Kosovo 2.0, a website with interactive blogs, articles and multimedia, published in Albanian, English and Serbian, was planning to launch its new print issue at the “Kosovo 2.0 Talks Sex” event on December 14. The topics covered in it included LGBT life in Kosovo and the Balkans, dating, sex education, gender reassignment surgeries in Belgrade, and much, much more.
Unfortunately, shortly before the launch party started, a group of approximately 20 men entered the Pristina venue, destroyed the stage and beat up one of the employees. The event was cancelled. You can watch the footage of the attack here.
Kosovo 2.0 published a statement on their Facebook page after the incident:
Dear readers and friends of Kosovo 2.0:
We want to give you all an update on what happened yesterday at our launch event, and explain why the launch party was cancelled. A day before the event, we began receiving hateful and threatening messages and comments on our Facebook page. On the morning of our event, we presented the comments and messages to the Kosovo Police and officially requested the presence of the police at the Youth Center (Boro Ramizi) throughout the day. We had police officers assigned to us. At around 6pm, a group of approximately 20 men rushed in to the Youth Center’s Red Hall. The police did not react on a timely manner. As a result, the same group destroyed our stage and beat one of our employees. You can watch the footage here. We held our reading session at 7pm regardless.
After the 6pm incident, special police forces were called to the venue. At around 10:30, around half an hour before the launch party, a group of over 100 protesters approached the building, yelling epithets such as “Out pederasts!” and “Allah u akber!” Despite the police presence, we decided to be safe rather than risk the safety of our staff and guests in the building. We had to be evacuated out by the police in small groups so as not to provoke the crowd.
Our launch event agenda included a screening of two films and various interviews, a discussion with magazine contributors, and a party with music, drinking, and dancing.
Last night’s events reveal more strongly than ever the need for free and critical thought. They demonstrated how easily endangered basic human rights are in the face of religious extremism, hooliganism and narrow-mindedness. Kosovo 2.0 achieved its mission in investigating sexuality in Kosovo and across the Balkans in our Sex issue, and we believe it is a milestone of journalism in the region. We give our heartfelt thanks to our supporters and those who stayed with us until the end of the night. Rest assured that we will continue to speak out against inequality, hate, and prejudice, wherever and whenever we can.