Update on USAID funding for Peace Event Sarajevo

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UPDATE (June 8, 2014):

Die Organisatoren des Peace Event Sarajevo haben das Logo von USAID von der Spenderauflistung auf ihrer Webseite entfernt, aber auf dem Teil der Webseite auf der das Programm gelistet ist findet sich das Logo noch immer.

Die Spenden wurden wahrscheinlich nicht zurückgegeben. Viele der Teilnehmer der Veranstaltung äusserten ihre Befremdung wegen der Affäre. Ausserdem kursierten eine Petitione zu dem Thema. Insbesondere waren viele erstaunt zu sehen, dass ca. 200 freiwillige Helfer des Events T-Shirts mit dem USAID und dem Peace Festival Logo trugen.
The organizers of Peace Event Sarajevo recently removed USAID from the list of donors posted on their website under http://www.peaceeventsarajevo2014.eu/our-partners/articles/our-donors-are.html.  But the USAID financing is still listed on page four of this downloadable program:http://www.peaceeventsarajevo2014.eu/tl_files/a_downloads/program_peace_event.pdf.

As far as I know, the organizers have not returned the financing from USAID, nor have they so far been open to a public discussion regarding this financing. Many participants in the Peace Event have expressed concern about the USAID and French Foreign Ministry financing, and several petitions are circulating. Two Members of the German Parliament, Heike Hänsel and Alexander Neu, have written to the organizers to express their concerns about the USAID financing.

Many conference participants were shocked upon arrival to see the ca. 200 local Bosnian volunteers for the event all wearing T-shirts with „USAID Peace Event Sarajevo 2014“ printed on them.

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The Bosnian version of the „Peace Event“ newspaper has USAID prominently displayed on the first page and other donors only in very fine print on the back page. It seems that among the population in Bosnia, USAID was promoted as virtually the only donor for Peace Event Sarajevo.

USAID is hardly a „neutral“ source of financing for a peace event in Sarajevo. The continued US military presence in Bosnia is controversial here and is particularly resented by the large Bosnian Serbian minority of ca. 30%. Several Bosnians I have spoken with in the two days I have been here have complained that they feel as though under a continuing US occupation. They are also dependent on USAID as virtually the sole source available to them for cultural and other projects.

The US has a huge embassy in Sarajevo. The US military base Camp Eagle in Bosnia would provide essential military infrastructure for any US and NATO military intervention in Ukraine. The George W. Bush Presidency is reported to have used Camp Eagle for the secret extrajudicial detention of ghost prisoners, which (along with Camp Bondsteel in nearby Kosovo) has been called a smaller version of Guantanamo.

Elsa Rassbach (in Sarajevo)

(see http://truth-out.org/speakout/item/24150-open-letter-to-the-organizers-of-peace-event-sarajevo-2014)