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Pristina, 08.07.2021

Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo and Youth Initiative for Human Rights Kosovo express their concern regarding the situation created on the occasion of the return of Mrs. Dragica Gašić in the city of Gjakova and in particular for the legal actions undertaken by the Municipality of Gjakova towards her.

On July 6, 2021, the Municipality of Gjakova filed a lawsuit in the Basic Court of Gjakova, where the object of this lawsuit was “the request for annulment of the contract for renting the apartment with a request for temporary measures.” At the same time, the Municipality of Gjakova requested that the respondent be assigned a temporary legal representative, as their place of residence is not known.

We consider that such actions are not in line with the legislation in force and is not in the spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, namely, it violates Article 156, entitled “Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons”, which states that The Republic of Kosovo should promote and facilitate the safe and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons and assists them in the return of their property and possessions. Mrs. Gašić possesses the necessary documents, with which she confirms her right to use the property, a right which was given to her by the decision of the Kosovo Agency for Comparison and Verification of Property. This Agency based on the request of Mrs. Gašić, on June 9, 2021 had vacated her apartment by removing the family that had been there, to enable the return of Mrs. Gašić in that property.

Given that the actions of Mrs. Gašić have been in accordance with the procedures for returnees, without harming or endangering any other person, we consider that the situation created as a result of her arrival and for the legal action that were taken, are in contradiction with the democratic and multiethnic spirit of the state of the Republic of Kosovo and does not contribute to the process of dealing with the past.

Therefore, we call on the local authorities of Gjakova to act in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo by withdrawing the lawsuit against Mrs. Gašić, and facilitating her safe return and stay in Gjakova.

#kcr#hlck#yihr#artpolis#ngoAktiv

Milena P

Multiethnicity through institutions in Kosovo

Multiethnicity in Kosovo is one of the great challenges which the entire population of this area faces. The multicultural population in Kosovo consists, in addition to the Albanian community representing the majority, of Serbs and other non-majority communities, such as Roma, Egyptians, Ashkali, Turks, and others. In such a multiethnic society, it is important to regulate relations within communities and respect the rights of non-majority communities guaranteed by the Constitution of Kosovo and certain laws, so that based on the very democratic principle of this society, the rights of all citizens in Kosovo should be equally respected.

The biggest challenge in such a society is the functioning of the Albanian and Serbian communities, as two completely different peoples, with relations destroyed during the previous war and other political conflicts, which share the same territory and live, cooperate, often depend on each other. Their diversity is reflected, first of all in language, then in culture, customs, and history. At first glance, they do not seem to have any similarities, but there is something connecting such two different peoples that makes their lives and existence itself, and that is the same territory in which they live, the same goals related to the future in the places where they live, striving for progress, and calmer and better life. These two peoples also share what their existence depends on the most, and that is work because they want to work or are already working on the same jobs, in the same institutions, and they probably spend most of the day together. In this everyday life, the lack of knowledge of the language of these peoples is one of the biggest problems and the most important conditions for successful communication and cooperation. Younger populations almost do not feel the need to know the languages of communities, but also the culture of different peoples. Moreover, they are often hostile to the customs, culture, and language of different peoples. However, what has been a source of hope for the improvement of this situation in Kosovo in the last few years is precisely the sharing of the same jobs and the improvement of the economic aspect of the citizens. Members of different communities who work in the same jobs have only one goal, and that is to do their job the best they can to keep it and get paid, on which the quality of their lives depends the most. In order to achieve that, it is necessary for their communication and cooperation to be at the highest possible level, and that also means knowing each other better. Joint cooperation and work make them get closer to each other and get to know the culture and history of different people better. WIthout their mutual interaction, they would not be able to achieve any of that and it would be difficult to overcome the barriers and prejudices that have existed for years. Mutual respect and esteem are necessary for normal functioning, but it is necessary to create enough space to accept diversity. Therefore, influence from all levels of government is important, in order to create a pleasant environment for all communities in Kosovo.

The integration, which took place in certain institutions in Kosovo, the most important of which is the judiciary, contributed to all this. Many young people from the Serbian community, including myself, were given the opportunity to work or do internships in these institutions, together with colleagues who are of Albanian nationality. In the beginning, there were a lot of problems with language skills and mutual communication, it was not possible to talk without the presence of a translator or other colleagues who know the language of another nationality, but the desire to work and personal development was stronger than all barriers. Considering that the workers in these institutions are mostly older people, the knowledge of the Serbian or Albanian language by certain workers who have been there before, made it much easier for young people to get to know each other and has enabled mutual communication. This is exactly what motivated young people to learn the language of another nation better at work and to get to know their culture better. In the beginning, there was writing down the words necessary to read and communicate, and later merging those words into sentences. As a worker in the judicial system of Kosovo, I needed to master the Albanian language as well as possible in order to do my job more efficiently, and I also wanted to “absorb” the experience of all my colleagues as much as possible. Working in a pleasant environment is necessary in order to achieve the best results at work, and that means better personal contact, bringing the cultures and customs of both nations closer. Mutual help at work is also of great importance and allows us to better cooperate and achieve the desired goals. During the previous years of working together, as long as the integration lasts, the experiences of many are positive, progress has been made on the issue of language, so many of my colleagues have learned the language and no longer need assistance in communicating with workers of other nationalities; work in certain segments is done faster and more efficiently, even the parties have more confidence in the integrated institutions in Kosovo.

Aware of the fact that we share space, work, and spend time together, we become more interested in the customs and culture of another nation, for better mutual acquaintance and respect. I have witnessed positive examples also when it comes to religious holidays and their mutual respect, culture is now better known and differences are accepted. Through doing business together, we managed to find a way to better accept each other and give a chance to our relationships. We have the confidence to turn to each other for help beyond business life, but work is the basis of our relationship, which has helped us build it better.

Because of all this, I think that work gave us a good chance to meet and if there are more such opportunities, most will go in the same direction, so in addition to improving the quality of life, there will be a more pleasant environment for mutual functioning and socializing in the future. It is a society to strive for because only in such conditions is it possible to better organize our lives, get to know the people who live next to us, and work together to help each other build better lives. I see just such a future – through creating more opportunities for employment in a multiethnic society, among which is the integration of certain institutions that took place in Kosovo and which resulted in good opportunities for many, especially young but also older citizens of this society.

Milena Petković, lawyer

Milena Petković was born on June 1, 1992. in Gjilan. She enrolled in the Law School in 2011 at the University of Pristina with temporary headquarters in Mitrovica and graduated in 2016 with a high average. She has been active in the integrated judiciary in Kosovo since 2017 and passed the bar exam in Pristina in 2019. She is now actively involved in the fight against domestic violence and cooperates with the non-governmental sector.

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(Pa) Fundësi & Ogledalo

The Kosovo Coalition for Reconciliation together with an informal group of students implemented an initiative intending to address the lack of understanding and lack of cooperation that exists in Kosovo. This was done, by introducing the wider public in each of ethnic groups with cultural works of young artists originating from different communities. We identified two young poets in Kosovo Serb and Albanian community, Dušan Zaharijevič and Agon Rexhepi, ranslated their selected work in the language of other groups. The publications were printed and disseminated throughout Kosovo to: libraries, youth centres, cultural centres, etc. enabling wider public to get introduced to the cultural values and young artist from different communities.

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Organizational meeting for FemArt 2021

12.05.2021

On 20-25 September 2021, Prishtina will be enriched with various cultural and artistic events and activities that will take place during the ninth edition of the FemArt Festival.

The staff of Artpolis, on 12 May, has held the first organizational meeting of the FemArt Festival, and decided about the motto and program scheme.

In this year’s edition, there will be a variety of activities, especially about feminism, ranging from theater plays, performances, workshops, exhibitions, concerts, conferences, and various publications.

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Request to include all victims in the memorial plaque in Lluzhan

Marking the 22nd anniversary of the tragic event on the Lluzhan/Lužane bridge, on May 1, 2021, a memorial plaque dedicated to the victims was inaugurated at the site, erected by the Municipality of Podujevë/Podujevo.

The memorial plaque bears the names of 31 Albanian victims, excluding however 13 Serbian victims who also lost their lives in this tragic event. Mayor of the Municipality of Podujevë/Podujevo, Mr. Shpejtim Bulliqi, through a Facebook post, stated, among other things “… we have unveiled the memorial plaque with all the names of victims who perished in this tragedy”.
The public should be informed that, according to the data the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK) have, on May 1, 1999, at around 13:00 hours, NATO strikes hit the Niš-Ekspres bus, at the time located on the Lluzhan/Lužane bridge, heading towards Prishtinë/Priština. As a consequence, 44 people lost their lives. Among them, 31 Albanian civilians and 13 Serbs, of whom 7 were civilians.
HLCK expresses its deep concern with the way the victims are commemorated, and particularly more so when local and state institutions contribute to the reinforcement of one-sided narratives, that put forward selective versions of history. The denial of victims on ethnic grounds is an insult to victims and their families and only deepens the divisions between communities in Kosovo.
Therefore, HLCK requests the Municipality of Podujevë/Podujevo to ensure that the memorial plaque correctly presents the events of May 1, 1999, commemorating all those who lost their lives in that event. HLCK also calls on all commemorative initiatives honoring victims to include all victims, regardless of their gender, race or ethnicity.

According to the findings of HLC and HLCK, the following people lost their lives in Lluzhan on this day:
Ajeti Shefqet (1945)
Aliu Kujtim (1968)
Bulliqi Behxhet (1946)
Cvetić Milovan (1949)
Filipović Božur (1948)
Grujić Života (1964)
Ilić Miroslav (1961)
Ivanović Vladica (1969)
Jakupi Ajet (1958)
Jakupi Ibrahim (1935)
Janković Miodrag (1950)
Jelić Vukosav (1950)
Jupolli Gani (1932)
Jusufi Mehmet (1960)
Kopalla Arjeta (1985)
Kopalla Fatime (1966)
Kopalla Fetije (1953)
Kopalla Florinda (1981)
Kopalla Mirjeta (1997)
Kopalla Xhavit (1984)
Kostić Bojan (1973)
Malinić Milana (1950)
Musa Drita (1977)
Musa Fexhrije (1970)
Musa Selman (1973)
Petrović Marija (1984)
Petrović Nikola (1982)
Petrović Smiljana (1933)
Podvorica Bexhet (1960)
Potera Milazim (1958)
Potera Nurije (1967)
Qerimi Ibrahim (1940)
Ramadani Besa (1991)
Ramadani Besarta (1993)
Ramadani Besnik (1983)
Ramadani Bislim (1996)
Ramadani Fatime (1963)
Ramadani Gani (1928)
Ramadani Muzafere (1986)
Ramadani Rizah (1959)
Rexhepi Serbeze (1933)
Rrahmani Halime (1964)
Uka Adem (1947)
Vukadinović Zoran (1972)
Reaction is supported by the non-formal coalition of NGO’s and experts who promotes the Principles on Dealing with the Past.

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Stronger together but rivals forever

Stereotypes affect all of us, especially in environments still burdened by conflicts.

Forum-theater performance “Stronger together but rivals forever” that took place in Civil Energy Center in North Mitrovica on 21 of April, dealt with this topic, with the idea to show how much problem of stereotypes prevents us from functioning normally. Through debate, we have tried to change our view of this problem.

Four young people end up in the jungle after the accident. Instead of cooperating together and ensuring their survival, an Albanian, a Croat and two Serb women, burdened by their stereotypes, are divided by nationality, religion and gender. Wasting time in their conflicts, they fail to solve their main problem, survival.

Actors Lidija Nikolić, Emilija Popović, Uroš Cvetković, Miloš Trifunović, Momčilo Jovanović trained by Filip Pajić, they successfully conveyed to the audience the atmosphere and problems of their characters.

This performance was fulfilled more by a discussion between the public and the actors/actresses after the end of the performance.

The activity was carried out in accordance with the recommendations for the prevention and suppression of the spread of the Covid-19 virus. This activity is supported by Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR KS), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union in Kosovo through the project “Transforming conflicting perceptions through increased civic and community engagement in Kosovo” implemented by Artpolis and NGO AKTIV as members of the Kosovo Coalition for Reconciliation (KCR).

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HLCK publishes its annual report: “War Crimes Trials: slow progress”

On Monday 26 April 2021, the Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK) published its 2020 Report: “War Crimes Trials: Slow Progress“, which was compiled as a result of monitoring of trials related to armed conflict, as well as ethnically and politically motivated crimes committed in Kosovo. To mark the occasion of this publication, HLCK organized an online conference which hosted a debate on the topic “Reducing the space for impunity: “Dialogue as an opportunity for legal cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo “.

The introductory remarks at the conference were presented by Minister of Justice, Ms. Albulena Haxhiu, Head of the EU Office in Kosovo Mr. Tomáš Szunyog and the British Ambassador in Kosovo Mr. Nicholas Abbott.

The Minister of Justice, Albulena Haxhiu, said that the ministry she led would be addressing war crimes as a matter of priority. In this context, she said that it was very important to strengthen the capacities of the Special Prosecution to address these crimes. The Head of the EU Office in Kosovo, Tomáš Szunyog said that EU had supported this process for some time now and that monitoring of these hearing sessions was of fundamental importance to ensure their legitimacy. He stated that thanks to the HLCK’s annual report, there was now an accurate summary of what the justice system had achieved during 2020. The British Ambassador in Kosovo, Nicholas Abbott, emphasized that an increase in the number of prosecutors handling these cases had been noticed and this was a progress, though there was still much to be done.

After the introductory remarks, the report was presented by Ms. Anka Kurteshi Hajdari, who is also its author. Among other things, she stressed that one of the main recommendations contained in the latest HLCK report pointed to the need to establish international legal cooperation between Kosovo and Serbia.

The following panel members presented their views in the session entitled “Reducing the space for impunity: Dialogue as an opportunity for legal cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo”: SPRK Chief Prosecutor Blerim Isufaj, the Acting President of the Basic Court in Prishtina Arben Hoti, the Head of the Legal and Human Rights Office at EULEX Paul Flynn, the HLC founder Nataša Kandić and the attorney at law Artan Qerkini. Representatives of the Kosovo judiciary in this panel mentioned the challenges they were facing in prosecuting war crimes cases, while other panelists offered examples of past cooperation and ideas in terms of opportunities of regional cooperation in the future.

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PRESS RELEASE

HLCK publishes its annual report: “War Crimes Trials: slow progress”

On Monday 26 April 2021, the Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK) published its 2020 Report: “War Crimes Trials: Slow Progress”, which was compiled as a result of monitoring of trials related to armed conflict, as well as ethnically and politically motivated crimes committed in Kosovo.

To mark the occasion of this publication, HLCK organized an online conference which hosted a debate on the topic “Reducing the space for impunity: “Dialogue as an opportunity for legal cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo “.The introductory remarks at the conference were presented by Minister of Justice, Ms. Albulena Haxhiu, Head of the EU Office in Kosovo Mr. Tomáš Szunyog and the British Ambassador in Kosovo Mr. Nicholas Abbott.

The Minister of Justice, Albulena Haxhiu, said that the ministry she led would be addressing war crimes as a matter of priority. In this context, she said that it was very important to strengthen the capacities of the Special Prosecution to address these crimes. The Head of the EU Office in Kosovo, Tomáš Szunyog said that EU had supported this process for some time now and that monitoring of these hearing sessions was of fundamental importance to ensure their legitimacy.

He stated that thanks to the HLCK’s annual report, there was now an accurate summary of what the justice system had achieved during 2020. The British Ambassador in Kosovo, Nicholas Abbott, emphasized that an increase in the number of prosecutors handling these cases had been noticed and this was a progress, though there was still much to be done.After the introductory remarks, the report was presented by Ms. Anka Kurteshi Hajdari, who is also its author. Among other things, she stressed that one of the main recommendations contained in the latest HLCK report pointed to the need to establish international legal cooperation between Kosovo and Serbia.The following panel members presented their views in the session entitled “Reducing the space for impunity: Dialogue as an opportunity for legal cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo”: SPRK Chief Prosecutor Blerim Isufaj, the Acting President of the Basic Court in Prishtina Arben Hoti, the Head of the Legal and Human Rights Office at EULEX Paul Flynn, the HLC founder Nataša Kandić and the attorney at law Artan Qerkini.

Representatives of the Kosovo judiciary in this panel mentioned the challenges they were facing in prosecuting war crimes cases, while other panelists offered examples of past cooperation and ideas in terms of opportunities of regional cooperation in the future.

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Forum-theater performance “Othello from Kosovo”

Racism and discrimination are issues of concern in Kosovo society, and they must be fought at all times and in many ways.

Forum-theater performance “Othello from Kosovo” that took place in Oda Theatre on 14 April, put on the surface the problems that communities in Kosovo face, but also there happened a lively discussion about the action we need to take as a society to combat these phenomena and raise awareness.

“Othello from Kosovo” intertwine racist insults, jealousies, and intrigues that still take place in our society. The story begins when three young people prepare to surprise their friend Desdemona at her birthday party, however, the real surprise comes from her.

Actors Art Pasha (Jago), Blendon Ahmeti (Kasi), Djellza Dema (Desdemona), Ergjan Mehmeti (Othello), and Venera Bojaj (Bianca) trained by Edlir Gashi skillfully brought to life these poisonous phenomena of our society.

This performance was fulfilled more by a discussion between the public and the actors/actresses after the end of the performance.

Veton Gashi, from the non-majority community during the discussion said that suffocation of hope to the youngsters of his community is more dreadful than the physical deprivation from life.

“Many people like Jago can use hate speech. It is not easy; I’m one of the youngsters from the community (non-majority) …. A person’s life is not lost only if he is killed, a person’s life is lost when he loses hope if he is offended, threatened, this must change. I think that generation after generation is changing and I hope that this generation that is seeing the performance is positive and will stay like this entire life with us, and to not support Jago and say that he is doing the right thing”, Gashi said, among other things.

The director of Artpolis, at the same time the theater director Zana Hoxha, who facilitated the discussion, after thanking Veton Gashi for his speech, said that “we are ending this session with the hope that this performance has made us reflect and has made us agents for change”.

The activity was carried out in accordance with the recommendations for the prevention and suppression of the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

This activity is supported by Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR KS), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union in Kosovo through the project “Transforming conflicting perceptions through increased civic and community engagement in Kosovo” implemented by Artpolis and NGO AKTIV as members of the Kosovo Coalition for Reconciliation (KCR).

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Feminist Spring School 2021 – First part

01-04.04.2021

With the motto “Young Woman build peace” had started this edition of Feminist Spring School gathered more than 20 girls from Kosovo and Serbia. 

For four days in a row, 1-4 April, these girls were trained and took the lectures on feminism and more by Anita Panteliq, Marijana Toma, Marijana Stojçiq, and Ajna Jushiq. 

At the beginning of each session, a safe space was created for the participants by introducing themselves in creative forms and interacting by asking questions and exchanging different experiences and ideas. The translation was also provided for them in both languages – Albanian and Serbian so that they could each express themselves in their language and hear and learn the other one.

“History of women’s position and organizing in the second half of the 20th century in the former Yugoslavia”; “Feminist Approach to Justice: UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and Women’s Court”; “Mechanisms of Transitional Justice”; “Forgotten Children of War”, were the main topics that were lectured and discussed during this edition of Feminist Spring School.

That the Western Balkans, once a hotbed of wars, have the potential to become a place of peace is shown by the statement of one of the participants of the Feminist Spring School Majlinda Behrami: “If politicians, who in most cases are men, would be inclined to work to achieve peace with the same will as we are doing in this meeting, the Western Balkans would truly be a place of dreams to live.”

Because of the COVID-19, the first part of the School took part online and was organized by partners “Alternative Girls’ Centre” from Krushevac and “Artpolis – Art and Community Center” from Prishtina.

The project “Young Women Build Peace in Kosovo and Serbia” is implemented in cooperation with Artpolis-Art and Community Center and the “Alternativni centar za devojke” while supported by the European Union in Kosovo and foundation Kvinna till Kvinna.