Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I decided to stay in Kosovo another week or two or maybe more. No one seems sure what's gonna happen. So, I'lll wait and see what happens. Meanwhile, I'm just wandering around Kosovo to make some more photos for now. There are ontinuous protests, and security got tighter here right after the protests broke out.

Albanian kids playing at the remain of Serbian houses at a village near Vushtrii.

Monday, February 18, 2008

SerbianProtest

One day after the independence, Serbians formed a large protest in the northern side of Mitrovica.










Sunday, February 17, 2008

Independence Day

It was calmer than we expected. I was in Mitrovica - mostly in the north side. Watched by a lot of KFOR soldiers, I felt sort of tense at first. But, fortunately, nothing bad happened (although there was an explosion later at a UN building...). So, i went back to Pristina after they declared independence. It didn't have the last day's excitement. People were basically walking around the street or dancing in music in the downtown area. It's a bit hard to pick a place when you have some options like -to get a better flag waving picture from more relevant day, or to be there when something bad is happening. Either way, i know indecisiveness is photographers' enemy... I'm heading again to the Northern Mitrovica where a demonstration is expected on Monday.








Saturday, February 16, 2008

Night before Kosovo Independence Day

Kosovo Albanians in Pristina already started celebration Saturday night for Kosovo independence expected to happen on Sunday. It's hard to decide where to photograph. I decided to head to Mitrovica for Sunday, where "something" may happen.










Friday, February 15, 2008

Decani Monastery

A service takes place at an ld Serbian monastery Visoki Decani Monastery in Decani, Kosovo on Feb. 14 and 15 2008. The monastery was built between 1327 and 1335 and survived many wars. The monastery is currently protected by the KFOR force after the Kosovo war. Four Serbian refugees have been staying at the monastery after the riot in Gyakova destroyed their houses on March 17, 2004.









Two more days

Xhavit Kamberi puts up a Kosovo flag in front of his shop Niti Mex in Pristina, Kosovo, on Feb. 15, 2007. Kosovo is expected to declare independence on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ashkali man Musaf Mohamed and His Family

Musaf Mohamed is an Ashkali man living in the Ashkali community by the railway station in Fusha Kosovo, 8km away from Pristina. The community is in dire poverty, and the majority of residents don't have jobs. Musaf is from one of the poorest family in the community as he has no job and lives on social welfare. He lives with his wife and four children.














Friday, February 8, 2008

Ashkali/Egyption

Ashkali and "Egyptian" community in Fusha Kosova. The description is after the pictures.




















Since the exact date of Kosovo's independence is anyone's guess, i've been trying to work on something else. Looking at the pictures, you might think it's another roma story. But, it's not. They are called Ashkali, or Egyptians. Their origin is unknown. Many of "Egyptians" claim they originated from Egypt.Some think they are related to Roma and came from Palestine root, according to some internet sources. Others say they originate from Persia. They are Muslim and speak Albanian as their first language- only Albanian unlike Roma who often speaks their language. Most of them live in Albania and Kosovo, but they are also treated poorly by Albanians and Serbians like Roma. In fact, they often live in the same neighborhood with Roma. The Kosovo war made their situation more complicated. Most Serbians left Albanians towns in Kosovo, but Ashkali, Egyptian and Roma remained in Kosovo or displaced to other parts of Kosovo. Albanians themselves have very high unemployment rate - somewhere around 60% in Kosovo. So, it gets even more difficult for them. I photographed two days so far in the Ashkali/Egyptian community in Fusha Kosova (or Kosovo Polje before the Kosovo war) only 8 km away from Pristina. The Ashkali/Egyptian formed the community around 40 years ago there, since Pristina got too expensive for them. The Kosovo war also ripped their life. Albanians have been sometimes hostile to the minorities other than Serbias because they thought the other minorites also collaborated with Serbians. They said some of them are worried about Albanians' attack against their houses. As a result, most of the residents don't have jobs and live on social welfare - around 50 euro a month. Yet, they have strong belief in Muslim, and the community appears to keep a high ethical standard. In fact, the people are very, very nice and friendly. I've met one of the most friendly, open and modest people despite their misfortune.