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PETER LIPPMAN - Reports from Kosovo and Bosnia



US human rights activist Peter Lippman is a reliable and knowledgeable source for information on the Balkans. He has traveled, worked, and lived in the former Yugoslavia extensively since 1981. Speaking fluent Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, Peter has traveled to all parts of the region as a translator, observer, journalist, and aid worker, and he has written about the politics, events, and culture of the western Balkans. His book on life in postwar Bosnia was published in Fall 2019. His love for all the Balkan peoples shows through his writing.

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Surviving the Peace: The Struggle for Postwar Recovery in Bosnia-Herzegovina, by Peter Lippman

What reviewers have said:

Surviving the Peace is a monumental feat of ground-level reporting describing two decades of postwar life in Bosnia, specifically among those fighting for refugee rights of return. Unique in its breadth and profoundly humanitarian in its focus, Surviving the Peace situates digestible explanations of the region's bewilderingly complex recent history among interviews, conversations, and tableaus from the lives of everyday Bosnians attempting to make sense of what passes for normal in a postwar society.

Essential reading for students of the former Yugoslavia and anyone interested in postwar or post-genocide studies, Surviving the Peace is an instant classic of long-form reporting, an impossible accomplishment without a lifetime of dedication to a place and people. (Vanderbilt University Press, 2019)

Marko Attila Hoare (August 2020):
It is the work of an activist with a genuine love for Bosnia who has been researching the country for over twenty years, involving a level of fieldwork that very few, if any, foreigners can match...

Nela Porobić Isaković (October 2020):
Weaving together personal stories of ordinary people with those of official politics of national and international actors, the author gives us a unique and skilful insight into a segment of Bosnia’s (unfinished) post-war recovery process.

Valery Perry, Democratic Policy Council (July 2021):
Tilting at Windmills? Bottom-Up Individuals Trying to Undo the Damage of Top-Down Politics
Reading Lippman’s book is a reminder that from the bottom up, Bosnia and Herzegovina has always been more than the sum of its parts, while the top down calculus inevitably results in a diminution of all.

Parts of the book's final chapter, "Atrocity Revision," are read aloud by Bill Weinberg of CounterVortex.

Check out Peter's blog about Bosnia-Herzegovina.

  • September 2021 Bosnia Journals

Journal #1: Returning to Bosnia with books; Protests; Population count; Vesna
Journal #2: Inzko's laws; "Hospice care"; Activism vs. emigration
Journal #3: Pandemic; Mostar and corruption; Emptying Kozarac
Journal #4: Visiting Kevljani; Talks with Ervin; Mom
Journal #5: Folie à Deux; Zulfo

  • Summer-Fall 2019 Bosnia-Herzegovina Reports

               Report #1: Why Bosnia; Exodus; protests; Scandal.
               Report #2: Impunity, manipulation, activism.
               Report #3: Aluminij conglomerate; Corruption at Gikil.
               Report #4: Political charades; militarization of police.
               Report #5: Pride in Sarajevo
               Report #6: Travails of the migrants stuck in Bosnia

  • Summer 2018 Bosnia-Herzegovina Reports

Report 1: Anger, activism, exodus
Report 2: Srebrenica
Report 3: Kozarac and Prijedor
Report 4
Chicanery in the RS, Activism in Banja Luka
Report 5: Elections and stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Report 6: Migrants, environmental wreckage, sports

  • Fall 2015 Bosnia-Herzegovina Reports

Report 1:  Introduction/overview, Sarajevo, activism.
Report 2
Immiseration and resignation.  Prospects for activism.
Report 3:  Prijedor. 
Report 4:  Dodik's referendum, Dodik's corruption.
Report 5:  Srebrenica. 
Report 6:  Tuzla, Mostar, and activism.
Report 7
The wave of refugees coming into Europe.

  • Summer 2013 Bosnia-Herzegovina Reports

 1 Kosovo mid-July
 2  Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina mid-July
 3  Sarajevo, continued July
 4  Tuzla  July
 5  Mostar July
 6  Srebrenica August
 7  Srebrenica, continued August
Prijedor and vicinity August
9 Prijedor and vicinity, part 2 August
10 Tomašica December

  • Fall 2012 Bosnia-Herzegovina Journals

1 Sarajevo September 25
2 Tuzla October 11
3 Srebrenica October 13
4 Bratunac, Višegrad, Elections October 26
5 Krajina: Banja Luka November 6
6 Krajina: Kozarac, Prijedor November 12
7 Guilt, Responsibility, and politics November 20
8 Travnik, Mostar, Animal Farm December 13
9 Activism in Sarajevo, Return to Srebrenica, Prijedor Revisited December 19
10 Krila Nade; The Missing; Tycoon Arrested; March 1st Coalition December 26 [Also published by the Bosnian Institute.]
11 Macedonia and Kosovo January 2, 2013
12 The Roma of Kosovo January 11, 2013
13 A Visit to Germany January 29, 2013

See also A Walk Through Banja Luka, article by Peter Lippman in The Global Player, a Vienna street newspaper, November 2012

1. Kozarac, Prijedor June 2
Banja Luka, Doboj, Tuzla June 5
3. Bijeljina
June 16
4. Srebrenica and Bratunac June 18
5. Visegrad June 25
6. Roses and Walnuts June 28
7. Sarajevo and Travnik July 7
8. Srebrenica July 25
9. Herzegovina and wrap-up August 12

Published articles from 2010 visit

Razglednica iz Srebrenice – Peter i „Kuća povjerenja“ - interview with Peter Lippman in the German publication Deutsche Welle, June 16, 2010 (in Bosnian)
Peter Lippman, Amerikanac iz Seattlea, pisac je, muzičar, slobodni novinar, borac za ljudska prava i – zaljubljenik u BiH. Negdje, u tananim predjelima njegove duše, na posebnom su mjestu Srebrenica i njeni ljudi.

Blogs published at Balkan Insight:

Bosnia’s many histories make me dizzy June 7, 2010

Hope for Change in Bosnia? June 24, 2010

Journal 1: Sarajevo and Bosnia, early September
Journal 2: Sarajevo and Bosnia, early September (continued)
Journal 3: Srebrenica, September
Srebrenica memorial photos
Journal 4: Bratunac, September
Journal 5: End of the Queer Festival, late September
Journal 6: Tuzla, early October
Journal 7: Kozluk & Bijeljina, October
Journal 8: Prijedor and Kozarac, mid-October
Journal 9: Stolac and Mostar, October
Journal 10:
Elections wrap up; more crime and scandals; politics, late October

  • openDemocracy Articles:

Refugees return to Kozarac in Bosnia to rebuild community A review of Re-making Kozarac: Agency, Reconciliation, and Contested Return, by Sebina Sivac-Bryant, which tells the story of return and recovery in ethnically-cleansed Kozarac. October 14, 2016

Bosnia: blood, honey, and war's legacy Review of the film In the Land of Blood and Honey, directed by the actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie. openDemocracy, February 7, 2012

Bosnia’s politics of paralysis Bosnia’s tenth election since the end of the war of 1992-95 highlights the damaging influence of a post-war settlement that institutionalises ethnic politics. openDemocracy, October 19, 2010

Srebrenica, fifteen years on The dignified commemorations of the massacre of Bosnian Muslims in July 2005 retain their integrity and human core, even as the leaders of a divided Bosnia seek to channel the grief into political pageantry. openDemocracy, July 15, 2010

Visegrad, memory and justice The survivors of a terrible but neglected atrocity in a historic Bosnian town continue to campaign for remembrance and accountability. Peter Lippman joins them on their return to the site. openDemocracy, June 17, 2010

Bosnian voice, Yugoslavian memory
The sense of justice and consistency of principle of the Bosnian activist Mladen Grahovac should be a reference-point for those attempting to repair a fragmented country. openDemocracy, February 15, 2010

Crisis and Reform: a turnaround in Bosnia?
Between October and December 2007, Bosnia has experienced a startling roller-coaster of events. A governmental crisis that sparked fears of war led to a completely unexpected rapprochement among bitterly divided nationalist parties. But the underlying problems that caused the turmoil are far from overcome. openDemocracy, December 18, 2007

Kosovo: approaching independence or chaos?
Serbs endorsement of a constitution reaffirming sovereignty over Kosovo casts a further shadow over the "final status" of the contested territory. Peter Lippman, recently in Pristina, maps one of Europe's most intractable disputes. openDemocracy, October 30, 2006

Srebrenica’s search for justice
The discovery of a mass grave in August 2006 near Zvornik in eastern Bosnia containing the remains of 1,150 Bosnian victims of the Srebrenica massacre is only the most recent evidence of the scale of the atrocity perpetrated in and around the town in the days after July 11, 1995. openDemocracy, August 24, 2006

  • Articles in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Bosnian National Elections to Take Place Amid Flood Damage, Political Indifference Bosnia-Herzegovina will be holding national elections, this time set for Oct. 12. After a year of political upheaval and devastating floods, the question is whether the upcoming contest can bring desperately needed change. October 2014

Protests in Republika Srpska, as Federation Plenums Fill Political Vacuum The present round of Bosnian activism, which began dramatically in February, continues at a more steady tempo. After thousands of people filled the streets with protests—and some violence—for several weeks in dozens of towns in the predominantly Muslim-controlled parts of the country, by mid-March it looked like the movement was losing momentum. However, while ongoing demonstrations have shrunk or ceased altogether, the plenums that were formed early on have gotten a new wind and emerged as a new forum for social discourse and political engagement. Meanwhile, after several weeks which saw only a couple of minor solidarity demonstrations in the Republika Srpska (RS)—one of two “entities” formed after the 1992-1995 Bosnian war—unrest broke out in the RS capital, Banja Luka. June/July 2014

Bosnia-Hercegovina Protests Are a Response to Post-War Corruption and Impoverishment For 18 post-war years, Bosnia-Herzegovina has progressively sunk into economic wreckage within the framework of the "Dayton straitjacket" that has encouraged pervasive corruption and the enrichment of an ethno-nationalist elite. With massive unemployment, paltry pensions, a high cost of living, and chaos in government, one might well ask why it took so long for February’s turbulent street protests to erupt. And now, after the torching of several government buildings and the resignation of a number of officials, a more urgent question is how to transform and channel the anger expressed on the street into concrete social change. May 2014

As in Much of Europe, Kosovo's Roma Face Uncertain Future Discrimination against the Roma populations throughout Europe and the forced migration of their communities have been as common in the last few decades as they ever were. Where human rights and standard of living are concerned, the Roma are at or near the bottom of society in every European country where they reside. Kosovo, where the Romani population is primarily Muslim, is no exception. March/April 2014

Municipal Elections in Kosovo Attract Serb Voters for the First Time Credit for this development is due to the April 2013 Brussels agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, which is an important step toward Serbia’s eventual membership in the European Union: such cooperation demonstrates that Serbia can work with its neighbors in a peaceful and constructive manner. The agreement also opens the door a crack for Kosovo to undertake long-term negotiations with the EU over membership. January/February 2014

Kosovo—an Update Serbia and Kosovo share a common goal that has recently helped open the door to a significant political thaw. December 2013

Increased Grassroots Activism in Bosnia-Herzegovina In June of this year, when thousands of protesters took to the streets of Sarajevo, blockading Bosnia’s parliament. It was the largest demonstration since the ill-fated anti-war protests just before the siege of Sarajevo began in 1992. October/November 2013

Srebrenica’s Returning Muslim Residents Win Local Victory How did it happen that on the night of Oct. 7, 2012, dozens of young people were celebrating joyously in a bar in the middle of Srebrenica—not far from where, 17 years earlier, an act of genocide had been committed? September 2013

Kozluk: A Bosnian Story of Refugee Return March 2009

To the Detriment of Its Citizens, Bosnia’s Politicians Continue to Play Nationalist Cards January-February 2009

Radovan Karadzic Captured After Serbs Vote Out Hard-Line Nationalist Government September 2008

Three Months After Independence Declared, Kosovo Still Faces Uncertain Future July 2008

Bosnian Crisis and Resolution: A Turn-around At Last, or More Chaos Ahead? March 2008

International Court of Justice Finds Serbia Innocent of Genocide, But Not Entirely Clean May-June 2007

Final Status Plan for Kosovo Stirs Up Whirlwind of Reactions April 2007

A Tale of Two Cities: The Struggle to Return Continues in Bosnia January 2007

Bosnia’s “Historic” Elections: The Usual Tensions, Plus a Seed of Hope December 2006

Kosovo: Calm Now, But Nervously Approaching Final Status November 2006

Will Ibrahim Rugova’s Death Affect the Future of Nonviolent Change in Kosovo? April 2006

On 10th Anniversary of Dayton Accord: Are Changes in Bosnia Real or Rhetorical? January/February 2006

Big Changes in Bosnia, or Just Another Drama? September 2004

Sound and Fury in Serbia Reverberate in Bosnia October 2003

Bosnia and Herzegovina: A State Under Threat June 2003

Still at Loggerheads, Kosovo’s Serb, Albanian Communities Continue to Stagnate January/February 2003

Reintegrating Serbia Into Europe March 2001

Western Aid for Bosnia: Real Progress, or Just a Façade? January/February 2001

Report From Kosovo: Until NATO Restores Order, Revenge, Criminality Rule October/November 1999

As Bombs Fall on Serbia and Refugees Flee Kosovo, Bosnia Feels Repercussions June 1999

Western Irresolution Freezes Kosovo and Bosnia Crises at Edge of Resumed Warfare April/May 1999

Bosnian Elections Did Nothing to Repatriate Refugees Displaced by “Ethnic Cleansing” December 1998

Western Firmness Needed to Head Off Chaos in Kosovo July/August 1998

Trapped in the Krajina Stuck just miles from the EU border, thousands of migrants are helplessly entangled in the complexities of Bosnian politics. Transitions Online, November 10, 2020

The crimes of ‘Butcher of Bosnia’ against humanity reverberate still General Ratko Mladic’s responsibility during the Bosnian war is now enshrined in case history; reconciliation remains the work of ordinary people in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Seattle Times, November 28, 2017

The Roma: some history and thoughts A compilation of a few writings from recent years, in response to the ongoing stereotyping and other ignorant expressions about Roma. Balkan Witness, Fall 2017

KARADŽIĆ VERDICT UNSATISFACTORY His conviction on ten out of eleven charges leaves the need for justice in Bosnia-Herzegovina unsatisfied, because he was not convicted on the eleventh count, for genocide in other parts of the country. Balkan Witness, March 24, 2016

Their last name is 'refugee': return and local activism By Peter Lippman, Forced Migration Review, September 2015
Sustainable refugee return can only take place in Bosnia and Herzegovina when ordinary people and human rights activists are included as full participants in the recovery process.

Amid rising anti-government sentiment and a series of natural disasters, Bosnia-Herzegovina's fractured ethnic communities are drawing strength from an unlikely source: each other. Foreign Policy in Focus, September 17, 2014

An Election Monitor in Srebrenica Thousands of displaced native-born Srebrenicans found ways to vote in their pre-war homes, either by mail, by absentee voting, or by traveling to the municipality by bus. They were exercising their right to freedom of movement and choice of residency. The grassroots campaign "Glasaću za Srebrenicu" [I will vote for Srebrenica] had decided that it was unacceptable that someone who denied the genocide should take over the government and, possibly, become administrator of the memorial cemetery at Potočari. What led to this displacement and denial was clear to anyone who knew a little of the recent history of Srebrenica. All one had to do was pass by the cemetery, where there were more deceased Srebrenicans than there are live returnees to the municipality. Dani magazine, Sarajevo, April 26, 2013, in English and Bosnian

Bosnia's Frozen Conflicts Review of Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal, by Gerard Toal and Carl T. Dahlman, in Transitions OnlineJuly 14, 2011

The long-delayed arrest of accused war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic His arrest had much more to do with political expediency for Serbia than with justice. The apprehension of Mladic and other fugitives, as part of cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), has been a condition for granting Serbia's candidate status for membership in the European Union. Seattle Times, May 28, 2011

Interview with Peter Lippman (in Bosnian) Peter talks about grassroots activism in both Bosnia and the United States, touching on some trends and movements over the last 15 years in Bosnia, and over the last 40-45 years in the US. He discusses the movement for refugee/displaced persons return in Bosnia and the ongoing struggle against apartheid and corruption in that country. In the US, Peter discusses anti-war movements going back to the Vietnam war, Central America during the 1980s, and ongoing activity in opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the US-led occupations in the Middle East. Interview by Hariz Halilovic, Dani magazine, Sarajevo, May 14, 2010 (Dani is the most popular independent weekly magazine in Bosnia.)

Karadzic arrest will not solve things The arrest of Radovan Karadzic is long overdue. But it alone will not resolve the problem of Serbian extremism. The Progressive, July 23, 2008

On Kosovo Independence Balkan Witness, February 20, 2008

On the International Court of Justice Decision on Genocide in Bosnia Balkan Witness, March 2007

Bridge can't heal Bosnia divisions Seattle Times, July 23, 2004

The Gornji Vakuf/Uskoplje Youth Center: a multi-ethnic organization providing classes and other services to people of all ethnicities in an ethnically divided town in central Bosnia. Centre for European Migration and Ethnic Studies, December 2000

Center for Information and Legal Assistance (CIPP) provides legal aid and information to refugees and displaced persons wishing to return to the region around Zvornik, Bosnia, and from that region to other parts of Bosnia. Centre for European Migration and Ethnic Studies, November 2000

The Coalition for Return of Sarajevo, Bosnia: legal counseling to displaced persons of all ethnicities wishing to return to or from Sarajevo. Centre for European Migration and Ethnic Studies, November 2000

Elvis and Slivovitz: Cultural Identity in Bosnia New Internationalist, December 1998

Peace Hopes Dim In Serb-Battered Kosovo Seattle Times, August 21, 1998

How long must Kosovo suffer? Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 5, 1998

Prisoner in Kosovo - American activist; member of Peaceworkers The Progressive, July 1998

First Person: Jailed In Repressed Kosovo Seattle Times, April 9, 1998

Seattle Man Caught in a Quest for Peace; He and 5 Other Activists Arrested in Yugoslavia Associated Press, March 23, 1998

Bosnia-Herzegovina Journals September-October 2008

Bosnia-Macedonia-Kosovo Journal July - September 2006

Kosovo Election Journal 2002 Kosovo's second post-war municipal elections. - November, 2002

Kosovo Journal Kosovo's first post-war elections. October - November, 2000

Kosovo Journal, July 1999 Reports from throughout post-war Kosovo.

July 6, 1999 - Letter from Skopje Interviews with Kosovo Albanians in Macedonia. 

Bosnia: May 1999

Bosnia: April 1999

Bosnia: January-March 1999

Kosovo Journal, 1998

Kosovo, 1999-2000: The Birth and Rebirth of Civil Society
This series of articles begins with a brief outline of Kosovo's history and a profile of some of the initiatives that emerged under the "parallel society" during the 1990s. These grew out attempts by the Serbian authorities to suppress Albanian culture. The series then chronicles events from March 1998 through 2000, from the approach of the war in Kosovo through its aftermath.

Bosnia, 1999-2000: Bosnian Refugees Struggle to Return Home
This section contains the entire series of reports written by Peter Lippman between early 1999 and late 2000, covering the grassroots effort by activist organizations promoting the return of  displaced persons throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was a period of continued resistance on the part of hard-line nationalists who wished to preserve the situation of ethnic homogenization of territories where they had practiced "ethnic cleansing" during the war. But it was also a period of intense and valiant struggle on the part of return activists to claim what was rightfully theirs: their pre-war homes. This effort lead to a breakthrough in the ensuing years, resulting in partial return to practically every municipality in the country.

Rebuilding Srebrenica 2003