BIRN Film About Victims of Yugoslav Wars Screened in Serbia

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The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s latest documentary, exploring the lives and struggles of civilian war victims from Serbia, Kosovo and North Macedonia, was broadcast by Euronews Serbia.

Photo: BIRN

The documentary ‘Forgotten Victims’ (‘Zaboravljene Žrtve’), which tells the stories of four families who lost someone in the wars in Serbia, Kosovo and North Macedonia during the 1990s or were direct victims themselves, was screened by Euronews Serbia on Saturday and Sunday.

The film showcases the continuing failure of the systems in the three countries to address the needs of civilian victims of war, more than two decades after the conflicts ended.

It follows Bekim Gashi and Slavica Popovic from Kosovo and Andronika Jovanovska and Skender Zimberi from North Macedonia in their decade-long struggles to learn who killed their loved ones, win compensation from the state and get some kind of acknowledgment for their suffering.

In the film, they explain how they feel abandoned and betrayed by all the key players – including their own states and the international community.

While some, like Gashi, are at the end of a lengthy reparation process, most will probably never get any compensation. In most Balkan countries, material reparations are possible via civil lawsuits after a final, guilty verdict is reached in court. With the slow pace of war crime trials and legal challenges, those who received compensation are a minority.

The film also tackles the ongoing trial of former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters and the issues some Serbian war victims are having with the international lawyers assigned to them by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague.

The film was financed by the European Union and includes interviews with victims’ associations, legal experts, civil society activists, lawyers and government representatives.

Kushtrim Koliqi, executive director at the Pristina-based NGO Integra, which was part of the project, told BIRN that the purpose of the film is “to assist in the recognition of past injustices, their memorialisation and reparation, but also testify about the social challenges of transition.”

The documentary is also intended to “open up discussion and offer a new perspective on the life of different war victims after their losses, hence opening up spaces for new ways of dealing with the past”, Koliqi added.

The Albanian and Macedonian versions of the same film have already been screened in Kosovo and North Macedonia. All three versions of the film, as well as one with English subtitles, are soon to be published on the BIRN Network’s YouTube channel.

The film ‘Forgotten Victims’ was produced as part of the Strengthening Inclusive Victims’ Voices: Transforming Narratives project and financed by the European Union. Apart from BIRN, the other partners in the project are Integra, New Social Initiative, Civic Initiatives, PAX and the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).