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Human Rights Violations against Non-albanian Kosovars

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   Most of Pristina's remaining Serbs are elderly women. Yet they are still targets for "revenge" attacks.
   IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 66, 13 August 1999
# Orthodox Press: Kosovo and Metohija Chronicle, August 13
Betreff:         IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 66
Datum:         Fri, 13 Aug 1999 18:24:13 +0100
    Von:         Tony Borden <Tony@iwpr.net>


Most of Pristina's remaining Serbs are elderly women. Yet they are still targets for "revenge" attacks.

By Laura Rozen in Pristina

My neighbour in Pristina is an elderly Serb widow named Miljka. Increasingly I see less of her. She lives in terror, barricaded behind her door with her wooden shutters closed, even in the stifling heat.

Miljka is one of an estimated 2,000 Serbs who have remained in Pristina, out of a pre-war population of about 27,000. Like Miljka, most of those remaining are elderly women. Yet they are being targeted for murder.

The UN refugee agency reports nine murders and seven serious assaults against Serbs in Pristina in the past week alone. Two weeks ago in a Pristina suburb, an 80-year-old Serb woman was drowned in a bath tub.

Murders like these have prompted British troops in Pristina to launch what they call a "granny patrol".

British troops now patrol the street several times a day on foot. KFOR tanks and jeeps from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) rattle by. Helicopters circle loudly overhead a few times at night. But it appears that all of this is not enough to prevent someone from breaking into an apartment and killing an old lady.

Though our building is two minutes' walk from the Pristina headquarters of KFOR, the OSCE, the UN, and the UN police, I have never seen anyone check on Miljka. Meanwhile, the UN is now reporting that Albanians are increasingly forcing Serbs to hand over their property rights.

Displaced Albanians broke into our ethnically mixed apartment building in broad daylight a few weeks ago. When confronted, the head of household, an aggressive, sweating man obviously scouting out the building with a screw driver, said: "What am I supposed to do? Our house in Djakovica is destroyed. We have nothing."

He then marched a dozen family members, men, women, children, up the stairs, slipped the screw driver between the door and the wall, and moved in. "Call the police, call the police," Miljka whispered. But no one came. The UN deployed its first 30 international police to patrol Pristina only this week and says it will soon be setting up 24-hour stations in a few areas they have identified as hot spots.

But more than two months after the end of the war, and following the exodus of more than 90 per cent of Pristina's Serbs, its seems more than a bit late for the UN to be coming up with ideas for how to quell revenge attacks.

For the first weeks of peace, Miljka invited guests for coffee, proudly showed photos of her children, grandchildren and late husband, and even brought over the odd piece of cake. She also made a point of leaving her apartment to lock the building's front door.

Now, she appears to have given up, too afraid even to venture out to buy bread. When she appears, she talks only in a whisper, one hand held to the side of her mouth, to block the sound of her speaking Serbian. Her remaining dream is that one of her two adult children will come back from Serbia and take her home with them.

Laura Rozen is journalist specialising in the Balkans.

Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Kosovo & Metohia Events
Belgrade, August 13, 1999

Rt. Rev. Artemije, the Bishop of Raska and Prizren, has met today Mr Bernard Kuchnaire and talked with him about the possibility of finding the way out of the present tragic position of the remaining Serbs and of their shrines in Kosovo and Metohia.

Rt. Rev. Atanasije, the Bishop of Zahumlje and Herzegovina, has, together with the Abbot of Sopocani, Mihajlo, and the priest of Pristina, Miroslav Popadic, visited today the Serbian villages Gornja Brnjica and Donja Brnjica. Three weeks ago, a Serb Miroslav Popovic was kidnapped at Donja Brnjica while he was returning from the central Serbia, and three days ago Dragan Popovic was kidnapped at the Orthodox graveyard. The Albanians have attacked today the Serbian village Gornja Brnjica. The Serbs have defended, and KFOR intervened. When KFOR intervened, three Albanians have been wounded since the Albanians attacked then KFOR soldiers as well.

Priest Zoran Grujic, the secretary of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, has delivered humanitarian aid to the villages Donja Brnjica and Gornja Brnjica.

As the priest of Prizren parish - Ilija Smigic has noticed, awful afflictions of the Serbs happen every day in Prizren. The Serbs are forced daily to leave their homes and search refuge in the Seminary. Their empty homes are left at the mercy of the Albanians who cause persistent suffering of the Serbs. Yesterday, in the afternoon, a Serb Jezdimir Nesic and his wife Djurka, both aged about 75, were killed in their house in Prizren, 98 Narodno oslobodjenje Street. Neither Jezdimir nor Djurka was killed from firearms; they were slaughtered - killed with a knife. The other Nesic family, that lived in Gnjilanska Street but has now moved to live at the neighbour's because of safety, has said that immediately after they had moved out, the Albanians plundered the empty house taking even doors and windows with them.

In the area of Gnjilane, one Serb is killed every day on the average. Luckily, as we know, there have been no new victims today. However, Serbian houses and apartments are still being plundered and set on fire. It is presumed that 30% of the Serbs have stayed in Gnjilane, compared to the number of Serbs before KFOR arrival. Although the Serbs in Gnjilane move escorted by KFOR, their lives are still fatally endangered. Today, a car with a coffin has been hijacked; the car was moving in a line of cars which were escorted by KFOR and which were going from the direction of Strpce in the direction of Vranje. The car should have taken over the body of a dead Serbian woman in Vranje. The Albanians have first maltreated the Serbs who were in the car, and then they let them go.

Bishop Atanasije

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