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Kosovo's Post-Independence Inter-Clan Conflict
Unformatted Document Text:  3 feuds. 5 Blood feuds usually end with the intervention of a third party who helps settle the “blood money” as a compensation for the first victim. Between 1990 and 1997, Anton Cetta, a retired professor from the University of Pristina, led a mass campaign for reconciliation, which improved the relationships among feuding clans in Kosovo. 6 At the beginning of the campaign in 1990, nearly 17,000 men were under threat of blood feud revenge. A ceremony of reconciliation in May 1990 at Verrat e Llukes in Decan region attracted several hundred thousand people. 7 As Anton Cetta’s says, this reconciliation campaign was difficult: “It is not easy for families required to draw blood to forgive, because for many centuries, families who did not take vengeance were considered cowards.” 8 Cetta and 500 activists from his Commission for the Forgiveness of Blood toured many villages throughout Kosovo attempting to convince clans to forgive their blood feuds. Cetta successfully resolved several hundred blood feuds. 9 Such conflict mediation was within the prescriptions of the Code of Leke Dukagjini, which allowed for feuding families to negotiate a besa, a sworn truce. 10 The Code explains that: “The besa is a kind of temporary exemption and security which the victim’s house grants the killer and his household members ensuring [a guarantee] that for some time they shall not be persecuted for the bloodshed.” 11 It is not clear whether Anton Cetta envisioned the reconciliation process to be a step towards a long-term solution to the blood feuds. The besa, in theory at least, is a short, time-bound truce. It is likely that “the need for unity in the emergency circumstances of the Serbian takeover” of Kosovo, rather than a true commitment to completely do away with the practice of blood feuds, dictated Cetta’s appeal. 12 The truce turned out to be short-lived. After the 78-day NATO bombing of 5 A dead man’s brother was usually the avenger. Blood feuds do not involve women. Each killer should be very careful to leave a mark so that the death could be identified as committed by one clan or another. Anonymous killings tended not to occur, partly because it defeated the purpose. 6 Fatos Bytyci, “Blood Feuds Revive in Unstable Kosovo,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting, BCR no. 481, 19 February 2004. 7 International Crisis Group, Kosovo after Haradinaj, Europe Report no. 163, 26 May 2005, at p. 10. 8 Bytyci, “Blood Feuds Revive in Unstable Kosovo.” 9 Jeta Xharra, “Comment: Time to End Destructive Kosovo Clan Warfare,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 20 April 2005. 10 See Brandon Doll, “The Relationship between the Clan System and Other Institutions in Northern Albania,” Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, (Volume 3, Issue 2), May 2003, at pp. 147-148. 11 Quoted in Tanya Mangalakova, The Kanun in Present-day Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2004, at p. 12. 12 International Crisis Group, Kosovo after Haradinaj, Europe Report no. 163, 26 May 2005, at p. 10.

Authors: Kaltcheva, Tzvetomira.
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3
feuds.
5
Blood feuds usually end with the intervention of a third party who helps settle the
“blood money” as a compensation for the first victim.
Between 1990 and 1997, Anton Cetta, a retired professor from the University of
Pristina, led a mass campaign for reconciliation, which improved the relationships among
feuding clans in Kosovo.
6
At the beginning of the campaign in 1990, nearly 17,000 men
were under threat of blood feud revenge. A ceremony of reconciliation in May 1990 at
Verrat e Llukes in Decan region attracted several hundred thousand people.
7
As Anton
Cetta’s says, this reconciliation campaign was difficult:
“It is not easy for families required to draw blood to forgive, because
for many centuries, families who did not take vengeance were
considered cowards
.
8
Cetta and 500 activists from his Commission for the Forgiveness of Blood toured many
villages throughout Kosovo attempting to convince clans to forgive their blood feuds.
Cetta successfully resolved several hundred blood feuds.
9
Such conflict mediation was
within the prescriptions of the Code of Leke Dukagjini, which allowed for feuding
families to negotiate a besa, a sworn truce.
10
The Code explains that:
“The besa is a kind of temporary exemption and security which the
victim’s house grants the killer and his household members ensuring
[a guarantee] that for some time they shall not be persecuted for the
bloodshed.”
11
It is not clear whether Anton Cetta envisioned the reconciliation process to be a step
towards a long-term solution to the blood feuds. The besa, in theory at least, is a short,
time-bound truce. It is likely that “the need for unity in the emergency circumstances of
the Serbian takeover”
of Kosovo, rather than a true commitment to completely do away
with the practice of blood feuds, dictated Cetta’s appeal.
12
The truce turned out to be short-lived. After the 78-day NATO bombing of
5
A dead man’s brother was usually the avenger. Blood feuds do not involve women.
Each killer should be very careful to leave a mark so that the death could be identified as
committed by one clan or another. Anonymous killings tended not to occur, partly
because it defeated the purpose.
6
Fatos Bytyci, “Blood Feuds Revive in Unstable Kosovo,” Institute for War and Peace
Reporting, BCR no. 481, 19 February 2004.
7
International Crisis Group, Kosovo after Haradinaj, Europe Report no. 163, 26 May
2005, at p. 10.
8
Bytyci, “Blood Feuds Revive in Unstable Kosovo.”
9
Jeta Xharra, “Comment: Time to End Destructive Kosovo Clan Warfare,” Institute for
War and Peace Reporting, 20 April 2005.
10
See Brandon Doll, “The Relationship between the Clan System and Other Institutions
in Northern Albania,” Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, (Volume 3, Issue 2),
May 2003, at pp. 147-148.
11
Quoted in Tanya Mangalakova, The Kanun in Present-day Albania, Kosovo and
Montenegro, International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations, Sofia,
Bulgaria, 2004, at p. 12.
12
International Crisis Group, Kosovo after Haradinaj, Europe Report no. 163, 26 May
2005, at p. 10.


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