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February 11 2014

Prisoners Lists Stir Informbiro Memories in Former Yugoslav Republics

The recent publishing of lists of prisoners of Goli Otok, victims of communist purges in Yugoslavia from 1949 to 1956, has reignited dormant debates and opened some old wounds, across all the former Yugoslav republics.

Goli Otok is a Croatian island that was used as a prison camp during the so-called “Informbiro era” – the post-World War II breakdown between the communist leaderships of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. For many Yugoslavs, “Tito's historical ‘No!’ to Stalin” was a source of pride, especially because it solidified their country's role as an intermediary between the Western and Eastern Bloc. The purges that were part of the clash officially included persecution of alleged “pro-Soviet communists”. According to the victims and dissidents of the time, this was often just an excuse by the country's power-mongers to get rid of anyone they disliked for any reason and, thus, people of many other political affiliations were sent to the notorious camp.

Prison area of Goli Otok. Photo by Wikipedia (CC BY-SA).

Abandoned prison area of Goli Otok. Photo by Wikipedia (CC BY-SA).

During the last two months of 2013, Croatian portal Novi Plamen (New Flame) published two lists compiled by UDBA (Yugoslav State Security Service) from the State Archive of Croatia – the list of the 413 people [hr] who died in the camps, and the list of all 16,101 prisoners [hr] who had served sentences there. The second link spread widely through social networks and then through news portals in all six former Yugoslav republics.

Scan of the second page of Goli Otok prisoner list, displaying names, birthdates and codes for municipality, ethnicity, type of crime, dates of start and end of emprisonment... Published by Novi Plamen.

Scan of the second page of Goli Otok prisoner list, displaying names, birthdates and codes for municipality, ethnicity, type of crime, dates of start and end of emprisonment… Published by Novi Plamen.

Slovenian right-wing blogger Pavel noted [si] that the publishing of the lists coincided with the recent December 9, 2013, death of Jovo Kapičić [sr], who had allegedly been the man in charge of Goli Otok. In an August 2013 interview, Kapičić, a Serb, claimed [sr] that the Serbs had made up the majority of prisoners at the camp.

Twitter user ‏@flusteredcooler from Montenegro commented on this issue as well and, while people from all of the former Yugoslav republics often claim that their nationals made up the majority of those sentenced to serve time at Goli Otok, he noticed:

Legend says that most of the population of Goli Otok consisted of Montenegrins? The lists show that it was Yugoslavia in a nutshell [representing everybody]

A senior Macedonian blogger, among the oldest members of the local blogosphere, and a World War II anti-fascist resistance veteran, Buv (“Owl”), posted an announcement [mk] by the Association of former Goli Otok prisoners, advising caution in relation to the lists and offering first-hand consultations to all interested parties:

Темата за “голооточаните“.“информбировците“затвореници што ја издржувале казната во логорот Голи Оток е дел од пошироката историска тема за конфликтот меѓу СССР и СФРЈ.Не може да се зборува за казнениците на Голи Оток,без да се разгледуваат во комлесот на историските збиднувања.

Независно од тоа колку биле свесни/идејно свесни/за својот однос кон конкретните настани,учесниците во збиднувањата,што подоцна се нашле на Голи Оток,се учесници во еден политички судир кој има исклучително историско значење,за нив,за нивната земја,за пошироките светски движења.

Ова отклонување го направивме за да обрниме внимание на оние лесно искажани карактеристики што се даваат по повод на објавените списоци за голооточаните/информбировците/ и во други прилики.Без да се има во вид поширокиот контекст на случувањата,може паушално да се кажува се и сешто.Важноста на историската проблематика бара сериозен пристап.

Здружението Голи Оток,меѓу другото,ја има и таа задача да ја објасни,документира,да ја покаже историската вистина за настаните во кои независно од нивната волја се нашле и овие страдалници,што така строго ги казнила историјата.

The topic of the “inhabitants of Goli Otok,” the “Informbiro prisoners” is part of a larger historical topic about the conflict between the [USSR] and the [SFRY]. One cannot talk about the Goli Otok prisoners without taking into account the complexity of historical events.

Regardless of how much they were aware or ideologically involved in these concrete events, the participants who were detained on Goli Otok were engulfed in a political clash with exceptional historical importance, for them personally, for their country and the wider world movement.

We publish this notice to draw attention to the reactions that have been published with great ease after the lists of prisoners were exposed, as well at other occasions. Without taking into consideration the wider context of events, anyone can say anything without arguments. The importance of the historical issues requires a very serious approach.

The Goli Otok Association has the mission to explain, document and disclose the historical truth about the events which unwittingly encompassed these sufferers, who were so severely punished by history.

Informbiro activities left deep trauma in the collective former Yugoslav memory, parts of which were artistically expressed through popular cult movies like When Father Was Away on Business (1985) by then young Bosnian/Serbian director Emir Kusturica, and Happy New Year '49 (1986) by Macedonian director Stole Popov.

February 05 2014

Forget What You Know About Visiting Kosovo

A trip to Kosovo nowadays would convince anyone that this country, far from its sometimes negative reputation, has indeed a lot to offer. According to the World Bank data, more than 70 percent of Kosovo's population is under 35 years old, which surely explains the fact that on the flight this Global Voices author made to the country's capital Prishtina, half of the passengers were under 10 years old. This makes for quite the start to an unusual holidays!

Kosovo youth, while having to deal with terrible unemployment rates of 55.3 percent, manage to energize the country and push the rough memories of war further and further away. US blogger Adventurous Kate comments how first-time visitors feel:

It’s my first time in Kosovo, and I don’t know what to expect. Just the mention of “Kosovo” in America brings to mind an image of war, of death, of ethnic cleansing, of bombs. Even though this took place more than a decade ago, I’m wondering just what kinds of scars the country will bear.

Far off from the scars, what strikes the freshly arrived visitor most are Prishtina's incredible cafés. Everyone should experience the taste of a perfect macchiato on a sunny and well-designed terrace, looking over the frenetic errands of passersby. It certainly is not a legend that the coffee there sometimes tastes even better than an Italian one – we apologize to our Italian friends for this, but it must be said!

Enjoying a latte macchiato at the Shipja e Vjetër café in Prishtina

Enjoying a latte macchiato at the Shipja e Vjetër café in Prishtina

The Dit' e Nat' café celebrating the Irish poet Yeats

The Dit’ e Nat’ café celebrating the Irish poet Yeats

Although it might be true that Prishtina's architecture, mostly grey and anarchic buildings, is not its main attraction, the city is buoyant in its attitude and style. Its walls are full of graffiti and other forms of street art; the soul of the city appears on them an open book to visitors.

“I love colors” and “I love flowers” appear very frequently on the walls of the city, mostly in the saddest parts.

The claims not to forget the leaders of the Kosovo independance are visible here and there.

Urban art urging people not to forget the leaders of Kosovo's independence are visible here and there.

Creative details are available on every corner.

Creative details are available on every corner in Kosovo.

Kosovo's people seem to look more towards the future than stay stuck in the past praising war heroes or pacifist icons of Kosovo's battle for independence from Serbia, like Ibrahim Rugova. Kosovo, now the newest nation in Europe, was historically a part of Serbia and previously Yugoslavia. The 1998-99 Kosovo War was fought between the forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, made up by Serbia and Montenegro at the time, and the Kosovo rebel group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), with military air support from NATO, after 10 years of non-violent resistance from the civil society of Kosovo.

Although portraits of Ibrahim Rugova, the first president of newly independent Kosovo, as well as of the leaders of the armed resistance are visible here and there, the general impression to the newcomer is that today's actors of Kosovo are building up their own models. Witnessing the elections in Kosovo from Prishtina in November 2013, Darmon Richter comments:

Newspaper stories about riot police and violent assaults in polling stations do nothing to give a sense of modern-day Kosovo, save for the few pockets of the country where race rivalry is still rife. In the city of Pristina, people crave recognition of their independence… but all in all, it's about as normal a city as you'll find anywhere in the Balkans.

In fact, with a reported 60% voting turnout nationwide, democracy almost seems to be working better here than it does in the UK.

In the center of Prishtina, Rugova is still there, but the colors are washed out.

In the center of Prishtina, street art bearing Kosovo's first President Ibrahim Rugova's image is still there, but the colors are washed out.

Somehow, Prishtina could appear as a “mini-Istanbul” in the sense that it is sitting quite balanced between a post-Ottoman and a Western European culture. Kim's travel blog, from an American and Korean perspective, underlines the surprising cosmopolitan atmosphere of the “city of love”:

After visiting Pristina, I truly understood why people had been calling Kosovo a fast developing and energetic country. You could see the new buildings coming up everywhere, and could see foreigners traveling (majorly European) around the city and there were many exciting restaurants available besides just Balkan foods (…). Although I did not see any Asian people at all, one of my friends informed me that he had seen four Japanese people touring around the city. I wish I was there to witness the ASIANS walking around the city, that would have been hilarious. We probably had exchanged strange looks thinking “what the hell are you doing here…?” haha

What comes out of it is, just like in the Turkish city of wonders, a fascinating mixture of traditional silver art craft shops, highly modern new cafés, a multitude of bakeries, some old mosques being rebuilt, and some churches left to rot. In the center you can see some incredible buildings like the Prishtina University library, which appears almost as an unidentified object in the middle of the communist architecture that inhabits the rest of the area. Kim's travel blog also mentions this building:

You could see many historical buildings around the city, and you could tell Kosovars were very proud of them. University of Pristina, the best one in Kosovo, was structured nicely. Also right next to the university, there is Pristina National Library, which was quite impressive and weirdly designed. My friend who currently works at University of Pristina had explained to me what the structure and the design was based on, but … of course this chicken head had forgotten about it. Maybe I will google and Wikipedia it later.

The magazine Kosovo 2.0, available in English, Albanian and Serbian, is the new brand of this educated, multilingual and very open, worldly society. Covering politics, arts, fashion, social debates, women and gender issues, Kosovar topics and global subjects, the magazine is available in print as well as online. Kosovo 2.0 also offers a selection of the latest sounds produced locally, mostly electro genres, which are available online : Enjoy the musical ride!

The flashy colors of a new way of life can not be ignored on the Pristhina walls.

The flashy colors of a new way of life can not be ignored on the Pristhina walls.

Prishtina is full of surprises for visitors from any origin. But as Kosovo is young, it is growing and changing very quickly. So do not lose any more time and, if you can, hop on the next plane or car and take a moment to discover this promising city and its joyful contradictions. If you are quick enough, there might still be a piece of cake there for you!

Tasty and creamy! Almost too much but not quite.

Tasty and creamy! Almost too much, but not quite.

All photographs in this post are by author Marie Bohner.
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January 21 2014

Mafias, mafieux, malfrats, etc.

En Sicile, la Mafia n'existe pas. Originaire de la Campanie et de la ville de Naples, l'organisation s'y nomme Cosa Nostra ; en Calabre, on l'appelle la Ndrangheta ; dans les Pouilles, la Sacra Corona Unita. « Une sorte de spécialité nationale italienne, s'amuse Fabrice Rizzoli, au même titre que (...) / Albanie, Italie, Kosovo, Russie, Criminalité financière, Criminalité, Narcotrafic, Finance, Fiscalité, Parti politique, Violence, Drogue, Corruption - 2013/07
Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

December 23 2013

DIY Galaksija Computer, Bedrock of Serbia's IT Industry, Turns 30

Voja Antonić and his colleague Jova Regasek putting together the Galaksija prototype in 1983. Public domain.

Voja Antonić and his colleague Jova Regasek putting together the Galaksija prototype in 1983. Public domain.

The Galaksija (Galaxy) computer, created by inventor and author Voja Antonić in 1983 with detailed instructions for anyone to put together a personal computer with standard parts, is nothing less than legendary in the former Yugoslavia. The DIY home computer may not have matched the quality or high-tech readiness of most brand name computing machines of the time, but it inspired a country and a generation to plunge deeper and farther into the IT industry that was just beginning to develop worldwide.

As legend would have it, in the summer of 1983, a young journalist with a flare for all things tech and scientific, Voja Antonić, was vacationing in Montenegro. At the time, importing computers and such machinery into Yugoslavia was close to impossible for the average citizen due to complicated customs laws and licenses. Such technology didn't come cheap in the 1980s either. A standard PC in 1983 cost about an average Yugoslav worker's monthly salary, which was among the highest in Europe at the time.

Cover of the January 1984 edition of

Cover of the January 1984 edition of “Računari u vašoj kući” magazine. Public domain.

Antonić plunged into some summer reading on the Montenegrin coast that year about a new brand-name computer that had just been released on the global market. As he looked at the schematic, he realized that most of the parts of standard PCs had become readily available at most hardware stores throughout the country. Within months, the young Antonić had put together a schematic for anyone who wanted to build a do-it-yourself computer. He then contacted a few manufacturers of such parts and partnered with them to create DIY packages with all the necessary parts that any ordinary consumer could order for and put together at home.

Initially, the team involved believed they could sell as much as several hundred of the Galaksija kits, a number they thought to be highly optimistic but possible. Antonić knew he would also have to publish the schematic in a place where wider audiences could see it, for those who didn't want to order the ready to build Galaksija kit, but would rather purchase the parts on their own. He teamed up with Dejan Ristanović, who was barely 20 years old at the time and putting together a magazine about the latest in PC technology, “Računari u vašoj kući” (“Computers in Your Home”). Together, Ristanović and Antonić released the full diagram and instructions for the Galaksija personal computer in the first January 1984 edition of the magazine, published in December of 1983. Within a year or so, over 8,000 Galaksija kits were sold in Yugoslavia, while the number of those who purchased parts on their own and used the schematic to build their custom Galaksija were never recorded. That same year, Galaksija computers were introduced into elementary schools throughout the country. The year was 1984.

A tech revolution was incited. Ristanović, Antonić and their team also used radio and television to promote the Galaksija and everything computer-related, teaching average users how to customize both their hardware and tweak code here and there. The video below is one of  Antonić's countless popular television appearances in which he sat down to explain some gaming basics to Galaksija and other PC users:

Thirty years later, Antonić is a world-renowned inventor, speaker and writer, while Ristanović is the editor-in-chief of one of the country's most popular geek magazines, PC Press, and co-founder of one of the first Internet providers in Serbia. Today, Serbia is known among those in the IT industry as a place of great potential and well-rounded developers and innovators, despite the recent decades of political, social and economic troubles. In a recent post, elaborated on how the Galaksija revolutionized the use of personal computers on several levels. Radio DJ Zoran Modli came upon the idea at the time to distribute software for the Galaksija and other similar machines – through the radio ether. As the article explains:

Like the ZX Spectrum and other computers of the time, programs were loaded onto the Galaksija from an audiocassette recorder. This gave Jova Regasek, the editor of Računari, an idea for a bold experiment. He got in touch with Zoran Modli, who hosted the show Ventilator 202 on Radio Belgrade. Modli's show was a mix of local bands and contemporary chart music, but he also had an interest in computers, and Regasek's idea was to broadcast the sound of a computer program that listeners could tape and then load up on their home machines. In effect, this was wireless downloading long before the days of wi-fi.

In the year of Galaksija's 30th anniversary, every school in Serbia is equipped with computers for students, the Internet penetration rate was close to 65 percent in 2012, and visitors are often surprised to find that wifi is readily available almost anywhere in every city and town in the country. Over one-third of the country's adult population uses the Internet daily, and the statistics are just as or more impressive for Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia, with Bosnia-Herzegovina lagging somewhat. With much to make up for after the turmoil of the last two decades and the global IT industry developing rapidly, the region has yet to catch up with some other high-tech markets. With the Galaxy to mark its past, many are confident that the region has a bright future ahead.

November 08 2013

Désinformation à répétition

Dans nos archives, des exemples d'événements inventés ou exagérés... Janissaires et faux charnier Chute du régime roumain, 1989. [A la veille de Noël, alors que tombe la dictature de Nicolae Ceausescu, les téléspectateurs découvrent les images d'un charnier à Timisoara où, disait-on, gisaient quatre (...) / États-Unis (affaires extérieures), Irak, Israël, Kosovo, Palestine, Roumanie, Armée, Audiovisuel, Communication, Conflit, Désinformation, Guerre du Golfe 1990-1991, Information, Médias, Presse, Serbie, Koweït, Palestine (Gaza), Guerre du Kosovo 1999, Infoguerre - 2013/10

October 29 2013

15-Year-Old Roma Girl's Deportation Shakes Up France's Immigration Debate

[All links lead to French-language pages unless otherwise noted.]

student-activist mobilization Leonarda

A student protestor during the demonstrations supporting undocumented students Leonarda and Khatchik, Paris, 18 October 2013. By Valentina Camozza, Copyright Demotix

The deportation of Leonarda Dibrani, a 15-year-old Roma student, continues to rattle France. It is not the first time that a school-aged child has been forced out of the country, but this time all the ingredients were there to expose, to a shocking degree, the contradictions of the country's poorly executed immigration policy, against the backdrop of a rise in deportations of undocumented immigrants, in the stigmatization of Roma people, and in political power of the populist extreme right.

The facts are as follows: On 9 October, just a few months shy of her family's five-year anniversary in France – a milestone which which would have granted them eligibility for a residence permit – the girl was forced to get off the bus that she was riding in on a class field trip. She was put on a plane by the police along with her mother and siblings to join her father, who had been deported the night before, in Kosovo. She has never lived there, she doesn't speak the language, and will be the target of discrimination there.

The Réseau Education sans frontières (Network for Education Without Borders), which lobbies against the deportation of students, quickly mobilized and denounced the actions of “blind and inhumane politicians”. A Facebook page was created with more than 3,200 likes, and a petition was opened on Avaaz:   

The petition “Leonarda 15 years old arrested and deported” seems to be very successful. New signatures are constantly arriving - lebrubru (@lebrubru) October 15, 2013 

A political firestorm

As a first move after the outcry, and in the absence of both the Minister of Interior and the President who were both overseas at the time, the Prime Minister ordered an administrative inquiry about the conditions of Leonarda's deportation, promising the family would come back if there was a error.

France's Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls, who oversees policy on migrants and asylum seekers and enjoys high popularity in opinion polls, is ruffling feathers more and more, even within his own party, with his tendency to act alone without consulting the rest of the government. Huffington Post blogger-journalist Romain Herreros wondered if this time, with the case of Leonarda's deportation, the minister went too far: 

What Valls’ strategy is masking about immigration via @LeHuffPost — Romain Herreros (@Romain_Herreros) October 18, 2013

The case has exposed a rift in the ruling French Socialist Party (PS) [en]. The cacophony in the media and elsewhere grew louder all the way to the top, as described in the blog Sarkofrance saison 2:   

Le gouvernement a été ébranlé. Peut-on le dire ? Oui. Jean-Marc Ayrault a demandé une enquête; Manuel Valls a fait publier un communiqué défensif. Le président de l'Assemblée nationale, Claude Bartolone, celui qui institutionnellement pourrait remplacer le président de la République si celui clamse, a fustigé publiquement les conditions de l'arrestation. Le Parti du président, le PS, s'est indigné. François Hollande, en déplacement à quelque 3.000 kilomètres de là, a réagi. Cette indignation s'est vue jusque dans les blogs politiques.

The government has been weakened. Can one say this? Yes. [Prime Minister] Jean-Marc Ayrault called for an inquiry; Manuel Valls issued a defensive statement. The president of the National Assembly, Claude Bartolone, the very person who could, based on the institutional order, replace the president of the Republic if it were to collapse, publicly denounced the circumstances of the arrest. The President's Party, the PS grew indignant. François Hollande, some 3,000 kilometers from here reacted. Even the political blogs perceived this indignation.

Students protesting Leonarda Khatchik Paris

Students protest during the demonstrations in support of Leonarda and Khatchik, undocumented students in Paris, 18 October 2013. Photo by Valentina Camozza. Copyright: Demotix

On the eve of school holidays, on the 17 and 18 of October, thousands of secondary school students blocked access to their schools and protested in support of deported undocumented students. The demonstration was meant to demand the return of Leonarda, but it received limited public support from an immigration-weary public. Its motives have been deemed purely political by some, such as journalist Patrice de Plunkett:   

Ce qui s'exprime ressemble plutôt à un règlement de comptes. Le secrétaire national du PS expliquant, au ministre PS de l'Education nationale, que les lycéens PS bloquent des lycées pour contester le ministre PS de l'Intérieur ? ça va encore faire du joli dans les sondages.

There seems to be some sort of settling of scores (between leaders of the Socialist Party PS). The national secretary of the party explaining to the Minister of National Education [also from the same party] that left-leaning students are blocking school gates to challenge the Minister of the Interior? This internal battle is going to look fabulous in the polls [for the socialist party]  

Meanwhile, others saw nothing but political manipulation against the already divided government: 

[AFP] #Léonarda: according to [former Interior Minister and former member of the PS] Chevènement,  students might be manipulated to undermine Valls [fr] — J-P. Chevènement (@chevenement) October 18, 2013 (ed's note: as a consequence of the internal battle within the party) 

Blogger Seb Musset called for taking politics out of emotional issues:   

Pendant combien de temps encore 20.000 Roms vont être instrumentalisés à gauche comme à droite dans le débat politique, et tout ça pour un statu quo ? Rien ne change pour eux, rien ne change dans notre regard. 

How much longer do 20,000 Roma have to be used by both the left and right as pawns in the political debate, and all of that just to maintain the status quo? Nothing ever changes for them, nothing changes in our eyes. 

Lies and imbroglio

In order to sort through what has become the Leonarda Affair, an investigation was requested by the prime minister to understand the context of the deportation. Even before the report of the investigation was made public, word got out that the family was far from exemplary, did not make an effort to integrate into French society, and that the father, aside from having a reputation for violence had lied about his wife's nationality and that of his children, who were all in fact born in Italy. These details turned everyone into a judge of the validity of the deportation: 

Pages 16 and 17 of the report (about the unwillingness of the family to integrate #Leonarda) are damning. [fr]— Olivier Siou (@oliviersiou1) October 19, 2013

Christophe Giltay of wrote:

Le plus fou c’est que si ce qu’il [le père] dit est vrai, ses enfants sont de nationalité italienne, ils ont donc tout à fait le droit de résider en France comme partout dans l’union européenne. Et comme c’est le père qui a menti à l’office des étrangers, la femme et les enfants ne risquent rien devant la justice française. Mais ont-ils vraiment la nationalité italienne ? Difficile à savoir puisqu’ils ont détruit leurs papiers.

The most insane part is that if what he (the father) says is true, his children are Italian. They therefore absolutely do have the right to reside in France or anywhere else in the E.U. And if it is the father who has been dishonest with the department of immigration the wife and children are at no risk if called before the French justice system. But are they really of Italian nationality? It is difficult to know as they destroyed their documents. 

A challenge specific to the Roma population? Christophe Bouillaud, political science professor at IEP in Grenoble, reflected on how impossible it is for this underclass to escape their circumstances, despite the schemes that they may drum up: 

De fait, le coup de théâtre de l’italianité (légale) des membres de la famille n’en est peut-être pas un, il peut s’agir d’une autre embrouille encore, mais une fuite d’Italie, c’est tout à fait possible, c’est crédible,  cela en dit long sur la condition des “zingari” en Italie. On peut d’ailleurs supposer qu’ils ne savent pas eux-mêmes quelle est leur nationalité réelle en fait. Le père aurait déclaré à la presse que sa femme et ses enfants avaient des papiers italiens qu’ils auraient détruits, c’est bien possible qu’ils n’aient justement pas eu de tels documents de la part d’une administration italienne assez peu prompte à démêler les fils compliqués de ces vies transnationales.

In fact, the surprising turn of events that certain members of their family are legally Italian may be much ado about nothing. It could be one more scheme, but it is also possible that they just want to escape from Italy. If that is the case, it says a lot about the condition of the “zingari” [gypsies] in Italy. One could still suppose that they themselves don't even know what their actual nationality is. The father would have revealed to the press that his wife and children had Italian papers that they would have destroyed. It's very possible that they didn't have the documents due to the Italian bureaucracy that is slow to untangle the maze of these transnational lives. 

Is a return possible?

While the legal experts were pondering the possibility of a compromise for her, President François Hollande announced on the 19 October that because places of academic activity are exempt from deportation, Leonarda could return to France to complete her education, but without her family. The girl, who has publicized her cause with some of the characteristic awkwardness of someone of her age, has publicly refused. 

Leonarda journalists

Leonarda faces a large crowd of journalists from France and Kosovo.  Mitrovica-Kosovo, 19 October 2013. Photo Agron Beqiri, copyright Demotix.

The public debate is ongoing. Gilles Langoureau, an activist for the Left Front coalition, a coalition of left-leaning political parties and a frequently challenging ally for the current government, posted the following statement on Facebook: 

#Léonarda: Une enfant de 15 ans est ainsi mise en situation de choisir entre l’école de la République et ses parents, entre la France et sa famille. Le piètre jugement de Salomon de François Hollande contrevient à l’esprit de la Convention internationale des droits de l’enfant et à l’article 8 de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme. Il est humainement indigne [...].

#Léonarda: A 15-year-old child is put in the position to choose between Republican school and her parents, between France and her family. The poor judgement of Solomon by [President] François Hollande goes against the spirit of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and also against Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is inhuman and shameful [...].

Thomas Wieder, a journalist from Le Monde, stated: 

#Leonarda, as a new commentator, responds to Hollande's decision through the 24-hours news channels. It's completely crazy! — Thomas Wieder (@ThomasWieder) October 19, 2013

Meanwhile, the expulsion of an Armenian high school student named Khatchit, this time one who is legally an adult, has also arisen. Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, has cut his trip to the Caribbean short and is paying very close attention. 

Latest update: Leonarda and her family are not, as one may have feared, in safe circumstances in Kosovo [Albanian]:

“Familja Dibrani ishte duke ecur në Mitrovicë kur ata janë sulmuar nga persona të panjohur”, ka thënë një oficer policie.

“The Dibrani family was walking in Mitrovica when they were attacked by unidentified people”, reports a police officer. 

 This article was co-written with Suzanne Lehn.

October 16 2013

Léonarda, 15, Arrested During a School Trip and Deported

Léonarda Dibrani, 15, was on field trip with her schoolmates when she was detained by the french police, near Levier, France. She was later deported with the rest of her family [fr] to Kosovo as illegal immigrants. The Dibrani family fled Kosovo about five years ago because they are Roma. Léonarda tells the story of her deportation andthe conditions in which she lives now[fr], not being able to speak Albanian nor Serbian. In a social context where Roma population is frequently stigmatized, the french government has promised to conduct an investigation on the conditions of the arrest. The hash tag #Leonarda has been a trending topic on French social networks since the arrest and more 3000 people have already signed a petition for her return. Many observers have noted that the law has been applied appropriately in this particular case.         

September 18 2013

Guerre des Balkans, bilans en pointillé

Les anniversaires se succèdent : les 20 ans du siège de Sarajevo, bientôt les 15 ans du début de la guerre du Kosovo… Le temps de l'histoire est-il pour autant venu ? Après les témoignages-chocs, les analyses à l'emporte-pièce, les partis pris de combat, une étude dépassionnée du dernier conflit armé (...) / Balkans, États-Unis (affaires extérieures), Europe, Kosovo, République fédérale de Yougoslavie 1992-2003, Conflit, Minorité nationale, Serbie, Bosnie-Herzégovine, Croatie, Europe centrale, Yougoslavie 1946-1992, Guerre de Bosnie-Herzégovine 1992-1995 - 2013/09

August 24 2013

ETATS-UNIS / SYRIE: Syrie: l'exemple du Kosovo pour justifier une intervention militaire américaine

Des conseillers de Barack Obama cités par le New York Times évoquent l'étude du cas Kosovar. L'intervention militaire de 1999 par l'Otan contre les forces de Slobodan Milosevic est un cas d'école : c'est la première fois que l'on s'est passé d'un accord au Conseil de sécurité. Malgré des similitudes, la crise qui frappe la Syrie se déroule pourtant dans un contexte diplomatique et international très différent.
Les destroyers américains déployés en Méditerranée sont armés de missiles Tomahawk, capables d'atteindre le sol syrien avant le lancement d'une éventuelle opération aérienne.
US Navy
Reposted fromsigalonfrance sigalonfrance

May 29 2013

Il y a dix ans, Thomas Friedman agitait son « très gros bâton »

Depuis vingt ans, c'est l'un des journalistes les plus connus et les plus influents du monde. Auteur de best-sellers (son livre, The World is Flat, vendu à plusieurs millions d'exemplaires, a figuré pendant plus de deux ans dans la liste des meilleures ventes du New York Times), il est également (...) / États-Unis, États-Unis (affaires extérieures), Irak, Kosovo, Proche-Orient, République fédérale de Yougoslavie 1992-2003, Capitalisme, Idéologie, Impérialisme, Information, Mondialisation, Presse, Terrorisme, Serbie, Guerre d'Irak 2002 - - La valise diplomatique

April 15 2013

Running 1,000 Miles for Europe's Trafficked Children

Run For Love 1000

This month, Rob Martineau, Tom Stancliffe, and Guy Hacking are running 1,000 miles from Odessa to Dubrovnik, via Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Croatia, as part of the Run For Love 1000 campaign, whose aim is to raise funds for Love146, a UK charity that “gives care and hope to trafficked children, and to raise awareness of the scale of human trafficking across Europe.” Follow their run on the RFL1000 website, on Facebook, and on Twitter; support the runners by donating here (215 donations have been made so far, with nearly £12,500 raised).

February 20 2013

New e-Journal Highlights Balkan History and Archaeology

The inaugural issue of Haemus Journal, an academic e-journal devoted to the history and archaeology of the Balkan Peninsula, also covering a wide range of related interdisciplinary topics, was published recently. It follows the principles of Free and Open Access and publishes its content under a Creative Commons license.


Haemus journal Vol.1 (2012)


December 15 2012

“Kosovo 2.0 Talks Sex” Launch Party Cancelled Due to Attack

Kosovo 2.0, a website with interactive blogs, articles and multimedia, published in Albanian, English and Serbian, was planning to launch its new print issue, Kosovo 2.0 Talks Sex, on December 14. The topics covered in it included LGBT life in Kosovo and the Balkans, dating, sex education, gender reassignment surgeries in Belgrade, and much, much more.

Unfortunately, shortly before the launch party started, a group of approximately 20 men entered the Pristina venue, destroyed the stage and beat up one of the employees. The event was cancelled. You can watch the footage of the attack here.

Kosovo 2.0 published a statement on their Facebook page after the incident:

Dear readers and friends of Kosovo 2.0:

We want to give you all an update on what happened yesterday at our launch event, and explain why the launch party was cancelled. A day before the event, we began receiving hateful and threatening messages and comments on our Facebook page. On the morning of our event, we presented the comments and messages to the Kosovo Police and officially requested the presence of the police at the Youth Center (Boro Ramizi) throughout the day. We had police officers assigned to us. At around 6pm, a group of approximately 20 men rushed in to the Youth Center’s Red Hall. The police did not react on a timely manner. As a result, the same group destroyed our stage and beat one of our employees. You can watch the footage here. We held our reading session at 7pm regardless.

After the 6pm incident, special police forces were called to the venue. At around 10:30, around half an hour before the launch party, a group of over 100 protesters approached the building, yelling epithets such as “Out pederasts!” and “Allah u akber!” Despite the police presence, we decided to be safe rather than risk the safety of our staff and guests in the building. We had to be evacuated out by the police in small groups so as not to provoke the crowd.

Our launch event agenda included a screening of two films and various interviews, a discussion with magazine contributors, and a party with music, drinking, and dancing.

Last night’s events reveal more strongly than ever the need for free and critical thought. They demonstrated how easily endangered basic human rights are in the face of religious extremism, hooliganism and narrow-mindedness. Kosovo 2.0 achieved its mission in investigating sexuality in Kosovo and across the Balkans in our Sex issue, and we believe it is a milestone of journalism in the region. We give our heartfelt thanks to our supporters and those who stayed with us until the end of the night. Rest assured that we will continue to speak out against inequality, hate, and prejudice, wherever and whenever we can.

December 13 2012

Presenting the Balkan Minorities

Face the Balkans subjects of stories

A screenshot of the Face the Balkans website.

Fifteen young journalists from six different countries have produced a series of personal stories about representatives of the minorities (in a broad sense) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia. The stories are available in English, German, and French on the Face the Balkans website.

November 23 2012

Derrière la raison humanitaire

A-t-on le droit de « s'ingérer » ? Chez qui, pour quelles raisons, et pour faire quoi ? Qu'est-ce précisément que ce « droit » ? La Guerre au nom de l'humanité , du juriste et philosophe Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, analyse précisément cette notion qui a servi de fondement idéologique aux opérations (...) / Guatemala, Irak, Kosovo, Libye, Action humanitaire, Conflit, Droit international, Bosnie-Herzégovine, Mozambique, Guerre de Bosnie-Herzégovine 1992-1995, Guerre civile - 2012/11

September 17 2012

Kosovo : l'illusion de la souveraineté

Lundi 10 septembre, une cérémonie solennelle a, théoriquement, marqué la fin de la « supervision » internationale de l'indépendance du Kosovo. Celui-ci aurait donc accédé à la « pleine souveraineté ». Pourtant, la reconnaissance de cet Etat ne fait toujours pas l'objet du moindre consensus et le petit territoire (...) / Balkans, Europe, Kosovo, Serbie, Diplomatie - La valise diplomatique

September 11 2012

Kosovo: Prizren Comic Book & Cartoon Festival

Poster announcing Vesna Nichevska-Saravinova's participation at 8th Comic Book & Cartoon Fest in Prizren

A poster for the 8th Comic Book & Cartoon Fest in Prizren

Macedonian artist Vesna Nichevska-Saravinova blogged about her participation in the Prizren Comics Festival, organized by the Kosovo Comic Book Artist Association, Xhennet Comics [sq]. Four out of 15 featured artists at the festival were from Macedonia, Eddie Rebel reports [mk], alongside colleagues from Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, France, Kosovo, Bulgaria, and Bosnia.

Kosovo: “Cinematic Darkness Knows No Nation”

At Kosovo 2.0 blog, Belgrade-based journalist Dušan Komarčević writes - here and here - about his July 2012 trip to Prizren, Kosovo, to attend the DOKUFEST International Documentary and Short Film Festival:

[…] The cinemas were filled with movie lovers from Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, … Serbs and Albanians together!, will exclaim in unison ethnocentric builders committed to multiply the concept of the Berlin Wall in as many locations as possible. Unlike diplomats from Belgrade and Prishtina, who are seated around the same table by some Brussels bureaucrat […], moviephiles don’t need any intermediaries. Of course, with the exception of celluloid film. […]

April 17 2012

Serbia: May 6 Parliamentary Vote Roundup

Bill Kralovec posts a short roundup on the upcoming parliamentary elections in Serbia, scheduled for May 6, and shares his “political platform,” asking Serbian readers to help him “match which party most resonates with [his] opinions.”

January 31 2012

Vingt ans de « guerres justes »

L'intervention de l'Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord (OTAN) en Libye, au début de l'année 2011, s'inscrit dans la lignée des actions militaires menées au nom des droits humains par la « communauté internationale ». Consacré à « ces guerres qu'on dit humanitaires », le dernier numéro de Manière (...) / Afghanistan, Côte d'Ivoire, Irak, Kosovo, Libye, Rwanda, Droit international, Droits humains, Génocide, Information, Médias, Presse, Relations internationales, Violence, Diplomatie, Répression, Justice internationale, Guerre d'Irak 2002 -, Guerre d'Afghanistan 2001 -, Droit international humanitaire - 2011/12
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