Over the next four years, Begija Smajic will perform the duty of the delegate in the Republika Srpska entity National Assembly (NSRS), as the first woman with hijab to serve in this institution.
The inaugural session in the NSRS was entirely normal for her, as she served two terms in the Srebrenica Municipal Assembly in 2012 and 2016.
Smajuc was born in the Srebrenica village of Grujicici, in eastern Bosnia. As a refugee from Srebrenica, she escaped to Kalesija where she attended elementary and secondary school. She ended up becoming a maths and physics professor, and she currently works in an elementary school in Srebrenica.
"I’m married, a mother of two and I’m one of the countless victims of the Srebrenica genocide, because my father Ramiz Vejzovic was killed in the Srebrenica genocide. His remains were never found," she told the Anadolu Agency.
During the inaugural session in the NSRS, she wore the Flower of Srebrenica – a symbol of the suffering of Bosniaks from Srebrenica where Serb forces committed genocide in 1995.
"That’s right; I wore the flower of Srebrenica because it’s part of my identity, a symbol of genocide and the suffering of Bosniaks in Srebrenica, as well as all the Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and all the brave and honest people who recognise what happened there in July of 1995."
In April 1993 the UN had declared the besieged enclave of the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica a safe area under the UN protection. However, in July 1995 the Dutch battalion soldiers failed to prevent the town's capture by the Bosnian Serb forces and the massacre that followed.
More than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed in the genocide committed in the days after 11 July 1995, and so far the remains of more than 6,600 have been found and buried.
Two international courts, The International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) later ruled that the massacre was an act of genocide.
International and regional courts have sentenced 45 people for what happened in Srebrenica to a total of more than 700 years behind bars. Those who the ICTY sentenced to life imprisonment are Ljubisa Beara, Zdravko Tolimir, and Vujadin Popovic. But the most well known alleged masterminds of what happened in Srebrenica are former Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadzic and ex Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, and both have been sentenced for it but have appealed.
The 35-year-old politician said she would continue to wear the flower and to that genocide must never happen again to anyone.
She plans to act through the Bosniak Caucus in the NSRS and the coalition Together for Bosnia. The basis of their political action will be the fight for Bosniak equality in this Serb-dominated entity.
"Unfortunately, Bosniaks are not equal to Serbs in this entity. The inequality can be seen in employment in entity and municipal institutions, the denial of Bosnian language as their mother tongue and many other instances," Smajic concluded.
Bosnia consists of two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity shared by Bosniaks and Croats and the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska. To the north of the country, there is also the Brcko District not dominated by any of the three constituent peoples.