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

Freedom to the rivers
PHOTO: Dinno Kasalo

Because of the plans for construction of a large number of hydropower plants on the rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country is at risk of losing its greatest natural values. The rivers and waters are for the common good of all future generations, but the decision-making authorities see them as a tool for making a fast profit for individuals. The destruction that the massive construction of hydropower plants brings to 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 14, the International Day of Action for Rivers.

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

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

In Kruscica, it was precisely the women who stood up and organized the defenses of their river from the destruction that threatened 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 special police units sent to the free passage, but they did not give up. They remained until the end, and gained victory.

"We have survived everything-- attacks, chaos, screaming, yelling, and falling unconscious. Even today, when I pass over the bridge, I recall these terrible scenes and analyze our brave endeavor," says Maida Bilal, spokeswoman for the Brave Women of Kruscica, 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 Spahic 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 hydropower plants.

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

Today's 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 during the following week and support the conservation of rivers.

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

International activities