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Muslim Refugees Demand Right to Return to Prewar Homes

August 25, 1996

MATUZICI, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Thousands of Muslim refugees rallied outside a Serb-held town Sunday, demanding the right to peacefully return to their prewar communities.

The peace plan that ended Bosnia’s 3 1/2-year war guaranteed that refugees and displaced people be allowed to travel freely anywhere in the country.

About 3,000 Muslims demonstrating outside of the Bosnian Serb-held community of Doboj complained, however, that little had been done to ensure their rights under the Dayton peace accord. Few refugees have been able to return because of fears they will be attacked.

The demonstrators at the rally in Matuzici, about 3.7 miles outside Doboj, carried posters with slogans such as, ``We want to return to our home _ you promised us that.″

Many of the demonstrators were angry about election rules that allow refugees to register to vote in the upcoming Sept. 14 elections in towns where they have never lived, but where they want to live in the future.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is organizing the election, said last week it was considering postponing the municipal elections because of ``election engineering″ by Bosnian Serbs, who have pressured Serb refugees living abroad to register to vote in towns in Bosnian Serb territory that were predominantly Muslim before the war.

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