Prishtina, April 14th, 2022 – The President of the Republic of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani on the occasion of April 14th – the Day of the Survivors of Sexual Violence during the last war in Kosovo hosted a meeting of the Government Commission for Recognition and Verification of the Status of Violent Persons during the War as well as the non-governmental organizations of the platform “Be my voice”, to mark the 14th of April, and at the same time to start the formalization of this process through the legislative initiative.
After the meeting, President Osmani together with non-governmental organizations and members of the government commission, opened the exhibition on the occasion of this day, with works of art by survivors of sexual violence during the war.
Following are the speeches of President Osmani, Mrs. Shyhrete Tahiri and Mrs. Feride Rushiti, Head of the Centre for Rehabilitation of Torture Survivors.
Dear Mrs. Shyhrete,
Distinguished representatives of the government commission,
Distinguished representatives of organizations that have consistently been in support of survivors of sexual violence during the war,
Dearly beloved heroines of our country,
A year ago, on the same day, I proposed that April 14th become the day of the survivors of sexual violence during the war in Kosovo, after the initiative of our heroine, MP and the powerful voice of the survivors, Mrs. Vasfije Krasniqi.
A year later, we are meeting together with a large part of you, after the discussions we had in my office to discuss the formalization of this process through legislative initiatives.
Marking April 14th – the month when there were most rapes were committed during the last war in Kosovo – would be a permanent seal of a painful and tragic chapter of our history and would be a union of our voices to show how women The men of Kosovo, in spite of great suffering, turned their suffering into a force to raise their voices for justice. It would be our strong call to condemn sexual violence as a weapon of war in Kosovo and everywhere in the world, it would be solidarity, sympathy and the most sincere alignment with those to whom the memories of the war return with every breath and those who are no longer with us. It would be the clearest message we would send to the world with the call, never again!
Today, 23 years after the war in Kosovo, when we hoped that Europe and the world would no longer wake up with images and pain in the eyes of girls and women,, pain and sadness took place again on our continent. Today some of you, but also many other women in Kosovo sympathize and best understand the pain, sadness and disappointment that girls and women are experiencing in Ukraine but also in other countries of the world.
But history has shown that good and justice always triumph. History has shown us that whenever they have tried to humiliate us and try to lose our dignity, we have always become even stronger and more vocal. You girls and women, men and women, have become the truest and most sincere narrators of the sufferings and experiences of our people. At the same time, you have become our daily motive in our common path towards justice.
Silence for these crimes has no place in our efforts for justice because justice will only be sustained when the criminals who commit these crimes are brought to justice.
We have won freedom, but peace for many of our citizens will not be complete until justice and punishment for the crimes committed is final. You have called for us to be your voice and I tell you even today that your voice will be today and every day, I guarantee you that our voice is and will always be your voice.
Today we have also chosen the art to talk about pain, we have chosen painting to talk about the stigma faced by men and women of our country, the prejudices and difficulties faced by survivors of sexual violence. Today these images will speak more than any words because through them women and men have shown how they would like to see the world.
Today, our call is also to the justice institutions to treat all these cases with priority, but at the same time, since we have the government commission for the recognition of the status of survivors of sexual violence during the war, I want to do it. call on the women and men of this country who have gone through such suffering and have been victims of such a crime, to apply before this commission because the process is safe because the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo are here to support you, are here not only to recognize the status of persons who have survived sexual violence during the war but also to give you maximum support in order to be together in sharing the pain and above all in order to be together to have justice for these crimes that have been committed against our citizens and to raise our voice inside Kosovo and outside Kosovo so that the whole world recognizes the suffering of our people.
Mrs. Shyhrete Tahiri:
Honourable President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mrs. Vjosa Osmani,
I am honoured that today together with the organizations of the platform “Be my voice” on this special date of commemoration of victims of sexual violence during the war in Kosovo, we met with the President of Kosovo to present our joint demands in order to improve and the lives of survivors of violence in Kosovo. On behalf of all war survivors, I invite President Osmani, Prime Minister Albin Kurti and all Kosovo MPs to engage maximally in meeting our demands.
April 14th to be legally recognized as an official memorial day for victims of sexual violence during the war in Kosovo; review and meet the legal change requirements listed in the advocacy letter in order to fill the legal gaps and allow war survivors to benefit from these changes.
I also call on all survivors of sexual violence during the war in Kosovo to exercise the rights guaranteed by law and supported by the four authorized organizations, to apply for recognition of status and to commit even more to access to justice.
Mrs. Feride Rushiti, Head of the Centre for Rehabilitation of Torture Survivors
Honourable President Vjosa Osmani,
Honourable member of the commission,
Non-governmental organizations of the platform “Be my voice”,
April 14th is a special day for us as a non-governmental organization and it was requested by the President of the country to support this day as a special day where we remember the suffering, pain and sacrifice of thousands of women and men who were unjustly raped during war period.
On this day, we have asked for the continued support of the President of the country Vjosa Osmani in order that the cause of survivors of sexual violence of war is further advanced through legal changes. Let me mention below some points that non-governmental organizations under the platform “Be my voice” led by the Kosovo Centre for Rehabilitation, Medika Kosova, Center for the Promotion of Women's Rights in Drenas, Medika Gjakova, have come up with points which we think shall further contribute to the advancement of the cause of war sexual violence survivors. Initially, as the president said, April 14th to be an official memorial day for victims of sexual violence during the war. The name of the government commission for the recognition and verification of the status of persons violated during the war should be changed from verification and should be only the recognition of the status of persons violated during the war.
The deadline for victims to apply for recognition of their status should not be limited to five years as is currently stipulated by law but should be a permanent right guaranteed by the law. To enable victims who have been recognized as victims of sexual violence to enjoy the right to a personal pension from the date of application for recognition of status, thereafter, survivors of sexual violence of war shall be granted the rights equal to other categories arising from the war; according to the law on the values of war, you know that they treat all categories that came out of the war and we ask as non-governmental organizations, we ask for the support of President Vjosa Osmani to support us further that the rights and benefits provided by the law on war values are equal as for other categories arising from the war.
We also request that the commission have this added composition in terms of psycho-social aspects for the fact that we know that this war crime over time is not easy to reveal before the commission, so we request that the commission itself have experts in other psycho-social areas.
In the case of reviewing of complaints, we request that the two levels be regulated as it is regulated by other legal mechanisms and finally, we request that the application deadline from the moment when survivors of sexual violence apply to the commission be only six months, thus be a period of time where survivors of sexual violence can await the decision of the government commission for recognition, for verification as it is currently for recognition of the status of sexual victims.
I want to use this day which is a special day for us and for the families of survivors of war sexual violence r and once again call on family members first because many times survivors of sexual violence want to apply for and to be recognized the rights that are now guaranteed by the institutions of Kosovo, but due to stigma, prejudice, closing this wound within the family, family members are reluctant and we guarantee that here we have the commission because this process is completely guaranteed and the identity of survivors of sexual violence is never disclosed, ie, are all measures provided that survivors of sexual violence are not disclosed their identity, confidentiality and privacy.
Once again, on this special day, I very much hope that the institutions of Kosovo as they have been will continue to be supporters of this cause in order for the survivors of sexual violence of the war beyond the right to repression, to provide the institutions of Kosovo , to be able to apply and seek justice, justice that has now been denied to me for years, either by the processes which have been transferred by the institutions to various international administrations but now we have the institutions of Kosovo and I want to use the opportunity that on April 14, which marks the day of survivors of sexual violence, I invite all women and men to approach the institutions of justice in order to put justice in place, a request which is incessant to family members, and survivors of war sexual violence.
Thank you Madam President for this organization!