23 November 2020
Dear Prime Minister Hoti:
The issue of missing persons is a human rights issue. Moreover, as research has shown, including the Kosovo Women’s Network’s forthcoming research Where’s My Seat at the Table?, the issue of missing persons is among the most important issues that Kosovo citizens want to see the government address, towards sustainable peace in Kosovo and the region. Therefore, it is an issue important to the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) and its members.
Since the war ended, the people of Kosovo and especially the families of missing persons, have continuously requested that the government, and international actors mediating peacekeeping processes, address the issue of missing persons. Without addressing this key issue, there can be no real peace for the hundreds of families still missing their loved ones.
Never have the families of missing persons been silent on this issue. Since the end of the war, they have regularly protested, demonstrated, and raised their voices, calling for a government response. We have stood with them, hearing their stories and their cry for truth.
Never has the Government of Kosovo appropriately prioritized this issue. Rather, for two decades, we have heard is a cascade of empty promises that hold little truth.
In 2009, Mother’s Cry, an organization representing the mothers of Gjakova still missing their loved ones, even went on a hunger strike because they were tired of the government’s empty promises. They sought truth. Even then, after the government promised a response, this issue has not been resolved.
Among our political leaders, Saranda Bogujevci has served as one of the few strong voices that we have had, herself a survivor of several atrocities. Since the moment she was elected to the Assembly of Kosovo, she has represented the interests of Kosovo citizens by raising the important issue of missing persons. She has fulfilled her duty, as a deputy, to represent our interests and to address this serious human rights violation.
In contrast, we have a government official, Deputy Prime Minister Driton Selmanaj, who not only is utterly failing to represent the interests of Kosovo citizens, but is directly offending citizens and political leaders like Saranda Bogujevci, who has represented our voices. As Deputy Prime Minister, his statements do not merely represent himself as an individual, but rather they represent the Government of Kosovo. Thus, through him, the government is offending its own citizens.
In 2015, then Minister of Local Governance Jabllanovic, as a representative of the government, offended the families of missing persons. The people of Kosovo rose up and requested his dismissal. Then Prime Minister Mustafa dismissed him. This is the second time that such an offence comes from the government, and the result should be no different.
Therefore, we join the thousands of other citizens, including those who have already signed the online petition, in calling for Selmanaj’s immediate dismissal. This is the right of the people: to demand accountability from our political leaders to represent our interests.
As people are not allowed to gather for a massive protest amid social distancing protocols, I have taken the personal decision to stand in front of the government for one hour every working day, starting today from 12:00, until he is dismissed. After years of supporting the voices of missing persons, I cannot be true to myself and my beliefs as a human rights activist if I sit idly by and watch silently while Kosovar citizens are directly offended by the very people who have been elected to represent our interests. I will stand in silence, in solidarity with the families of missing persons, as well as with the many people of Kosovo who support their search for truth and their demands for action by our government, until our voices are heard.
Kosovo Women’s Network