among those, especially women, who have attracted strong international attention this year. In Bosnia and Herzegovina we can see a successful example in the fight of the women from Kruščica, as well as in the efforts of many other women to preserve the rivers in their communities," the Coalition said.

Today and in solidarity, organizations around the world unanimously point out how important our rivers are, how important access to clean running water is, and that women must have the right to vote in decisions related to the use of water, which is not always the case.

In Kruščica, it was precisely the women who first stood up and organized the defence of their river from the destruction that threatened it through the building of two hydropower plants. They stayed on a bridge for a total of 505 days, and blocked the passage of construction machinery with their bodies day and night. They also experienced brutal assaults by the special police units sent to free the passage, but nevertheless they did not give up. They remained until the end and in the end they gained a victory.

"We have survived everything. Attacks, chaos, screaming, yelling and falling unconscious. Terrible scenes! Nevertheless, we managed to defend our river. Even today, when I pass over the bridge, I recall these terrible scenes and analyze our brave endeavour," says Maida Bilal, spokeswoman for Brave Women of Kruščica, and adds: "Together we were much stronger in our resistance.”

Many other communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have their activists who bravely struggle to preserve the rivers. Several women are active in the campaign for saving the Doljanka river. Naza Spahić from the citizensʼ association "For Doljanka" from Jablanica points out that she and her colleagues spontaneously arranged and joined the fight immediately after the first protests against the construction of small hydro power plants.

"In our association there is a significant number of women and girls who have been actively participating in the work of the association and the fight against the construction of hydro power plants on the Doljanka river, but also in our other activities. We work every day and it really requires great dedication and our members are very committed," Naza stressed.

Today the Coalition for the Protection of the Rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina will organize a symbolic event through social media. Facebook users can edit their profile photos in the "Freedom of the River" frame throughout the following week and thus support the struggles for the conservation of rivers.

You can follow the Coalition's activities on the Facebook page and the website of the Coalition for the Protection of the Rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

International activities