Serbian Flood Relief Effort in Australia
Dear SOYA Members & Friends,
Due to the death and great suffering inflicted upon the people of Serbia and Bosnia from floods not recalled in living memory, the Serbian government has announced 3 days of mourning, that is the 21st , 22nd, and 23rd of May.
Поводом смрти и великог страдања нанесено грађанима Србије, последица не памћених поплава, Влада Србије је прогласила тродневну жалост, т.ј. 21, 22 и 23 маја.
SOYA will be changing to the Black SOYA logo for the time being as a sign of mourning & solidarity for those in our motherland. We ask our community, our friends, and all whom read this to please send through a donation for our disaster relief fund, that will be sent to the people in need.
Moleban to be held at 6.00pm Sunday 25th May 2014 at St Luke the Apostle Mission, Serbian Orthodox Church, 75 Flowerdale Rd Liverpool, before the usual SOYA religious forum at 6.30pm. For more information on the Moleban, please click here.
SOYA NSW Co-ordinator
Exclusive 1-On-1 Interview With Serbian-Canadian Director Boris Malagurski
FIGHT FOR KOSOVO CONTINUES
It is rare to find someone of Boris Malagurski’s kind. At 21, Malagurski yields the temerity to make a change for not only the betterment of Serbs, but society. His film, Kosovo: Can Imagine? which is currently being screened around Australia [thanks to the Serbian Orthodox Youth Association - SOYA], reveals the mounting hardship of the current Kosovo Serbs, along with the torturous barbarity that they have to withstand daily. The promising director took time out last week to share his views on his exposé, the future, and what he expects from the international community.
AG: What do you aim to achieve with your documentary, Kosovo: Can You Imagine? In other words, what are your ultimate goals concerning the promotion of your film nationwide and internationally?
BM: My goal is to shock people by showing them what is currently happening in a land that is under international supervision. These are the stories of Kosovo Serbs who have absolutely no human rights despite being promised everything once the West came in to bring peace. Once the international forces came into Kosovo, the Serbs were stripped of every right they had, such as having the freedom to live in their own homes. This needs to be presented to the international community, as well as the wider public.
So far, we’ve had many screenings of the film at numerous festivals, such as the 2009 Mexico International Film Festival, where we won the Silver Palm Award. The film was also shown at the 2009 BC Days Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver and the BridgeFest International Film Festival in East Sarajevo. It was also shown throughout many cities in Canada, the US, and especially in Australia. The Australians have shown a lot of interest for this great untold story of the 21st century and I hope this trend continues.
AG: Since the release of your film, have you received any feedback from international politicians, namely the ones that encouraged the NATO bombing of Serbia? If so, what was their reaction?
BM: I have not received any official response or reaction from international politicians, but I have heard that several politicians in the European Union and Russia have seen the film, and that certain influential people in Moscow did like the film. We are now able to watch the film on Russia Today, the first all-digital Russian channel in English. They have contacted me and showed great interest in screening the film and it is now being shown in more than 60 countries via cable and satellite, as well as online. This is all thanks to them. It’s a great success, especially for a film made by a 20 year old.
AG: Have any of the Serbian politicians seen your documentary? If so, what was their reaction?
BM: That information I do not have. Through correspondence, I have informed the offices of several politicians and I am still awaiting their response. I attempted to show it on Serbian television and I still have not gotten a response, which to me signals that maybe there is a lack of interest about the topic of Kosovo in Serbia nowadays. People may have this opinion that Kosovo is essentially lost, that we should give up on Kosovo. I always argued for the complete opposite. The biggest problem for Serbia and Kosovo is that the Western powers of the world have been against us and we may not be able to do much at the moment. That does not mean that we have to agree with what they are attempting to impose on us. We always have a right to regain what is rightfully ours - if not us, then our kids, grandchildren and even future generations. If we accept it now, then we are saying that Kosovo is lost forever. So, that is why the odds are against us at this very moment. You will never know what will happen in the future.
AG: There is also a lot of criticism – in the press - about the Serbian Government being inactive to lend a hand to their own people throughout Serbia, let alone Kosovo. Do you think that this documentary implies that the current Serbian Government have given up hope and are no longer interested in the sufferings and atrocities that Kosovo Serbs have to endure on a daily basis?
BM: I think there are elements within the Serbian Government that have given up and are trying to evade the Kosovo issue and for it not to be seen as an obstacle to Euro-Atlantic integration. At this moment, I do not think that there is much that the Serbian Government can really do. For instance, Serbia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vuk Jeremic, is doing a tremendous job in rallying international support for Serbia. He is going from country to country and at the same time, he is being repelled by Western powers. They are issuing him with official statements, stressing that he should calm down on the Kosovo rhetoric, and to relinquish the fight so to speak. This is an example where the West does not understand the Serbian mentality. Kosovo is an issue that will not go away, full stop. It is deeply embedded in our national identity and it is a part of who we are. The West expects us to fight for Kosovo for a couple of years and to give up. That is not going to happen.
Also, with the Serbian Government, there are different parties with different streams of thought and it is hard to determine whether these parties have the same hope. Even if you had the biggest Serbian patriot in charge of the Ministry of Kosovo and Metohija, he could not really do much because he is not in charge of Kosovo. The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo or EULEX – which is under the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 – is in charge, and they are allowing the Kosovo Liberation Army [KLA] authorities to do whatever they please. The rights of Serbs have been totally violated. Say, for instance, if an Albanian moves into a Serbian home, it is fine. This means that the Serbs can forcefully be removed and have to seek refuge, while EULEX stands by like nothing is happening. What can you do, one can ask himself? Who do you go to? You go to EULEX and they will say “we will process this now and hopefully have a solution within one to [who knows how many] years”. Go to the Albanian authorities and you will get denied straight away. You go to the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija in Belgrade and they are completely helpless. It is up to the international community to enforce change, but they are disinterested. If their interest was to help the people of Kosovo, they would attempt to build bridges between the Serbs and Albanians, so they can live together peacefully. They definitely would not have armed a secessionist guerrilla movement that has been described as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department back in 1998. It does not work like that. If they really wanted to help, they would not have financed this group that has connections to organised crime, the drug trade as well as organ trafficking.
If you have a good media campaign, miracles can happen. The media’s role is to mobilise public opinion. That is why I want to show the Serbian suffering of Kosovo because it has never been shown before. For example, the recent catastrophe that struck the nation of Haiti - you saw how the Haitians were suffering through the extended media coverage, and then suddenly, there was an international outcry for support. Governments, institutions and regular people donated enormous amounts of money to help out. Even though the people of Haiti lived poorly in the past, nobody really cared back then. That’s why you have the US Government forbidding cameras to film dead soldiers in Iraq and even forbidding cameras to film coffins containing American corpses. If it was shown, you would have a situation like we had during the Vietnam War. When we saw the little Vietnamese girl running away from American attacks, public opinion changed overnight. The public became completely against the war and the American government learned their lesson. That is why, in Kosovo, they never showed how the KLA were provoking Serbian civilians. They never showed how the KLA were beating up young children and the elderly, or even how Serbs were being killed.
According to a State Department report, in the village of Stimlje, the KLA were forcing and threatening Albanians to join their organisation. If Albanians refused to join, then they would be killed and even have their houses burned down. Albanians were running away as they did not want to participate in the war. It’s very easy to present it as a black and white situation. That’s how Kosovo became a very big issue in the West and that’s why this film is so important. I would like to make more films about this topic, which will mobilise public opinion in favour of what is really going on with the Serbs. We Serbs don’t have an agenda, we’re just fighting for our land and it’s as simple as that.
AG: The documentary alone highlights the truth and plight of the Serbian people currently living in Kosovo. You have asked the same recurring questions such as ‘how can this be happening in the heart of Europe in the 21st century?’, ‘why do the Serbs lack human rights and why are they living in ghettoes? Despite UN reports claiming that both Serbs and Albanians have equal rights, it is, as you say, “far from the truth”. Do you believe that this documentary can possibly overturn the decision made to support the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo? This is in reference to all the countries that supported the move.
BM: I would like to say that I am an optimistic guy but one documentary alone will probably not overturn their decision because the politicians who made the decision to recognise Kosovo’s independence really don’t know and don’t care about the reality of the ground. They have their own interest in Kosovo. The suffering of the Serbian part of the country is not part of their priority list and I think what is needed here is much more of an aggressive media campaign and this documentary is just the start. There are numerous Serbian documentaries about Kosovo and the Serbs already know about the problems surrounding the region. Nobody is focusing on producing and showing films about Kosovo throughout the Western world. By having the film in English, it would not be too complicated or in a fashion that they would not comprehend. That is what’s needed here; an aggressive media campaign aimed at showing nothing more than the truth. We’re not promoting any dishonest facts. Awareness is the first step in reigniting further discussions and negotiations in order find a solution that will satisfy both sides.
AG: How has your relationship been with the media, in terms of trying to persuade them to look at the reality of the Kosovo issue?
BM: I have a good relationship with the media, but in all honesty, it is a short documentary and more work needs to be done. The big problem is that Western media or even the big media outlets like NBC, BBC and Fox refuse to show the documentary. It would prove to be a very confusing situation for their audience because all this time they have been saying that the Serb aggressors are monstrous, genocidal maniacs and suddenly you see helpless Serbs trying to survive in a hostile environment. It’s the media’s job to tell it how is, even if it isn’t in line with what they were saying before. One of the replies that I’ve been getting is that this film is pro-Serbian and that it’s too one sided and biased towards the Serbian side. There have been so many reports, media programs that have been against the Serbs in every possible way and it’s something to be expected, but it’s important to show what is happening to the Serbs because this is a tragic story of the 21st century and I anticipate that the truth will be shown on a wider scale.
AG: How does your documentary differ from other documentaries and news stories that were done on Serbia and Kosovo?
BM: I believe it is simple in a way. It’s not too complicated to understand for somebody who has never heard about Kosovo or who has heard something about it on the news.
Those who have been following the Kosovo situation carefully in the Western media would make it really hard for them to accept what is shown in my documentary. They would have to
do some critical analysis about what really happened in Kosovo.
Although I don’t like the term, these people have been brainwashed. I doubt that these people would react to it and say it’s one-sided. Those who have a sincere interest and want to know what really happened in Kosovo, will notice that this documentary speaks to them. It explains history in a very short but understandable way. It emphasises the human aspect of it and that’s something that everyone can relate to. Everyone wants to be able to live freely in their own home and to be able to see their kids grow up. The Kosovo Serbs are fearing for their lives and this film is aimed at the Western audiences.
AG: Throughout your interviews, you have stressed that the US are “the number ONE power in the world” and they can “do what they want” and you contemn the terminology of “humanitarian intervention”, and is we all know, the US, along with the great Western Powers, are seen as the precursors to the current predicament. Do you believe that your film can reinforce politician’s and people’s attitude against the US Government, along with the West?
BM: This film does not specifically deal on why the American Government decided to act in favour of the Albanians because to do that, you have to make a whole other documentary. I wanted to show the results of the so called “Humanitarian Intervention”, where the Serbs were promised that peace and prosperity would come to Kosovo. Almost 10 years after, I ask “what is it like in Kosovo?” for the minorities, if you can even call Serbs minorities in their own country, that being the region of Kosovo. The American Government functions like a corporation. It does not go into a country and spend enormous sums of money so they can help people. They have a lot of people in America that they need to help. So, anyone who thinks that Americans like helping people in other countries around the world is not the case. They don’t understand how America functions. If they are going to invest money into something, they are going to expect a lot of money back. They had an economic interest in Kosovo that nobody ever talks about as nobody wants to know the real reason behind their occupation of Kosovo, no matter what the Albanians proclaim, it’s still under American occupation. For instance, you have camp Bondsteel, which is the second largest US base on foreign soil. It should force other Governments to realise what is really going on here because many politicians that supported the US are purely based on political points. Everyone has a slice of the cake. The real reason behind why Kosovo had to be taken away from the Serbs will be explored in my following film, called The Weight of Chains.
AG: What would your response be to critics and politicians that say you’re “biased” and that your film is nothing more than just propaganda and only based on the Serbs?
BM: I agree with them. It’s all about the Serbs because they are the only ones that are suffering in Kosovo right now. This is a film about human rights in Kosovo. Of course, I am not going to talk about the Albanians because they are not experiencing any suffering whatsoever. Those who say that my film is purely based on propaganda don’t know the reality because they believe what they were told by the Western media throughout the 1990s. The moment they hear anything different, it’s Serbian propaganda. Throughout the bombing in 1999, the Serbian media would talk about the dangers of cluster bombs and what NATO did. The Western media would react and say “it’s all Serbian propaganda”. Anything that is opposed to the Western media is considered propaganda. If anybody thinks that I have lied, that I am too pro-Serbian, and that what is happening in Kosovo is false, then I invite them to go to Kosovo to see it for themselves. It really is as simple as that. I remember, prior to the bombing, CNN reported that Serbs had 10,000 Albanians contained in a stadium in Pristina, and it was a concentration camp. When media went in, they found absolutely nothing. The ground and the grass was the same as it was for months and it goes to show that it was fabricated. By visiting Kosovo, visitors can therefore, test the accuracy of CNN and other Western footage. They can decide whether they want to believe the Western media, which has shown time after time that it’s a tool of the U.S. government, or believe what they can see for their own eyes.
AG: Apart from your upcoming documentary The Weight of Chains, do you envisage on doing more documentary work on Kosovo?
BM: Kosovo is going to be a big part of The Weight of Chains because in the film, we are
analysing the economic interests behind the breakup of Yugoslavia, and we are also analysing the geopolitical and military interest that Western powers had and of course, it would not be complete if Kosovo was not a big part of it. There is a lot of interest in Kosovo as Kosovo is a strategically important territory and it is rich with mineral resources, such as, coal, cadmium, gold, silver, zinc. It was very important to take away Kosovo from the Serbs, just like it was important to take Bosnia and to put it under international control and basically, we’re going to show that the land of the former Yugoslavia was colonised and Kosovo is perhaps the best example. Even after The Weight of Chains, the fight for Kosovo continues and it is something that requires a lot of determination from everyone. Every Serb is an ambassador of Serbia and everything you do produces an image of our country and furthers our interests. If everybody does their part, even if it’s small, it would, without a doubt, would be a much better place right now.
Sydney, March 2010
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