The director of the Museum of Genocide Victims wrote to the ambassadors regarding the restoration of Xhafer Deva’s house

Dzafer deva
FOTO: Reuters

The director of the Genocide Victims Museum, Dejan Ristic, wrote to the ambassadors of the US, Germany, Israel and Sweden, as well as to the head of the EU Delegation in the Republic of Serbia, regarding Pristina’s intent to renovate the house of Xhafer Deva, located in South Mitrovica.

Earlier last year, news broke out that the Kosovo authorities, together with the leadership of the UN and UNDP, are planning to restore Xhafer Deva’s house in South Mitrovica. According to the project, Deva’s house was set to be turned into a museum dedicated to the former Albanian interior minister during World War II.

After part of the public, as well as some international officials such as the German ambassador in Pristina, drew attention to Deva’s controversial biography, the project was suspended. UNDP expressed “regret for any unintentional offense caused when announcing the initiating of works while omitting the historical background of Xhafer Deva.” On the other hand, the Kosovo side suggested an alternative – saying that the house does not have to bear Deva’s name and emphasizing its architectural value.

The German ambassador, who emphasized that the truth about the Holocaust cannot be twisted, recalled good practices from post-war Germany in opening up cultural institutions with a clear separation from war crimes. The ambassador’s statement was met with harsh criticism of the Deva family, as well as the public and some media, including the representatives of the Kosovo government.

According to the Kosovo media reports, this very project was included in the recently voted budget of the Kosovo government for 2023.

After the Serbian Ministry of Culture reacted last week, the director of the Genocide Victims Museum, Dejan Ristic wrote to the ambassadors of the US, Germany, Israel, and Sweden today, emphasizing the possible dangerous consequences of “the extremely irresponsible decisions” of the authorities in Pristina. He called on the ambassadors to inform their governments, that is, the European Commission, about the matter.

The museum reminded that it was thanks to the decisive, clear, and historically based reaction of the Museum of Genocide Victims, published on KoSSev in February 2022, that the UNDP and the European Union suspended the restoration and conservation of Xhafer Deva’s house.

„This once again shows that the Museum enjoys a respected status in the international community established solely based on its long-term, persistent, highly professional, scientific and objective work in the field of affirming the culture of remembrance of the victims of the genocide committed against members of the Serbian, Jewish and Roma people in the territory of Yugoslavia during World War II.“

On this occasion, the museum recalled its reaction from early February last year, in connection with the fact that the planned restoration, and conversion of that building into the so-called regional center for cultural activities of Kosovska Mitrovica, within the project „Cultural Heritage as a Driver for Intercommunity Dialogue and Social Cohesion“ – raised suspicion among the non-Albanian communities of Kosovska Mitrovica in the sincerity of the mentioned project.

„In the worst case, this entire process represents an attempt to base the process of reconciliation between the Albanian and other non-Albanian communities (in this case, Serbian, Roma and Jewish) on the fact that a person whose actions during World War II were anything but the driving force of dialogue between communities and their social cohesion, was chosen as an example of harmonious, tolerant and peaceful inter-ethnic life in the area of Kosovo,“ they reiterated.

They expect that the persons in charge of this „so far unprecedented case of restoration of a building linked to a war criminal“ will suspend the planned activities that rightly cause public anxiety and concern.

Furthermore, they emphasized that the process openly glorifies one of the confirmed World War II criminals from this area.

„Due to the direct participation of Xhafer Ibrahim Deva in the preparation and execution of crimes in the territory of Kosovo during World War II against the Serbian, Roma and Jewish population, the Genocide Victims Museum considers the intention of the provisional authorities in Pristina to restore a house that is in direct connection with a war criminal, especially if those same provisional authorities really care about the dialogue between the communities of Kosovska Mitrovica and their social cohesion, as inappropriate.“

They add that Pristina’s intention is an „unacceptable“ process that necessitates public condemnation of the relevant domestic and international public, states, institutions and organizations.

„Therefore, the Genocide Victims Museum expects the relevant states and international organizations to make announcements promptly and without hesitation regarding the open revisionist, anti-civilization and undemocratic actions of the so-called provisional authorities in Pristina“.

Also, the Museum once again calls on Pristina to clearly announce – whether, by their persistent support for the glorification of war criminals, they actually want to declare that the war crimes committed against Serbs, Roma, Jews and other non-Albanians in the area of AP Kosovo during World War II were not crimes, but a desirable form of behavior in relation to members of nations and social groups who are clearly still deemed undesirable in that area?

„Such actions, essentially anti-civilizational, unacceptable in a Europe that is still healing the wounds of World War II and remembers tens of millions of innocent victims of Nazism, fascism, Ustasha, anti-Semitism, anti-Serbism and anti-Gypsyism – cause increasing concern in our country,“ they said in a statement.

The Museum of Genocide Victims states that it will continue, resolutely and solely based on scientific interpretation of historical facts, to respond to attempts to „distort the past and mobilize new hatred that would bring new and terrifying suffering to the innocent in the area.“

Preuzimanje i objavljivanje tekstova sa portala KoSSev nije dozvoljeno bez navođenja izvora. Hvala na poštovanju etike novinarske profesije.