On the 30th of August, 2022, forumZFD program in Kosovo in cooperation with Missing Persons Resource Center, promoted the book titled “Hijacked childhoods: accounts of children’s wartime experiences”.
The event opened with the screening of the music/video intervention dedicated to the wartime missing, titled ‘The Vanished’, a collaboration of music, film, and civil society professionals as a joint effort to remember, recognize and honor the families of missing persons. This intervention is made by placing in the center the poem "The Vanished" by Hans Magnus Enzenberger which talks about human forgetfulness, the forgotten, their lives and deeds, and the disappearances in violent conditions.
The evening continued with opening remarks by Mr. Bajram Qerkini, executive director of Missing Persons Resource Center, and Mr. Nehari Sharri, forumZFD Kosovo Country Director who spoke about the importance of documentation work, symbolic reparations, and the communal process of remembering and commemorating the pain, loss, and trauma by spotlighting experiences of affected children in war, enabling a broader memorial perspective about the last war in Kosovo.
The promotion of the book started with the panel discussion titled 'Kosovo Children: Silenced histories of war’, with panelists:
- MA. Nora Ahmetaj, Human Rights and Restorative Justice Researcher, Activist and Feminist;
- Dr. Mimoza Shahini, a specialist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and lecturer in college AAB and the University of Prishtina;
- Korab Krasniqi, forumZFD Kosovo
and moderated by Dr. Linda Gusia, a Sociologist and professor at the University of Prishtina.
The discussion circled around the textuality, reading, and interpretation of accounts presented in the book “Hijacked childhoods: accounts of children’s wartime experiences”, and what societies and actors involved in transitional justice work can learn and take from it. Panelists shifted the discussion between the documentation work, ethics and positionality, representation, agency, PTSD localities in society, and how the collective is coping with it.
‘Childhood hijacked: accounts of children’s wartime experiences’ is a book that explores the sacrifice and human resistance for survival and the resilience to keep going with life. Accounts showcased in the book help build up ideas about children and childhood, and their experiences in war, and reveal cultural spaces that nurture and transfer narratives - placing them at the heart of the spaces of ‘struggle’ to acknowledge individuals and groups affected by the war.
Memories of children and for children at war provide a space where the diversity of experiences becomes visible and tangible for a broad popular audience and a source to inform public discussions about the institutional architecture for rehabilitation, acknowledgment, compensation, and memorialization. Through exploring oral histories, “Hijacked Childhoods” seeks to pluralize official history and include accounts of children’s wartime experiences into the collective memory, as a way to facilitate addressing the systemic silence and generalizations in the history of the last war in Kosovo.
‘Childhoods Hijacked’ was published in partnership between forumZFD Kosovo program and Missing Persons Resource Centre, supported by funds received from the German Federal Ministry on Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Swiss Embassy in Kosovo.