15 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 245 (2002)
The Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina V. the Republika Srpska: Human Rights in a Multi-Ethnic Bosnia

handle is hein.journals/hhrj15 and id is 249 raw text is: The Islamic Community in Bosnia and
Herzegovina v. The Republika Srpska:
Human Rights in a Multi-Ethnic Bosnia
Brett Dakin*
INTRODUCTION
Any visitor to Banja Luka, Bosnia's' second largest city and the capital of
the Republika Srpska, will surely be impressed. The city's wide boulevards
are shaded by ancient trees and lined with welcoming outdoor cafes. The
beautiful Vrbas River runs through the city and past a medieval fort where
one can dine while watching the tranquil waters flow by. Dominated by a
majestic Serbian Orthodox church and grand Catholic cathedral, the city's
skyline evokes its rich religious and cultural heritage.
The contemporary visitor to Banja Luka, however, will not fail to notice
the large, empty plot of land that lies in the city's center. To one side of the
lot she will find an official blue and white van, from which local policemen
patrol the site twenty-four hours a day.2 While the visitor may not know
why, even a simple stroll through the streets of Banja Luka will reveal that
something central to the life of the city is missing.
This vacant, yet heavily guarded lot was once the site of the Ferhadija
Mosque, destroyed by Bosnian Serbs in 1993, more than 400 years after it
was first built. Though Banja Luka saw little combat during the 1992-95
Bosnian war, it fell victim to the Bosnian Serbs' policy of ethnic cleansing
against the country's Bosnian Muslim population.3 Each of Banja Luka's
* J.D. candidate, Harvard Law School Class of 2003; B.A.. Princeton Uniers y, 1998 The author
worked as an intern at the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina during the summer of
2001. He wrote and designed the first digest of all the decisions on the merits issued by the Human
Rights Chamber since its inception, a tool for Bosnian and international judges, attorneys, and human
rights law practitioners. The author would like to thank Anne-Mane Slaughter. Ulrich Garms. Thrrs
Nelson, and Karen Abravanel for their helpful comments, and the Chayes International Public Servce
Fellowship for funding.
1. Throughout this Article, the term -Bosnia7 will refer to the independent state of Busnia and Her-
zegovina, established in December 1995 and comprising two entities, the Republka Srlaa anA the
Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2. Information based upon observations made by the author during a visit to Banja Luka in July 2U01
3. For an account of the ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs against Muslims in Bosnia during the
war, see generally LAURA SILBER & ALLAN LnmLE, YuGOSLAvtA: DEnT OF A NxtO.N 24-4-57 t 1997,

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