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Filling out the forms again and again (Vesti, Kontakt plus radio)

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Vesti portal reports that the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) recently uncovered another murder of a journalist in Kosovo, commentator of the RTV Pristina, Kristo Gegaj, who was killed in Istok in 1999.

His name has not been recorded so far in any of the lists of killed journalists, and the number of killed and kidnapped journalists and media workers during and after the war in Kosovo has risen to 14, reports Vesti.

For none of these tragic cases the responsible ones were not found. The research has practically showed to what the victims’ families have pointed out for years, writes Vesti portal.

Gordana Djikanovic, a member of the Association of the Families of the Kosmet Victims, and a journalist who has been writing about the suffering of Serbs in Kosovo for years, said that their primary goal was to establish contact with international missions in Kosovo, “in order to force them to do their job in finding missing persons, the truth about their suffering, and to prosecute the crimes against innocent Serb civilians.”

– We have managed to meet with almost all the heads of these missions and establish cooperation with directly responsible for solving these problems. From them, we received forms that family members filled in numerous times and submitted to them along with the required documentation issued by KFOR, UNMIK or the International Committee of the Red Cross at the time of the kidnapping or killing of unfortunate Serbs and non-Albanians. Every new head of the War Crimes Investigation Unit, the Forensic Medicine or the UNMIK and EULEX Advisory Commission (and for many, the mandate lasted only six months), demanded that the families of the victims re-fill out the same forms, arguing that they had not received any documentation from their predecessor for cases of kidnapping and murder – says Gordana Djikanovic.

She points out that “complete documentation, often with personal testimony and citing the names of the perpetrators of the crimes, the families handed over to the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office, UNMIK and EULEX Prosecutors for many times.”

– We never believed in the explanation that there was no documentation, because they did not find it when taking over the duty. If the records of the sufferings of the Kosovo Serbs and non-Albanians disappeared without a trace, the only conclusion would be that the evidence of the crimes were hiden or even destroyed, in order to cover it. Of all these things, the most striking thing is that when today, after a dozen times the forms and records of crimes are re-filled, all of the families of Kosovo victims are expecting and seeking justice for the Serbian victims, they are asking for new “credible” data, trying to hide their reluctance and incapacity or, perhaps, solidarity with those who ordered or committed crimes – Vesti interlocutor says.

In a series of research articles, the Association of Journalists of Serbia came to the conclusion that only one of these murders, a journalist and translator Aleksandar Simovic Sima, was investigated by EULEX as a war crime.

Budimir Nicic, president of the Association of Journalists of Serbia in KiM, states to Vesti that “although at first glance it may seem that nothing is happening and that few people are interested in it, something has changed over the past months and years”:

– Although none of the 14 cases has been solved, I would say that there is some kind of shift, because, for example, EULEX, whose job was it among other things, had only one registered case until two years ago, when in question are the journalists who were killed or disappeared. Today, EULEX has data on almost all cases. So, even though there are no concrete results on this issue, it can be said that something has moved from a dead point.

UNS has for many years been the initiator of the installation of a memorial plaque near Velika Hoca, at the spot where journalists Djuro Slavuj and Ranko Perenic disappeared 19 years ago.

–  A panel that says that our colleagues Slavuj and Perenic have been missing since 2012, between Velika Hoca and Zociste, at the place where they were last seen on August 21, 1998. In the last five years, five times someone has broken this panel and took it away. Ten months ago, we set it up for the sixth time, and it is there still, for now.  We reported all these cases to the police, and only for the first time about two months ago, from the prosecution in Djakovica, we received a decision on dismissal of the case against the NN because of lack of evidence – Nicic emphasizes.

As for the security of the representatives of the seventh force in Kosovo today, Nicic adds that the situation is “neither better nor worse in relation to the region, and even the world maybe.”

– In Kosovo, the problem is that in fact many cases remain unresolved and that journalists do not have a special status in, let’s say, a criminal law where an attack on them would be treated as an attack on someone who works a job of a public importance.

Nicic points out that in the last four years, when it comes to journalists’ attacks, there have been a dozen of attacks, both physical and armed, on Serbian journalists and their property, with a very small number resolved ones.

– As far as Serbian journalists and the media are concerned, I only know one case that received the court epilogue, which is an attack on our colleagues from TV Puls in Šilovo during the 2013 elections in Pasjane, when a cameraman and journalist were beaten up and their camera was destroyed. Two attackers were sentenced to three months in prison and 200 euros in cash.

Vesti writes that Budimir Nicic as the President of the Association of Journalists of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija recently was discriminated at a conference by a Kosovo prosecutor who completely ignored his presence, although he was sitting a meter away from him. The reason is that the prosecutor did not like the name of the organization.

– After my reaction to the discrimination, he explained that there is none, but there is a problem with the name of the association because “he does not know whether it is a journalist association from Serbia or an association of Serbian journalists from Kosovo, and that he must respect the institutional hierarchy and the institution in which he works.” In the end everything was clarified and I think the problem was overcome. It was discrimination and it is nothing new that Serbs in Kosovo are often discriminated against, but there is a bigger problem if we accept it as a kind of reality, if we are silent and suffer. Serbian politicians have contributed to the greatest extent because, due to their personal and party interests, they rarely raise their voices against such cases, and this, unfortunately, is becoming a “normal” part of everyday life of Serbs – Budimir Nicic emphasizes for Vesti.

About the future of Serbian journalism in Kosovo in this situation, Nicic explains that that it is mainly about “private media that are literally left to themselves for all these years”.
– Pristina, not even Belgrade show any interest for their problems. The Serbian media still survives based on the project funding from mainly international organizations and institutions. These funds are getting smaller every year, and if something institutionally does not change in the way of financing these media, their future is completely certain – they will shut down.


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