Open letter to Novak Djokovic upon the initiative #NoKosovoUnesco

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by Zlatko Bogatinovski/Filip Filipi Jankovic

Dear Mr. Djokovic,

I firstly wanted to thank you for everything you and your organization have done to uplift our people and pledge that my organization will continue to support you as best as we can. I was hesitant to write you in regards to the #NoKosovoUnesco petition, and I in fact resisted advice from others to do so earlier. What changed my mind was my conversation with Father Nektarios Serfes whom you met in Boise, Idaho some years ago and gave front row tickets to your match. Father Nektarios Serfes’ efforts to provide basic human necessities to Serbs in Kosovo over the past 20 years are, as you know, worthy of sainthood. We spoke for hours about the hardships our Holy Places and their inhabitants face in Kosovo, but one story in particular touched me. Father Nektarios recalled a trip to a neglected monastery housing nuns who had been suffering unspeakable tragedies since the Kosovo conflict began. He was making the same trip he makes every year to the monastery, to bring the relief you and I in the West find comically basic; firewood, pigs, seeds for vegetables. On this occasion, the sisters apologized to Father Nektarios that they did not have food and could only offer him soup. I assumed this took place during the war, but when Father Nektarios told me it was last year my eyes began to water. Being deprived to the point of not being able to offer food to a guest bringing gifts is a humiliation, especially considering the magnitude this carries in our culture, and the fact these are women who have dedicated themselves to God and prayer.

You are the greatest athlete our region has ever produced, a truly exceptional accomplishment considering we are a people par-excellence in sport. I perfectly understand that you must maintain a mainstream, apolitical image and that your critics are anxious to see you make even the slightest mistake. However, a time comes when a person must, regardless of the difficulty and perhaps even consequences of such a decision, act in accordance with their intrinsic morality. The upcoming UNESCO ruling will potentially reward the destroyers of our physical heritage and identity in Kosovo and legitimatize the genocide of our people from a place where both of our families originate. Our petition is more than an asinine attempt to influence UNESCO’s decision, it’s an opportunity to show Serbs in Kosovo, the brave nuns I mentioned and those suffering in enclaves every day that we care about them, that we haven’t forgot about them and that all of Serbia is with them. The petition will later be reutilized as a database of those individuals still devout to the cause, and as such to organize and effectively help every monastery, every church, every family in Kosovo regardless of UNESCO’s decision. Lastly, I would like to point out that Muhammed Ali in his prime, as the foremost athlete in the world, made the controversial but noble decision to support Malcolm X and thus eternally endeared himself in the hearts of his people. George Foreman did not, and upon his retirement, his name has seldom been mentioned. To hate injustice and stand on the side of righteousness is a difficult thing. Please sign and share our petition:

Yours sincerely,

Filip Filipi Jankovic
President, 28. 

October 28th, 2015


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