BY Rafaela PRIFTI/
For twenty years and counting, there has been no accountability with regards to sexual violence crimes perpetrated by Serbian regime forces in Kosovo. Despite UN resolutions, reports and substantial evidence, the International Courts have not prosecuted a single case. Without accountability, rape crimes still go unpunished while the condemnations of such acts on paper make no difference to victims and perpetrators.
Adopted unanimously in June of 2008, the UN Security Council Resolution 1820 noted that “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide, stresses the need for the exclusion of sexual violence crimes from amnesty provisions in the context of conflict resolution processes, and calls upon Member States to comply with their obligations for prosecuting persons responsible for such acts, to ensure that all victims of sexual violence, particularly women and girls, have equal protection under the law and equal access to justice, and stresses the importance of ending impunity for such acts as part of a comprehensive approach to seeking sustainable peace, justice, truth, and national reconciliation.”
In April 2019, under the Presidency of Germany, the Members of the Security Council passed Resolution 2467 by thirteen votes in favor as China and Russian Federation abstained. The “landmark’ document was commended for calling to significantly strengthening prevention through justice and accountability. In her address, the Ambassador of Albania’s Mission to the UN, Besiana Kadare, said that ‘Conflict-related sexual violence is a grave human rights violation and a security challenge that is certainly as destructive as any weapon.” With regard to the Resolution, she noted that in the case of Kosovo, rape was deliberately and repeatedly used as a weapon during the war of the late 1990s. More than 20,000 survivors are still suffering the consequences in silence, isolated by stigma, discrimination and fear. Despite substantial evidence, not a single case of war-related sexual violence has been prosecuted.” The statement released by UN Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict drew attention to the severe consequences of such crimes. “Resolution 2467 calls for a more holistic understanding of justice and accountability which includes the provision of reparations for survivors as well as livelihood support to enable them to rebuild
their lives and support their families, including the children born of sexual violence in conflict who are also stigmatized and suffer in silence and shame, often stateless, and acutely vulnerable to recruitment and radicalization by armed groups.”
In late April, a US Congressional Hearing heard the testimony of a few speakers. One of them, Vasfije Krasniqi Goodman is a survivor of rape crime committed by Serbian military. She has reported the crime with UNMIK and EULEX and there have been no steps to prosecute the perpetrator. Her testimony served as a reminder of someone who for twenty years lives with the absence of justice. Dielli reported extensively on the Hearing and provided full coverage on line and in print.
The silence of justice and negligence have indicated the lack of will by the Serbian regime while officially it has expressed cooperation with the International Court of Former Yugoslavia. To address the issues, the Albanian American Women’s Organization Motrat Qiriazi is calling a rally on October 29 from 11 am to 2 pm at the Consulate General of Serbia at 62 West 45 Street.
Dielli’s Brief Interview with the AAWO organizers:
What are the expectations for the October 29th rally from the community?
The expectation is to bring attention to an issue that has been ignored for far too long. While Albanians, Bosnians, and Croats are well aware of this tragic piece of history, the unfortunate reality is that the world has largely forgotten what took place. Over the last twenty years the villains have become the victims while the victims have become the villains. This rally is about starting a conversation and reversing that trend. It is about searching for justice for the survivors of the war crime of sexual violence and helping them find the strength and courage to come forward and tell their stories.
Is this the first time that Albanian American Women’s Organization Motrat Qiriazi rallies jointly with Bosnian and Croatian women? How are the coordination efforts with their organizations going?
We intend to outreach with communities at large. As we say in the flyer ‘Bosnian-American community’ ‘Croatian American and Albanian American community. It is important that all our communities join forces together and stand for human rights. We plan on working together more closely to build coalitions and focusing on the future, thus advancing our interests and bringing light to our common issues.
We invite all members of our community to attend the peaceful rally and show solidarity by acknowledging the pain and suffering that happened in the past and to build bridges for the future. Together we heal!
This is an ongoing story. Dielli will post updates online