Monday, 24 September 2012

The dark side of Zenica

This would be the scene of the bus stop little more than
half-an-hour after Amer first arrived there.
It is approaching half-past-nine on Saturday evening in Zenica's town centre, and eighteen-year-old Amer Pivic is waiting at the bus stop to catch a ride home to Klopce, a suburb only a few minutes drive away.

Normally Amer would stay out longer but, as he told his parents, he is feeling tired after a long day and is deciding to head home early.

Everything appears normal. Cars are idling by; the cafes are full; while, crowds of people are bustling along the city square only a hundred metres away. One might say it was simply just another Saturday night in this central Bosnian city.

Suddenly, at what seems like the flick of a switch, everything changes.

Gunshots begin to ring out. A dozen, perhaps, maybe more.

A number of men armed with guns, including rifles, are chasing down and attempting to kill 26-year-old Dzemal Mahmic, along with his friend Goran Popovic - two men who may or may not have been armed themselves. (Local media reports state that at least 5 or 6 guns were used in the conflict.)

During the chaos, bullets begin to fly aimlessly. Tyres and windows from adjacently-parked cars are blown out from misdirected shots; but it is not just auto-mobiles in the line of fire.

Innocent passers-by are aplenty, and it is only a matter of time before one of them is injured. Semir Basic, 25, receives a gunshot wound to his leg, but it is not life-threatening.

Amer Pivic was just 18-years-old when
he was shot and killed on Saturday
evening. (Source: Facebook)
Unfortunately, Amer Pivic, the young boy waiting for his bus-ride home, is not so lucky. A stray bullet strikes him directly in his chest. Pivic instantly drops to the ground.

As the violence moves elsewhere, onlookers rush to Amer's aid.

Watching the events unfold from the seat of his car, twenty-year-old Ajdin Kokic heroically stops by the side of the road to help Pivic, before placing him inside the car and rushing him to the city's first-aid centre. In the hands of doctors, Amer receives initial treatment before he is rushed to Zenica's main hospital across the other side of town. Sadly, however, it is all to be in vain.

After bravely hanging on to life for another 30 minutes, Pivic dies upon arrival at the hospital. Mahmic and Popovic - the initial targets of the attempted execution - are also rushed to the hospital in a serious condition, but are alive.

News reports quickly start to spread of a teenage boy who has been killed in crossfire. Frantically, parents around Zenica begin calling their loved ones to ensure that it was not them that was the victim. Fortunately, for most parents, their child answers the call to reassure them; but, tragically, for the parents of Amer Pivic, the truth is much bleaker.

Fast forward to now - almost 48 hours on from the incident - and the whole city of Zenica is still shell-shocked.

Many are beginning to ask questions.

How could this happen? How could an innocent boy die so publicly? In the centre of a city at Saturday night peak-hour?

Others are simply intimating that they cannot wait to leave this city and this country altogether.

On Sunday at midday, more than a hundred locals gathered at the very spot where Amer Pivic's bloody body had lay just a few hours earlier. Flowers were placed alongside candles on the seat of the bus stop.

While some may have looked at the congregation as people using the opportunity to pay their respects to a young life lost, the truth is that it was much more than just that.

The people of Zenica are sick and tired of mindless, gross violence occurring on their streets. They are sick of not being able to walk around their own city without the feeling of safety and comfort.

Many of the people who gathered at that bus stop on Sunday were thinking to themselves about how often they walk through that very area. They were thinking about the times that they themselves were standing in that spot waiting for the bus to arrive. Very much so, they were thinking, 'That could have been me' - and the same could be said for thousands of others across Zenica who were not there on Sunday.

Now, many of the locals are worried and nervous. Although some suspects have been taken into custody, the possibility of reprisal attacks are certainly not out of the equation.

Moreover, if people are un-fazed with blazing bullets in such a public area, and believe that they can get away with it, then what is there to stop something like this from happening again?

A snapshot of the scenes of violence. (Source: ZenicaBlog)
While a greater police presence in and around the streets may be a temporary measure, it is not the solution.

Tighter checks on those carrying guns might be an option, but it would cause a lot of division from citizens of a country who, only a few years ago, relied on such weaponry to defend their nation at war.

One of the only ways to prevent such an incident from taking place again is for Bosnia-Herzegovina to get its justice system in order and to properly punish whoever is involved in these types of events.

It is one thing for criminal gangs to settle their scores in private, but it is something completely different as soon as innocent members of the public become victims.

Every stone must be turned to find out the who, what, where, why and how. There is no more half-arsed investigating and allowing cold-blooded killers to walk free after just a few years behind bars.

A boy of just 18 years lost his life; a mother and father lost a son; another boy lost his brother.

Let the sentencing finally reflect those facts.

Nobody here wants to be the next Amer Pivic laying dead on the pavement.

Rest in peace / Pocivaj u miru
Amer Pivic
1994 - 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment