The "Brave Women of Kruščica" must fight again

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the women residents of the village of Kruščica are once again preparing to blockade their river. Investors have announced they are unwilling to abandon their plans for the construction of a mini hydropower plant on the Kruščica River.

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A scene from earlier times which could soon become reality again. A group of women from the village of Kruščica occupies the bridge over the river of the same name.

© Andrew Burr

For over 500 days and nights, it was mainly the women residents of Kruščica who defended their river against a hydropower company’s construction machinery. While doing so, they also refused to be intimidated by police violence. In recognition of their courageous efforts, the women were awarded the 2019 EuroNatur Award. Now, one and a half years after the end of their blockade, the cantonal government is considering issuing a new construction permit to the investor. This comes despite the fact that a citizen’s initiative has filed an action opposing approval of the project. On 10 June 2020, a public hearing about the project turned into a farce. Representatives from the government ministry responsible prevented the residents of Kruščica from entering the room in which the hearing was taking place, allowing access only to the lawyer representing the community and two other participants. The ministry justified this behaviour by saying it was necessary in order to observe physical distancing requirements relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kruščica case appears to be yet another example of established environmental procedure being overridden in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the coronavirus pandemic. The "Brave Women of Kruščica" are preparing themselves for another blockade, whilst the NGOs involved are standing ready to initiate further legal proceedings should construction approval be granted. By signing this petition you can support the women residents of Kruščica.

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