Open letter to Minister of Labor and Social Welfare – ACT I

This open letter is a response to the Minister of Health and Labor, Arban Abrashi, and the Government of Kosovo regarding their failure to deal with the Albanian female war victims over the past seventeen years.



During the Second World War the well-known Norwegian author Arnulf Øverland (1889-1968) wrote what would probably become his most known poem “Dare not to sleep!” part of which goes like this:

“You oughtn’t abide, sitting calm in your home
Saying: Dismal it is, poor they are, and alone
You cannot permit it! You dare not, at all.
Accepting that outrage on all else may fall!
I cry with the final gasps of my breath:
You dare not repose, nor stand and forget.”

The quote above can apply to the situation that the sexually abused female war victims face today. Seventeen years have passed since the end of the war and nothing tangible has been done for the registered group of female war victims. Due to the patriarchal society they live in and the dehumanized attitude towards them, the sexually abused female victims of the war have been treated in a degrading manner. Fully aware of this, the politicians have done next to nothing since the war ended to bring forth economical relief for these women and their children.

The case.
Minister Arban Abrashi has been continuing in the same manner as his predecessors in former governments in the past seventeen years by arranging meeting with NGO’s where the agenda seems to be the continuous postponement of any tangible and immediate action that would benefit the female victims of the war of 1998-99. These victims suffer additional pain inflicted upon them by the ignorant and indifferent behaviour of the politicians and the government.

This total lack of equal rights for women over the last seventeen years seems to continue, while politicians themselves have benefitted from the help of Western countries who made it possible for them to possess high positions in society. One of the conditions for occupying these positions is the implication of equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender. They seem to have ignored their duty towards the female war victims while providing help for the male victims. This kind of discrimination is both outrageous and disgusting. Equality for women seems to be absent from Kosovo. The idea of appointing yet another new commission for the cases of the raped female victims of the war will in fact be just a new form molestation for them. The group of 423 women have already been interviewed and examined by doctors and hospitals. This information is still valid, therefore there is no need for adding further misery to these women.

Immediate solution needed.
I have earlier recommended an immediate interim war pension of €500 per month until the politicians find time to make a decision about the weakest of the war victims. If some politicians should think that this amount is too much, I can assure them that it isn’t. Not only were these women raped during the conflict they were also exposed to other forms of criminal war crimes, and for this reason the government of Kosovo can and should claim economical compensation on their behalf and thus get payback for war pension that should have been implemented.
Up to now the politicians have shown a frightening lack of political and practical skill on behalf of the people they serve.

Responsibility to act.
As long as there is breath in my body my intention is to pursue both you, Minister Arban Abrashi and the government until you will have brought justice to these female war victims. As you all know I have spent the last fifteen years of my life to help Kosovo’s population by documenting the war crimes committed during the war both visually and in written form. Nowadays I’m educating the Serbian population, especially the younger generation, regarding the events that occurred in 1998-99 in Kosovo and the urgent need to find the still missing people from the war. There are families in both Kosovo and Serbia that still miss their loved ones.

Josef Martinsen