Stories from Quick Reads and Bosnia Herzegovina
POINT, the international conference on political accountability and new technologies in Sarajevo, has used its skills to aid in relief of the ongoing disaster affecting three Balkan countries – Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia. BosniaFloods.org, the first tool developed by the participants, specifically targets Bosnia, because the situation in this country was made particularly abysmal because its government structure hindered disaster coordination.
In Bosnia, the floods and landslides directly affect over 1.36 million people, about 1/4 of the population, and lack of information in English inhibits people abroad who would like to help. The multinational team congregates and translates bits of information currently spread around the web. It addresses their credibility, mindful that in Serbia and possibly elsewhere there were attempts to swindle prospective donors via false bank accounts. Money is probably the easiest kind of aid to send. The people affected also need food, clothes and medical aid that can be delivered from other European countries, as well as volunteers who could coordinate such efforts within their countries.
Anesa Kajtazovic, currently a member of the Iowa House of Representatives, was born in Bihać, Bosnia, then a part of the former Yugoslavia. Anesa and her parents and sisters fled the war-torn Balkan country in 1992 and settled in the US state of Iowa. After a few years in politics, Kajtazovic is now running for a seat in the US Congress [ba], and after kicking of her campaign in the summer of 2013, has started receiving endorsements from labor unions and celebrities alike.
It seems her past experiences as an immigrant child of parents who worked to build a future for their family in a new country is making quite the difference in her relationships with voters. Bleedingheartland.com says:
The United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 431 and 1149 decided to support Kajtazovic because “she understands better than anyone the concerns of Iowa's working families,” and “She shares the experience of arriving to Iowa as an immigrant with many of our members.”
Kajtazovic was the youngest woman ever to be elected to Iowa's state legislature and, if elected to Congress, she will be the first Bosnian-born member of Congress. She calls herself proof of the “American Dream”, but Kajtazovic, who runs an active Facebook fan page sharing both professional and some personal moments, seldom forgets that she has friends, family and support both in the US and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In the past year or two, her professional successes have become a regular fixture on Bosnian news sites, and her homeland seems to be following her career in the US with great interest and celebration.
A Sarajevo-based Boston native writes on Notes from Sarajevo Tumblr blog that “the last few days [since the Boston Marathon bombings] have served as a reminder of Bosnia’s particularly dark brand of humor”:
[...] To be sure, friends and colleagues here have been kind and considerate, asking if everyone I know is OK (they are.) But some also wasted no time joking about the situation. [...] one said, “Who would want to bomb a marathon? Must have been a smoker.” I’m not one to get prickly about a joke I can’t appreciate, and in fact I respect the instinct to use humor to cope with tragedy, but it did strike me how very badly that would go over in the States right now. [...]
Fifteen young journalists from six different countries have produced a series of personal stories about representatives of the minorities (in a broad sense) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia. The stories are available in English, German, and French on the Face the Balkans website.
Author, actor, educator, television and film director Timothy John Byford died in Belgrade on May 5, 2014, after a long illness. Born in Salisbury, England, Byford spent most of his life in Belgrade, where he moved in 1971 and later became a naturalized citizen of Serbia.
As news portal InSerbia reports:
He is best known for his children’s TV series: Neven (‘Marigold’), Babino unuče (‘Granny’s Boy’) and Poletarac (‘Fledgling’) (all for TV Belgrade) as well as Nedeljni zabavnik (‘Sunday Magazine’), ‘Musical Notebook’ and Tragom ptice Dodo (‘On the Trail of the Dodo’) (all for TV Sarajevo). ‘Fledgling’ won a Grand Prix at the Prix Jeunesse International Festival in Munich in 1980.
Byford marked the lives and childhoods of several generations in Serbia and other former Yugoslav states through his television shows and educational programs. His presence was also felt in everyday Belgrade life, where he once rallied to have Banjica Park protected because of its feathered wildlife, and the term “Byfordian accent” has for decades been a popular way of describing someone who speaks Serbian well but with a heavy English accent.
Byford was genuinely beloved by his vast audience and fellow Belgraders, which has been touchingly apparent on social networks since his passing. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and local media have been adorned with praise and gratitude to Byford and his contribution to culture and happy childhoods in Serbia and other former Yugoslav states. Enes Dinić from Serbia was among those who recounted Byford's wise words on Twitter:
"Život je avantura, ako ga živite hrabro." R.I.P. Timothy John Byford
— Enes Dinić (@eniko_neno3) May 5, 2014
"Life is an adventure, if you live it courageously." R.I.P. Timothy John Byford
— Enes Dinić (@eniko_neno3) May 5, 2014
Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, who was in this office as Croatia's second President from 2000 to 2010, recently gave an interview for Serbian weekly NIN, in which he claims to have found maps of a divided Bosnia in the presidential safe of Franjo Tudjman. BalkanInside.com quotes a portion of that interview:
“Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman had been communicating with each other during the war 1991-1995. They wanted to divide Bosnia. Tudjman even thought that the greatest world powers want to divide Bosnia as well“, said Mesic.
On January 23, 2013, an excerpt from the annual report of l'ACAT-France, A World of Torture 2013, makes a fresh assessment of the state of torture in the world [fr]:
“A report called A World of Torture in 2013, assesses torture practices that continue to be alarming, from Pakistan to Italy, by way of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Bolivia. From authoritarian regimes to democratic countries, none are exempt from criticism on the topic. In 2013, torture remains as endemic, omnipresent and multi-faceted as ever”.
GV Author Filip Stojanovski, on his blog Razvigor, has translated into English a mock story [sr] by Njuz.net, “the Serbian equivalent to The Onion,” about the UK striving to join “the Un-European Union”:
The Council of Ministers of the countries of the Un-European Union stated today in Skopje that a long road lies ahead of United Kingdom in order for it to join this international organisation. [...]
The Macedonian translation of the story is here.