Dossier 23-24: Words of Flora Brovina during her Trial in Nis, Serbia

Publication Author: 
Flora Brovina
July 2001
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9 of December ‘99

On 21st January 2000, Rajko Danilovic, Flora Brovina’s defence lawyer, filed an appeal against his client’ s twelve-year sentence. The appeal hearing was scheduled for 16th May 2000. The appeal called for the Supreme Court to either acquit Mrs. Brovina, or to release her on bail pending a retrial. Grounds for the retrial include violations of the due process during the trial hearings including a breach of the Serbian Code of Civil Procedure. On 7th June 2000 the Serbian Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of Mrs. Flora Brovina and returned the case for review by the Nis District Court. The Supreme Court has recommended that she be released on bail.

The decision of the Supreme Court was the result of an appeal hearing that had taken place on 16th May 2000. Although a further decision is likely to be some time, it has been noted that the options for the Nis District Court are to either dismiss the case and order her immediate release, or to order a re-trial.

In this trial Flora Brovina, a poet and a medical doctor and a leader of the Albanian Women’s League from Pristina, Kosovo, was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment by Serbian authority for the delict of “organizing enemy and terrorist activities in the times of Martial law”.

Present on the trial were some human rights activists among whom Stasa Zajovic, Women in Black, Radmila Lazic, poet, Natasa Kandic, Humanitarian Law Fund all from Belgrade.

This is her final word:

“I dedicated my whole life to children and children do not choose their ethnicity, children do not know what ethnicity they are if their parents do not tell them. With my patients, I have never divided them according to their ethnicity, according to religion or the ideological choice of their parents. I feel proud because of this and even if I was not an Albanian I would have done the same thing. I am one of the persons most involved in humanitarian work in Kosovo; I have sacrificed my health in order to help women and children. If I were free, I would have had much work, I would help those that are suffering more now; now it is not Albanians that are suffering the most in Kosovo, now it is others, and I would work with all my strength in order to help them, Serb, Roma people.

My duty has been to dedicate myself also as a woman, as a doctor, as a poet to the emancipation of the Albanian woman, to her consciousness, to women’s human rights, to help them fight for their freedom, to understand that without independence economics cannot succeed nor can freedom. In the League for Albanian Women, I have created bridges of friendship in the country and in the whole world. We have cooperated the most with Serbian women. Serbian women have given me the strongest support, perhaps they knew our problems best, and they have presented our problems best. The Albanian women of Kosovo should never forget this.

I am very sorry that the court underestimates the role of women in the world. It is very important that women enjoy the same equality as men. I will never renounce the right to fight for the rights of women. I will always fight for women’s rights. What the court has accused me of having fought for the secession of Kosovo and the annexation of Albania, I repeat: My country is where my friends are and where my poems are read. My poems are read in Switzerland, India, Brazil, Poland, in each of these countries it is as if I am in their own house. My poems have been published in the Encyclopaedia of Poets of Yugoslavia (ex-Yugoslavia) and it is something very important for Albanian women.

The Albanian community has never behaved in this manner with their neighbors, women, and children. Right now in Kosovo, they have gone back to revenge at the end of the twentieth century. I am very sorry for not being free, for being in jail, for not being able to influence more what is happening now in Kosovo, for not being able to do more to lend a hand, to help those that are expelled, displaced. I believe that they will do it as if I were with them; I hope that they will make it because they are women, I hope that they behave in a just manner. I would do anything for them so that they could return to their houses, I would do anything so that the Serbian community and the Albanians reconcile. The intellectuals of Kosovo should give their support to reconciliation, other communities have also fought, they have made even larger wars between each other and now they have reconciled.”

Flora left the court walking slowly; the police showed with harsh and arrogant words to the family and friends of Flora that they were not permitted to have any contact with her. Flora’s two sisters that arrived from Kosovo, the poet Radmila Lazic, and I went to accompany Flora up to the police car. For a moment, we succeeded in putting the palms of our hands on the window of the police car. At that moment one of the policemen said with an insolent voice, “She’s in safe hands. . .” Two policemen were in the front seat of the vehicle. Before my eyes surged imprisoned women: Leyla Zana, Kurdish, imprisoned in Turkey, Rigoberta Menchu, Aung Sun Ki. . . We waved goodbye to Flora until the police vehicle was gone, while we could see it. I was in a state of “black shame,” as Ana Ahmatova says, because each one of us could have been on her place.