2013年1月21日 星期一

Reflections upon the acquittal of Haradinaj: re-examining my two days in Kosovo in 2011

Pristina, 2011


Ramush Haradinaj has been cleared of the war crimes for the second time. I read this news in an article published in Weekly Balkan(周刊巴爾幹), a Taiwanese magazine paying attention mainly on the Balkan areas. This article was talking about the suicide committed by Serbia's ambassador to NATO, Branislav Milinkovic, last year (2012). The author inferred that there were some probable factors contributing to the self-destruction. Among them was the acquittal of Haradinaj's case, which made him disillusioned with the values lobbied by the so called democratic West. 

    What intrigued and stunned me was the angle of Serbians as victims this article proposed. This perspective was not new to me as the Montenegrin guy I met in Tivat told me that both sides - Serbia and Kosovo - delivered filthy conducts during the war in late 90s. However, I seemed to accentuate Kosovo Albanians as victims more and meanwhile perceiving Serbians as perpetrators. Moreover, I composed an article called The Duet Performed by Kosovar and Taiwanese to indicate the similar historical courses of oppression from powerful neighbor mainly; Serbia is to Kosovo what China is to Taiwan. After reading some articles and one related chapter in Michael Radu's book, Dilemmas of Democracy and Dictatorship, I deeply regretted that I was so insensitive/biased that I didn't think about how many dimensions this tragedy could present.  




    Defining the appearance of a war is never easy.  Diverse narratives will be unfolded upon different actors involved within and beyond the battle land. Even though the Hague Tribunal acquitted the accusations against Haradinaj, it seemed that the evidences were ample. According to the Voice of Russia, Haradinaj was allegedly "involved in the killings, tortures, raping, ethnic cleansing and tormenting of Serbs." In addition, "108 criminal cases involving murders and terrorism have been opened against him in Serbia." Moreover, as a former commander from Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Haradinaj was also convicted of committing inhuman crimes against Albanians who were "perceived to be collaborators with the Serbian authorities, or otherwise not supporters of the KLA" (note 1). This could echo what Michael Radu's (2006, 119) pointing out that the KLA eradicated not only Serbs but also the Albanians who were moderate  in or opposed to the use of violence in the conflicts (note 2).

    What's even more controversial was that the KLA utilized average folks to manipulate  their image of victimhood. The KLA knew that any single atrocity against civilians would trigger the emotion and action from the Western Countries. So, what the KLA had done was to irritate the Serbian force, whose typical brutality would eventually lead to indiscriminate retaliation against armless civilians (Radu 2006, 123). This strategy proved to be right. CNN's coverage, though actually incorrect and biased, also strengthened more of the victimhood the KLA had been eager for.  As Radu (ibid) pointed out, "... this sort of 'coverage' paints an inaccurate picture, and heightens the anti-Serbian sentiment that the KLA depends on." In a pro-USA country like Taiwan, CNN's images have tremendous leverage over the portrait of international issues. NATO's air strike on Belgrade also "re-affirmed" Serbia as the perpetrator, which deserved the bombs. So, it might not be so surprising to see how the image of Kosovo Albanians as the victims has carved such a strong and vivid story line out of my stiff brain. 

    I believe local knowledge of the war must be to some extent different from the propaganda shaped by the KLA and that by international community. Kosovo versus Serbia or Albanian versus Serb has myriad facets, but only the one with the most power and resource will be made the splendid facade.  It would be dangerous to stick to any one of them exclusively. However, you may also say that it would be ineffective and impractical to encompass as many perspectives as possible to outline the truth. I think this is the contradict and dilemma that will be confronted when tackling justice issues. But, in my opinion, paying attention to diverse views of point is still important. For example,  If I had talked to one of the Kosovar people, I would have had the chance of listening to different perspective and subsequently broken what I was told and taught. Different meanings rather than hatred or nationalist might probably emerge during the process of interaction and exploration. 

    Sounds like utopia? Yes, it does. Nevertheless, I know what attitude I should harbor in my mind when I am going back to Balkan areas in the future. Under this condition, I believe a new appearance of Balkan Peninsula will unfold in front of me.




Notes
1. Please see http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/kosovo-if-they-are-not-guilty-who-committed-war-crimes-2012-11-29

2. Michael, Radu. Dilemma o Democracy and Dictatorship: Place, Time, and Ideology in Global Perspective. New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Press, 2006.





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