This appeared in today’s Politika (Belgrade, Serbia) newspaper. I did a very quick translation. Please read and pass it on. It is a story of a very brave Serbian woman living in Kosovo. May God be her protection!
What Sort of Life is it When You are Afraid
to Speak in Your Own Language
hat sort of life is it when you cannot sleep because of the behavior of your neighbors and you cannot complain about it, simply because you are a minority? What sort of life is it when you are frightened to speak your own language anywhere other than your own apartment? These are two questions which one of the few Serbs living in Pristina are confronted with every day. The Politika news team met with her in one of the buildings for the Center for Peace and Tolerance in the city of Pristina. She was taken quickly from those quarters when she asked two question which to her clearly seemed to be of most importance.
Serbs, the few that are left, congregate for the most part in this Center whose small quarters are located in the building of the Kosovo Police station. In Pristina today there are 60 Serbs, of whom four are men and 11 are children. Taped on the entrance door of the Center is a barely visible sign with the name of the company. It is as if one desires to keep it hidden.
The only Serbian women that wanted to talk with us is Snezana Borzanovic who returned to Pristina in 2002. She has lived in this city, which she considers her’s, ever since. Her family is in central Serbia and abroad. “I am not renouncing my Pristina,” she says.
Snezana recently made the news as she was sentenced to pay a fine of 200 Euros for a “false report”. In the event she does not pay the fine, and she has stated that she will not, she is threatened with 15 days in jail. She has been sentenced for an unusual event. In June of 2006 she was on the city bus when an Albanian man asked the driver, also Albanian, whether he knows he is driving Serbs and because of it he will “lift them all in the air.” (“Blow them all up”, FM) The driver advised Borzanovic to report this to the police, for security reasons. At first she didn’t do this since she did not consider it serious.
Three days later she ran into the same driver who insisted that she report the threat to the police. She followed his advice and soon after that came the notification of her “false report”, which was followed not long after that with her sentencing and monetary fee. “They are asking that I pay 200 Euros practically because that man did not throw a bomb. I will not pay, even if I end up in jail. Life here is not much different than jail,” says Snezana Borzanovic.
Her days are spent visiting the handicapped Serbian women living in Pristina who have no family left. She brings them bread and other things they need from the market; she prepares something for them to eat. She does this with a group of ladies who do not wish to have their names mentioned that “they might draw attention to themselves.”
Snezana is, as she says, in her own country. For this reason when she goes to the market and the store, she speaks in Serbian. When they tell her the price in Albanian she argues with them.
“What else am I to do than argue with them. Later I go to another vendor who gives me the price in Serbian and I buy what I need. You should only see how those same ones that argued with me start addressing me in Serbian only so that I would buy from them. But I won’t. Then they complain they have nothing and have to make a sale and I tell them – you asked for it and you got it,” Snezana tells us.
She lives off the salary she receives from the Gracanica Health Center, where she is employed. She is paid in dinars and because of the currency exchange she loses a part of it. She keeps herself informed of the events in Serbia through the satellite connection Total TV. When we visited her only one channel was working on which some turbo-folk music was playing.
She says that she is provoked frequently with profanity. “They frequently say to me “skrinjo”, which in translation is something like “Serbian pig.” I only tell them that I feel sorry for them, for they are not even aware of the sin they have entered in and what awaits them. I have no other choice,” says Snezana Borzanovic.
Dusan Teleskovic for Politika newspaper