Since its first edition, Kosovo 2.0 has been a groundbreaking, border-crossing, and taboo-transcending initiative. Not only is its website a platform for many young creators and writers, it is also one of the few initiatives that refuses the ever increasing nationalism in Kosova and Albania, and consistently publishes in the three official languages of Kosova: Albanian, Serbian, and English. From an Albanian perspective, we can only wish that such a wonderful initiative would sustainable here, as the thematically organized editions on matters such as Religion and Corruption, and now, Sex, are truly pushing forward in unknown territory. Read here the letter from the editor for the Sex issue.
That the current issue, that was supposed to be launched yesterday night in Prishtinë, dealt with sex, with special focus on LGBT issues in the region, and even subjects such as the sexuality of disabled groups (which are even repressed in western discourse on sexuality), would raise an enormous debate was to be expected. LGBT clubs had to be closed in the past under the threat of violence, and many Kosovars come to the monthly parties organized in Tiranë in absence of an open LGBT nightlife in Prishtinë (neither is it open in Tiranë, but ok).
Yesterday night, after several instances of hate speech reported from mosques at the Friday afternoon prayers, an unknown group of youths destroyed the space in which the magazine would be presented, in a festive context provocatively called the “Night of Sex.” Apart from a few instances, hardly any media have picked up on this act of violence and terror, and if they do, they consistently refer to the presentation event as “sex party.” At the same time a student group from the University of Prishtina, ironically calling themselves “Student Peace,” has posted videos of the demolition on their facebook page and released the following statement:
Through this communiqué, Paqja Studentore [Student Peace] of the University of Prishtinë, expresses its concern about the organization of the so-called “Day dedicated to sex” by Kosovo 2.0, which is expected to manifest itself through several activities, including a shameful event in the “Pallati i Rinisë” [Youth Palace building, in Serbian: Boro Ramiz] which in no way corresponds to our family and social traditions.
According to us, Kosovar society needs organizations that serve moral and academical growth, and not these types of inhumane organizations that contribute to evil and the degradation of society.
We as a student organization remain dedicated to take over the tradition of work of western countries, but do not follow those qualities that are like a virus to a healthy society.
We are not against information in the interest of Sexual Health, but we are against the stimulation of Homosexualism and similar phenomena which are synonymous to the degeneration and destruction of society.
We think that the “Youth Palace,” which, among others things, also serves as a library for a large number of students, should not be turned from “Buro [sic!] Ramiz” into “Porno Ramiz,” and hereby we call upon the management of this Palace to cancel this degenerate event immediatey.
We call upon the protagonists of this evening to occupy themselves with things that reflect positively on our youth and to withdraw from their degeneration.
Nexhmedin Alisin added for good measure that Kosovo 2.0 wants legalize “Dark sex” and warns for an increase in murders, abortions, extra-marital relations, (just like American Christian fundamentalists, these peaceful students!), quote:
It has never happened that an Albanian [man] has taken a woman who has lost her virginity (because she has “played tails”, not because of a previous marriage), which he have considered dishonorable and undeserved for women, while what served to us [by Kosovo 2.0] is even worse. The loss of virginity in public!
Ok, but serious… Together with the apparent increase of Muslim extremism noted in the region, and a nationalist rhetoric that embraces Islam as uniting force of the Albanian nation, we should brace for more acts of repression such as these, as well as invent modes of resistance. This is the video of the vandalization — which I’m sure reflects positively upon the Kosovar youth — last night, of several hunky men screaming “Allahu Ekber”:
And the press declaration released by Albanian LGBT organizations Aleanca LGBT and Pro LGBT:
Men who are afraid of sex only exist in Kosovo
Lepa Mladjenović, the first lesbian in Serbia who publicly admitted her sexual orientation and Igballe Rugova, her friend, who also was the fist open lesbian in Kosovo, were getting ready to give a presentation in the Youth Palace where Kosovo 2.0 would launch their new number on sex, when suddenly a group of hooligans got inside the building and started to destroy the scene and everything in front of them.
The magazine had planned, around 23:00, a launching event called “Night of Sex.” At the entrance of the event an imam had started to hold a speech to hundreds of Muslim believers, most of them, according to eyewitnesses, wearing long beards and shouting Allahu Ekber (Allah is great). It was very difficult for people to enter the space.
According to one of the eyewitnesses, a lesbian girl, “There were around 20 people, violent, some of them wearing balaclavas on their heads. They started to hit and loudly offend people, to break lights, tables, and projectors. Everything happened under the eyes of two policemen who tried to protect the participants of the event. One of the policemen got sprayed into the eyes by one of the hooligans.” Some of them threw teargas.
This however didn’t stop the organizers from continuing the event. Lepa and Igo showed that “we should grab each other’s hand and act with humanity.” A participant in the event said that “it was very emotional and motivating, even though we had aggression from some people who came there in the name of God shouting ‘Allahu Ekber.’ I am a Muslim myself and I know that what happened was not done in the name of God. I met Lepa and Igo and talked with them. It was a very inspiring conversation. I really liked the sincere and faithful friendship they had together, it was one of the most inspiring and beautiful moments for me”
The culmination of the night was the moment when people of the LGBT community, even though there were many medias present and cameras, took the microphone and went onto the stage openly declaring their sexual orientation in the very room that the hooligans had destroyed, which the organizers had decided to keep just like was after the attack to emphasize the strong message of the last edition of Kosovo 2.0: Sex is political!
The above information is a coverage by Aleanca LGBT and Pro LGBT of the events which happened yesterday evening containing information gathered from different sources present at the event. We, as representatives of these organizations, feel neither fear nor sadness because of what happened in Kosovo. Instead we feel proud that finally a group of civilized, open-minded, motivated, and courageous people broke the ice of ignorance and the taboos of a society that has deeply suffered from the oppression of the previous regimes. Now it is time to fight against the oppression of ignorance and prejudices.
Aleanca LGBT and Pro LGBT urge Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi to react publicly in defense of the freedom of speech, the right to identity, the right of peaceful assembly and in defense of the freedom of information.
Mr Thaçi! Your Albanian counterpart has, in spite of his conservative and right wing approach, had the courage to go out publicly in support of LGBT issues. Mr. Thaçi, this is time for you to take that step too, if you really want to be the leader of a democratic country where the respect and the protection of human rights are not negotiable.
We ask to the international community to not remain passive in this situation where medieval, fundamentalist and absurd acts are happening, but to stay closer to the human rights defenders and to support them publicly and actively.
We encourage the Kosovo media to refuse the use of hate speech and to become a western media, understanding the communities and not prejudicing them. Dear colleagues of the media. Take the example from Kosovo 2.0 and take your responsibility to educate your suffering society through accurate information!
We also call upon the President of Kosovo Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga not to forget that she has the duty to stand up as an woman and protect women rights, LGBT rights, and human rights. Be courageous and strong, Mrs. Jahjaga!
As the new year is approaching we remind the police that they are in the service of society, a police force able to prevent violence instead finding themselves in the middle of it, taken by surprise. This is inexcusable; many millions have been invested in the training of the security forces to live up to European standards. What can be done? Very simple! These so-called “Plisa” (“felt-caps”) have started to make public announcements, to organize, and to threaten. Their current activity is a risk for Kosovar public space. Go and stop them before it’s too late!
At finally, we deeply want to thank Kosovo 2.0 and extend an open invitations to cooperate with the Albanian civil society to create an event to promote the last issue of Kosovo 2.0 in Tirana, because we know it: In Kosovo, as in Albania, we only talk about sex by not talking about it…
Xheni Karaj (Aleance Kundër Diskriminimit LGBT)
Kristi Pinderi (Pro LGBT)
Update Dec. 17:
More developments in the aftermath of Friday night attacks on Kosovo 2.0:
Igballa Rugova receives several phone threats; LGBT activists of Libertas violently attacked in Prishtina.
Women’s rights activist Igballe Rugova has been threatened after publishing a strong letter in the latest issue of the magazine Kosovo 2.0, in which she spoke openly about her sexuality in a correspondence with the feminist lesbian Lepa Mljadenović, a correspondence that will certainly be remembered as the most beautiful in the history of feminist and LGBT activism in the Balkan.
Igballe Rugova: “Yesterday morning I woke up to a threatening phone call: ‘We will not let you lead the women of Kosovo.’ I had two fears. First, that the same hooligans would come and destroy the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) annual membership meeting (as they had threatened to do). Second, following slanderous and sensationalized press coverage (namely by KTV) of the Kosovo 2.0 event, that few women would dare to show up to the KWN meeting. I was afraid that they would not want to be identified with a lesbian woman, particularly in the negative way that I was portrayed in KTV.
In the meeting with the Kosovo Women’s Network she clarified: “After this call and after all the threatening text messages that I had received before, I called an ex-chief of the police, who ensured me that police forces would provide us with security. They even the investigation of the 38 threatening messages that had been sent to me. I have to thank the police for what they have done till now.”
Today in Stockholm representatives from 103 countries worldwide decided during the plenary session of the global meeting of ILGA World to sign a letter of support for the activists Igballe Rugova and Lepa Mladjenović.
Meanwhile activists for human rights have informed us that about 7 hooligans have entered in the offices of the LGBT rights organization Libertas in Prishtina. After destroying the entire office they also attached several activists. One activist has been severely beaten, though is not critical condition. The attack has been immediately reported to the authorities.
Update Dec. 19: