Last week concluded the Ditët e Krenarisë (Days of Pride–Martyrs’ Day KLA) to commemorate those killed during the recent war.
Approximately half the size of Vermont, today’s Kosovo has been peopled by many ethnic groups, most notably by Serbs (predominantly Orthodox Christians) and Albanians (predominantly Muslim), who coexisted for hundreds of years. During the dismantling of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milošević sought to maintain and strengthen his power by asserting a pro-Serbian nationalism that attempted to displace the Albanians, first from their jobs and later from their homes and the region. The result was civil war (with the Albanians led by the Kosovo Liberation Army–the UCK or KLA) and, ostensibly, genocide, for which the US and NATO stepped in, bombed Serbia, and took military and administrative control of Kosovo.
I liken the situation to the following Texas analogy. Imagine the Anglos (whites) in Texas trying to remove their Chicano (Mexican-American) neighbors and succeeding briefly only to have the Spanish-speakers return later to force out the whites. Unthinkable? Consider the “English-only” movement in the U.S. or the recent illegal migrant laws in Arizona and Alabama. (Yes, you may disagree with these comparisons.)
Most of my students here at UP were directly affected by the war: some fled to other countries; some became refugees; some hide in the forests; some lost homes and family members. Despite such losses, these students rarely speak of the war or say anything malicious about the Serbs. Perhaps their pain is too profound or their dignity too great.
The following are images from Pride Week here in Prishtinë.