March 2008


Thursday Thirteen

I modified my last post from 24th March into TT post cause I think it should be exposed to wider blogging audience. So here it is:
1. Last night I went in bed with huge smile on my face. It was amazing watching how Serbs Ana Ivanović and Novak Djoković have took titles in Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells! Serbian fans on the stadium wore “NOLE, ANA, JELENA” t-shirts, this time no one has been punished but the banner “Kosovo is Serbia” has been confiscated, on the grounds that the banner was a political statement (I guess “Texas is USA” would be taken in the same way). Novak made a taped speech last month for a rally in Belgrade in which he spoke against Kosovo’s independence.

Ana & Novak

 

2. “The people who know my past and they understand what I’m saying — my father and my aunt, my uncle all grew up there. They were born in Kosovo and my family used to live there for 30 years. I was there many times. So it kind of touched me in that moment that this was my quest to give support by my country.” said Djoković.

3. Last week, the swimmer Milorad Čavić, who was born in California to Serbian parents, was barred from the European championships after wearing a T-shirt that said “Kosovo is Serbia,” in Cyrillic letters, at the medal ceremony after winning the 50-meter butterfly. “I’m really sad to hear about this. It’s hard because we are athletes and trying to do the best we can on the court and promote our country in the best possible way,” Ivanović said about the Čavić’s case (I wrote about that HERE).

4. And it was fantastic to see those youngsters who have managed to conquer hearts of so many people all around the world.

5. And then this morning I’m turning on my radio expecting to hear news from tennis court I was frozen by the sound of air raid emergency siren! It was horrible flash back and it took me few moments to realize that today is 9th anniversary of the NATO War of aggression against Serbia.

6. I remember that day I didn’t want to leave my flat in Belgrade naively believed that international law is supreme value and that no one will attack sovereign European country without permission of the Security Council UNO (the only institution which has mandate to bring that decision). Moreover I didn’t believe it’s possible that NATO will broke its own statute which said that alliance will go in military action only if the country, member of the alliance is jeopardized by some third (non member) country. But then I simply didn’t think that international law doesn’t exist if USA wants that.

7. So I decided to leave Belgrade to calm my parents and I remember my shock when I arrived on the main bus station which has been completely covered with people sleeping with their luggage on the floor. It was impossible to reach the counters. My god I never saw anything like this before.

8. Anyhow that evening I was visiting my friend, drinking coffee and chatting about something trivial and in one moment we stopped talking. “Was that detonation?” and soon after that we heard air raid sirens. It was unbelievable.

9. 78 days of bombing killed about 3000 civilians; destroyed infrastructure of the country; helped Milosević’s regime to achieve what he couldn’t for so long: kill free press, put in jail everyone who was publicly expressing different political opinion; put citizens in total misery.

10. Official cause for bombing was massacre in the village of Racak. After bombing UN commission of forensics and pathologists confirmed that there was no massacre. Those bodies were in unnaturally positions in the cloths that don’t match the wounds on the body. It was confirmed what Serbs officials were claim that those are terrorists dressed post mortem in the civilian clothes. Naturally that was irrelevant. Of course now we see the true purpose of NATO aggression: making Kosovo independent.

11.

12. One might think 9 years would be enough for wounds to heal but I don’t think that will ever happen. When I heard sirens this morning I couldn’t pick up myself entire morning. 9 years and yet, as if it was yesterday. No I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t afraid during the bombing neither. I never went in shelter or something like that. I was in despair and filled with anger and in the same time incapable to do anything. And that state of mind is worse than anything you can imagine. This morning I realized that state of mind is somewhere inside me, waiting to be awaken.

13. If you were me, would you be able to forgive? (is this question makes me a bad person, or at least a bad Christian? If so, I’m wondering where is the limit of human ability to forgive?)

CavicEuro champ Milorad Čavić, Serbian swimmer has been banned from European Swimming Championship in Eindhoven and became first sportsmen in the history who has been banned from the competition by the LEN because of the issue other than doping.

His ‘crime’ was to wear a t-shirt declaring that ‘Kosovo is Serbia’ (in Serbian language and Cyrillic letters) when on the podium receiving his gold medal for the 50m butterfly, in a European record of 23.11 (beating his own record from semifinal); A letter of protest was received from “an unnamed party” and of course he has to be punished because t-shirt “contained a political message”. LEN officials even said that he violated rules by carrying Serbian flag on podium completely neglecting that organizers didn’t have Serbian flag on medal ceremony and that they have used reversed Russian flag which is not the same as current Serbian.
It is amazing how politics of double standards is applied on every field!

The European swimming governing body (LEN) didn’t do anything after scandal in the final match of European Water polo Championship in Slovenia 2003 when the Serbian players and fans including President Boris Tadić and minister of foreign affairs Goran Svilanović were brutally attacked! They even had to jump in the pool to save their heads. The match was between Serbia and Croatia and since the Serbs were targeted no punishment was necessary.

I’m not person who is thinking about secret conspiracies and I could understand this might sound paranoid but there are simply too much similarities!

Without expressing my political opinion and intention to offend anyone I’m wondering would you react the same if the message was “Free Tibet” or “Flanders is not Belgium” or even “Kosovo is Independent”? Or, since Čavić is Serb born in USA and lives in Florida what if he had won gold for US and wore the same t-shirt? Surely nothing like this would happened.

Lets think if they had to punish him was it necessary so drastically? 7000 euros for Serbian Swimming Organization and official warning wasn’t enough? Or was his potential the main criteria in making this shameful decision? Namely (with best result) he was the main candidate for gold in 100m butterfly; the other discipline was 100m freestyle.Cavic

“I’m afraid of the worst,” Čavić told The Associated Press in Thursday. “A suspension is the worst they can do to me. That is the death sentence.” And of course they heard him.

“What is my wearing a shirt going to do to change the minds of the United States, United Nations or European Union,” he said. “This is already a done deal. All I wanted to do was uplift my people. My only role here was to be a leader and transfer positive energy. I didn’t do it to provoke anger, I didn’t do it to provoke violence,” Čavić said. “The country is torn apart and . . . my goal was just to uplift them.”

And you did, Milorad. I’m horribly sorry for the price you are paying and hope you’ll be able to stay focused on Beijing. After this maybe even more!

Good luck and thank you!

Four years ago, on March 17th 2004 the biggest attack on Serbs since arrival of international UN peacekeeper troops has happened. Attacks on Serbian enclaves and mass destruction of their properties were apparently surprised international forces and their reaction was too late and too weak. During this ethnic cleansing 4000 Serbs have been banned from Kosovo, 19 people lost their lives; 6 towns and 9 villages were completely ethnically cleaned. 800 houses has been destroyed and 35 churches/monasteries and 18 cultural monuments.

“Cause” for this attack was campaign of Albanian media against Serbs who have been accused for death of three Albanian boys who have drowned in the Ibar river. Investigation performed by UNMIK showed that those accusations were false.

March 2004 part 1

March 2004 part 2

Four years later investigation is not over; organizers of the ethnic cleansing are still free. Reconstruction of damaged houses is minor.

And today, on the anniversary KFOR has manifested its power against Serbian clerks in the court of Kosovska Mitrovica. Few days ago Serbian clerks have taken court building demanding to reestablish rule of law; they wanted to go back and start work again. They protested in a front of the court since 21st Feb and since the officials were deaf they managed to enter in the building last Friday. Of course now is clear why they didn’t have any difficulties then. What have happened today was planned from a start. Of course it was completely unnecessary.

This morning at 5.30 am soldiers were broke windows were the clerks slept, they tied them refusing any talk, took their cell phones and arrested them. I should tell you that those clerks are middle aged people who worked in juridical bureaucracy which means that any force was unnecessary. But of course since they were watching ethnic cleansing four years ago and done nothing KFOR decided to use an extra force today.

Naturally when Serbs in the town found out what is going on in the Court building they surrounded it demanding to let go arrested people.

More than 100 people are injured mostly of shock bombs, tear gas and explosions.

What a proper anniversary! UN forces are forcing democracy indeed; who needs law in the presence of peacekeepers anyway!

a thousand splenid sunsAbout two weeks ago I finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Novel I was so eager to read. In his bestselling debut The Kite Runner the accent is on the relationship between father and son and friendships between men, in this novel relationship between women is in the focus. Moreover Mr. Hosseini is precisely dedicated this novel “to the women of Afghanistan”.

This is a story of two women against the background of the last forty years in Afghanistan. Two women from completely different milieus but almost equally tragic destiny. Of course this can’t be different considering the problems their country has had. We see what means to be a harami (bastard) in the same country but under different circumstances. Either way it’s very hard but sometimes that might be a deadly mark. So from the very beginning we are confronted with the position of women in society where like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always”.

There is one nice picture of Afghanistan before and then during Taliban rule and period of war against Soviets in between. Therefore we can see how life might be wealthy, the one we are more/less familiar with and not nearly like the images we have when think about nowadays Afghanistan. Namely, second main character is from a wealthy family who is investing in her education and has big planes for her. She has been raised in the “Western” tradition and does not share rigid and traditional Muslim customs. The ones which broke wings of the first woman and the ones which will some twenty years later inevitably knock on her door as well when series of horrifying events will unite destinies of these two women.

Under impossible repressive regime towards women where they must wear burqa, where education is forbidden, where there are no female doctors and male ones can only examine men, where they can’t leave the house without a man … the only salvation is friendship.

Indeed the story sometimes look soap-opera-ish: there is a saintly best friend who commits an act of enormous self-sacrifice to aid the heroine (as in The Kite Runner); romantic twists with sometimes ridiculous description of sexual awakening of young Laila and I’m afraid too many fairy-tale turns as if they were lifted from some B movie. Characters are one-dimensional that they feel like cartoons. Laila is the great beauty, with a doting father and a protective boyfriend — a lucky girl whose luck abruptly runs out. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of a bitter woman and a disloyal father — an unlucky girl whose luck turns from bad to worse. There is just too many black/white characterizations.

Luckily Mr. Hosseini succeeds in making the emotional reality of Mariam and Laila’s lives tangible to us, and by conjuring their day-to-day routines, he is able to give us a sense of what daily life was like in Kabul — both before and during the harsh reign of the Taliban and for me that was the most valuable thing here.

He was describing Taliban “beard patrols”; despair of women who can’t find hospital where can be treated (or even give a birth); black market where one can buy forbidden things such are TV, music or movies. Very interesting was “Titanic” fewer in 2000 when parts of the town was named after the movie, also toothpaste, deodorant and (imagine this!) burqas! (recently I’ve read memoirs of girl who lived under Taliban regime “My Forbidden Face” by Latifa (pseudonym) and indeed she wrote about the same “Titanic” fewer)

In some weird way this story is very similar with the movie “Titanic”: They are living on the sinking ship desperately relying on clichés: childhood promises are sacred; true love never dies; justice will be done; sisterhood is powerful. Love will save us and sacrifice for love will always be awarded, in this or in afterlife. It’s very fairy-tale-ish, unrealistic and eventually hard-to-put-down-able story.

The Sad ClownI just came back in town after about two weeks of isolation from news. Now I’m supposed to pick up pieces of normality in my life and try to live, right? Oh but that will not be that easy. Namely political situation is just as if it was in the early nineties: economy is in mess, stock market too; inflation is jumping every day; radicalism is awake; people are so furious and angry and (the latest in the line) government fell. What a perfect place to be normal! And all that in only two weeks!

Oh, Europe is constantly saying how Serbia is its friend and how Serbia has its place in European Union. They are willing to help us on every step, of course if we chose Europe. Now after this, I’m afraid we will not chose Europe. Not that I want that, on the contrary but Europe has done everything to provoke rising of blood pressure to every common citizen in Serbia whenever they hear word “Europe”! Oh but the point is that Europe is our friend who wants to help us, right?

Well I’ll try to make the picture about European offer clearer:
Imagine a man who has found a homeless frozen girl on the street and he offers her help. He could put her in one SAFE House (Violence Shelter) where is warm and where she’ll get bed and food and where she’ll be able to stay as long as necessary. And girl of course accepts his offer willingly BUT there’s a catch: since SAFE House is only for victims of violence he must beat her and rape her and after that there’ll be no problem for her to be under protection.

Nice isn’t it? Would you accept that offer? Well that is exactly what Europe is doing to Serbia: constantly is speaking about historical friendship with Serbia and their will to help but … there’s a catch!

And how live normal life? How going to work, study, how not thinking what if phone ring in 3 am and the pissed voice said “let’s throw some bombs there! We’ll find excuse later in the morning”? That wouldn’t be the first time anyway.

I surely try to stop fighting against windmills by reading and commenting posts about Kosovo and history of this region on other blogs. The latest experience with that was Mr. Cheeseburger 9000, guy who is pro Kosovo independence (which is quite legitimate of course) and whose blog I left after I saw his comment about organized atrocities against Serbs and their homes and cultural heritage in March 2004 where he was justifying it. I did “protest” about it and he said that he didn’t mean that but even though that was just too much. Until two weeks ago when I posted my comment about some other issue in which I explained why I think his arguments are unbelievable (among other things he said that since the violation of the law has been committed we shouldn’t mentioning anymore! It’s done so there’s no point insisting on that) and replied about his insults. I’m quite aware my positions and I’m trying to stand with both feet on the ground but I just had to react when I see injustice. Of course I lost and people like Mr. Cheeseburger 9000 have won and I said that in my comment so they can celebrate and be happy toward my despair (I said that as well). I’m not ashamed cause I’m in grief.
But then I guess my comment was just too much for him (I was polite so I’m not sure what was the reason). I guess Mr. Cheeseburger 9000 saw his own reflection in my comment and what he saw wasn’t pretty and so he decided not to publish my comment! Really I couldn’t believe it. It was so immature. And then what’s the point to allow comments at all? To be honest I was surprise cause I didn’t expect that but hey, he has all right to do that. After all it’s his blog.

So as you can see there’s no point fight against windmills. They will understand the message (otherwise he would publish my comment) but even though they will continue to go in the same direction. This kind of people is something I don’t wanna have anything with.

So, normality? It will be very hard. Maybe it would be the easiest to spread the legs, close eyes and try to enjoy thinking about all warmth and food that are waiting in the SAFE House. If you can’t avoid to be raped then at least try to enjoy in sex, right? But then how to look yourself tomorrow? How to bear to see your image in the mirror? That would not be something you can censored from publishing on your blog and keep on living like nothing happened.