1. Background information on Mitrovica and Trebca:
Mitrovica is a city in northern Kosovo (near the border with Serbia) which is currently divided into two parts. The division is at a river across which there are only two bridges. Today, Serbian-speaking Christians are in the majority north of the river, Albanian-speaking Moslems south of the river. In February 2000, snipers infiltrated from Serbia and caused an upsurge of violence; they were guided by colleagues in the street who were (ostensibly) unarmed but were equipped with mobile telephones. In response to this aggravation of the ethnic cleansing of Albanian civilians in north Mitrovica, Kosovo Liberation Army elements arrived from southern Kosovo and, on a few occasions, fired upon French KFOR (UN) soldiers, whose refusal to come to the rescue of Albanian civilians being subjected to ethnic cleansing by Serbs in the northern part of Mitrovica had already become an international scandal. The French soldiers retaliated against the Albanian families in north Mitrovica whom the Serbs were seeking to drive out of their homes. The retaliation consisted of breaking into homes and tearing up the interior walls and floors, ostensibly in search of hidden weapons.
Our interpretation is that there may have been a joint Serbian-French effort to force a geographical separation between the (majority) Serbs and the (minority) Albanians Mitrovica, with Albanians migrating southwards and Kosovan Serbs northwards, so that the biggest desideratum in Kosovo for capitalists - the Trebca mines just northeast of Mitrovica, which are currently not being worked but in regard to which Milosevic has signed a contract with the Societ‚ Comercial de Paris Metaux et Minerals - would lie north of the dividing line. According to a report published last July in "Koha Ditore", this company is owned by a Jean-Pierre Rozan, a personal friend of Milosevic's who holds an honorary military title ("Legion of Merit") in France and who visited Mitrovica during a period, after its occupation by KFOR, when the KFOR general in charge there was French. The general (Kouch) described Rozan at that time as "a patriot who deserves to be helped". Rozan owns 51% of "Jugobanka", which in turn holds 38% of the [Serbian] mining concern at Trebca; his personal contract with Milosevic gives him an additional 8% of the shares of that mining concern.
If our information and interpretation are correct, then the violence in Mitrovica in February 2000 were not really due to the inherent local communal difficulties, but to vested interests in Belgrad and in Paris.
2. English text for an article for "Koha ditore" and "Epoka e re":
Gandhi and Jinnah
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) was a lawyer and the son of the top bureaucrat in a small principality (population: ca. 70,000) near the northwest coast of India. When he was 50 years old, he mentioned one day to a friend that his father had been very strict and yet very loving with him as a child, and always, "even when the most confidential consultations were going on, or when the most celebrated state representative was visiting, would have me by his side". Because of this personal background, Gandhi felt like a fish in water when dealing with political power.
Over a period of more than 25 years he led to its successful conclusion a political movement to remove the largest colony - one fifth of humanity in those days - from the largest empire in human history. An essential part of his method was to involve the rural masses (in those days 80% of India's people) in campaigns of non-violent civil disobedience. Gandhi was, ever since his student days in London in the 1880s, adept at the niceties of a British gentleman, but from 1921 onwards he dressed like a peasant so that his personal appearance would convey a sense of identity with the mostly illiterate people whom he described, when visiting England for negotiations in 1931, as the "half-starved, half-naked, dumb millions" of India.
He was indefatigable, working normally at least 15 hours every day, but did not want to become president or prime-minister. (Instead he intended to devote his last years to constructive-work activities. He founded 19 such organizations, including the All-India Village Industries Association.) However, he exercised a "Machiavellian" skill - that is how the British viceroy described it on one occasion - in dominating the Indian National Congress and in ensuring that his chosen political heir, Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), would become India's first prime minister.
In 1920 Gandhi was elected president of the All-India Home-Rule League and launched, in collaboration with the Moslem League, his first big campaign of "non-co”peration" with the colonial government in India. That campaign had two goals: to win (1) self-rule for India (which Gandhi believed would be done within one year) and (2) the restoration of the Caliphate in Turkey (which was a matter of concern to many Moslems in India). At that time, another London-trained lawyer and prominent political leader, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), sent to Gandhi a letter advising him that it was dangerous to involve the masses in political agitation. Instead, independence should be sought, Jinnah felt, exclusively by "constitutional" methods - in effect, by dialogue between the educated Indian ‚lite and the British authorities.
The greatest tragedy of Gandhi's life is that Jinnah's warning was borne out by the inferno of mutual ethnic cleansing between Hindus and Moslems which accompanied, in 1946-47, the birth of Pakistan. There had been local communal violence now and then before, but nothing like what happened in those two years. The greatest tragedy of Jinnah's life is that he himself ignited that inferno when he departed in 1946 from his lifelong discipline of adherence to constitutional methods and called for a "Day of Action" by Moslems in Calcutta to insist upon the creation of Pakistan.
(Jinnah and the mayor of Calcutta expected that city to become part of Pakistan. Instead it became, years later, the city to which a million refugees fled during the war by which Bangladesh won its independence from Pakistan. Some of those refugees died in Mother Theresa's care.)
It was in the late 1930s that Jinnah took up the idea of a separate, predominantly Moslem state in the Indian subcontinent. Back in the 1920s he would say things like, "No, my boy! You are first of all an Indian, and only then a Moslem." (And even when he became in 1947 the first president of Pakistan, he kept it secular; not until years after his death was it declared a Moslem state.) The underlying concern which drew him to a "separatist" position was that the Indian National Congress, which was dominated by Hindus even though it included a few Moslem leaders, was becoming very successful politically (this was shown clearly in the nationwide provincial elections of 1937) and there seemed a danger that Moslems would become "second-class" citizens in the vast land which had been ruled by Moslems before the British came.
In 1940, Jinnah wrote: "The Hindus and the Moslems ... neither intermarry nor dine together, and indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.... To yoke together two such nations under a single State ... must lead to growing discontent." It seems to me that this prediction was inaccurate, because even though there are today as many Moslems in India as in Pakistan (and even though India's current prime minister is a member of a Hindu-fundamentalist party!), there is less trouble between Hindus and Moslems within India than there is between India and Pakistan, and the Moslems in India are as well-off as the people of Pakistan, and have more freedom.
The British colonial government always collected more in taxes than it spent in India, and so a very positive fiscal balance awaited whichever government or governments would succeed it when the British withdrew. In preliminary negotiations (well before Jinnah's unexpected "Day of Action") the Moslem League and the Indian National Congress had agreed as to how that fiscal credit would be shared in the event that two new states were to come into being. In the wake of the bloodbath, nearly all the Congress leaders wanted to set aside this agreement, but Gandhi insisted that they honor it. He was then assassinated by some Hindus who took this "betrayal" as an indication that he had become intolerably subversive of India's safety and welfare.
Although each man, Gandhi and Jinnah, may be said to have brought a nation into being (insofar as a leader can do it), neither of them used an army.
India is today a messy and inefficient parliamentary democracy. Pakistan has a military oligarchy.
5. English text of an article for "Epoka e re":
"Tokenism" and "Denazification"
I am only a foreign observer here, but it seems fairly clear to me that one day in the foreseeable future there are going to be a substantial number of Serbian professors and students at the University of Pristina. If this is so, then some important questions are "How many how soon?" and "Who?".
In regard to "How many how soon?", it may be worthwhile to know about a certain American experience. In the 1960s a number of universities and colleges in the USA which had no Negro professors or students decided, partly because of the moral pressure of Martin Luther King's movement etc., that it was time to change this. (If you were a Negro with a Ph.D. - in those days a rare thing, alas, in the USA - you could, just then, get a good job at a good university even if your thesis and your teaching were mediocre.) But of course merely adding, say, one Negro professor and two Negro students would not really make a university representative of American society, so the first newcomers were, in a sense, mere tokens; and then the issue became whether the universities were to progress beyond "tokenism".
It seems to me that, given the circumstances here, it would be a poor idea for the University of Pristina suddenly one day to have, say, 20% new Serb professors and students. A better way would be to start with tokenism and then move gradually ahead from there.
The question "Who?" is essential. The answer has to be: not Milosovic agents, criminals, or patriotic ideologues of "Greater Serbia", but - for the professors - decent, reasonable and academically qualified people who happen to be Serbian. How to distinguish in advance? By some process like the one which American army officers administered in Germany at the end of World War II to determine which of the surviving Germans were fit to hold reponsible positions in civil society. This was called "denazification". It was society, not any individual, that was "denazified" by this process: that is, it was not a matter of rehabilitating former Nazis, but of sorting out - yes or no in each case - who would be allowed to be a government official, a university professor, etc. Post-war Kosovo needs a process like this, but there are impediments: UNMIK's reluctance to do it and Kosovo's vague legal status. However, the Albanian-speaking members of the University of Pristina have proven themselves adept at improvising in the absence of a clear legal status. So they might set an avant-garde example of successful "denazifying" which could serve as a model for Kosovo society in general.
UNMIK - by virtue of the fact that the University is considered to be a state institution and UNMIK is in charge of state functions until the political status of Kosovo is settled definitively - has recently brought in an experienced German university administrator, Prof. Michael Daxner, to work with the rector. Prof. Daxner is regarded in Germany as an intelligent and reasonable man, and an indication that he may really be so is that he has not taken the title "rector", but only "international administrator". So it might be worthwhile for the students, with their substantial heritage of helping make the university function in difficult circumstances, to present to him some constructive ideas. Perhaps UPSUP might work out a "deal" with the university administration, along something like the following lines: you, the administration, undertake (1) to appoint only one or two Serbian professors per year (from amongst those who are now in exile from Serbia because they have opposed Milosevic) for the next few years, and (2) to let an UPSUP team carry out, with your help and advice, an informal screening of each candidate; and we, UPSUP, undertake to ensure that the Serbian professors who are appointed (from among those whom our "denazification" has found to be OK) will suffer no abuse in Pristina.
UPSUP should give such an undertaking only if it has the strength among the students to make good on it. (To produce another Serbian martyr like Dragoslav Basic would only help Milosovic and Draskovic!) And in each case, "Epoka e Re" and UPSUP should "introduce" the new professor in advance, so that to proceed gradually, by means of tokenism, toward a more substantial integration (including in due time some Serbian-speaking students) can become a transparent process with active support from the Albanian-speaking students.
6. Revised draft of the proposal solicited by Milena Modica:
A Proposal for "civil tribunals" in Kosovo
(second draft, 15 March 2000)
This is a proposal as to how to use the registers that have been and will be assembled of crimes which have not been properly processed. The proposed method is applicable to those cases in regard to which the perpetrator is known to be in Kosovo and one or more victims are still alive (taking the term "victim" in a broad sense to include widows etc.). Our point of departure is that the normal kind of Western judicial procedure would be inadequate in most of these cases. It takes too long, the rules of evidence are too strict and too complex, and, most important of all, it seldom satisfies the victim. It often causes him or her a great deal of trouble and then, even if the verdict is "guilty", the kind of justice rendered is of little value to the victim and usually doesn't lead to any kind of fresh dialogue of use to society.
Some models which should be studied for adaptation to the circumstances are the Italian "giudici conciliatori" ("conciliatory judges") and the South African "civil tribunals".
The "conciliatory judges" in Italy are part of a para-legal structure which in each case involves also the accused and one victim and their lawyers and one or two trained volunteers. Sometimes the accused, feeling remorse or simply worried about the impending trial and knowing that another procedure is available, requests that a volunteer help initiate it; or else a volunteer, on his own initiative or at the request of the victim, may go to the accused, explain the procedure, and ask if he would like to pursue it. However that may be, if the accused, after one or more consultations with the volunteer, admits his guilt of the crime and expresses clearly a willingness to explain to the victim why he did it, to hear the victim tell him how bad it was, to ask the victim for forgiveness, and to compensate him in some fitting way; and if the victim, knowing of this willingness on the part of the accused, is ready to forego the trial or to request that the sentence be mitigated if the law requires a trial; and if the lawyers agree; then a meeting is arranged in the presence of a "conciliatory judge" whose role includes encouraging the two main parties to have a substantial conversation, reach a personal rapprochement and decide upon a suitable form of compensation in view of their respective personal circumstances. The case is finally closed after the compensation has been properly performed.
The relevant work of the "civil tribunals" in South Africa was for the most part like that of the famous Truth and Reconciliatiion Commission, except that the civil tribunals were conducted in each community rather than in one central place, and in each community a figure of local status somehow comparable Bishop Desmond Tutu's national status was saliently involved.
A name other than "civil tribunal" may be found better suited to the situation in Kosovo. Whatver the name, among the advantages of such a procedure are that it would give the victims far more satisfaction than that of merely seeing the criminals punished, it would rehabilitate the criminals, and it would probably induce the parties to find a fresh perspective on the past and the future, tending to reverse the spiral of hatred and lead to innovations going beyond gestures of reconciliation and compensation toward constructive solutions to the problems that underlay the conflict in the first place.
Even if only two or three such cases in each village or neighborhood were addressed successfully in this way, the general effect would, if they were reasonably well publicized, be to help reverse the noxious cultural effects of the years of violence. The cost/benefit ratio might be best if it were done in such a way that Kosovans and unpaid foreigners rather than OSCE employees were most visibly involved, and indeed at the pivotal meeting of the perpetrator and victim, the role of a foreigner might best be that of an "external observer" sitting next to a presiding figure from the local culture and contributing occasionally a cosmopolitan perspective. (It would, for instance, be more effective for a local person than for a foreigner to suggest that a distinction be made between "systematic" and "episodic" criminality.) The various administrators of the scheme should have a modicum of training or at least briefing for their respective roles. (...)
An e-mail address for the authors of the present document is firstname.lastname@example.org >.
7. Documentation on the Postpessimists at Pristina:
Excerpts translated from "Il Giornale di San Patrignano", April '99, pp. 28-29:
There's a little bit of Pristina, a unique place in the back of one of the buildings on the main street, where some thirty youngsters, Albanians and Serbs, hold meetings, organize exhibits and concerts, and surf the internet. This is the "Postpessimists" club - open to everyone (and financed by Norwegian People's Aid). It's an active place, with murals on the wall, a table in the middle, a computer-room, a kitchen and an art-studio. On the walls is a colorful banner with the word "Peace" on it, and some handsome photographs, color as well as black and white, of the city. "On account of these," Drin tells us - he's a 15-year-old Kosovan who speaks Albanian, "the police detained us in jail for hours and hours. They didn't give a damn that it was for a photography exhibit." He combs his hair in gel. "We started this center to promote integration and work for peace. Even though we do have our differences" - and even though they're enough to make an intercommunal "love story" out of bounds. "Maybe it would have been possible before, but now it's unthinkable. If a baby were born the Serbs would take it away. And then it would be just like in Bosnia, one thing after another," says Vigan. There's no way, even among the teenagers, to change this: "When the Serbs are in the club we don't feel too comfortable," says Drin (who has already decided, after high-school, to study communications, perhaps in Canada where his father want to send him for safety); "If we start to talk about what's going on, we always quarrel." I ask for an example and he tells me, "They [the Serbian Christians] say that they'll massacre every one of us if NATO starts dropping bombs, whereas just about all of us [Albanian-speaking Kosovans] are for the Kosovo Liberation Army." He goes on and tells us about the time played Risk with the young Serbs, enacting symbolically the grim political realities.
It's not easy to develop a dialogue when the whole scene is just about ready to explode in an escalation of violence. "I live in a condominium where one of the tenants, a Serbian, goes around syaing that if the war starts he'll kill all his neighbors, Bosnia-style. The Serbs are dangerous, you can't trust them even if they're old friends. They're willing to attack civilians, but the Kosovo Liberation Army only attacks soldiers." This last point seems doubtful to me, but Drin and Vigan believe it. They want two things above all: (1) "equal opportunity", that is, a proper school and a diplomas that are valid fwhen it comes to getting a job, and (2) the "right to be a teenager" and go out of the house even when the authorities have declared a military curfew. "It used to be different, but now even the clock divides the whole city in two." Nenad, a 20-year old Serbian who studies art-history and edits the Postpessimists' Serbian-language journal (they have another in Albanian) shakes his head when he hears his friend say these things. He himself doesn't have any trouble, he says, getting along with the Albanians. "A lot of people are against it, but I don't give a damn about that. My [Serbian] friends know that I have Albanian companions here, and one or two of my friends even came along. It seems perfectly natural to me." Nenad works part-time as a local TV journalist. His parents thought that the Postpessimists were some kind of religious sect. "But they calmed doen when they saw what we were doing. My father thinks there won't be a war, not even air-raids. He's full of hope. But not me; in my work at the TV station, I hear only bad news. I know that we're going to fight against the Albanians, but I'll never kill anyone from the club." After a long sigh, he adds, "Whatever happens, it's still my country. Of course I hope that we'll end up with a Serbian Kosovo as well as an Albanian one. That we we can have a future."
Leonora is a 17-year old Albanian who sings and paints and has written up a "joint" cultural project for the Postpessimists to carry out in Italy. She says: "We have to use everything, including art and music, to try to get out of this mess. I hate politics; it's disgusting, it puts ideas in our heads and words in our mouths which are not ours. It prevents us from thinking. We do quarrel - it's true - whenever the Kosovo Liberation Army is mentioned, but even so, we're here to try to do something together. We're youngsters, so the future is in our hands - but unfortunately not only in ours. We are subject to decisions that are made without consulting us." The solution? "There has to be a cultural change. It will take time. We may not even live to see it. There's not going to be an agreement which can suddenly turn upside down a reality like this from one day to the next. But even so, if the two ethnic groups can't manage to live in harmony, then none of us can be free in our hearts or in our day-to-day lives."
Interview with Vigan Jashari (16 years old) at Pristina, February 2000:
Campagna Kosovo: "You are from the Postpessimists. Can you please tell us about them?
Vigan: "The Postpessimists started in 1993. At first it was not a legal organization; it began with a woman who had a group with her son. They were playing; they had some computers; they started some helpful projects, some educational projects and so on.
Campagna Kosovo: "Albanians and Serbs?"
Vigan: "Just Albanians. After a while they went to the [Serbian] authorities and said what they were doing and asked to have a youth organization, and got an official status. The authorities said, 'You must have Serbian members if you want to exist'; so they did. But then the situation got difficult."
Campagna Kosovo: "The general situation in Pristina?"
Vigan: "Yes. And our Serbian members couldn't come, because their parents were afraid."
Campagna Kosovo: "Before that happened, would you meet in the same room at the same time?"
Vigan: "All together."
Campagna Kosovo: "Only the Serbian parents objected?"
Vigan: "Yes. After that, some older Serbians came: 22, 23, 24 [years old]. We [Albanians] were from 14 to 18. So there was a big difference in our ages. Then the situation got very difficult.
Campagna Kosovo: "In your own group?"
Vigan: "No, the general situation. The bombing started and we had to stop. After that we went to Macedonia, met with some friends, went to some camps...
Campagna Kosovo: "Refugee camps in Macedonia?"
Vigan: "Yes. Some of us did interviews and made a new group in the camps with people from everywhere in Kosovo."
Campagna Kosovo: "All Albanians?"
Vigan: "Yes, there were no Serbian refugees in Macedonia. We had a big group there. Then, when we came home [to Pristina], we met for a while at the Children's Centre, but after a while there was a problem there, so now we meet every Thursday at the Unicef building."
Campagna Kosovo: "Do you think it will be possible in the future - and if it is possible, when to you think it might happen - to have Serbians back again in the same group?"
Vigan: "Oh, I don't know. I have to speak now for myself. I think that at first we must not have Serbians, because there are many people here who don't understand things yet. After the [general] situation becomes good again, then we can have Serbians."
Campagna Kosovo: "What do you think young Albanians in Pristina feel about the situation today?"
Vigan: "For me, we must be friends. Kosovo must be multi-ethnic, because the world is like that."
Campagna Kosovo: "How long do you think it might take to make this kind of progress?"
Vigan: "After a while, if people go out into the world, it can be practical. But first the war must stop [a reference to the recent shooting in Mitrovica]. I don't know."
Campagna Kosovo: "Do you have anything to say to young people in Italy, in America, in other countries?"
Vigan: "I would like to have contact with them."
Besides meeting every Thursday evening and having parties and concerts now and then, the Postpessiments have three kinds of ongoing projects:
- visual arts: exhibitions and collaborative projects in various media
- journalism: a monthly newspaper and a quartely journal
- social work: collecting books for libraries; visiting schools to give talks and hold meetings; organizing debates; conducting surveys; cleaning streets, repairing public fountains etc.
8. The same documentation in Italian: