Prishtina, 13 October 2021
“Today we thank Mrs. Vasfije Krasniqi for her unprecedented strength, who has continued the sacred mission of Marte Tunaj, as well as Mrs. Shyhrete Tahiri-Sylejmani, who has shared her story in the book for which we are gathered here,” said the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, at the book promotion and award “Vasfije Courage Award” ceremony, on the twenty-second anniversary of the establishment of the Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims.
He praised as important and special the book “Rape: A Story of Shame, the Diary of Survivors”, by author Wiola Rebecka, which summarizes the stories of survivors of sexual violence during the war from different parts of the world, including Kosovo.
The Prime Minister stressed the need to address the past and address the intergenerational transmission of trauma. “Considering how little we have done to address the past and deal with it, it is a kind of luxury to deal with the intergenerational transmission of trauma at this time. “If we do not start to deal with it now, it will follow and catch us after many years, again unprepared,” he said.
Survivors of sexual violence, women and men, during the recent war in Kosovo have their country on their side and will have greater support, said Prime Minister Kurti.
Full speech of Prime Minister Kurti:
Dear Mrs. Vasfije and Mrs. Shyhrete,
Dear Mrs. Kadire,
Dear Mrs. Wiola Rebecka,
Dear Mrs. Supriti Dhar,
Honorable Prosecutor of the Special Prosecution, Mrs. Drita Hajdari,
Honorable Ambassador of the United Kingdom, Mr. Nicholas Abbott,
Ladies and gentleman,
Sisters and brothers,
I would like to begin my speech by thanking you for the invitation and, of course, wishing the Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims its 22nd anniversary of establishment. There are very few organizations, centers and entities in Kosovo that address the needs of torture survivors in an interdisciplinary form as your Center does.
Working with torture survivors is by no means easy. A wide range of initiatives is needed which intertwine and manage to address a small portion of the problem.
In Kosovo, unfortunately, these initiatives and this interweaving have so far been done mainly by civil society organizations, with minimal support from the state and even minimal initiative by the state.
It is important to address the past, and the affected survivors do not care so much by whom it is addressed, yet it is vital that addressing the past be stable. Stability means solid initiatives which have a bottom-up approach, but are implemented by the competent and adequate state institutions.
I am raising these because they are very important when we talk about survivors of sexual violence, women and men, during the recent war in Kosovo. The state failed to recognize the status of civilian victims until 2014. And yet, owing to the work of filed professionals, these women and men have had continued support. Today, I want to highlight that they will have even greater support because now they have the institutions of their state on their side.
The book being promoted today is both important and special. This book brings together the expertise of the author Wiola Rebecka in the psychology of trauma and healing, with stories from around the world and from different periods of time, of survivors of sexual violence during the war, and multiple traumas and stigmatization.
We can neither imagine the horror that survivors of war sexual violence have experienced, nor the continuing suffering after war, trauma, isolation, and stigma.
Therefore, today we thank Mrs. Vasfije Krasniqi-Goodman for her unprecedented strength, who has continued the sacred mission of Marte Tunaj, as well as Mrs. Shyhrete Tahiri-Sylejmani, who has shared her story in the book for which we are gathered here.
I certainly have not been able to read the book as I don’t have it yet. However, when I was reading the author’s biography and the description of the book, something caught my eye. Describing herself, the author explicitly states: “I am the third generation of Holocaust rape survivor personally affected by transgenerational trauma.”
I consider this term “transgenerational trauma” to be extremely important, but very little researched in our country. Understandably, given how little we have done to address the past and deal with it, it is a kind of luxury to deal with the intergenerational transmission of trauma at this time as well. If we do not begin to deal with it now, it will follow and catch us after many years, again unprepared.
A few years ago I was confronted with the concept of transgenerational trauma through Philippe Sands and Jan Kizilhan, who talk about three types of traumas: individual trauma – where the abuse is felt directly by the person, collective trauma – where the abuse spreads to community members, and transgenerational trauma where past crimes are passed down through the generations. I remember Sands talking about exactly what author Rebecka talks about in the book being promoted today – the transgenerational trauma that children experience today as a result of the crimes their grandparents faced.
It is therefore extremely valuable and useful to use platforms like this, to discuss what has happened, how it has been addressed, and what is the best way to deal with such experiences in the long run.
Only by discussing directly with the affected survivors will we be able to get as close as possible to addressing their needs comprehensively.