AMELA ZUKAN, brave woman from Kruščica: You need to be persistent and simply follow your heart!

We in Kruščica have shown and proven that a lot can be done, regardless of huge obstacles and threats. You need to be tenacious, persistent and simply follow your heart, points out Amela Zukan, president of the Ecological Society “Bistro – Brave Women of Kruščica”, who spoke about the fight for the protection of the river and stopping the construction of hydroelectric power plants during the “Third Working Gathering of the Platform for Ecofeminist Activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina EKOFEM BiH” held in October in Banja Luka.

All the participants were touched by her emotional confession, especially the sentence that the women from Kruščica, during the questioning of who their leader was, answered all together: Our leader is the river!

We used this conference in Banja Luka to conduct an interview with Amela Zukan.

Brave women from Kruščica and you among them have shown enormous courage and strength, but now, if you could go back in time and see what kind of pressures and problems you will face, would you do it all again or not?

AMELA:  Of course, we would do it all over again, every day, every moment, and we are proud that we encouraged many people in our country to take action, because they saw that we managed to defend our river and that we were so persistent. I must say that without the support of our men we would not have been able to do all of this, but our persistence paid off in the end and we would do it all again. Constantly for 505 days and nights, women were on duty, together with men, locals, to save our river.

You experienced physical and verbal attacks and threats, it was difficult for you, but you did not give up. Do citizens have reason to be afraid in a similar situation for environmental protection, what would you tell them?

AMELA: It is understandable that today people are afraid and we in Kruščica were, frankly, afraid, it was not easy and you cannot be indifferent to many threats and the whole situation. However, we were really persistent and somehow spontaneously unique. The problem with us is that people are afraid and people wonder: “How am I going to do something as an individual, I cannot do anything alone…” Of course it is possible! More precisely, an individual cannot, but a mass of people, the people, can! We have shown and proven that a lot can be done, regardless of huge obstacles and threats. You need to be tenacious, persistent and simply follow your heart.

You have already said that your sons grew up with your struggle to protect the river. Do you teach children to protect and conserve nature?

AMIRA: My children were informed from the very beginning about all the events in Kruščica and they came to the bridge where we were, it can be said that my and other children grew up on that bridge for those 505 days. We try to convey to our children that they should take care of the environment, that they should protect the river, that they should know that this is being entrusted to them.

How important is the broader connection of activists?

AMELA: We are also a good example here, we did not only defend our river, but as members of the Coalition we defend all our rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We went where help, support was needed, wherever the machines started or there were attacks. We always came as support, so we also went to Serbia, to Belgrade, which means that we are everywhere in the region where we are needed and the desire and need to come is expressed. Our goal is for people to see that they are not alone, to convey our experience from Kruščica, how we managed to defend the river.

What is your motto in life?

AMELA: Everything I do I do with my heart. And the future of our children is in our hands.

What is the perspective of ecofeminism and the EKOFEM BiH platform?

AMELA: There is a good perspective, especially when we are united and act together, so there must be progress. We hope that we will be able to ban all harmful actions in nature, not only when it comes to mini-hydroelectric plants, but also various dangerous wastes and all that is bad for our country and the environment.

Interviewed by: Vesna ILIKTAREVIĆ

First photo: Amela Zukan/Private archive

Second photo: EKOFEM conference/ HCA BL

Third photo: Submitted photo


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