The Venice Academy of Human Rights is an international and interdisciplinary programme of excellence for human rights education, research and debate. It provides an enriching forum for emerging ideas, practices...
Dajana Dejanović and Antonela Opačak are members of the organization Youth for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was established in 2014. ” We have established an organization with a desire to be led by young people for young people, in accordance with the needs of this population”, says Antonela Opačak. All of them who gathered around this idea were part of the civil society, either through the formal work in organizations or volunteering.
” Sometimes, I say I am a volunteer and then give a formal title that is written in the diploma,” through laughter says Dajana Dejanović( 26 years old) from Banja Luka. She says that activism has been part of her life when she was not sure of that definition. ” The first meeting I had with activism was in the high school in students’ Council- even though I didn’t call it activism I have retained this approach even today, explains Diana.
” Main principle of their work and the idea of Youth for Peace, says Dajana, is respect for diversity.” ” Within the organization we do have different views, we all have different experiences but our goal is common and that is what is important, both for the organization and for our country,” says Dajana.
” We want to hear how young people see the future of the country, where they see themselves in the future and to show that we can live with each other, because differences can connect us,” says Antonela.
Our respondents say they are frustrated that they do not have the support of public services in their work.” Although there are media who like to follow our work, I think it would be beneficial that public services decide to show another perspective instead of continually emphasizing difference and separation,” says Dajana Dejanović.
When we asked to comment on the criticism that organizations like their impose- certain modes of behaviour, interlocutors have a clear position. ” We are aware that some interpreted in such ” way but it’s not true. Our desire is to show the possibilities, to offer young people a different approach and they will choose what they want,” says Antonela Opačić.
Our respondents say that they are the proudest, on their work, in the part related to the young people of mono- ethnic areas.” We forget that there are a lot of such areas and that young people have no other opinion than this- they do not know their peers of other ethnicities or religion. Everyone expects them to have strong prejudices and even hatred, but it is not always like that,” says Dajana to us.
Dajana Dejanović tells us about the example of visiting religious objects.” That moment, when someone for the first time visits a church, mosque or synagogue, and when you see in the eyes of that person deep respect, then you know that you are doing the right thing and that you are on the right track,” she says.
Antonela told us another important thing in their work with young people throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.” When we have young people who attempt the seminar and then try to share experience to convey friends, someone from their environment, it is very precious to me. Then you see that this is not just a seminar, and just a job but truly an ideal which harder these young people.” This is very promising,” optimistic is our interlocutor.
Our respondents are aware of the problem in BiH and know that none of this can be resolved overnight.” Strengthening trust, respect for others is not something that can be done immediately but it is important to be persistant. Great number of young people who support our work, who are working with us is the best indicator that we have a reason to continue trying on,” conclude our interlocutors from organization Youth for Peace.