Baton Haxhiu

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Baton Haxhiu
Born 1967
Yugoslavia
Occupation journalist
Organization Koha Ditore
Kosovo Express
Known for reporting on Yugoslav Wars, 1999 false death report
Awards CPJ International Press Freedom Award (1999)

Baton Haxhiu (Serbo-Croatian: 'Baton Hadžiju') (born 1967)[1] is an ethnic Albanian journalist from Kosovo.[2]

Background[edit]

He majored in sociology at a university in Pristina, SFR Yugoslavia, but his studies were interrupted when the government closed the university in 1991; he then continued studying with the city's underground academic movement. He worked as a section editor for Koha, a weekly Albanian-language magazine.[1] He later became editor-in-chief of Koha Ditore, a Pristina daily newspaper.[3] According to the UK newspaper The Independent, under Haxhiu's management, Koha Ditore became "the leading Albanian-language source of information and of critical comment in Kosovo".[1]

1999 threats[edit]

In March 1999, shortly before the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia began, Haxhiu and Koha Ditore were fined under Yugoslav Information Law for their reporting.[4] On March 23, the front page of Koha Ditore carried the headline "Nato, Just Do It", quoting the slogan of Nike shoes along with the Nike Swoosh.[2]

In retaliation, government forces burnt down the paper's office that night, killing a guard. The paper's lawyer was murdered, and NATO incorrectly reported that Haxhiu had also been killed.[3] Haxhiu escaped attack by hiding in a basement, where he spent more than a week with only apples and water. At one point, he heard reports of his own death on CNN, and he later described the experience as being "as close to death as skin to the bone."[2]

On 2 April, soldiers ordered the entire neighborhood from their homes, and Haxhiu joined the line of refugees. He approached a woman with a child and persuaded her to pretend he was her husband and the child's father. Four days later, while Haxhiu was still trying to reach the Republic of Macedonia, word spread of his escape, and Albanian politician Arben Xhaferi dispatched a team to retrieve Haxhiu and bring him to safety.[5] When Haxhiu reached the country, he resumed publishing Koha Ditore.[3]

By October 1999, Haxhiu returned to Kosovo. In that month, the government of Kosovo Liberation Army leader Hashim Thaçi accused Haxhiu and publisher Veton Surroi were accused of being "pro-Serb vampires" coordinating with Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević, stating: "people like them . . . should themselves realize that, one day, they too may be the targets of some personal vendetta, which is quite understandable. Therefore, both Veton Surroi and Baton Haxhiu, these ordinary Mafiosi, should not be left unpunished for their criminal acts."[6] Despite the threat, the paper continued to publish.[3]

That year, Haxhiu won the CPJ International Press Freedom Award, which recognises journalists who show courage in defending press freedom despite facing attacks, threats, or imprisonment.[7]

Later journalism[edit]

Haxhiu later became the editor of the Kosovo Express.[8] In July 2008, during the war crimes trial of Ramush Haradinaj, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found Haxhiu guilty of contempt of court for revealing the name of a protected witness in a newspaper article, and fined him US$10,000.[9][10] Haxhiu appealed the verdict in September, but judges ruled that he had appealed outside the permitted window.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Haxhiu has a wife and two sons.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Martyn Rady (1 April 1999). "Obituary: Baton Haxhiu". The Independent.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Baton Haxhiu". NewsHour. PBS. 22 November 1999. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d "1999 Awards - Announcement". Committee to Protect Journalists. 23 November 1999. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "CPJ Condemns Media Crackdown in Yugoslavia". Committee to Protect Journalists. March 25, 1999. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  5. ^ R. Jeffrey Smith (19 April 1999). "Trying to Stay Alive While Dead to the World; Editor Dodges Police After His 'Demise'". The Washington Post.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Peter Finn (13 October 1999). "Forces of Intolerance Threaten to Consume Kosovo". The Washington Post.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "International Press Freedom Awards 1999". Committee to Protect Journalists. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved August 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Journalist's contempt appeal too late". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). September 4, 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Haxhiu, Baton". The Hague Justice Portal. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "Netherlands: War Crimes Editor Charged". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 21 May 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 

External links[edit]