Petar Ivić (interviewer)
Zoran Ilic (interviewee)
Acronyms: PI= Petar Ivić, ZI= Zoran Ilic
PI: Can we get started?!
ZI: Let’s do it.
PI: Here is the first question, can you introduce yourself, so briefly, who are you?
ZI: My name is Zoran Ilić, my wife Katarina, my son Mihajlo who is 5 years old now, Ilija is one year and seven months old, and the baby Helena who is nine months old as of yesterday.
PI: Good. What do you remember before the war, how can you, I think, what do you remember and how did you experience it, that feeling?
ZI: Yes, before the war, the childhood was as, I was born in old Gracka, Lipjan municipality. Everything there was wonderful, childhood, my mother and grandmother. My father died early, at age 29, of leukemia, and then we lived with my grandmother and my mother.
PI: It means you lived in Lipjan.
ZI: Yes, in old Gracka.
PI: How long did you live there?
ZI: Yes, we lived there a long time ago.
PI: So, you had a house there?
ZI: Yes, Grandma had a house there. It was her home and then, because of my father, they had to go to Serbia for a while because the leukemia was not treated there and they had to go to Canada to be cured, to Germany, because there was no treatment then, and then my father passed away.
PI: Good. Tell me, if you can you briefly describe the period before the start of the war?
ZI: Yes, I was small, so I was not that much there, Katarina was more there, can I talk about her?
PI: Yes, yes.
ZI: She was from Prishtina, her father from Prishtina.
PI: Katarina is your mother?
ZI: No, Katarina is my wife. She is from Kosovo and they moved to Serbia, even there in Serbia they wandered around Belgrade, the children lived there and then returned here. Here they stayed in containers; they were there for four years. And here also as now, four years since we staying in containers, and then I went to Sweden for a better life, to seek asylum …
PI: That was when, in what period??
ZI: This was in 2008.
PI: Tell me about the period 1998-1999, you were?
ZI: Yes, we went to Serbia.
PI: So, you were in Serbia, yes?
ZI: Yes, we went to Serbia. We did not want to experience the war; we did not want to take part in the war and…
PI: It means you went before the war?
ZI: Yes, before the war, the war started and…
PI: Good. Tell me, what pressures did you experience then, to leave the house in which you lived?
ZI: Yes, we had to, better to leave than have something happen to us as it happened in old Gracka, you know.
PI: Describe it.
ZI: Yes, what happened in the fields, the ones that were killed. I think we had run away before it happened, it happened a little later but we saw it and we did not want to, we were saved when we left, and then I sought a better life in Sweden. I went to Sweden in 2008. First to Germany then to Sweden then to Denmark and Norway, then back to Sweden. I was in the asylum for 2 years, then illegally for 6 years, and finally, they sent me back to Kosovo, promised me everything and that Sweden will help me here, as you can see helped me with nothing. I came back myself and I was entitled to 3,500 Euros which I never took. Then I went to “Don Bosko ” to school, and rejected in Prishtina, the school was where the Albanians went to, and then I found Zakolli, a basketball player, a wonderful Albanian man who helped me to go back to school again. I went to school for some 20 days or so and I have received a certificate, I got a diploma but not the money. There were Roma people there, there were Albanians, they passed first, I was the only one Serb, a minority, and I did not pass but at least I got the diploma. After that, I wrote four business plans. I wrote here near the milling machine container. I did not pass, then in Llapllasella I wrote and there I did not pass, there are a total of six business plans, meaning these six business plans. I came here to the container and notified Katarina. One child was born, then the other one, this one is from her first marriage …
PI: Tell me, the house you used to live in, before the war, in old Gracka, what happened to it?
ZI: It was sold by my grandmother, my grandmother sold it. And then we lived in flats, and I came back here to flats and then I had no money anymore. I had no income, and I had to go to the container and then we came here to the container, and since we came here to the container the hell started. What hell?! We are attacked by bugs which are here, various ones, they bite people and animals, they suck your blood. I have the pictures as an argument, I have them all. I also appeared on television, telling how they bite my child, like me. It doesn’t matter for me and my wife but for Ilija and Mihajlo and Helena. Then we left from that container, which I had built there. Even my window was broken and the Serbian authorities from a Serbian Municipality of Prishtina helped us the least. So they made a selection here for eight of those who receive food, and one has fled for a year to Serbia because of prison, and now he is back, and they have put him back for food, and my three children and three of Luba , six children, have no food, we have no food here.
PI: Tell me, is there any initiative to solve your problem once for all?
ZI: The only long-term solution, in which we believe, is Srđan Popovic, this is the municipality of Kosovo, which, we hope, will give us that apartment. They offered us a house in 2016 if I had a plot, I did not have it and they could not build it for me. If I had the money, I would have bought the plot, of course, to build my house. We hope that we will get this apartment here in Gracanica, and if we do not get it, then I will go in front of the television and publicly leave Kosovo. And I want to say that here in Gracanica, both Albanians and Serbs, our Serbs, are joking with us. Which Serbs?! I want to say about the boss, Dragan Velić, and I appeal to everyone to listen and know. Dragan Velić is the main one for our containers, and he has been here four times in four years, twice disinfected the containers and twice came, the money came to build the toilet, which was never built. I had an accident here when drug addicts hit me on the head with a hammer, my wife was in the eighth month of pregnancy and I was in Gracanica and Pristina, I was in Labllasella and I still do not have money to go to magnetic resonance to see if I have any hematoma on the head, even though for whole nights I cannot sleep from that stroke, total chaos. There they broke our windows, the Serbian municipality of Prishtina did not want to buy me Tetanus, and it was the Kosovar municipality that helped me with everything. Still, it happens that they also give packages, food, because Dragan Velić gives food to everyone who lives here. At the moment there are thirteen of us who are regular, living here with children, and to say another eight, so twenty-one, the others go to Serbia and work, and here they just live. And we twenty-one are regular. I appeal that this here is the worst place in Kosovo, Gracanica. It can’t be worse?! It is the most inhuman place, unclean, there are infections, so I cannot describe it, here are the containers from twenty or thirty years, which are full of faeces. Here you saw how the bathrooms are. I believe you have seen that we do not have a shower where to clean. So, I fix the electricity myself, the water myself, here I have made a hallway so that the children, so that it does not snow, up to half of the container and the water entered the container, we have nowhere to live. We five live in 10 square meters, you can see for yourself. So, the children are playing here in this half meter, here Mihajlo has hit the table, he was sewn with two threads, he has hit the table with his head. So, the kids have nowhere to play, I dare not let them out because there are mice and big mice, during the summer there are snakes, there are lizards. Lolita, Spasić, was bitten by a snake two years ago, no one believes that, and I sent them all the photos as evidence, I stand behind every photo I took, there is no television. The roof of the municipality also fell and pierced the container, my child was injured, if it had not been for this rod and this, I think this container, the whole thing has cracked, the whole roof of the building has fallen on us. All that stress, our pain, and screams, we thought that two bombs fell on us, so only the roof fell and it fell on the entire container. This was Biljana’s container, we were on TV and everything, nobody asks about our stress, nobody answers anything, and we still live. Even for that blow, they fled, they hit me with a hammer on the head, it was classified as attempted murder. … I mean here come donations, big donations come, but some get rich. Let me start with the mother of Ninth Jugović’s who never helped us from the monastery, it happens that they give to people who do not enter the monastery, and we go three times, we baptized the children there and all, but they do not pay attention to us. Now Gujon sent last week, we are not even asked here. Arno Gujon is from France, who sent a convoy of trucks to the monastery, I tell them to bring something, the packages must come, the children do not receive anything. What we get is only from Srđan Popović when he brings one-time help, so he helps us. Actually, last year I begged him for a pig, he brought it to us, we all got a plate for Christmas. Both Roma and Muslims live here, we all live together, just everyone has their own life, but it is an injustice by Dragan Velić who gets paid, I think he gets rich in the account of all of us and it is in his favor that we do not we get flats and get homes. UNHCR and KFOR came here, then we were in Pristina, we went 200 people. They promised us all. I just said, give us food because we live on social assistance, we need pampers for two children, then we needed for three, now for two. So, we cannot afford to buy with that money, we owe money to the stores and some of them allow us to borrow and some do not, and we live from month to month. We live here in containers just to survive and eat, but I appeal to everyone that it is better to live in prison and that the conditions are better there than here, because there are old, sick people here, There are those who have even lost the mind, there are two houses, up and down, that have everything and we just look at them. Containers have been burned here; everything has happened. There are drug addicts here and the children should be removed and I should not let them play. Here I will show you all the containers that we have cleaned well, that we were not infected, and I want to appeal to Dragan Velić who keeps the whole of Kosovo, and takes everything, but does not bring us and our children. Ljuba has three children and you have seen how many bugs there are and she still lives like that. I mean, the biggest problem here is that through us they get everything from both Serbia and the world.…
PI: Yes, and that help is not felt here.
ZI: Yes, it is not felt here. As for the Serbian municipality, we are here, just like we do not exist. They, too, should be helped, but those who have houses take cows and goats. Now a man has received a house, received humanitarian aid as refugees from Kosovo and has no connection with Gracanica. People have, Serbs from here, have houses in Serbia and get houses here. So, believe me here, here in Labllasella social cases have taken like this, while parked cars are valued no less than 10,000 euros, and all social cases. We are here social cases, starting from Turbo, Goran, me, Tanja, from Moma and Veki, from Violeta and all of us, we are here the worst and we live in the worst conditions in all of Kosovo. I appeal to everyone to come to be proven, to see that we do not lie, to see how we live, and from what we live and whether someone helps us or not. Behold, in this second wave of the Corona, in the first they have come, helped with some masks and gloves, and brought something. Now nobody anything, I do not know what this is. Maybe in this wave, they have taken over the people with houses, to help them, well they should be helped, but also us who are in a very bad condition, even the mother of the Ninth Jugović’s goes through Svetlana.. Svetlana feeds 2000 per day, every day there is SMS help for Kosovo, help for Kosovo. And not even a kilometer from Gracanica, we have no help. Why we do not get any food? so they are people and my children and Luba’s children are not? We are not people? I don’t understand this. I want them to explain to me why we do not get. If they are internally displaced persons, we are returnees, he from Germany, the other from Sweden, one from Prishtina, the one from Gjakova, so we are all the same. I have crossed the world, in migration they are all the same, I do not know what is the difference between them and us.
PI: Ok. You said that, therefore, during the war you fled to the west?
ZI: No, in Serbia. First in Serbia then to the west.
PI: First in Serbia. Tell me where in Serbia?
ZI: In Serbia I fled to Kragujevac, Kragujevac district, then I saw that there was nothing there, and then I tried the world to achieve something, and I was there for eight years and I did not win the papers and they sent me back to Kosovo.
PI: Ok. In relation to everything, I think this was all.
ZI: I want to say that we here …
PI: You want to add something?
ZI: Yes. I think that most of us here, I appeal, that we need food, and then we need hygiene and those in charge who receive salaries to take all these into account. So, our municipality of Kosovo, which means that Dragan Velić who is there, Boban, was Tomica, now someone else new in the Municipality, to come and visit us, to ask where the problem is, and not just to bring food for some and we the rest to look at them, I still do not understand. OK, who works, who is in the firm, maybe they should not bring them, but we do not work, we are social cases, and many of us, like myself, Violeta, Rambo, Mamo, and an old woman over there.