7, Number 1 -- December 2000
Return to FOB Newsletter Directory
of Bosnia Launches Major New Initiative: Outreach Bosnia
Bragdon from Ithaca, NY directs project
Bragdon with Jennifer Johnson from the U.S. Embassy surveying
damage to homes of Bosniaks returning to Janja.
Friends of Bosnia is launching a major new initiative
in eastern Bosnia, Outreach Bosnia, to help
returning refugees and long-time residents rebuild their communities
five years after the end of the war. Chris Bragdon from Ithaca,
NY, is directing this project and has already achieved significant
success both with fundraising and implementing the program
Chris has traveled to Tuzla independently
since 1996 to provide aid and support. This past spring, Chris joined
FOB to implement these projects. He has worked closely for many
years with the Forum of Tuzla Citizens, an organization deeply committed
to a multiethnic Bosnia. The mayor of Tuzla, Selim Beslagic, is
internationally renowned for his commitment to a multiethnic society
and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. Prior to the
war in 1992, Tuzla was the only municipality that did not elect
a nationalist party to power.
The Forum of Tuzla Citizens will be our
local partner organization for all three Outreach Bosnia projects.
Urban Renewal Empowerment Project
from Tuzlas youth organization restore the Tuzla Central
Park with materials provided by Friends of Bosnia.
Community organizations will have the opportunity
to earn material aid while being of service to their community.
We will restore Tuzlas central park using extensive volunteer
labor and distribute material aid to qualifying local organizations.
For example, if volunteers from the Student Internet Club at the
Electrical Engineering College work on cleaning the park in Tuzla,
they can qualify for computer software. If teenagers from the local
orphanage volunteer, they can earn credit for a new basketball net.
This project is designed to create an immediate tangible benefit
for all of Tuzlas citizens and to build a collective sense
of accomplishment. All participants will earn their reward through
a local project administered by Bosnians from the Forum of Tuzla
Chris has already implemented phase I of
this project by enabling the repair of benches in the Tuzla city
park this past summer, and we now have $7,000 allocated for a renewal
project in spring 2001.
Educational and Business Initiatives in Information
at Tuzlas Center for Information Technology with software
manual provided by Friends of Bosnia.
This project enables Tuzlas Center for
Information Technology (C.I.T.) to become an independent internet
service provider, in competition with the expensive government service,
generating a monthly income from private customers. Simultaneously,
they will be able to provide free internet service to all of their
students. Friends of Bosnia has already secured $1,500 in funding
for a router which we have advanced to C.I.T. In return, C.I.T.
will help create a web site for Outreach Bosnia. They can also earn
additional credit by providing volunteers to the Urban Renewal Empowerment
This past summer, FOB also brought $4,800
worth of software and software manuals to C.I.T.
Rapid Response Fund: confronting violence
against minority populations
On July 24, 2000, in Janja, Bosnia, Serb mobs
attacked 62 homes of the recently-returned minority Muslim population.
Three homes were burnt down. The rest had almost all of their windows
broken. One month later, Friends of Bosnia with our partner Forum
for Tuzla Citizens (FTC), and a local Serbian organization, were
the first to start repairs to these homes. Together we repaired
all of the
damaged in eastern Bosnia in July 2000 being repaired with funds
provided by Friends of Bosnia.
windows on 33 homes (FTC repaired 9 homes,
FOB 16). The Rapid Response Fund is dedicated to repairing homes
of minority populations that have suffered politically motivated
attacks. It would be designed to achieve
two ends: 1) send a clear message that violence against minorities
will not achieve its objective and 2) provide immediate moral support
in the form of actions to beleaguered minority communities. To date,
Outreach Bosnia and the local Serbian organization are the only
ones to provide material aid to Janjas Muslim population.
This shows there is a compelling need for organizations such as
ours to rapidly respond to organized violence against minority populations.
Debuts in Northampton
of KFOR soldier protecting an Orthodox church in Silovo featured
in Reconstucting Kosovo.
Reconstructing Kosovo opened to a packed
audience at the Center for the Arts in Northampton, Mass., on October
20. Drawing on photographs and interviews from three trips to Macedonia
and Kosovo between April 1999 and July 2000, the exhibit tells the
story of war, reconstruction and reconciliation through the eyes
of Kosovars and international staff in the region. Photographs are
by FOB director Glenn Ruga and Frank Ward with text by Barbara Ayotte.
The same team completed a documentary on Bosnia four years earlier
titled, Zones of Separation: The Struggle for a Multiethnic Bosnia.
Beginning with the documentation
of the forced expulsion of nearly a million Kosovars in April 1999,
when the NATO air war began, Ruga photographed refugees at the infamous
Blace "no-mans-land" between Kosovo and Macedonia and
at refugee camps set up by NATO, the Macedonian government, and
international NGOs (See November 1999 FOB Briefs.)
Ruga and Ward returned to the region in
the freezing winter of January 2000 where they documented the heroic
efforts of Kosovars struggling with their newly won autonomy, but
lacking the infrastructure that was largely destroyed or damaged
during the war. Roads were covered with thick ice. When cleared,
they had deep pot holes a small car could disappear in. Two aging
power plants were providing heat and electricity, at best only a
few hours a day. Often days would go by without either. Schools
were only open a few hours a day because of lack of heat. Many Kosovar
professionals who had been fired from their jobs ten years ago when
Slobodan Milosevic began a reign of terror, returned to their offices
for the first timestoically attending to their duties. Worst
off were tens of thousands of families living in roofless homes,
without heat, throughout the winter.
The documentary exhibit tells the stories
of individuals such as Fejaz Drancoli, director of the Institute
for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, and his monumental efforts
to catalog and plan the restoration of hundreds of historic monuments
destroyed by Serbs during the war. Fejaz would love to visit one
of the most important monuments in Kosovo that he has visited many
times in the past, the Patriarchate of Pec. Because it is a Serb
monument, the KFOR troops will not allow hima Muslim Albanianto
The group also interviewed two teenage sisters,
Hana and Fortuna, who stayed in Kosovo throughout the war and are
now struggling both with the traumatic events they witnessed and
envisioning their futures in a new Kosovo.
The last trip to the region was in July
2000, when the team was hosted by Dr. Luan Jaha, a vascular surgeon
at the Pristina Hospital. (See accompanying article by Barbara Ayotte
for an in-depth account of this trip.)
After its Northampton debut, Reconstrucing
Kosovo traveled to Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut,
and then to Brandeis University to accompany a workshop by the Kosovo
Commission (headed by Richard Goldstone) titled, "Intervention
and Prevention: The Lessons of Kosovo." In the spring of 2001,
it will travel to Tufts University to coincide with a symposium
on race and ethnicity. Later in the spring it will go to Dartmouth
College hosted by the War and Peace Studies Program.
Friends of Bosnia is seeking other venues
for this exhibit. If you are interested in finding out more about
it, visit our website at www.friendsofbosnia.org/kosovo or call us
Friends of Bosnia sends $25,000
worth of medical supplies to Kosovo
Makolli gives us a tour of the Prosthetics Clinic at the Pristina
After many months of collecting medical supplies
from the greater Boston area, Friends of Bosnia sent two pallets
of prosthetic limbs and general surgical supplies to the Prosthetics
Clinic at the Pristina Hospital in Kosovo.
This past summer in Pristina while working on
Reconstructing Kosovo, (see article on page 1.) we visited
the hospital numerous times. On our last day we stopped at the Prosthetics
Clinic and met with the director of the clinic, Lulzin Geci, and
his assistant, Lirije Makolli, who gave us a tour.
The clinic is funded by Handicap International
based in France, although all of the staff is local. As a result
of the war itself, and the many landmine injuries following the
war, the clinic is operating full time at near capacity, but with
limited resources. Similar to most other medical facilities throughout
Kosovo, most of the equipment was pillaged by the Serbs prior to
leaving the province at the end of the war.
We thank the following individuals and organizations
who helped with this project.
The Clipper Ship Foundation
Dr. John Pastore
Barbara and Daniel Palant
Boston Artificial Limb Company
Requiem Pour Srebrenica
premieres in Northampton
More than five years after the tragic events
at Srebrenica, the massacre is finally entering the realm of serious
cultural discourse. While numerous factual books have already been
written about the fall of Srebrenica, (such as End Game: The
Fall of Srebrenica by David Rohde) this is the first serious
attempt to present the issues in an artistic form.
Requiem Pour Srebrenica, directed
by Olivier Py from France and written in collaboration with Phillipe
Gilbert, is a stark and stunning presentation of the failure of
the western powers to prevent the impending massacre. Using sparse
industrial props, three women retell and re-enact the outlandish
failures of western diplomats including French President François
Mitterand, NATO commander Bernard Janvier, and UN civilian official
Yasushi Akashi. The few heroes in the play are UN Commander Philipe
Morillon, who stood with the residents of Srebrenica in 1993 and
brought their plight to the world stage. The piece opens with Tadeusz
Mazowiecki, UN special envoy for human rights, resigning after the
massacre due to the inconceivable hypocrisy within the international
Requiem was presented in its American
debut in Northampton by the Massachusetts International Festival
for the Arts on November 2 and 3, before traveling to Boston, the
Brooklyn Academy of Music and to Los Angeles.
Friends of Bosnia received $1 from each
ticket sale in Massachusetts to support our work in helping returning
refugees to eastern Bosnia.
Dolls for Peace and Tolerance
Miller (top row, second from right) delivering dolls to day
center in Tuzla for mentally retarded children.
Join Friends of Bosnia in supporting this unique
project to teach Bosnias children the long history of multiculturalism
in their country and to remove the seeds of hatred that could one
day be manipulated into another war.
The dollmakers, ranging in age from 20-55,
create sets of four dolls representing the four major ethnic groups
in Bosnia. Emina, the Bosniak (Muslim) doll, Ana, the Croat doll,
Mara, the Serb doll, and Hana, the Jewish doll are packaged together,
dressed in their native 19th century costumes. The set comes with
a cassette tape with traditional music celebrating Bosnias
multi-cultural society. The dollmakers are Muslim, Serb, and Croat.
Some were displaced from their homes by the war. Most are widowed
or the wives of men who are unable to work. They are mothers and
are their families sole support.
With your $50 donation, FOB can deliver a set
of Dolls for Peace and Tolerance to a school in Bosnia. The dolls
will be delivered by Bonnie Miller who is presently working with
schools and orphanages throughout Bosnia. Her husband, Thomas Miller,
is the U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia.
Please contact Friends of Bosnia if you are
interested in learning more about this project or want to make a
donation to this effort. 978-461-0909 or firstname.lastname@example.org
New Board Members
Friends of Bosnia is pleased to have two new
Board members join us this year.
Veton Kepuska, from Kosovo, lives in
Newton, Mass. with his wife and two children and is a scientist
at Speechworks in Boston. He has a Post-Doctoral Degree from the
Swiss-Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. Veton was very active
during the Kosovo war in helping to collect humanitarian aid and
now continues to assist Friends of Bosnia with our humanitarian
and educational efforts. Vetons brother, Argjent, lives in
Pristina and is FOBs main liaison in Kosovo.
Sheri Fink, M.D. Ph.D., co-founded Students
Against Genocide (SAGE) while she was a medical student at Stanford
University. She worked in the Balkans as a human rights researcher
for Physicians for Human Rights. She is currently writing a book
about the experiences of Bosnian physicians during the war and is
a resident at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.
Special fundraising effort to send
an ultrasound machine to Kosovo
We received a special equest for an ultrasound machine from Dr.
Luan Jaha, a vascular surgeon at the hospital. This machine will
help the hospital staff with diagnostics and greatly improve the
outcomes of all types of surgery. During the course of the next
year we hope to raise $6000 to purchase a used machine and ship
it to Pristina. Please contact us if you would like to make a special
contribution for this project.
Outreach Bosnia Director
Returns from Eastern Bosnia
By Chris Bragdon
Bragdon, director of FOB's Outreach Bosnia, delivers software
to Edin Osmanbegovic, a war veteran and leading specialist in
information technology in Tuzla.
In late August this past summer I waited by
the road in central Tuzla for my two Bosnian friends to take me
on my fourth trip into Republika Srpska, the Serb dominated half
of Bosnia. I had traveled by car into Republika Srpska only once
prior to this year and that was by mistake. In 1996, at a time when
there were still pitched battles and civilians were being murdered
in public, I mistakenly drove into the township of Pale outside
of Sarajevo in my rented car. I thought I was still in the Federation,
but as I sat at a coffee bar doing my best to have a friendly chat
in broken Bosnian with the waitress, I looked over her head to see
a picture of one of the most wanted war criminals in the entire
Balkans, Radovan Karadzic. I asked her where I was and she said
Pale. It sent a shiver down my spine and made me a bit concerned
for my safety. I promptly said good-bye to the kind woman and kept
my eyes on the ceiling as I walked past the men with their camouflaged
uniforms and semi-automatic pistols. Yet, now having taken four
trips to Republika Srpska, I think I was actually over-reacting
during that mishap to Pale. My trips to Republika Srpska, including
one to Srebrenica, have confirmed that even in the worst of times
the vast majority of people are just living normal lives. And, if
you greet people with respect and a sense of normalcy, they respond
The Road to Koraj
Bato and Tanja arrived at the Tuzla roadside
and we headed off for Koraj in Republika Srpska. I had asked them
to take me to a community where there would be returning refugees
who could most benefit from building supplies to be provided by
Friends of Bosnia. I needed to find a community that would still
be rebuilding in the years to come, and Bato recommended Koraj.
After a half-hour drive that included passing
through two Russian military check points, we arrived in Koraj.
We drove through a large crowd of Serbian refugees gathering at
a Sunday market adjacent to a bombed out mosque. The base of the
mosques minaret and the crumbling walls are still relatively
intact. I wanted to stop and take a picture but Bato was not at
all inclined to do so. Bato is Muslim. Tanja is Serbian. In Tuzla
that is a non-issue which makes their marriage perfectly normal.
But in Koraj, there is tension between the returning Muslims and
the Serbian refugees. So we drove a hundred meters beyond the gathering
and Bato and Tanja took me to a monument commemorating Partisans
who died in WWII. Batos last name appeared often as he pointed
out cousins, uncles, and great-uncles. He told me that twice Koraj
was completely emptied of its residents in WWII. While I found that
disturbing, it gave me hope knowing that in addition to its long
multi-cultural past, Bosnia has a history of resurrection after
even the most devastating of times.
While Tanja and Bato started speaking among
themselves, I snuck off to get my picture of the ruined mosque.
I figured that I had survived Srebrenica a week before walking alone
among the Serbian refugees there. While I showed respect and kindness,
the Serbian refugees in Srebrenica, mostly from Sarajevo, greeted
me with warmth and offers of coffee. It is through this willingness
to trust that I have been able to learn the most about the politics
and culture of Bosnia. I thought I could elicit the same response
from this Koraj gathering, but I was concerned about taking a picture
of the mosque since all would know what that wreckage is a monument
to. I walked calmly into the crowd and said to a person in my broken
Bosnian, "I am learning Serbian but I do not speak very well.
Will you take a picture of me?" Of course, I did not say it
that well but he understood and appreciated my attempt to speak
his language. He was very friendly. Shook my hand. And took a picture.
The mosque was behind me.
I turned to see Bato walking towards me. He
seemed to have a sense of humor about things but it was apparent
it was time to leave. I quickly said good-bye, and we walked back
to the car somewhat deliberately.
Broken Dreams and Homes
Soon we arrived at the hamlet Bato had in mind
for our rebuilding effort. There was not much left. Most of the
houses were destroyed. A few houses were completely repaired, but
most of the families that had returned were living in a single room
or basement salvaged from the ruins of their former homes. Others
had built tiny one room houses to live in as they began the long
rebuilding effort. Apparently they are willing to risk and struggle
for the chance to rebuild their lives on the only land they know
bombed out shell is all that is left of this womans home
While Bato and Tanja walked ahead, one particular
house caught my eye. I could not see any habitable part of the house,
yet people were apparently living there. I approached the "house"
and met an elderly woman. Through my broken Bosnian, I learned that
the woman was in her sixties and that she was living in a corner
of the downstairs area with her son, daughter-in-law, and their
three children. It had no doors, no windows, just blankets and bricks
stacked in the openings. I asked her if I could take her picture.
She stood in what would have been a doorway. Moments after the picture,
she began to cry. I held her hand. She began speaking quickly. I
did not really understand what she was saying but I think she was
saying that she was doing all she could. I picked up a few words
referring to the children. Her tears increased. I said in BosnianI
think correctly"I do not understand words, but I understand
sorrow." We both stood there. There was nothing we could really
say to each other. We just stood there holding hands. After a while,
the moment passed and I said good-bye.
As I walked along the road with rubble on each
side, I thought about what motivates one to contribute their time
and money to humanitarian work. What motivates us to help people
we may never meet again or never meet in the first place? I looked
at the people rebuilding their lives in the midst of such ruin.
I looked within myself and thought of the twisted corpses of dreams
that had died in me along the way. The twisted ruins about me seemed
to be very much a part of the journey that many of us take. And
I appreciated even more how we are indeed enriching ourselves as
we help others. We are participating in the resurrection, in the
return of the human spirit to mend, heal, and rebuild.
As I thought about this, I thought about the
$100 bill in my pocket. It was for my travel expenses. I had intended
to rent a car for my return trip to Sarajevo but I knew there was
only one thing that made sense.
We returned to the womans house and Tanja
translated my words as I said to the elderly woman, "A few
years ago, I saw a woman sitting on the side of the street in Tuzla
selling pumpkin seeds from a cardboard box. I dont know what
it was about this woman but something about her touched my heart.
I went back to America and raised some money for her. I returned
and bought her a folding table and some merchandise to sell. She
had two children and a sick husband and I hoped that this would
help provide for her family. The next year, I saw the husband, but
I avoided him. I did not want to see him because I did not want
to experience the pain of telling him there was nothing more I could
do." As Tanja continued to translate, I explained, "I
dont know what it is, but there is something about you that
has touched my heart. I am going to give you all the money I have
in my pocket." I took the $100 bill out and as I handed it
to her I said, "As I give this to you, all I feel is pain that
there is nothing more that I can do."
Tanja explained to her how much money that was
and how many German marks she should get when she exchanged it.
Tanja took a picture of the woman and me. In the picture, we both
look rather sad though Tanja and Bato told me how grateful she was.
That money is a fortune to her family. With it, they will be able
to buy flour and oils, and, along with the vegetables from their
garden, it will go a long way towards helping them make it through
What I did not tell her is the end of the story
about the woman and her husband in Tuzla. The husband finally did
encounter me. I was sitting at a cafe when the husband appeared
behind me. He was very eager to meet me. My Bosnian friend translated
as the man explained to me that his wife now had a job and that
he was now receiving government benefits. The roadside business
was the only thing they had for a year and a half. After all my
dread about speaking with him, all he wanted to do was thank me.
That is how that story ended. I hope that the
story for Bosnia ends with the country being at peace and a full
member of the European Community. And, I hope that the woman living
in the wreckage in Koraj has a story that includes the time a group
of Americans came with building supplies to help rebuild homes and
re-affirm that we do care about each other and that together we
can participate in the triumph of the human spirit.
New Book on Srebrenica
Survivors Living in the United States
After the Fall
Srebrenica Survivors in St. Louis
Text and interviews by Patrick McCarthy Photographs
by Tom Maday
Foreword by David Rohde
Friends of Bosnia is pleased to announce the
publication of a new book, After the Fall, by St. Louis Balkan
activist Patrick McCarthy and photographer Tom Maday.
As many as 25,000 Bosnian refugees approximately
500 of them survivors of Srebrenica have come to settle in
St. Louis. After the Fall documents the tragedy of Srebrenica
and its effects on the lives of one extended family in St. Louis.
After the Fall presents the sequence of events that led to
the siege of Srebrenica, the genocide that followed, the refugees
journey to St. Louis, and the ongoing efforts of thousands of survivors
to build new lives while awaiting word of loved ones still reported
To order online: www.afterthefall.org
By e-mail: email@example.com
Giving Voice to the
FOB Documents Hopes and Fears for the Future
By Barbara Ayotte
The small handwritten sign said William Walker
Street. It was named after the OSCE leader who had led a monitoring
mission in Kosovo in 1998-1999. We drove down the dirt road past
destroyed houses, haystacks, children playing, and cattle roaming
the fields. Elderly Albanian men, wearing the traditional white
cap (plis), were gathered near the mosque, awaiting the call
to prayer. We were in Racak. The village where the worst massacre
of the conflict had taken place that served as a wake up call to
the international community to take action in Kosovo. Over 50 men,
women and children were killed here on the morning of January 15,
1999 by Serb paramilitary forces. We climbed up the hillside where
large bags of pine needles and plastic flowers placed in front of
headstones marked the resting place of the victims. It was very
still on this warm summer day and the hills were green and fertile.
It was hard to imagine the hell it was here one and a half years
Back at the mosque, Hasan Bilalli, 75, invited
us to come visit his home. We sat and talked to him in the one room
that had been rebuilt, a Turkish sitting room with beautiful woven
carpets. His family served us coffee and a special locally blended
tea. Bilalli was outraged that war criminals responsible for the
massacre in Racak still roamed free. He knew their names and where
they lived. His son, Afet, told us about his experiences as a Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA) commander trying to defend the town. He suffered
six gunshot wounds that day. Eleven of his relatives were killed.
"When I see a war criminal walking freelylaughing and
drinkingthe only thing you have in mind is revengeit
is something you cant resist," he said. We felt guilty
knowing that our own country had failed to prevent the nightmare
of Racak, powerlessness because we could not fulfill their demands
for arresting war criminals, and empathy for trying to understand
their future. Many times the conversations flowed effortlessly and
the sense of place was lost. We could have been sitting in anyones
living room, drinking tea, but this was Racak, and the wounds were
very deep. It was the most powerful moment of the trip.
Bilalli and his grand daughter in their home in Racak.
FOB director and photographer Glenn Ruga, photographer
Frank Ward and I traveled to Kosovo in July 2000 to continue to
document post-war Kosovo and interview survivors on their experiences
and thoughts about the future of the province. Ruga had visited
Macedonia shortly after the mass exodus of refugees out of Kosovo
in the spring of 1999 and he and Ward spent time in Kosovo in the
winter of 2000. All of these images and stories make up Reconstructing
Kosovo (see page 1). We spent hours listening and talking to
Kosovars in their living rooms, yards, offices or in cafes. We found
gratitude to the US and NATO troops and President Clinton, stark
evidence of the tension and division between Serbs and Albanians
as Serb communities and religious monuments stood protected from
vengeful Albanians in the shadows of KFOR tanks and barbed wire,
the desire for an independent Kosovo, patriotic monuments built
to honor fallen KLA leaders, and an international presence (UNMIK
and KFOR) struggling to maintain order with limited success. Predominantly,
we found an overwhelming need by Albanians to receive a formal apology
from Serbs for the atrocities committed during the war before there
could be any degree of normal relations in the province.
and Hana talk about their experiences in Pristina during the
Our host, Dr. Luan Jaha, a surgeon at Pristina
Hospital and an ardent human rights activist before and during the
war, introduced us to physicians in Pristina and Peja who were targeted
by Serbs during the war merely for delivering health care and forced
to leave their homes at gunpoint. Other doctors operated with only
a fork and knife in a cave as they tended to wounded KLA soldiers.
Still others were struggling to keep their jobs now because the
UN had put the KLA party in charge of the health care system and
they didnt meet party expectations. Dr. Bosa Lleshi, a Bosnian
Serb who was married to an Albanian, described how her whole life
had been marked by ethnic division and she never seemed to be on
the right side. "My story is Kosovo. All my life I was strong
in my desire to show that mixed marriages are good ones," she
In Mitrovica, the ethnic tensions were palpable.
Under UN escort, we drove over the bridge in this city divided by
the Ibar River, with Serbs in the north and Albanians in the south.
Here, the war did not seem over. Milosevics henchmen sat guarding
the bridge in the Dolce Vita café in the north side. We tried
to remember to speak only Serbian words here. We passed the smoke-spewing
towers of the Trepca lead smelter (closed two weeks later for environmentally
unsafe emissions of lead) and arrived in Zvecan.
Ward, former KLA Commander Afet Bilalli, Barbara Ayotte and
Luan Jaha in Racak.
Some young Serbs we interviewed here put blame
on the Albanians for not complying with Serb law in 1989 when Albanians
were stripped of their autonomy. They refused to acknowledge that
war crimes had been committed by Serbs unless evidence was given
to them. In their view, the solution to all of the problems was
a return to the Yugoslav monarchy.
We left Kosovo moved by the words of many of
our new friends but with sadness that it would be a long while before
Serbs and Albanians could live peacefully together here in this
beautiful province. And perhaps years before the Albanians received
the apologies they yearned for. As one Albanian doctor put it, "We
are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel
but we dont
see it yet, we are still in the tunnel."
Barbara Ayotte, an FOB volunteer, is Director
of Communications for Physicians for Human Rights
Kosovos Damaged Architectural Heritage to Begin
Drancolli from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural
Monuments pointing toward the Rugova Gorge in between Kosovo
The Cambridge-based Kosovo Cultural Heritage
Project (KCHP), in collaboration with Friends of Bosnia, has received
a $350,000 grant from the Packard Humanities Institute for the reconstruction
of three historically significant buildings in Kosovo that were
badly damaged during and after last years war.
The first stage of the project was an international
workshop held in Pristina in October. "The Future of Kosovos
Past: An International Workshop on the Reconstruction of Architectural
Heritage" was organized by Andrew Herscher and Andras Riedlmayer
of the KCHP, and was co-sponsored by the Faculty of Architecture
at the University of Pristina and the Department of Culture of the
U.N. Joint Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). Additional
support for the project was provided by ArtsLink (USA) and the Kosova
Foundation for Open Society (Soros Foundations Network).
The workshop brought together local, regional,
and international architects, architectural historians and conservation
specialists to exchange views and professional experiences concerning
the post-war reconstruction of architectural heritage. Among the
topics discussed: the fate of historic architecture during the conflicts
in Kosovo and other parts of the Balkans; the legal protection of
architectural heritage in war and peace; the role of architectural
monuments in cultural memory; the special problems involved in reconstructing
monuments damaged or destroyed in war; current technical, theoretical,
and organizational issues and approaches to the reconstruction of
architectural heritage; ongoing reconstruction projects in Kosovo
and possible future plans involving heritage sites.
During the second week of the workshop, a team
of 25 students from the Faculty of Architecture in Pristina, led
by their professors and the workshop organizers, went to the historic
city of Gjakova to conduct a field study of the war-damaged Hadum
Mosque complex and the surrounding old market district. Based on
their observations, documentation and analysis, they prepared and
presented project proposals and made specific recommendations for
the reconstruction of this unique 16th-century complex and its urban
setting. The students projects form the centerpiece of an
exhibition on the preservation of cultural heritage in Kosovo, opening
on December 4 at the Qafa Gallery in Pristina.
This workshop represents the first stage in
realizing a series of pilot reconstruction projects for cultural
heritage which have been organized and funded by the Kosovo Cultural
Heritage Project. These pilot projects are designed to establish
methodologies for historical preservation in the local context,
and to foster links between local institutions and organisations
and professionals abroad involved in architectural conservation
and reconstruction. They should also serve as catalysts for the
rebuilding and development of surrounding neighborhoods and revival
of traditional building techniques in the region.
Participants in the workshop included: Zeynep
Ahunbay (Istanbul Technical University/ICOMOS-Turkey), Sulejman
Dashi (Cultural Monuments Centre of Tirana, Albania), Flamur Doli
(Faculty of Architecture, University of Pristina), Fejaz Drancolli
(Institute for the Protection of Monuments of Kosova), Osman Gojani
(Institute for the Protection of Monuments of Gjakova), Andrew Herscher
(Harvard University, Kosovo Cultural Heritage Project, USA), Gjejlane
Hoxha (Department of Culture, UNMIK), Haxhi Mehmetaj (Institute
for the Protection of Monuments of Pristina), Shqipe Nixha (Faculty
of Architecture, University of Pristina), Alp Ozerdem (Post-War
Reconstruction and Development Unit, University of York, U.K.),
Gilles Pequeux (Mostar Bridge Reconstruction Project, Bosnia-Herzegovina),
Andras Riedlmayer (Kosovo Cultural Heritage Project, Harvard University,
USA), Genci Samimi (Cultural Monuments Centre of Tirana, Albania),
Muhamed Shukriu (Institute for the Protection of Monuments of Prizren),
Susan Slyomovics (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA), Hans
Christian Vejby (International Management Group, Denmark), Tina
Wik (Swedish Foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders)