(ED NOTE: Essay by Jasmina Tešanović, who writes as I prepare this post, "The situation is still underway -- lootings all over town are reported on my blog, and the number of the participants today in the rally might be much bigger than previously believed. I dare not go out in the streets to take photos." Image courtesy of this blog.)
The Mourning for Kosovo
9 a.m Morning, a big silence in the streets: even some schools will be closed because of the planned rally in the afternoon, 5 p.m.
Buses from all over Serbia are coming into Belgrade city. The buses and trains are free, state-organized for people to come and perform the big show with the official title "Kosovo is Serbia." This is the motto that runs constantly on national TV channels.
My friend from inner Serbia wanted to come to Belgrade in a free ride, to have a coffee with me and then go back home. But then, maybe better not to be seen around you, he said, you are a notorious Woman in Black, somebody might hurt you.
The official organizers, meaning all Serbian political parties except for the 5 percent dissidents, all claim that Belgrade has to show its real face: that of a calm dignified Serb. And what about is calm and dignified about the busted MacDonald's, burning embassies and window-broken shops with foreign names? Those are nothing compared to the loss of Kosovo, justify our high-ranked officials on almost all tv channels.
My father lives behind the Parliament, while I live next to the biggest church in the Balkans. The official rally starts in front of the Parliament where Kostunica the premier will give a public speech, and it ends with a prayer in the church. They estimate that all the streets in between will be full of people, just as crowded as Belgrade was during the toppling of Milosevic in 2000, or the Djindjic funeral in 2003. I attended those two events, it was my conscience, it was my duty. This particular rally I will omit, although I am curious and I would love to see their faces.
On the stage it will be the usual crowd, really: Serbian prominent nationalists , like the world famous film director Kusturica and the president of Bosnian Serbs Dodik maybe somewhere in the crowd. The war criminals are hiding in the massive crowds too: Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. Rumor says they are both in Belgrade now.
Before the rally began, I crossed the square in front of the Parliament. A lot of half drunk teenagers, turbofolk fans, and the sad, miserable and angry people I used to see in Milosevic rallies. It is a lovely spring day, but instead of relaxing I trembled: what if something goes wrong and massive violence bursts out? Who is responsible now for riotous damage to our lives and property? Nobody and everybody, really; Kosovo Albanian or Serbians apart, Belgrade itself is the only place at risk today.
I hear phrases on TV such as "Kosovo is the heart cut from the body of Serbia," and also lamentations about how much money was lost there, for instance in coal mines. These seem absurdly large sums for such a poor province -- who lost those investments, I wonder?
A big, nationalist, screaming speech by our prime minister. I don’t remember ever hearing Kostunica so angry, loud and pathetic, like an aging rock star, this guy who hardly ever addresses his people. He is calling various world powers bad names and condemning the fake state of Kosovo, almost publicly cursing them. And extolling the Great Serbs with their pride and honor. Now Putin is a Slavic hero. He swears oaths, uses words like life, death, Serbs, brothers, freedom, blood and all that; here in 21 century.
World famous stars are here too: Novak Djokovic the tennis player speaks like a robot on the screen, saying he will never let go of Kosovo. Emir Kusturica the film director interrupted his movie in US and came to speak live in Belgrade. The prime minister calls him a Serb -- actually Kusturica has changed his name from the rather unl-Slavic "Emir" to "Nemanja," the ancient Serbian king. The swaggering film director speaks against the local traitors and calls them "mice." The mice would be us, me, Women in Black. He says he doesn't not believe in Hollywood myth but in Kosovo myths. Why embrace myths at all? In the meantime, on my blog, which I put up to follow the news in the city: Turkish and Croatian embassies attacked, a Nike shop looted. Where are the police? They claim this is the biggest meeting ever held in Belgrade.
Close to my home, the hooligans are in some pitched conflict with the police. Should I remove my name from my own door? No; when things really get bad in Serbia, the police arrive in company with the hooligans.
The American embassy is attacked right now, 7 00pm, no police around there; the reporter sounds really afraid as he reports the smashing and burning.
The German bank in downtown Belgrade is attacked too: gosh this is like during the NATO bombings, but in reverse.
Tonight at 2 am it will be a full moon eclipse -- Earth Moon and Sun in alignment, a perfect excuse for madness.
Right now I hear that the American embassy is broken into and burning with Molotov cocktails. The TV coverage reminds me of when people looted the parliament to topple Milosevic.
The newly elected president of Serbia is right now in Rumania. He avoided this rally in the last minute, even though his party has backed up the rally.
The country may be on the verge of a state of emergency.
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Previous essays by Jasmina Tešanović on BoingBoing:
Jasmina Tešanović: Kosovo
- Christmas in Serbia
- Neonazism in Serbia
- Korea - South, not North.
- "I heard they are making a movie on her life."
- Serbia and the Flames
- Return to Srebenica
- Sagmeister in Belgrade
- Jasmina Tešanović: What About the Russians?
- Milan Martic sentenced in Hague
- Mothers of Mass Graves
- Hope for Serbia
- Stelarc in Ritopek
- Sarajevo Mon Amour
- Killing Journalists
- Jasmina Tešanović: Where Did Our History Go?
- Serbia Not Guilty of Genocide
- Carnival of Ruritania
- "Good Morning, Fascist Serbia!"
- Faking Bombings
- Dispatch from Amsterdam
- Where are your Americans now?
- Anna Politkovskaya Silenced
- Slaughter in the Monastery
- Mermaid's Trail
- A Burial in Srebenica
- Report from a concert by a Serbian war criminal
- To Hague, to Hague
- Preachers and Fascists, Out of My Panties
- Floods and Bombs
- Scorpions Trial, April 13
- The Muslim Women
- Belgrade: New Normality
- Serbia: An Underworld Journey
- Scorpions Trial, Day Three: March 15, 2006
- Scorpions Trial, Day Two: March 14, 2006
- Scorpions Trial, Day One: March 13, 2006
- The Long Goodbye
- Milosevic Arrives in Belgrade
- Slobodan Milosevic Died
- Milosevic Funeral