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The Park is Ours, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Description:

In 2003, the assembly of the City of Banja Luka allowed a local private real estate development company ‘Grand Trade’ to build a 30,000 m2 business/residential project in the area of public park, known as Picin Park (Vagina Park or Pussy Park in English) to house the Republic of Srpska Telecom company. ‘Grand Trade’ owner Mile Radišić bought the land in a public tender announced by the government for 2.2 million euros.

In May 2012, when preparation work for building had started, citizens of Banja Luka formed the initiative "The park is ours” and have been organizing peaceful protest walks almost daily for more than a year. The protesters claimed illegality of the project, pointing out many irregularities in the agreement signed between the city and the project developer.

The citizens organised a petition, which was signed by over 6,000 citizens, asking the Mayor to make project documents and agreements open to the public. One idea of saving the Picin Park proposed by the citizens of Banja Luka making it a memorial park by planting five trees to symbolically represent the five parachutists who died in a plane crash in Zalužani.

The protests have had aviolent side as well, when the police prevented the protesters to march in front of the Government of Republic of Srpska building in one of the many streetwalks called “Noise versus silence” (as the information on the project was not open to the general public), and they clashed with one of the protesters on a bike. The other protesters intervened preventing the arrest of their colleague.

The protests did not stop the construction, but it has mobilized many citizens and local NGOs in a collective movement to actively monitor broader structural issues in the country. The neighbors of Picin Park continued interfering with construction invading the now privately owned land as they claimed for it to be public. To protect the park from construction machinery citizen Željko Vulić used his vehicle to block. This act ended in police brutality and arrest criticized by the citizens that perceived it as a land grab. However, police claimed that the force used in the arrest was lawful and proportional to the situation, and was supported by Milorad Dodik the president of Republic of Srpska.

As a continuation of the conflict in Picin Park, hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of earth, gravel and stone excavated from the site were disposed by the company in an orchard of the Agricultural Cooperative "Agropromet" - the last large green area in the city of Banja Luka. This activity revealed the ‘Grand Trade’ plans over the next twenty years to also build residential buildings at the orchard land. In July 2012, Borko Džajić, a president of the "Parents' Forum" asked the mayor of Banja Luka for an explanation on the activities in the orchard. The mayor claimed that the land concession was done with the permission issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republic of Srpska. However, revision of the documentation showed the opposite, namely the legalization of the activities in the orchard was done only once Borko Džajić intervened. This civil intervention managed to block the concession of land in the orchard. The person in charge of permitting this illegal activity has never been named. The Ministry of Agriculture has ordered revitalization of the orchard, and compensations for irreversible damage.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:The Park is Ours, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Country:Bosnia and Herzegovina
State or province:The Republic of Srpska
Location of conflict:Banja Luka
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:green space
Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

Land area = 30,000 m2

Residential and commercial total area = 132,000 m2 distributed over 20 floors above the ground

Petition signed by over 6000 citizens

Project area:3
Level of Investment:138,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:10,000
Start of the conflict:29/05/2012
Company names or state enterprises:GRAND - TRADE d.o.o. Banja Luka - Bosnian company. Main investor.
ZZ "Agropromet" - State owned company, agricultural cooperative, owner of the orchard.
Telekom Srpske - Renter of the building constructed at Picin park. A telecommunications company based in Banja Luka, part of bigger company Telekom Srbija.
Relevant government actors:The city of Banja Luka; Mayor of Banja Luka; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Republic of Srpska
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Park je naš http://parkjenas.net/; Centar za zaštitu životne sredine http://czzs.org/; Green Youth of Serbia; Sarajevo Open Centre; Parents' Forum

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Support also came from academics in other countries such as the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Barcelona
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement

Outcome

Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:The citizens initiative "The park is ours” demanded from the Mayor of Banja Luka to stop the project and make related documents and agreements open to public. One idea for saving Picin Park by the citizens of Banja Luka proposed making it a memorial park by planting five trees to symbolically represent the five parachutists died in a plane crash in Zalužani.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project was not stopped. However, the park protest ”The park is ours” has been transformed to a collective movement aimed at broader structural issues in the country such as corruption, nepotism, lack of transparency, inequality across demographic lines among others.
However, the old oak tree once a symbol of the protest (that represented a start point of the protest walks) seems completely forgotten nowadays.
In November 2013, more than a year after, some of citizens who protested have legal penalties for crossing red lights during the protest. However, the protesters claim it is not about red lights, but that this case has a political weight as the citizens tried to highlight those who perform criminals jobs in Banja Luka. Unfortunately, the citizens end up in court trial and not the criminals.

Sources and Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

From Green Space to Structural Space: How ‘Park Protestors’ in Banja Luka Changed Their City
http://futurechallenges.org/local/from-green-space-to-structural-space-how-park-protestors-in-banja-luka-are-changing-their-city/

When Fear Disappears: Protests in Banja Luka Entering Third Week
http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-802568

Banjaluka: Mesec dana borbe za "Picin park"
http://mondo.rs/a251290/Info/Ex-Yu/Banjaluka-Mesec-dana-borbe-za-Picin-park.html

The vagina that makes the problems
http://emajmagazine.com/2012/08/10/the-vagina-that-makes-the-problems/

Banja Luka: Godina dana od početka šetnji (FOTO)
http://www.6yka.com/novost/38938/banja-luka-godina-dana-od-pocetka-setnji-foto

SLUČAJ PICIN PARK: Prekršajne prijave zakucale šetačima na vrata!
http://www.banjaluka.com/vijesti/drustvo/2013/11/27/slucaj-picin-park-prekrsajne-prijave-zakucale-setacima-na-vrata/

Ekskluzivno: “Telekom Srpske“ Radišićevom „Grand trade“ isplaćuje 254.099.050 KM
http://slobodanvaskovic.blogspot.com/2012/09/ekskluzivno-telekom-srpske-radisicevom.html

Bosnia Police Arrest Anti-Business Centre Protester
http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/banja-luka-police-arrests-zeljko-vulic

Slučaj Picin park: Ročište protiv banjalučkih šetača trajalo više od pet sati!
http://www.6yka.com/novost/50033/slucaj-picin-park-rociste-protiv-banjaluckih-setaca-trajalo-vise-od-pet-sati

Banja Luka: Sutra nastavak suđenja učesnicima protesta protiv uništavanja Picinog parka
http://novovrijeme.ba/u-banjoj-luci-sutra-nastavak-sudjenja-trojici-ucesnika-protesta-protiv-unistavanja-picinog-parka/

A debate on land rights and police brutality in BiH
http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/blogreview/2013/08/10/blog-03

TAJKUNSKA POSLA: Gdje je završila zemlja iz Picinog parka
http://www.banjalukain.com/front/gdje-je-zavrsila-zemlja-iz-picinog-parka

Zeleno srce Banjaluke za padobrance
http://www.banjaluka.com/vijesti/kratke-vijesti/2012/05/30/zeleno-srce-banjaluke-za-padobrance/

“Šetači” ne smiju pred zgradu Vlade RS-a
http://www.banjaluka.com/vijesti/kratke-vijesti/2012/06/23/setaci-ne-smiju-pred-zgradu-vlade-rs-a/

„Grand trade“ u „Picinom parku“ - počeci
http://slobodanvaskovic.blogspot.com/2012/08/grand-trade-u-picinom-parku-poceci.html

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Peaceful street protest - Banja Luka setaci 28.06.2012 (2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_tUAVNHMm0

Peaceful street protest - Banja Luka setaci 28.06.2012 (3)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pULDLol7lqk

Peaceful street protest - Banja Luka setaci 28.06.2012 (1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0dXwVz2OWE

Pictures of the planned development
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1626013

Images of the planned development
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1626013

Blog photos: БАЊА ЛУКА - Гранд Трејд | BANJA LUKA - Grand Trade | 25 fl | 200.000 m2
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1517090

(Foto) Stari hrast nekad i sad: Tužna sudbina simbola protesta u Banjaluci
http://www.etrafika.net/banjaluka/25314-foto-stari-hrast-nekad-i-sad-tuzna-sudbina-simbola-protesta-u-banjaluci

Grand Trade - stambeno-poslovni kompleks
http://www.sa-c.net/index.php/projects/banjaluka/item/1461-grand-trade-stambeno-poslovni-kompleks-banja-luka.html

TRAILER ZA FILM "PAD PICINOG PARKA": Svjedočanstvo o nasilju sistema nad pojedincem
http://zurnal.ba/novost/18029/trailer-za-film-pad-picinog-parka-svedocanstvo-o-nasilju-sistema-nad-pojedincem

Other documents

The sign says: “You are destroying Vagina Park to build a Penis Building” “You are destroying Vagina Park to build a Penis Building” - The local nickname for the park was Pussy Park or Vagina Park

Image from: http://emajmagazine.com/2012/08/10/the-vagina-that-makes-the-problems/
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Pic-6-e1344349338403.jpg

The future of Picin Park This is the photo of Grand Trade construction project idea
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/grtr2.jpg

The sign says: "Where will I pee now?" "Where will I pee now?" one of the funny ways to express the opinion against destroying Picin Park
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/bnjaluka-park-1338564818-169706.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)gmail.com
Last update25/09/2014

Images

 

The sign says: “You are destroying Vagina Park to build a Penis Building”

“You are destroying Vagina Park to build a Penis Building” - The local nickname for the park was Pussy Park or Vagina Park Image from: http://emajmagazine.com/2012/08/10/the-vagina-that-makes-the-problems/

The sign says: "Where will I pee now?"

"Where will I pee now?" one of the funny ways to express the opinion against destroying Picin Park

The future of Picin Park

This is the photo of Grand Trade construction project idea