CARDBOARD REVOLUTION: Concrete legal assistance most important for activists

The existence of a Legal Team for activists, who could be contacted immediately when a risky situation or attack occurs, is very important for human rights defenders. About this, but also about their activism, Adi Selman and Nedim Musić from Cardboard Revolution talked with us in an interview for the Human Rights House Banja Luka.

The whole region is buzzing about them, their videos are very viral, and the Cardboard Revolution has become what they wanted, synonymous with the fight against corruption and injustice and the awakening of a new generation.

What problems have you encountered on your activist journey, what is the most alarming?

NEDIM: The last major problem we faced was at Prokoško Lake when we were interrogated by members of the Central Bosnian Canton Police Department and for the first time the police, with their instructions and in cooperation with public companies, put us in a situation where we were unprotected. At that moment, we were at Prokoško Lake, where members of a public company blocked our vehicle and at same time certain residents tried to physically attack us. There was a verbal attack and they took stones to hit us, but they did not hit us. There was almost no major conflict. We were prevented from leaving the Prokoško lake, because our vehicle was blocked. We found ourselves in a hopeless situation, it lasted four to five hours, we were standing in the sun, blocked, hungry and it was really risky, until the police came to pick us up and took us for interrogation.

ADI: When it comes to other problems, here I will open a long list: breaking into our business offices, verbal threats, pressure from institutions, threats from some other associations, threats over family members… We had verbal threats on a daily basis, for example death threats, then hate speech via social networks and the like.

Have you reported threats and incidents to the competent authorities?

ADI: When a representative of a public company threatened us with death because we are fighting against illegal forest cutting in Konjuh, we reported the case to the police, but the police did nothing. Two years have passed and absolutely nothing has been done about it. That is one example, how we tried to address the institutions and realized that there was nothing from that protection. And there is also the last example in Fojnica where everything was against us and nothing for us. It was only seen that we cut the illegally installed cable, and nothing that we were attacked, blocked and alike. The prosecutor on duty characterized it as a criminal offense of damaging someone else’s property, the police took the record and everything is currently in the prosecutor’s office – whether it will be confirmed as a criminal charge or rejected.

Did you have a lawyer and in that context, how important, in your opinion, is the existence of the Legal Team to help human rights defenders, which, I should mention, provides free legal assistance and advice?

Nedim Musić

NEDIM: When we were at the police station after the incident at Prokoško Lake, Adi called a lawyer acquaintance, who did not answer at that moment, and we really needed him, but he did later. That is why it will mean a lot to all activists the existence of the Legal Team for Activists, which could be contacted immediately when a risky situation or attack occurs. That is when we realized how fast we needed legal support and help.

Adi Selman

ADI: We were faced with more information and suspected that something was “not right”, that is why we needed urgent consultation with a lawyer and how to proceed. Concrete legal assistance is most important for activists. It is important that activists have someone to contact.

Cardboard Revolution is known for many activist actions, and at the same time you have gathered a large number of followers on social networks, but also people who normally support you, mostly young people. How did you manage to do that, having in mind that activism in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not that “popular”, that is, activists generally do not have a lot of support?

ADI: Our formula is really honest will and we say it simply for everyone to understand. Our address is neither a political nor an academic speech. What we have to say – we say it in popular and simple language, so that people understand us and the topic we are talking about. When we, for example, read a law that we need to interpret, we read it all day or for a long time to extract the context and to simply present it to people.

NEDIM: Our recipe is: short, concise and clear. That even a person who has no idea about a law or a problem should be clear about what is happening, how the problem affects him/her and what the solution is. And to present it in an interesting way. Our goal is for people to really understand some things and what we are fighting for, and we use the resources of the Internet for that. Also, I must mention that the problem of some non-government organizations is that they are “slaves” to some projects and that they do not want to leave the established framework. We should look for interesting ways to reach people. If we think that content on TikTok is 99% trash, let’s see how that trash works and turn it into a positive thing and use the remaining 1%. If you say what is important in the first two or three seconds, people will scroll further and look for the next news. Why we have so much support is because people identify with the topics we talk about. In essence, we say everything that people think and still many people think about important topics with common sense. 

ADI: You need to be brave and concrete!

You mostly deal with the protection of natural resources, so how many people in BiH are aware that the right to a healthy and unpolluted environment is also one of the basic human rights? Or are we aware of it when pollution comes to our yard?

ADI: For at least 30 years, the system has been systematically discouraging us and, excuse the words, dumbing us down. In schools, we do not learn how to vote in elections, but that is why we learn about Haitian agriculture. In schools, you do not learn how to get a loan, but you learn the math curve. Great, you should know all that, but the system deliberately teaches you unimportant things, so that when you grow up you would not be aware of the important things in life. You have no idea how to get a loan, you have no idea that you give 17% of your taxes to the state, 60% of your salary to the state, and so on. It is important for us to bring this closer to the people, that we allocate our budget from our salary to the state, so that some director will have a large salary. And then you get interested in it, so you get people interested.

NEDIM: In essence, the system works to divert people from the real problems, because so much is marketed to people through the media and through social networks, so that people have no time to think about themselves and their problems that are in their backyard. Reality shows are also marketed and then people watch other people’s lives, and here they neglect their own lives, neglect topics that are of crucial importance for progress and a better life. What we are really trying to do is get people thinking about themselves and their backyard, as you said.

ADI: As we have so many views, it means people want to hear it. They want to become aware, they want to change something. Essentially, activists, people who want to change something, citizens’ associations, etc. they have to somehow compensate for the shortcomings of the educational and cultural system. Otherwise, the problem with our system is that it has no control. In Germany or a more developed country, a minister resigns if he/she is accused of a corrupt act. And in our country, if an official gets to prison, if he/she could, it would also become the minister of that prison.

Does Cardboard Revolution have the courage for new activities and what are your plans?

ADI: It is all a matter of organization. We have shown that there is still a large percentage of people who are ready to think. But these people are not organized. We succeeded in raising awareness, but now the resistance is on our agneda, that is, strategic organization. That is now the challenge that lies with all of us. And it depends on that whether we will become some underdeveloped country in Africa which resources will be exploited, or whether we will become aware.


The constitution of the Legal Team for providing assistance to human rights defenders who find themselves in crisis situations in any part of Bosnia and Herzegovina began in September 2023. Currently, there are 10 lawyers in the team who have expressed their readiness and willingness to be “at hand” to defenders who face attacks, threats and arrests, as well as other specific human rights challenges. So far, the Legal Team, which operates under the umbrella of the Human Rights House, has intervened on several occasions. Some of them are also the authors of several useful publications, such as the Handbook for the Protection of the Rights of Journalists and Activists after the Recriminalization of DefamationThe emergency phone number is +387 66 33 66 33, and the email addresses to which human rights defenders who find themselves in crisis situations can be contacted are: or   

Photo: Courtesy photos from Cardboard Revolution


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