A BRIEF REVIEW OF WOMEN IN BLACK ACTIVITIES IN KOSOVO
May 1- 3 - The Peace Caravan in Kosovo was held. The caravan consisted of pacifists from several Italian towns, as well as from Pancevo and Belgrade (including some of the founders of Women in Black). Over three days, numerous meetings and talks were held with the representatives of the Albanian community in Kosovo, as well as with miners from Trepca, education workers, and intellectuals. Testimonies about the systematic oppression by the Serbian regime were recorded. Alexander Langer, a Green Party representative in the European Parliament, also participated in the Caravan. The Caravan represented the beginning of the cooperation between Women in Black and Kosovar Albanian civil society.
June - Feminist activists from Belgrade and Pristina jointly attended the Fourth Yugoslavian Feminist Meeting in Ljubljana.
November - Women in Black activists and human rights activists from the Kosovar Albanian community jointly toured several towns in north Italy.
February 21- 23 - Women in Black – Belgrade organized a trip for activists from autonomous women’s groups, peace groups and human rights groups from the ex-Yugoslav region, including Kosovo, to the meeting of the Women’s Solidarity in Venice, organized by Women in Black – Venice.
March - For the first time, activists from autonomous women’s groups from Kosovo came to visit Women in Black in Belgrade. This represents the continuation of mutual support. At this meeting, activists agreed upon some concrete forms of cooperation.
March 8 - During the vigil in Belgrade, Women in Black were physically assaulted when the banner “Albanian women are our sisters” was raised for the first time. That banner has been constantly present in our peace actions and almost always is subjected to assaults. We have had to write the banner again innumerable times and we have added a version in Albanian.
August 3- 7 - For the first time, Kosovar Albanian activists attended the meeting of the Network of Women’s Solidarity against War/Women in Black Network in Tresnjevac, Vojvodina, Serbia.
December - Women in Black organized a public discussion about the oppression of the Albanian population by the Serbian regime and the Kosovar Albanians’ nonviolent resistance.
Women in Black and civil society organizations from Kosovo continued their efforts to strengthen existing contacts and establish new connections.
March – Women in Black members and human rights activists from Kosovo travelled together to Spain.
July - Women in Black activists visited women’s autonomous groups in Pristina.
August 1– 4 - During the fifth International meeting of Women in Black, organized by Women in Black – Belgrade, and held in Novi Sad (Vojvodina), a group of approximately ten Albanian activists from Kosovo testified about the repression perpetuated by the Serbian regime as part of the panel discussion “Psychological War in Kosovo.”
September - Women in Black activists visited Pristina. After this and similar activist visits to Kosovo, reports about the violation of human rights of the Albanian population in Kosovo were submitted to international networks.
November - Women in Black organized a series of protests in Belgrade against the violation of the human rights of the Albanian population in Kosovo.
December - During the civil protests against election fraud, Women in Black activists carried banners about the repression of the Albanian population in Kosovo, calling for solidarity with the nonviolent resistance in Kosovo, and distributed leaflets about the situation in Kosovo. Similar actions were organized throughout the three month period of civil protests in Belgrade.
Throughout the year, cooperation with Kosovar Albanian civil society organizations continued and deepened. This cooperation resulted in visits, messages, and reports about human rights violations and the war of low intensity against the Kosovar Albanian population.
April, May, June, and July - Women in Black continued a series of protests in Belgrade against the expansion of the low intensity war in Kosovo. Numerous public announcements were also issued.
May - Women in Black organized a public discussion about the situation in Kosovo, focusing on nonviolent resistance. Women in Black continued to issue announcements and appeals.
August - Many activists from Kosovo were present at the sixth meeting of the International Women in Black Network held in Novi Sad (Vojvodina), and organized by Women in Black – Belgrade. There were several panel discussions about the situation in Kosovo.
October, November, and December - There were simultaneous protests in Belgrade to coincide with the protests of the Independent Union of Albanian Students in Pristina. During this time, Women in Black organized several visits to Pristina as a form of solidarity with the nonviolent movement. Several actions in solidarity were launched for a domestic, as well as international, audience. Intensive cooperation continued. Women in Black – Belgrade activists and activists of the International Women in Black Network, primarily from Italy and Spain, organized joint visits to Kosovo.
February, March, April, May, June, and July - Women in Black – Belgrade held protests called “For the Peace in Kosovo” against the repression of the Albanian population in Kosovo. Simultaneously, Women in Black continued tp work in solidarity with the nonviolent movement. All these actions included constant announcements and appeals.
March - Public panels against the war operations and the escalating oppression in Kosovo were held in Belgrade.
April - In Serbia, a public campaign against the war in Kosovo was launched; Women in Black joined the campaign “I Do Not Want the War” (against the war in Kosovo).
May - Women in Black organized a public discussion about the war in Kosovo. Autonomous women’s groups adopted the appeal against the war in Kosovo and the appeal was sent to the entire international community.
August - An “outstanding” number of women activists from Kosovo (28) came to the seventh meeting of the International Women in Black Network, held in Subotica (Vojvodina). Albanian was one of the official languages, in addition to the local language, Italian, English and Spanish.
Counter-informational activity continued, specifically, informing international networks, primarily feminist-activist networks worldwide, about the low intensity war in Kosovo.
September - The Serbian regime forbid an international antiwar meeting in Kosovo, which was organized by Women in Black and Amnesty International. On the same day (September 19), antiwar meetings were held worldwide.
Visits to Pristina and visits of Albanian activists to Belgrade continued. This was the period of very intensive cooperation. In the Women in Black publications Women for Peace, there are texts and documents of this cooperation.
January, February, and March (until the beginning of the bombing) – Women in Black held protests entitled “For the Peace in Kosovo” and “A Pact is Better than War.”
March, April, and May - Women in Black maintained constant phone contact with activists in Kosovo, as well as with all friends, both those who were expelled and the small number of those who stayed in Kosovo during the entire period of ethnic cleansing and bombing.
September - Women in Black organized a protest in Belgrade against ethnic cleansing of the non-Albanian population in Kosovo entitled “Stop revenge in the Balkans.”
Monitoring the rigged trials and judicial processes of Albanians in Serbia – actions in solidarity and other campaigns -
There were actions in solidarity with the arrested poet, doctor and human rights activist Flora Brovina. Women in Black launched actions in solidarity with Brovina worldwide. Actions in solidarity were also launched domestically for Flora Brovina and for other accused people. Women in Black visited them in prison. Women in Black maintained a presence at the rigged trials against Albanians in Nis (Southern Serbia) and Belgrade throughout the fall, writing reports for an international audience and organizing protests in Belgrade against the trials.
The monitoring of trials against the Albanians who were held in prisons all over Serbia continued, as did informing the international public. An international campaign for the liberation of Albanian political prisoners was launched.
From 2001 to 2004
Women in Black were present at numerous international conferences about Kosovo, in Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro.
Several protests against the all forms of violence in Kosovo were held.
From 2005 to 2006
Activists from Kosovo (Orahovac) participated in Women in Black’s educational activities in various parts of Serbia.
March 2006 - The Women in Black Network from Serbia and the Kosovo Women’s Network agreed to jointly organize monitoring teams for the future status of Kosovo and to hold consultations and meetings in accordance with proposed Women’s Peace Platform about the negotiations.
May 2006 - The Women’s Peace Coalition, which is made up of The Women in Black Network - Serbia and The Kosovo Women’s Network, was formed.
September 1-3 2006 - A Women’s Peace Coalition conference on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ was held in Struga, Macedonia.
Extensive documentation about Women in Black’s activities related to Kosovo can be found in the Women in Black publications (the editions of Women for Peace published in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2004).
Prepared by: Stasa Zajovic, Tamara Belenzada, and Rachel Long