Selfie made in Radishani
By Gjakush Kabashi
Social network users have almost no chance of avoiding the endless flow of selfie pictures (self-portraits made with cell phone cameras), focusing on the faces of those taking them. Practically, the screen of the phone is used as a mirror while one holds the phone with a hand. Selfies are usually taken during important events, as to prove presence (or at least show the others that you were there, too). More often than not, the background remains invisible, as it is covered by the face.
So, what can we see from the face of the last incident in Skopje’s Radishani, where the Zeqiri family was forced out to Germany, as to save itself from the unrelenting attacks?
According to the media in Albanian, 16 members of this extended family have moved to Germany where they seek asylum, feeling unsafe in their own house that was attacked last month. The media blackout was broken solely through the private CCTV footages, partially filming the last incident. The case was ignored after the official statements for 6 criminal actions, whereas the remaining of the family is about to move to Turkey, regardless of the failed efforts for a too-little-too-late appeasement.
There’s a scientific definition for cases when families move away from violence, after being attacked and intimidated due to their ethnic or religious background, as to create a clear homogenous territory. It’s called ethnic cleansing. We might have lost our sensitivity after the systematic and violent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, but having only one case doesn’t change its substance.
These images have not been witnessed in Macedonia ever since the 2001 conflict, at least not publicly. Thirteen years later, this case excels all speeches on progress, integration, springs of dignity and everything else. A family flees from the threats they face, unprotected by the institutions of a state not ruled by law, they are forced to seek asylum and salvation in Germany. This is unacceptable in the 21st Century – even less so in an EU candidate country.
The fate of one single family might appear as irrelevant, but in reality, this case is far more important than all “great causes” and projects that are often promoted, but rarely seen. What can one expect for the more complicated issues, when it’s impossible to guarantee for the safety of a family in their own home? With such institutional ineptness and lack of political interest for the Zeqiri family, slim are hopes for any different outcome on the endless incidents in Skopje’s streets and city buses. No institution and senior official may be pardoned – even less the Albanian political and institutional representatives – who have greater responsibility as self-proclaimed guardians of the collective ethnic interests. Fortunately enough, they face no such problems in Tetovo or Kicevo, which in turn might be the reason why they’re ignoring this issue.
The depth of Macedonia’s abyss is further reflected in the fact that barely any media in Macedonian language bothered to cover this case. It was only after two days that reports surfaced in two or three web-portals. Whereas one might explain the silence of the controlled media – which is why the country is ranked 122 in freedom of speech – there’s no reason as to why the other Macedonian media paid no attention at all; even those that somehow keep a distance on the political issues, had no interest in a triviality like a family forced out of their home.
There’s little hope for positive change, unless everyone picks the lesson that institutional violations – targeting the Albanians in this case – quickly pass the ethnic borders in systems not governed by law; it tends to have a boomerang effect on those supporting it, directly or not. As long as this is not reflected, there can be no open society for each and every one, no matter where they reside and their social status.
In the last chapter of events, danger and misery home are resolved by seeking asylum in Germany and this should remind the European Union about Macedonia’s real problems. Yes, it’s good to hear encouragements in favour of joining the EU, but it’s even more important to clearly state the critical issues which are forcing the citizens to integrate in the EU – on individual grounds. To begin with, one needs to review the conclusion of the last EC Progress Report, stating that “the coalition partners made joint efforts to alleviate inter-ethnic tensions” (pg. 13). Certainly, this is not such a case.
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