Removing the wall of the missing in KosovoAdministrator
Twelve years on after the war, wounds of crimes in Kosovo remain unhealed. Solidarity with families in their pain and in their search for justice for the victims is slowly descending. Generations that witnessed the horrors of war are unconsciously letting go of the past, while younger generations are looking towards future without taking their share of the social responsibility.
Being aware about the insufficient institutional efforts for resolving the fate of the missing persons and fulfilling the justice for families of the victims, as well as the lack of moral responsibility from the society, we have continuously required stronger efforts from institutions and also tried to give examples of responsible and active citizens. Disappointed with insufficient efforts for resolving the fate of the missing persons and turning them into numbers and social oblivion, we decided to mark this year’s National Missing Persons Day through best action that we deemed to be appropriate for this bitter reality.
We turned the numbers that we usually heard during commemoration into names and we put those on a wall, to show that victims deserve and should be remembered with dignity, and for several hours we put some empty chairs in front of the wall to symbolize the missing audience and their attention for victims. Given that so far the victims were only referred as numbers, we knew that revealing their identity would be a sensitive matter for kosovar society because names indicate certain ethnicity, but victims are victims and they cannot be discriminated by their ethnicity. Furthermore, we believe the truth cannot be hided, in contrary it should be faced.
When we started working on the implementation of this symbolic action, where everyone was treated as a person and not as a number, the level of our awareness kept rising about length of the missing list and how many families face the anxiety of not knowing the fate of their loved ones. Once everything was settled in place as we had planned, we were again touched by the reality that we displayed in front of ourselves.
Our emotions were high when family members were finding the names of their loved ones in the wall. Reactions were different, some stood strong and some shed tears of pain, and some were experiencing some kind of a relief. The improvised wall was turning into commemorative monument. People were astounded when they saw how many names there were. Some of them didn’t even know what those names might be, but when they realized they stopped and watched in silence and continued walking emotionally moved.
Initially we planned to leave the wall there until someone would ask from us to remove it, because we wanted to improvise a missing collective memorial in Kosovo. But given that the wall was built without planning for permanent standing and as such could endanger the security for citizens, and also after the irreparable damages done to it by some irresponsible individuals, we decided to move it even though we built it with a lot of willpower, dedication and determination. However comforting was the fact that we created an example of collective memory and we publicly call upon Kosovo Institutions and Municipal Assembly of Prishtina to convert our example in a real commemorative memorial in order to restore the dignity for victims and to establish a commemorative place for the families and the society. But the most essential moment for which we strongly appeal, will be the commitment for bringing justice to all the victims and their families.
Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Kosovo and activist’s network “My Initiative”
Prishtina, 09 May 2011