Prishtina: Protest from balconies - a powerful city-wide poem

The clattering of pots and pans has become part of the soundtrack of the pandemic; but their story is not the same everywhere we hear it. Alert to the nuance of the Kosovar capital's culture, Gentiana Pallaska interprets the poem of protest, of past suffering, to which the citizens of Prishtina bear witness from their balconies.

In a time of a global pandemic, the sixth day of quarantine found the citizens of Kosovo drumming pots and pans from their balconies and windows in protest while fully respecting social distancing measures in place. This protest is the sound of citizens revolted by the recent political developments in the country, protesting a potential government collapse, a deepened rift between political entities which would shift the focus from the Coronavirus crisis to a political one and may potentially send the country into a government standstill in addition to the standstill caused by the pandemic.

The initiative to file a motion of no-confidence vote in the government was taken by the leader of one of the coalition partners of the new government, following the decision of the Prime Minister to fire the Interior Minister over a dispute on declaring a state of emergency in addition to the measures already taken, a move which would mean an infringement of some of the most basic human rights.

A blow to the already fractured state of mind of the population, this decision evoked a sense of solidarity between people who almost in unison aimed to challenge this political process and at the very least postpone it for a healthier time, physically and psychologically. Under the circumstances, what the country leaders did not inspire, the citizens did themselves.

Photo by Gentiana Pallaska

Through memories, emotion, and perseverance, Kosovo’s cities showed that resistance comes from the spirit of the citizens, rising and standing up for each other, for the common good, for a resistance which in turn resonates with a less than favourable time. In reminiscence, the generations that survived through the long occupation and war of 1999, accompanied the protest with tears and emotional stories of the painfully eventful 90s that bear too close a resemblance to these present days. The symbolic closeness of the manner of protesting was not lost on the people, back then afraid to leave their homes because of the persecution of Kosovars by the Serbian police, who protested from their balconies with keys and pots and pans against the regime of the time, against oppression and persecution, and in support of the Kosovar students and workers dismissed from their jobs and universities. The generations that are now the backbone of the country have lived through great loss in every imaginable way, so now we have an obligation to look back on that time and exercise the opportunity to tell our politicians what we want and become the citizens that make them reflect.

In addition to the facts, factors, and infinite fabrications online on the spreading virus, the people are in dire need of motivation, not division and a threat to the well-being of their homes. They are in need of recognition, of reassurance, and encouragement; so since that day, the cities continue to loudly protest against the government’s collapse and political crisis from their homes every evening. And resistance has again become a powerful city-wide poem that brings the citizen to the front line, and the city itself a louder-than-life irreplaceable witness.

Gentiana Pallaska, an architect from Prishtina, Kosovo, who can be found on Instagram here.

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