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Public Lecture: Battle for Equality in an Unequal System

Dec 22, 2016

Dec 22, 2016 13:00 iCal

Mr. Jakob Finci and Mr. Dervo Sejdić, eminent members of the Bosnian Jewish and Roma communities, respectively, will hold a lecture for the students and staff of International Burch University on Thursday, December 22, 2016 on the topic of "Battle for Equality in an Unequal System."

 Wishing to commemorate Human Rights Day, a timely topic that is relevant to all Bosnians and Herzegovians, and highlight the injustice done to the Jewish and Roma populations by the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina (as opposed to the supposed inequality of Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs), Burch Diplomacy Club will host Mr. Jakob Finci and Mr. Dervo Sejdić, who will discuss their individual and collective battles against constitutionally-guaranteed inequality of their peoples.

 They will present a chronological sequence of events and activities that led them to sue the Bosnian government, the lawsuit itself, and the effects thereof.

 Mr. Sejdić is a Bosnian Roma, while Mr. Finci is a Bosnian Jew so they are unable to hold public office, which are reserved primarily for members of the three constituent peoples.

 They sued the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and won in the European Court of Human Rights; however, the constitution still hasn’t been amended to be in accordance to the ruling.

 The lecture will be in Bosnian in its entirety.

Jakob Finci
President of the Jewish Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina

 Amb. Jakob Finci was born in 1943, in a Nazi concentration camp in Rab, Croatia, where he spent the first years of his life. Following the end of World War II, the Fincis turned down an offer to move the newly created State of Israel, opting to return to Sarajevo. Between 1966, when he obtained a degree in international commercial law the Faculty of Law in Sarajevo, and 1990, Amb. Finci was a private citizen; however, with the fall of Communism in Yugoslavia, he became a public citizen that would tirelessly work to promote and protect human and minority rights for all those in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 In 1991, Amb. Finci cofounded La Benevolencija, the Jewish cultural-educational and humanitarian organization that saved over 3,000 people trapped in Sarajevo during the siege thereof, and was elected its vice-president. Two years later, Amb. Finci was elected president of La Benevolencija and remains president until today. Two years later in 1995, Amb. Finci was elected the first president of the Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Another two years later, in 1997, he cofounded the Inter-Religious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina with representatives of other religious communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 In 2000, Amb. Finci was tasked with chairing a national truth and reconciliation commission, which became a civic group with no repressive means. In 2002, he was appointed (first) director of the Civil Service Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the mandate of which was and is to monitor and ensure fair employment in the civil service. Amb. Finci was also the president of the Constitutional Commission of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2008, the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina appointed him ambassador to Switzerland.

 Two years before, however, in 2006, Amb. Finci and Mr. Dervo Sejdić sued Bosnia and Herzegovina for refusing them the right to be candidates in elections for the House of Peoples and the Presidency. In 2009, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights decided the case in favor of the plaintiffs but the decision has not yet been implemented so neither can be candidates for the House of Peoples or the Presidency.

 Currently, Amb. Finci is serving as the President of the Jewish Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the organization La Benevolencija and the Inter-Religious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dervo Sejdić
Vice-President of Kali Sara Roma Informative Center

 Mr. Dervo Sejdić has fought for the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Roma population since he was a police officer in the former Yugoslavia; however, his efforts were galvanized in 2007 with the creation of the Roma Informative Center, which became a registered organization in 2009 – Kali Sara Roma Informative Center. He is currently the Vice-President of the organization and serves in several capacities in the same.

Conference Hall, -1