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Infant Girl Who Sparked Bosnia's ‘Babylution’ Dies

Categories: Bosnia Herzegovina, Breaking News, Governance, Health, Human Rights
The day after baby Belmina's death, activists placed a black sheeth with Belmina's picture over a new monument in front of the Parliament building in Sarajevo; image courtesy of #JMBG za sve ("#JMBG for All"), used with permission.

The day after baby Belmina's death, activists placed a black sheeth over a new monument in front of the Parliament building in Sarajevo. Image courtesy of #JMBG za sve (“#JMBG for All”), used with permission.

They are calling her an angel and a heroine. Seven-month-old Belmina Ibrišević, the baby that started the #JMBG protests [1] in Bosnia early in the summer of 2013, passed away in a hospital in Germany [2] on Tuesday, October 15, 2013.

After extensive treatment in Germany, where Belmina was transferred after finally receiving her passport, her parents and doctors made the difficult decision to take her off life support. The treatment Belmina required almost immediately after birth for a serious immune disease was not available in Bosnia, and the child could not be issued a passport for several weeks due to the Bosnian government's failure to pass a new law on identification (JMBG, which stands for Unique Master Citizen Number) numbers after the old law expired in February 2013.

In June, as reported by Global Voices [1], thousands marched on the Parliament building in Sarajevo, demanding that children born after February 2013, especially those who need to travel abroad for medical treatment, be issued Unique Master Citizen Numbers immediately so they could apply for necessary documents to travel and receive necessary medical attention. The movement was dubbed the “Babylution” in reference to Belmina.

Although it was first reported on July 18 that Bosnia-Herzegovina's Parliament passed a temporary law on Unique Master Citizen Numbers during an emergency session, some parliament members then stopped the full new law from being passed. Al Jazeera Balkans reported [3] [ba] on July 23 that Halid Genjac of the Democratic Action Party (SDA) had “requested protection of vital national interests”, citing procedural irregularities in the process of bringing the proposed new laws up for vote:

Sporni predmeti sada se upućuju Ustavnom sudu BiH, koji će po hitnom postupku ispitati da li ima nepravilnosti u postupku i da li je povređen interes Bošnjaka.[…]

Ukoliko Sud zaključi suprotno, dovoljno je glasanje vladajuće većine u oba doma Parlamenta da zakoni prođu.

Sljedeća sjednica Ustavnog suda zakazana je za 30. septembar i nije jasno da li će ovo pitanje biti stavljeno na dnevni red.

The questionable items are now being sent to the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which will inspect whether there were any irregularities in procedure and whether the interest of Bosniaks has been damaged. […]

Should the Court decide to the contrary, the votes of the ruling majority in both houses of Parliament will be sufficient for the laws to pass.

The next session of the Constitutional Court is scheduled for September 30th but it is not clear whether this matter will be on the docket.

In the meantime, participants of the #JMBG protests were brought in for questioning by police [4] [ba] in late July.

Social networks are overflowing [5] [en][ba] with criticism of the Bosnian government and notes of condolences from the entire region regarding the infant's death. Many, like Twitter user Arnesa [6] from Bosnia, simply lament [7] the death of another child as well as promise to remember Belmina:

Little Belmina that was the reason for the #JMBG [8] protests in Bosnia has passed away. :( Very sad news, May her soul rest in peace.

— Arnesa (@_arnesa_) October 16, 2013 [9]

The still active Facebook fan page of the #JMBG protesters [10] [ba] announced earlier this week that the decision to shut down baby Belmina's life support had been made. The page also announced that Belmina's parents would not be able to afford the cost of transferring Belmina's remains back to Sarajevo and asked for donations in the total amount of 2,500 euros (approximately 3,500 US dollars).