Here in Albania International Women’s Day is for real. Nevermind the International bit because it’s National Women’s Day anyway. A day to honour the women in your life. A day when women get together. An almost holiday.
This is the living room of the Bogujevci family. Real home furnishings, pictures and a clock on the wall, favourite books and photos, a stove and sheepskin sofa covers. Sit down, put your feet up on the coffee table, watch home movies of the small children. They’re celebrating new year, they’re dancing, they’re playing in the garden, probably just like the garden they were shot in.
In March 1999 in Podujeva in Kosova the women and children of the Bogujevci and Duriqi families were lined up against a wall and machine-gunned by Ratko Mladic’s Scorpions. The same Serbian Scorpion unit that had orchestrated the killing of 8000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica four years earlier. Fourteen women and children died. The youngest was 21 months, the oldest 72. Five children survived.
This is the family tree. Here are some clothes, watches and a bullet.
This is the hospital room in Prishtina where the children remained for eleven weeks as NATO bombed Serbia and until they were evacuated to Manchester, now their second home. The surviving children are on screen, older, thinking back to their experiences in the months following the massacre.
Then in four short films and in a distinctly Mancunian English the children as teenagers are talking about pursuing their attackers through the war crimes courts, towards justice.
Returning to Belgrade to testify against Sasa Cvjetan who got twenty years.
Then to Canada to target another of the killers, Dejan Demirovic, who struck a deal and turned state’s evidence meaning four more Scorpions were sentenced to twenty years but he walked free.
Going on to give evidence in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at The Hague.
The Bogujevci family’s pursuit of justice continues.
Today I honour my Mother, my Sister, Ermela, Eglantina and all you great women that I know.
And I honour two women, Jehona and Saranda Bogujevci, who with their brother Fatos, have created this exhibition themselves. It’s one of the best shows – and it is a show – that I’ve seen in a while.
It was an honour to meet Jehona and Saranda in Tirane last week.
They are remarkable.
BOGUJEVCI // HISTORI PAMORE was at the Galleria e Arteve in Tirane in Feb/Mar 2012, will go to Belgrade later this year and then hopefully to Manchester.
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