I remember the first time I saw the lonely protester, one might even call him a serial protester. He was standing atop a box in the middle of the Spanish square, holding up a sign that read, “Better the grave, than to be a slave.” He was surrounded by banners with similar taglines, criticizing the government, corruption, and the “brain drain,” the growing number of educated youth leaving B&H.
Although I was fascinated by this strange man, I lacked the courage to approach him and inquire about the purpose of his incessant activism.
A year later, I had the opportunity to speak to him. I eagerly approached him, notepad in hand, and asked to interview him. He happily gave me his number and we agreed to meet the following weekend.
My colleague Miron and I met with him at his place of protest—Spanish square. He spoke for two hours straight, with Miron managing a few questions here and there.
The Lonely Protester, Zip and I. I got to hold the “Better the grave, than to be a slave” banner!
He told us that he first started protesting in 2013 during the JMBG (Unique Master Citizen Numbers) protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A three-month-old baby had died due to the country failing to assign children born after February the numbers, which were necessary to obtain a passport. The baby couldn’t be treated in B&H for her illness, but was also unable to leave the country for the necessary medical attention. The Lonely Protester joined the protests in Sarajevo and continued them in Mostar.
He recalls a particularly emotional day of protest. He was alone in the rain. Overtaken by the emotional rollercoaster of the protests and the thought of innocent children dying because of B&H’s divisions, he began to cry. Upon arriving home, he heard the news—the bill had been passed and the JMBGs were reinstated. He was ecstatic.
The topic he was most fervent about was the youth. He claims that they are getting stronger, with the internet to educate them, and their growing interest and involvement in political activism. He claimed to “fear them.”
“‘Your time has passed, it is our time now,’ they’ll say, and they’re right.” he claimed.
He also touched on the subject of gay rights, the refugee crisis, and even feminism, claiming that women are incredibly strong and have “something strange inside of them.”
He told us that he had seen much of the world and had spent a long time travelling. He even claimed to have participated in protests in Baghdad in front of the Embassy of the USA.
I must admit that he is not entirely lonely. His faithful companion is Zip, his dog, barking in support of his activism.
I was taken aback by his perseverance. He was, indeed, a serial protester.