A case in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Twelfth Story

Raif Musa and Valdete Bajrami Musa

Two additional stories: This is the twelfth story about the 1990 Reconciliation of Blood Feuds Movement. The tellers are Raif Musa and Valdete Bajrami Musa, husband and wife, information technology professionals from Ferizaj, who were activists of the Movement.

An exceptional case, I went with our current Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Rexhep Bojaj, he was the imam of the Muslim Community. His brother had killed someone from Ferizaj and I went with one of my colleagues from the Council, I went to Bosnia by car with an activist at that time, a professor from Peja … the paternal uncle of the boys, whose father had been killed, was with us to take forgiveness from the boy whose father was killed, he was living in Bosnia. Now, we had to absolutely take his consent, and then we faced the obstacles on our way to Bosnia and on our way back. We took his consent, and when we took  the consent to those in the village of Drinavc, near Kilna, they had prepared us lunch, there was professor Anton Çetta as well, there were many people from the Central Council, and they asked us for the car keys, we thought that they wanted to [move the car to] free the road. But after we left there, we decided to eat, we made an exception because of the professor, because the professor said, “Okay, let’s eat.”

The professor was  reminded on the way that when they asked us for the car keys, they might have put something in our cars, in the trunk, and when we stopped, we saw that they had put a shirt and a towel for each of us, there were five shirts and five towels in the  car, and we stopped, turned back and gave them back. We said, “We don’t want shirts, we have finished our job and we want to keep our  honor.” And of course they felt bad, “We didn’t do it…” “It doesn’t matter whether you did it or not, we don’t work in this way,” and we gave them back, you know, the burden is different. Now I can go nights talking, I know, we know that there were times when we were hungry when we went somewhere, they were baking flija and we were hungry, we would stay there for two-three hours talking, but we felt bad, or there were cases when it  was Ramadan. […]

I personally went to Bosnia together with three other people and took his consent, it was a very interesting case. How easily we found his house without having been there before! And he had two children, the person who was supposed to forgive was a man, the son of the victim was named Halil, and when we entered his house he had two rooms and a corridor, because it was built as a kennel, as a shack. Terrible conditions, he had some chickens and some cooking tools, and the Bosnian said, because his wife was Bosnian, we told her who we were, and she said, “Let’s watch television because Halil is at work,” my friend, his wife and I. I took the men with me and returned, a professor from Peja was with us, as well as [Halil’s] paternal uncle, when we returned, we told Halil the reason we were there, he started crying and hugging us, and forgave the blood. His daughter had a stereo, back then there were stereos and she played one tape and said, “Would you like to listen to Albanian [songs]?  Because my father always listens to them.” She spoke Serbian and she told us, “Do you want to ? Because my father constantly listens to these.” And she played the tape, we listened to them. And we said, “We want to leave.” She said, “No, you cannot go. You will eat first, we will eat first.” The Bosnian was touched so much that she had cooked for us as well, we ate.

When we were leaving, the old man who was with us turned his head around all the time, and he waved his hand at him, poor they. Then, on our way there  we went to Kulla, Rozhaja, Çakorr, Bjelopolje, Titograd [Podgorica], we went to Sarajevo, to that village. Then, on our way back, we went through Belgrade, we were stopped by the police in Niš, I drove there on our way  as well as on our way back. The car was registered on the professor’s name, he was sleeping, all the others but me were sleeping, because I was driving. The wife of the professor had put some cheese and food in her husband’s bag when we left, but he didn’t know. We ate food there, but the road was too long and we got hungry. We stopped in a restaurant near Belgrade, but they were listening to çetnik songs when we entered, so we couldn’t stay or ask for food, we were hungry but we put up with  it, you know how when you are hungry food is all that you can think about.

The police stopped us in Niš and he said, “Open the trunk!” I opened one of the bags in the trunk, “Open the other bag!” I opened it as well, “Get away!” I got away, he checked. They had caught a woman from Ferizaj with drugs just one hour earlier, I was the same generation as  the woman who was caught and they saw the white jar, there was cheese in it, as soon as he saw it he said, “Hm, again.” I said, “Not again!” When they came and said, “What do you have in the bag?” I didn’t know what was it, I said, “I don’t know, it is not mine, my passenger is sleeping.” And they went to wake him up. I said, “What do you have in your bag?” He didn’t know either, “I don’t know, let me check.” “No, no, you don’t dare touch it.” […] And when he opened it, there was cheese. He said in Serbian, “Cheese,” and when he opened it, there were some pickles and some other covered things, he said, “No, it’s only food.” They released us, they let us go. As soon as we separated, I mean as soon as they let us go, we stopped five meters from there, ate , we freshened up. Interesting case…