She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “The biggest barricades are in people’s heads.”
Snjezana Mulic – Busatlija – Bosnia and Herzegovina
She works for the ‘Dani Magazine’, Sarajevo, and for the ‘Women’s Association Bosancic’.
For the past 12 years, Snjezana Mulic-Busatlija has been working to promote and protect human rights, exposing herself to innumerable risks in a militarized environment and a society driven by nationalism and ethnic division. Through her work as a journalist, she has drawn public attention at national and international levels to the conditions of people during and after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has never renounced the highest journalistic principles or given in to numerous forms of pressure. Her courage demonstrated that it is possible to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement.
Even before the ink dried on the Dayton Peace Agreement, Snjezana Mulic , journalist at the magazine Dani (The Days) from Sarajevo, already championed the principles guaranteed by the agreement: freedom of movement, return of refugees and displaced persons to their pre-war homes, reintegration of the disintegrated country.
“Armed” with courage, professionalism and rarely seen enthusiasm, Snjezana went, in January 1996, to Mostar, one of the most devastated and divided cities in Europe after the fall of the Berlin wall. Although the town was physically divided into two parts at that time and many years after, she succeeded in visiting both parts and writing an article about “one Mostar.” She also managed to interview the untouchable “Mayor” of so-called West Mostar – Mijo Brajkovic, an ally of the Tudjman regime. A few months later, that article led the Journalists’ Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to nominate Snjezana Mulic as Journalist of the Year in 1996.
At the very beginning of the post-war years, she went to Republika Srpska with the first bus from the Federation that traveled there and wrote a story with the people from “the other side.” In this way, she demonstrated to the public that it was possible to implement the Dayton Agreement.
She was the first journalist from the Federation who went to Pale, the war headquarters of Radovan Karadzic and the Government of Republika Srpska where she was maltreated and handcuffed for a short time because she dared to come from the “Muslim part of BiH.” In spite of that, she completed her assignment, and when they removed her handcuffs, she immediately resumed talking to the citizens about living together and the return of refugees.
From Vitez, a small town in Central Bosnia, at that time controlled by the Croatian Council of Defense, Snjezana, though maltreated by the police, brought a story about the economic flourishing of Vitez and about the need of economic communication among the citizens of the whole country.
She was also among the first journalists who visited the followers of Fikret Abdic, President of the so-called Autonomous Province of West Bosnia. After the collapse of the Autonomous region, the followers settled down in the neighboring Republic of Croatia. She then monitored their return to BiH and wrote about the problems they and other refugees faced after the return.
Snjezana Mulic’s work has had a therapeutic effect on still-frightened people from both sides and encouraged them to return to their homes.
She was the first Bosnian journalist who entered Srebrenica after the war, and thanks to her professional attitude that excluded fanning the flames, she managed to talk to the authorized representatives in Srebrenica and with its new inhabitants as well as to dispel prejudices about “green turbans” ruling Sarajevo. It was the first live story about Srebrenica after the war that was presented in the Federation media.
For a year and a half, Snjezana visited most of Republika Srpska and so-called Herzeg-Bo
snia, something which many politicians have not done. She simply did not allow any obstruction to reintegration of the country.
Snjezana’s work is particularly valuable in that she has paid most of her attention to common people, writing about their destinies, fears and hopes. With her own example she has given them a clear signal not to give up if they want to experience real freedom. She has received many letters from people thanking her “for having visited their homes” or because “she simply explained that the biggest barricades are in people’s heads.”
She has continued to follow events intensively in the post-war and transitional Bosnia and Herzegovina society. Digging like a miner in the most remote and best-guarded drawers, she discovered facts about the real situation in the country, crimes among its representatives, corruption, humiliation and degradation of the people. Although the judiciary bodies were totally indifferent to such exposés, her letters have resulted in many positive changes. After having written about illegally occupied apartments, many families have returned to their homes; a children’s surgical ward that could have been deprived of donated surgery equipment due to the negligence of the authorities drew immediate reaction from the Government which constructed a new surgical department. Having written about criminal activities of new tycoons, the judiciary bodies initiated investigations and then punished some of those she pointed out as the culprits. When she discovered bribes being taken at the Sarajevo Court, the Hall of Justice was cleaned up, and blackmail of citizens stopped.
During the war, Snjezana, as head of the Press Center in Novi Grad, together with a four-member team, reported to electronic and print media about the war sufferings in the town where she lived. She and her team edited and published the newspaper “Novi Grad.” In this way she provided the French Battalion of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), based in the part of the town where she also lived, with information of war activities and every day life. Even in that poverty she was able to write the newspaper, translated into French, on CD and to send it to St. Nazaire, which sent humanitarian aid to the population of the town of Novi Grad. Since 1993, groups of elementary children from Novi Grad go to free summer vacations in France, where they attend French classes.
During that time she made the documentary film, “A Letter Recommended from the Heart,” about the life of children in Sarajevo during the war. The movie was translated in French and broadcast on a local TV in western France, motivating the French population to send parcels with food and necessities to the children and their families whose lives she presented in this movie. Her second movie, “Jetimi” (Orphans), is about a boy and a girl from a mixed Croatian-Bosnian marriage, who continue their lives after their father, a Croat in the Bosnian Army was killed. This movie, broadcast on TV BiH at the time of the most severe conflicts between Croats and Bosnians helped soothe the tension already felt among children of different nationalities.
Snjezana is one of the founders and active members of the Women’s Association Bosancica. This Association operates on a voluntary basis and helps children, who have lost one or both parents, the elderly, the weak, and the injured at the Sarajevo State Hospital.
During the war, for a year and a half she had a column “Letters from Sarajevo” in the Swiss daily “Bieler Tagblatt,” in which she wrote about the problems of common people encountered during the siege of the city.
Nowadays, Snjezana Mulic is an editor of the independent magazine Dani, one of the two most reputed weekly magazines in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She addresses political, economic and social issues and she is among the leading journalists in the field of investigative journalism. Since the end of the war she has been nominated twice as Journalist of the Year in BiH. She also collaborated on the documentary the “Siege” about the life of the citizens of Sarajevo from the first until the last day of the war, and she has written a book of short stories “Alone in the Whole World.” (Read all on this site of 1000peacewomen).
Dani Magazine Subscription on Amazon;
Media Development in Bosnia, a 20 page text in pdf;
Dani Magazine online in balkan language;