Art and Activism: Speaking Out on Sexual Violence During the War in Kosovo
March 23, 2016
On June 12, 2015, artist Alketa Xhafa Mripa displayed five thousand dresses in the soccer stadium of Pristina, Kosovo in an installation entitled “Thinking of You”, to honor the survivors of sexual violence during the 1998-99 war, break the silence, and shed light on these brutal crimes, largely ignored since the war. The art installation, “Thinking of You,” was made possible by the survivors, activists and other women who donated dresses, and was sponsored by President Atifete Jahjaga. The documentary The Making of #MendojPërTy/ #ThinkingOfYou, produced by Anna Di Lellio and Fitim Shala, is the story of how art and activism can change the culture of isolation, resignation and shame that surrounds wartime sexual violence. The Embassy of Kosovo to the United States, the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, and NYU Washington, DC presented a very special documentary screening and discussion with Her Excellency Atifete Jahjaga, President of the Republic of Kosovo, Vlora Çitaku, Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to the United States, and producer Anna Di Lellio.
President Atifete Jahjaga, The Republic of Kosovo
President Atifete Jahjaga was elected as President of the Republic of Kosovo in 2011. President Jahjaga joined the Kosovo police force when it was established in 2000, and served in key positions in the implementation of law and order, until she was appointed in 2009 as Deputy General Director of the Police, a post she held until her election in 2011. In addition to a degree in the Faculty of Law of the University of Prishtina, President Jahjaga also holds two professional certificates related to justice and police management (University of Leicester, UK and U). She has participated in professional research programs at the George Marshall Center in Germany, the FBI’s National Academy and at the US Department of Justice.
Ambassador Vlora Çitaku, Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to the United States
Ambassador Vlora Çitaku has served as Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to the United States since August of 2015. She formerly served as Consul General of Kosovo in New York. Before joining Kosovo's diplomacy, Ambassador Çitaku served as Minister for European integration of the Republic of Kosovo. She was noted as one of the most successful ministers of the 2011-2014 Kosovo government. She relinquished her MP seat in the Kosovo Assembly upon taking the governmental position, which she won as one of the top three most voted candidates. Ambassador Çitaku was a refugee during the Kosovo War and has been involved with politics since 1999. She states that she has overcome the stereotypes in politics that one must be old and a man.
Anna Di Lellio, Professor, Politics, International Relations, NYU; Professor, Graduate Program, The New School for Public Engagement
Anna Di Lellio is a Professor of Politics at the International Relations Program of New York University, and at the Graduate Program in International Relations of The New School for Public Engagement. Her research and publications focus on Kosovo, where she taught journalism and worked as an officer of the United Nations-led international administration. She is the author of several academic journals and the book, The Battle of Kosovo 1389: An Albanian Epic. In 2015, she received the Presidential Medal of Merits (Kosovo) for her contributions to freedom of speech and the diversification of opinions. She is the co-founder of the Kosovo Oral History Initiative. Di Lellio holds a PhD in Sociology from Columbia University and a MPP from New York University.