Interview with Jeta Xharra

By The Flying Dutchman
February 20th, 2017


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“Your refusal of the world today is what will make you be somebody tomorrow.”


IPC 2017 was a huge success with phenomenal speakers, activities and workshops geared towards inspiring us in our pursuit of challenging power. The opening speaker of this year’s IPC was the acclaimed founding member of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) Jeta Xharra. Jeta shared a light moment with TFD and Lasse Midthus during an interview session organized by Diona Doli.

Jeta encouraged us all as students within the UWC movement “not to be afraid of being angry and making mistakes and start channeling that anger. Don’t think you should subdue the anger or that you grow out of it, start being comfortable with it and eventually you start getting used to it that your unacceptance of the world is what will make you be somebody tomorrow.” She therefore highlighted that it’s good to be someone who wants to make change and reiterated that you should not lose your passion. It is imperative “to start doing things where you can express your view of the world; be it writing, reading, journalism, science et cetera. Keep at it every day and at the worst situations where you feel hopeless, which is going to be most of the times. After all the road to success is not that glamorous but full of sleepless nights similar to what you experience during examinations time. The future life is full of stress so do your best and don’t lose your passion and start using your creativity.” Jeta Xharra also took some time to respond to a few questions which were centered around the theme of “challenging power” and getting to understand her perspective further.

TFD: Has there been any times in your journey when you have wanted to give up and felt like you have lost hope in humanity?

JX: There hasn’t been any time when I have wanted to give up but there’s been times when I have felt very pessimistic about humanity. There are times when I have been very upset about how lot effort gets wasted stupidity, stupid decisions and stupid people but still there is nothing else to do the next morning, to be honest. There’s nothing else to do but press on and usually when one door closes another one opens, at least that’s how it has been for me. For example, in my speech, I talked about a five year battle involving a case against a thug mayor which I lost but guess where he is now? In jail for another war crime he committed. I did not get him but somebody else did. The world turns around, so if you keep at it and not give up and keep doing what you love doing the rest does not matter. Whether you get paid for it or not, choose something you enjoy.”

TFD: What do you have to say about authoritative regimes who instill fear to maintain stability and thus repress the people from instigating change?

JX: At least in the field of information and knowledge you cannot stop people from knowing anymore. The penetration of information and knowledge is unstoppable. Dictators might appear powerful but power corrupts and power eventually gets to you in the sense that it can make you believe that you are unbeatable and that’s not true. The important thing is even in times of dictatorship people will appreciate even more finding information and getting knowledge to see the other side. I think someone who wants to give it a try will get a lot of reception from their community. It’s true they will be a lot of fear but it is likely there will also be a lot of appreciation. There is also a whole entire space of affecting change from outside of the country you live in. What I can say is the war we fought in Kosovo for liberation largely started from the diaspora as they funded the media which was outside of Kosovo because we could not have our own media. Technology therefore makes it possible for activists to make an impact even if they are inside a repressive country. That is better than nothing because that dictator still wants a good reputation and that could be affected by people who cannot speak freely in their countries.

TFD: Looking at contemporary issues, what is your take on the rise of nationalism particularly in the US and UK?

JX: Coming from a country where we look up to western Europe it is rather unimaginable to know that in my lifetime I will be seeing people who have had hundreds and hundreds years of democratic tradition, constitutional rights and rule of law end up with close minded, ignorant, racist and isolation leaders and political movements. Something that makes me feel more humble and less inferior about my country is that the people leading it had no proper education and they were oppressed yet I do not hear that racist language back home compared to Trump. This just proves to people in the developing world and in conflict areas that it is not about being wealthy. Even if you are rich and developed, tolerance is not a given thing, you have to fight for every single bit of freedom. They fought for freedom in America through Martin Luther King and now they are looking for inspiration in the 60’s America. Each one of us for our own communities and countries have to find our own role models and not think that America or the Western world will come and save us from our dictators. If you know that you should not rely on some countries to save you I think you can move on to find solutions that do not rely on the Western world resolving the developing world’s problems when they end up with such close minded and idiotic leaders that they have.

Jeta in her concluding remarks touched upon the influence of journalism citing how Trump in his first week of office said the media should shut up, through his press office. “The media talking and informing already bothers the powers.” She further touched upon UWC as movement stating that “UWC should be spread, continued and nurtured. It is the best the world can get.”



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