By Lata Jha:
Regardless of how much you bicker and annoy each other, family sticks around in crises. It’s like a given, even if there’s no one else, you still have those few people to fight the battle with. Bosnia Herzegovina may be a region deeply divided in ethnic terms. But that hasn’t stopped its population from crossing these barriers to come together and organise the country’s current ‘babylutionary’ movement. This is a protest against the government’s lapse in giving newborns an identity number, and consequently, travel papers and health care.
The protests, which began on June 5, 2013 and have been dubbed “Babylution”, were sparked by the case of a critically ill three-month-old girl, Belmina Ibrišević, who at the time could not leave the country to get the stem cell treatment abroad that she needed, even though she couldn’t have done without it and necessary treatment could not be provided in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Days later, when another one-month-old child, Berina Hamidović died at the Institute for Mother and Child in Belgrade, Serbia of sepsis after the medical treatment she needed was delayed, the protests intensified.
These children could not leave because of the country’s failure to pass a new law on ID numbers after the old law expired in February. Thanks to this legal gap, newborn babies only receive a temporary number which prevents them from receiving travel documents, which would be necessary to seek medical treatment abroad.
From videos on YouTube to Twitter posts, the protestors have done it all. Ever since the children died, citizens throughout the region have not only paid their respects but made sure the situation escalated quickly and evoked tremendous response, from minute to minute on social networks, web portals, blogs etc.
On Twitter especially, the cause has garnered great support through the hashtag #JBMG. Once an identification number, #JMBG has now become a hashtag, a meme, and a call for revolution in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Politicians have been given a deadline until June 30 to pass the law and create a solidarity fund for those who need medical treatment. If Bosnia’s Parliament fails to meet this deadline, citizens have vowed, among other actions, to organize the first Facebook hash mob, a novel concept described as a hashtag-driven flashmob.
Under the unique umbrella of “Babylution”, this peaceful revolution has managed to bring over 10,000 people into the streets with the support of public figures and musicians from the former Yugoslav republics who have expressed their grief and support. Citizens are invited to attend the peaceful protests every day beginning at noon until demands are met. These are not people backing down. They shall fight till the very end. The “Babylution” shall continue.