REACTION

Stop the public lynching towards the activist Shkëlzen Gashi

The public lynching of human rights activist Shkëlzen Gashi continues. Due to his public statements made more than a month ago where among other things, he mentioned non-Albanian victims and their right to justice, as well as individual responsibility that should be borne by those former KLA members who had committed crimes during and after the war in Kosovo, Shkëlzen Gashi was publicly discredited, threatened and insulted in the worst way by the general public, but also by many personalities and politicians. Thus, proving that even 21 years after the war, in our country it is still extremely dangerous to open discussions on war crimes, for another narrative of it, in a society where a culture of impunity has taken root.

Recently, the former mayor of Skënderaj, currently the head of the branch of the Democratic Party of Kosovo in Skënderaj, Sami Lushtaku when speaking about the Government, under the leadership of Mr. Albin Kurti, among others, he describes Mr. Gashi as “udbash” (collaborator of Serbian Security Administration), and as a man who “hates the KLA, and tries to criminalize it”, and therefore also as a person who “hates Kosovo”.

Days ago, even the President of Kosovo, Mr. Hashim Thaçi attributed to the statements of the activist Shkëlzen Gashi the hatred towards the KLA, deliberately misrepresenting it even after the latter’s public explanations regarding any misunderstandings raised since his first interview.

We are extremely concerned with the insults and lynchings that are constantly being made to the activist Shkëlzen Gashi by influential personalities and politicians in our society, who for many years now have created a public discourse regarding the violent past, where only one truth, one narrative prevails, and as we can see trying to challenge it is quite dangerous.

Wrongdoings and war crimes must not be attributed collectively to a group or ethnicity, but it is individuals who must be held responsible for their crimes related to the conflict. The public discourse used in the context of Dealing with the Past must be exclusively based on evidences and verified information because any incorrect assumptions or fake news could severely undermine efforts to establish an accurate understanding of what occurred in the past. Hate speech must be countered at every level.

We call on the political spectrum to immediately stop the public lynching of activist Shkëlzen Gashi, because, with such a political elite where only a single narrative is presented and promoted, a single truth, we disable/damage the process of transitional justice in Kosovo, and deny the right of victims and their families to justice. We also suggest that political parties maintain awareness-raising activities for their members in order to properly understand the process of transitional justice and the principles of dealing with the past so that such similar lynchings in the future are avoided.

P.S. Organizations supporting this initiative are listed below.

RrGK – Rrjeti i Grave të Kosovës, INTEGRA, ORCA – Organizata për rritjen e cilësisë në arsim, NSI – New Social Initiative, TOKA, Instituti Columbus, Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo, Fondacioni i Kosovës për Shoqëri të Hapur – KFOS, Multimedia, Fondacioni Kosovar për Shoqëri Civile – KCSF, Çohu, Nora Ahmetaj, BIRN KOSOVA, Internews Kosova, Artpolis, SIT – Qendra për Këshillim, Shërbime Sociale dhe Hulumtime, ETEA, Developing Together, EcoKosWomem, EC Ma Ndryshe, Qendra për Arsim e Kosovës – KEC, DokuFest, CHwB, Cel Kosova, IPKO Foundation, Instituti GAP, NGO Aktiv, RTV Kim, ACDC, QKRMT, Sbunker, Shoqata e Intelektualëve të Pavarur Deçan, CPC – Center for Political Courage, POLIS, NOPM, GAIA – SCI Kosovo, CVE Analyst, FLOSSK, KADC.