B2-92 December 17 1999

Alomerovic: Slavic Muslims in Kosovo
victims of both sides in the conflict

The President of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (HOP) in Sandzak, Sefko Alomerovic, stated on Friday (December 17) that "Muslims-Bosniaks in Kosovo, although they did not participate in Serb-Albanian clashes, were victims of both sides," reports BETA. At a press conference in Belgrade, Alomerovic stated that about 40,000 Muslims left Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. Those who tried to return to their homes after the arrival of KFOR were murdered.

He said that in 1998 and 1999 "Serb forces burned down Bosniak houses in
Kosovo, and that after the arrival of KFOR members of the Kosovo Liberation Army started to abduct Muslims-Bosniaks, set their houses on fire and engage in other violent acts. In Pristina, out of 11,000 Muslims-Bosniaks before the war, only 70 families remain [i.e. about 400 people]. Since the arrival of KFOR 51 Muslim-Bosniak has been killed, including 11 women. In Kosovska Mitrovica, 92 Bosniak houses in the Bosniak Quarter have been set on fire, and another 60 Bosniak houses in the village of Vitomirica [near Pec] suffered the same fate," said Alomerovic.

He also said that in the south of Kosovo Muslims-Bosniaks are not pressured
to leave but to instead assimilate. As a proof of this Alomerovic quoted
threats to the citizens of Sredacka Zupa, Podgora and Gora [Gorans, Slavic,
Serb-language-speaking Muslims who consider themselves distinct from
Muslims-Bosniaks] that "even [their] dogs and cats will speak Albanian".
The Helsinki Committee, according to Alomerovic, has evidence and documents which prove that some Muslims-Bosniaks have been issued "permits to use Bosniak language" and charged for that "service".

The President of the Helsinki Committee for Sandzak added that Albanians
who visit markets in Rozaje and Plav [two municipalities in Montenegro
with Muslim majority, bordering Kosovo] "fanatically insist on speaking
the Albanian language. When the villagers from the Rozaje area respond
that they to not speak Albanian, they are told that they 'will have to
learn Albanian language, because this is Albanian land' or that they 'will
have to learn if they ever intend to go to Kosovo'," said Alomerovic. He
accused the president of the Party for Democratic Action (SDA) for Kosovo,
Numan Balic, of hiding the truth about violence against Muslims-Bosniaks.
Balic, who lived for seven years in Albania, is a member of Hashim Thaqi's
"provisional Kosovo government".

Alomerovic also talked about the status of Muslims in FR Yugoslavia during
the last eight years, since the beginning of the armed clashes in the
former Yugoslavia. He stated that in that period, there were six abductions,
51 citizens were abducted and murdered and another 38 were killed in their
homes, at work and in public spots. He stated that between 1991 and 1995,
60,000 to 80,000 Muslims left FRY because of "brutal repression and
violence".

Alomerovic emphasized that before the signing of the Dayton Agreement
Muslims in FRY were "abducted and murdered and their villages were burnt
and ethnically cleansed". The president of HOP in Sandzak said that "the
regime in Serbia has enacted five laws which discriminate against citizens
based on their ethnicity. These laws are the law about the trade with
real estate, the law about the administrative divisions in Serbia which
divided Sandzak into two counties, and the law about electoral districts
which in practice requires 40,000 to 80,000 votes per one representative
in the Serbian Parliament in Sandzak, while half that number is required
in the rest of Serbia," stated Alomerovic.

Alomerovic stressed that the status of Muslims in Montenegro is not
significantly different from their status in Serbia and that "the regime
in Montenegro is no different from the regime in Serbia in its treatment
of ethnic minorities, except in its skill of political manipulation". To
the question about the behavior of the Yugoslav Army with respect to Muslims
during the NATO bombardment, Alomerovic stated that "there was no violence. The Army behaved well and Bosniaks were not mobilized".


NEZAVISNE NOVINE, Banja Luka, Republic of Srpska
Issue 193, December 8, 1999

The new tyrants have arrived and the crimes continue. Others who have
taken over from Milosevic's regime in Kosovo are, of course, trying to
outdo him. Houses leveled to the ground or burned, frightened people
and the wounds of war flashing in every eye, are today's picture of
Kosovo. The jeeps of KFOR are too high for tragic reality, and the
people in them observe the life around them in a corresponding manner -
from above

KOSOVO ALBANIANS HAVE BECOME SO OPPRESSIVE THAT EVEN MUSLIMS DREAM OF SLOBO'S RETURN

By Enes HALILOVIC

Tyranny is eternal, I now believe, following my most recent journalistic
odyssey to Kosovo. Occasionally old tyrants are replaced by new ones;
crimes continue. Others have taken over from Milosevic's regime in Kosovo.
Of course, they are trying to outdo him. Traveling today in Kosovo reminds
one of a game of chance in which staying alive is a lucky break.

It is the beginning of December. On the border between Kosovo and
Serbia, a control point of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs, a
formal inspection, only to prove that the men in blue uniforms exist. A
bus going from Novi Pazar to Skopje via Pristina. Personal
identification and bon voyage. A middle-aged Serb traveling to Skopje
says: "I've taken care of my business here; I have no intention of
looking for the men's room in Pristina." Accompanied by Belgian KFOR
troops, a formality.

First we pass through Leposavic. They say there are no Albanians here
anymore, only peace, quiet and hopelessness. Zvecan: A Serbian woman is
complaining because the bus does not stop in the Serbian part of
Kosovska Mitrovica. The driver says, in passing: "Go back to Pazar and
look for a better connection." She gets off the bus by the road and
heads for the city which, despite everything, cannot imitate Berlin.
Mitrovica is divided only by a bridge; people on one side can visit
people on the other side but people on neither side dare to go. There is
no Albanian control point; you enter the city and you are in the
Albanian sector. It is terrible to see the signs that Milosevic's army
has left throughout Kosovo: Chimneys protrude from ghostlike ruins. The
Balkans are the ultimate hell. With all due respect, Mr. Alleghieri,
what I am seeing even you did not know how to describe.

The driver tosses a piece of beef salami into his mouth and says: "Don't
anyone raise your fingers in salute because you may screw it up. It's
not three fingers anymore, it's two" [i.e., the peace sign instead of the
traditional Serbian three-finger salute]. People with money are busy
building, people without money are waiting for better times. There are
tents in the alleys and houses teem from the ground, so people can move
in before the snow. Between Mitrovica and Vucitrn on the right side of
the road, five graves, recently dug. A wooden stake stuck in the ground
from which waves a red flag with a black, two-headed eagle. It is easier
to find a Serb in Kenya than here. In Vucitrn a refugee camp which was
opened after the Croatian war by Buba Morina, the Yugoslav minister of
refugees, who married into an Albanian family. Albanians live here now,
the Serbs from Croatia have left, exiled yet again. I am, of course,
already regretting coming here; I have a translator who talks fluent
Turkish and Albanian but I don't know what to say. I only know how to
say "un nam Enes Halilovic prej Novi Pazar, gazetar Free Europe". I know
that Free Europe is respected by the Albanians but they are resentful of
everyone who doesn't speak Albanian.

In Pristina the buildings are intact, the spirits worn out. Post-war
worries on faces, the wounds of war flash in every eye. I get off the
bus and wait for the Prizren bus. It is twilight, I am the tallest
person in the bus station and this is not to my advantage; whoever looks
at me, it seems to me, is thinking: "He must be a Serb." A few people
approach me and ask me for the time in Albanian. "Ska sahati," I say,
which means: I don't have a watch. They ask: do you want a taxi? "Jo."
The bus for Prizren is here. I enter, the translator buys tickets. A
young man and an old man sit inside; the old man is singing "Djindjile,
o Djindjile." The translator tells me it's an Albanian-Partisan song.
Financed by the KLA. I call home and tell them where I am. I end the
conversation with "Alahimanet." Might as well get some kind of credit.

The bus passes through Lipljan, then Stimlje. Darkness, no electricity
whatsoever. Either the Serbs intentionally ruined it or the Albanians
don't know how to get "Kosova A" to maximum production. Darkness to the
point where it couldn't be darker, something like the episode of
"Twilight Zone" where the guy gets lost and wanders around in a desert.
That is like Kosovo at night. After Stimlje, on the left side of the
road toward Prizren, there is a psychiatric hospital. A person who
speaks Serbian, does not know Albanian, and by some miracle manages to
arrive in Stimlje alive would do well to check into this hospital
because that is where he belongs. I am asking myself whatever possessed
me to inflict injury upon myself in this way.

In Suva Reka a young Albanian gets on and greets the other two men.
He asks me something, and the translator says something back. In question
is the bag between the seats which is not mine. A Serb? Asks the man with
curly braids halfway down his back. Jo, un prej Novi Pazar, Enes. He
starts shouting and mentioning "sjekira" [ax in Serbian]. I say nothing
until we arrive in Prizren. I remain silent, stubbornly silent. I feel
their stares on my scalp.

We get off at Prizren. Why was I crazy enough to come here? It is a
historically significant city, a city about which I have heard beautiful
stories, but the year is 1999 and all sorts of ugly things have just
happened. And still are happening. Darkness, the sound of electrical
generators from a few streets. We go to the translator's house; his
family does not know their son is coming. They ask me who I am, what I
am. A reporter, and so on. The father looks at him as if to say: on top
of my worries, I really didn't need this one as well. I will remember
that look as long as I live. They are Bosnian Muslims and the Albanians
have tried to break into their warehouse; during the war, both Serbs and
Albanians pilfered from them while there still were some of them in
Prizren. The father, an industrious and honest man, doesn't want his house
to become a target but he cannot do anything to dishonor himself. We talk
about his business. I comment that at least they had a reprieve from the
tax collector and financial and commercial inspectors, he says: "One
is always paying someone for something." I ask whether he means the
Albanian mafia racket and I get the impression that he is afraid of
confirming my suspicions. Maybe he thinks he would suffer misfortune if
something like that should get on television or into the papers. After
dinner we sleep. I dream of the guy with the braids who talked about the
ax.

In the morning, I go to the German KFOR and am told by a man with a
moustache that I need to come back tomorrow exactly at nine because that
is when the man in charge of issuing accreditation to reporters will be
there. I'm supposed to play hide-and-seek all day? I go to the Turks.
Selam aleik and merhaba. Officer Hasan Gengis says that Turkish forces
are protecting citizens and preventing thefts and acts of vandalism at
control points and by patrol 24 hours a day.

"We successfully prevented illegal cutting down and selling of forests.
We helped the schools in Dragas and the surrounding villages. We
distributed 5,700 packets of humanitarian aid, and we gave the village
of Dobrudzan 20 tons of coal. We vaccinated 857 children against various
diseases. Our military physicians examined approximately seven thousand
patients and circumcised 271 children of Albanian and Bosniac ethnicity.
We did the same in the Turkish village of Mamusa and in Prizren. This is
especially important because it leads to the people growing closer and
the reduction of hate," says Hasan Gengis. In the Turkish camp,
Osmanli music. Iron discipline, all of them working like ants.

H.T., a merchant of Turkish nationality, is happy because of the arrival
of the Turkish forces: He says: "This is our guarantee; the Albanians
would crush us if our brothers were not here. I cried when they came, I
threw flowers on their tanks. Their soldiers cried, too." Business is
transacted exclusively in German marks, the telephones have just resumed
working but the connections are unstable which represents a new
problem. "The people have money," says H.T. and adds "I am making more
now than before, I am not paying taxes, I have no inspectors waiting to
skin me alive." Then he asks me: "Is it true that Slobo's son opened an
amusement park?" "It is." "I know that Slobo knows no shame before God
but how can he not be ashamed before so many people? I remember when he
said in 1997 in Pristina that he would not give up a single inch of
Kosovo. What is he thinking now?"

Around 12 noon restaurant owner Ahmet confirms that he, too, is making
more money than before the war. "An espresso is one German mark; so is
a glass of juice. Everything is calculated in German marks, my friend."
Around 7:00 p.m. that evening I learn that some Albanian cracked his
skull open with an iron bar and that Ahmet is in the hospital where
doctors are fighting for his life. "Because he is a Turk," the
translator tells me, "you'll see what happens when the KFOR Turks catch
whoever did it; he will regret that he was born." Previously the
Albanians had forced Turkish children to attend school in Albanian. In
Prizren not a single Turkish word could be heard. Now everything is
different, the Turkish army is here to successfully "capture" those who
formerly tossed Turks and Bosniacs out of their restaurants, beat them
up or mistreated them.

I interview Numan Balic, the president of the SDA in Kosovo. He is an
ideal interviewee requiring no prior preparation. I quote: "It is true
that there have been kidnappings and killings of Bosniacs by the Albanians.
Now the situation has improved but it still has not reached the desired
level of mutual trust. The battle for our survival in Kosovo is the
battle for schools in the Bosniac language. We are on the threshold of
securing ideal conditions for the education of our children. We have
ordered textbooks from BH."

A reporter for the local review "Selam", Mustafa Balje, says: "We need
to fight for our rights. We Bosniacs are not a currency to be
shortchanged. I am staying here and I want a future with everyone; I
want to live here where I was born and to live a life worthy of a man."
In Prizren there is a tree, a specimen of platanus orientalis, which is
six hundred years old. If it could speak it would be the best witness to
the history of this city, to Dusan Silni and Sinan Pasha. "Under the
protection of the state" reads the sign on the tree but now the sign is
only in Albanian; all the other inscriptions have been erased. Those who
erased them had no respect for the ancient. Therefore, in addition to
the Turks, the Bosniacs, the Serbs and the Roma, also endangered is the
platanus orientalis.

The Germans didn't give me my accreditation the following day, either,
telling me that "If somebody is going to kill you, they are going to
kill you whether you are accredited or not." There is a luxurious red
limousine which cruises around Prizren with the license plate "ZJJARI
002". The limousine is driven by an Albanian who sets Serbian houses on
fire. They say he also set two Jewish women on fire. "Zjjari" in
Albanian means fire. A Bosniac man says: "I wish that Slobo could come
back if only for three days. These Shiptars have grown so oppressive.
They do not allow us Bosniacs to utter a sound. They tell us that we
must state that we are Shiptars or flee from Kosovo. I think they must
hate themselves by now." The church in the center of the city is
protected by Germans; there are almost no Serbs in Prizren, perhaps ten
or twenty in all . Their names are only mentioned by those already dead.
"It takes courage," say the residents of Prizren.

The interview with Ferhat Dervis is a real pleasure. Dervis is the
president of the Representative Club of the Turks from Kosovo. He says:
"I cried when the Turkish soldiers came to Prizren. It was the greatest
day of my life. Now we Turks from Kosovo have at least some degree of
security in our future. We are a part of Kosovo and we will not at any
price allow the Albanians to assimilate us." Ferhat Dervis is very close
with writers Altai Surroi and Iskender Musbeg. A weekly publication in
Turkish, "New Age", has began established. On the front page, in huge
type: "Eighty seven years after Osman's soldiers, the Turkish Army is again
in Kosovo." The article on the visit of Demirel bore the headline "Welcome,
father."

Return to Pazar. Same route. It is nauseating to again reply "ska
sahati". One Albanian from Suva Reka heard what we were whispering in
the bus. Pricked up his ears and heard us. Called the conductor, explained,
pointed a finger at us... The conductor raised his eyebrows and shrugged
his shoulders. The signs by the road indicating monasteries have not
been erased; male reproductive organs have been drawn on them. In
Pristina we wait for the bus from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. For three
hours I reply "ska sahati, ska sahati..." The bus comes, I put my bag in
the bin, only four passengers board. The driver is in front of the
bus, says quietly: "I'm Boro, stay next to the door, check the tickets,
I'm just going to ask Feriz, the driver to Pec, if he would mind taking
me to the men's room." "Do it quickly," I say to Boro. And in the
quietest voice possible, he says: "Aren't we lucky to have our Slobo."
"He's not mine," I answer. "Mine neither," says Boro. The bus pulls out.

The jeeps of KFOR are too high for tragic reality in Kosovo. The people
in them observe the life around them in a corresponding manner. From
above. Vucitrn, then Mitrovica. Passengers smuggling cigarettes and
cooking oil. The control point of KFOR, the control point of the
Ministry of Internal Affairs. The green waters of the Ibar River,
willows and aspens.

(AIM)



F
riday 3 December
DESTRUCTION OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN KOSOVO

by Branko Bjelajac, Keston News Service

A few days ago the Raska and Prizren Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox
Church in Kosovo published an illustrated 50-page publication ‘Raspeto
Kosovo’ (Kosovo Crucified), with a photo-documentation showing the
destruction or heavy damaging of 76 of its churches and monasteries
since the peace agreement in June 1999.

An earlier publication on the same issue, published in September 1999,
already spoke of about 50 such cases. In the introduction the Serbian
Patriarch PAVLE writes: ‘It is distressing to learn that in the year of
the greatest Christian Jubilee, at the end of two millenia of
Christianity, Christian churches are still being destroyed, not in war
but in a time of peace guaranteed by the international community.’

Hieromonk SAVA (Decanac), Protosingel and Secretary to the Bishop of
Raska and Prizren (who is also known as the cybermonk because of the
web-site he hosts), spoke to the Keston News Service about the
churchdestruction.

‘Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo are being destroyed in a
systematic and organised way. In the American sector there are 21
destroyed or heavily damaged churches and monasteries, in the Italian
sector 21, in the German sector 17, in the British sector 10 and in the
French sector 7. Some of them are monasteries from the 14th,15th and
16th centuries, but a significant number of them are churches built in
recent times. For instance, monastery of the Holy Trinity near Suva Reka
was built in the 14th century. It was firstly
plundered, then burned, and at the end dynamited. The Church of the
Mother of God (Crkva Svete Bogorodice) in Musutiste, also from 14th
century, was also dynamited. This church was one of the most beautiful
Serbian churches of the Byzantine style in Kosovo, some even said that
it was more beautiful than the Monastery of Gracanica...also the Church
of St Mark of Koris from the 15th century was dynamited and destroyed.

‘Unfortunately, there is a tendency that churches and monasteries which
have previously only been damaged and partly burned are later are
levelled by people who know how to use dynamite for its strongest
effect. And then, even the stones have been taken away, so that there is
literally nothing left atthe site.

We should emphasise that all the mosques destroyed and damaged in Kosovo
were mostly hit during the conflicts with the KLA, while the mosques in
cities (like Prizren and Pristina) were mostly preserved. There was no
systematic destruction of mosques. However, what is happening today is
the destruction of churches and monasteries in peace, without any
military operations going on, and in areas from which the Serbs have
retreated. Thus is an ideology which aims to destroy everything that
belongs to the Serbian cultural and spiritual heritage, and thereby to
prevent the return of the Serbian people. Wherethere are churches
destroyed, cemeteries desecrated, monuments broken and missing, houses
burned and levelled, people have no place to return to - and so the
collective memory fades away.

‘The irony in all of this is that we [the Serbian Orthodox Church in
Kosovo] stood up when the Albanians were persecuted and we gave them
shelter in the Monastery of Decani, for instance. We tried to protect
them the best way we could.

‘The Serbian and other non-Albanian peoples in Kosovo are the most
persecuted people in Europe, if not the world, and this is because of
their ethnic origin. Because of who they are, they have been denied the
right to move freely, the right to work, the right to worship freely, to
use hospitals, even to come close to the University, let alone to study
in it. We are safe only in a few places where we are surrounded by the
KFOR for our protection. Otherwise,
we are kidnapped or killed.

Press-conferences held by KFOR and UNMIK have been saying that the
number of incidents and killings has been diminishing lately. Father
Sava comments: ‘The number of violent attacks and killings is
diminishing indeed, but only because there are no more Serbs to be
killed. In Pristina (the capital city of Kosovo) there are only 400
Serbs left. I am invited to a Conference on human rights that is to be
held in Pristina on 10 December. I will not go. I
cannot sit there and speak while 2-3 hundred metres from that place
Serbs are being hunted like animals - you heard how the University
professor was lynched on the streets of Pristina a few days ago, because
he was a Serb.

‘KFOR and UNMIK are trying to diminish the whole situation. They
reported that day that a Serb was killed and that an Albanian was also
killed. What they did not report was that the Albanian was killed in
Klina where there are no Serbs. It is not that the Albanians are killing
Serbs and that the Serbs are killing Albanians - there can be no
parallel on reciprocity drawn here.

‘Under the full authority of the international community, KFOR is
protecting the Serbs mainly in the areas where there is not likely to be
conflict with the Albanians. They do not want to open fire on Albanians.
I am convinced that UNMIK is trying to minimise the reporting of all of
these issues, because its financing might come under question.

About the recent departure of three hundred Roman Catholic Croats from
Kosovo to Croatia, and of some Jews out of the very few remaining,
Father Sava comments: ‘The (Slavic) Muslims are leaving too. When we saw
him in Amman, Jordan a few days ago, the Belgrade mufti Jusufspahic
confirmed to us that both the Muslim Slavs (Goranci) and the Albanians
from Kosovo are coming to him terrified about what the KLA is doing. It
is clear that there is no revenge involved, but the aim is to clear
Kosovo of all non-Albanians, with the silent approval of the
international community.

‘In the past, Keston reported a great deal on the persecution of
Christians in the former Soviet Union. Now there is an opportunity to
speak of this new persecution that is happening in the presence of
50,000 soldiers of the strongest military power in the world,’ Father
Sava concluded in his interview for KNS.
(END)



RomNews Network <romnews@romnews.com>
December 1, 1999

THE WAR IN KOSOVO IS NOT OVER

Kosovo ( RNN Correspondent ) December the 1st, 1999

The war in Kosovo is not over. Since June 18th the KLA and their
Albanian supporters have terrorizing the Kosovar Rom in an ethnic
cleansing operation that has destroyed more than 20,000 Rom homes.
In many villages and towns, all Roma homes have been destroyed.
Families whose Roma ancestors arrived here as early as 1320, or
Hashkalija whose oral traditions recount an even older history, have not
only been made homeless, but over 150,000 have had to flee to other
countries.
In order to justify these attacks, the KLA and their supports have
labeled "all" Rom and Hashkalija as having collaborated with the Serbs.
Yet the evidence on the ground does not support this allegation.
Although KFOR and the UN police have received many requests to detain
Serbs suspected of atrocities during the war, no Roma or Hashkalija has
been mentioned in reports.
The ethnic Albanians dislike of Rom/Hashkalija goes back many years
before the war. When the Albanians first started to demonstrate back in
1969 against Serb rule in Kosovo, the Rom/Hashkalija refused to join
this demonstration. While the Albanians wanted independence, the
Rom/Hashkalija were still too far down the economic scale to think of
that luxury. All they wanted were jobs and education. When they finally
achieved those two things under Tito, they were so grateful they thought
they were being patriotic Yugoslavians by not taking to the street. The
Albanians have resented the Roma/Hashkalija ever since.
Although over 70% of Roma/Hashkalija had high educational degrees
and most of them held good jobs during the years preceding the war, the
Albanians today try to drag up the old stereotypes: lazy, dirty,
worthless, homeless.
Today about 40,000 Roma/Hashkalija are homeless, but only because
they're home has been burned since the arrival of KFOR. The typical
operation for cleansing a neighborhood of Roma has been for a couple of
local KLA soldiers to accompany several Albanians to a Roma home and
then threaten the occupants with death if they were still living there
the next day. Usually the Roma occupants didn't wait, but left
immediately, many wearing only their pajamas. Their homes were then
burned. If the home was in a good area, the rubble was soon bulldozed
away and a new home built on the site for a local high-ranking Albanian
official.
Ironically, Roma who refused to give in to these threats and who
did not leave their homes usually were not attacked, and their home was
not burned----until now.
Now, today, with the disbanding of the KLA, a new wave of attacks
is taking place and Roma homes not destroyed in the first wave are being
burned.
The attacks are against all Roma and Hashkalija. No one is spared.
Not the retired, not the invalids, not the blind who of course could not
be labeled collaborators.
Although over 150,000 Roma and Hashkalija have fled Kosovo, their
ancestral homeland for the past seven hundred years, there are still
40,000 trying desperately to stay. But despite the UN's declaration of
preparing a multi-ethnic society and the claim of NATO and KFOR to
protect everyone, the results only point to a policy of genocide----
genocide of the Roma and Hashkaija today in Kosovo.
Roma today in Kosovo can not venture outside their own village
without being kidnapped or killed. Roma today in Kosovo are always
turned down by Albanian hospitals. Roma today in Kosovo can not attend
Albanian schools. Roma today in Kosovo have lost their jobs.
But perhaps worst of all, Rom today in Kosovo are being
discriminated against by the major aid agencies that are mainly run by
local Albanians. Since the war, over 90% of all Rom/Hashkalija
communities have been refused aid by agencies such as Mother Teresa, and
ironically by Islamic Relief, although all Roma and Hashkalija remaining
in Kosovo today are Muslim. Even an international aid agency with a
renowned reputation such as Oxfam has not escaped this discrimination
being practiced by its own local Albanians in Pristine.
But perhaps the worst offender of all is UNHCR. Their policy
towards the Roma they should be looking after can best be described by
an incident that happened a few weeks ago when UNHCR was asked how they
were preparing one of their displaced persons camps for the winter. At a
meeting attended by KFOR and Oxfam, the UNHCR director of the Rom camp
in question said: "We have no plans for them this winter. We just hope
they will disappear."
And disappearing they were until Macedonia closed their borders to
Roma and Hashkalija seeking to survive the draconian measures of UNHCR
in Kosovo.
At the main UNHCR displaced person's camp in Kosovo, just outside
Pristine, there have been four recorded deaths in the past few weeks
only because the UN police and the camp management refused to take sick
Roma children to hospital at night. In one incident, at 1:30 in the
morning, a UN policemen refused to take a pregnant woman to hospital
although her water had already broke and she was having contractions
every two minutes. He told the aid agency worker who was on night duty
that; "the gypsies have a tractor in camp. They can take her on the
tractor."
When local Albanians see the discrimination perpetrated by
international aid agencies and the UN organizations, why should the Roma
be respected those who won the war.
The war in Kosovo is supposedly over. But this winter more Roma and
Hashkalija may die than all the Serbs and Albanians during the war.
That is the situation today in Kosovo.

new pictures on http://www.RomNews.com

Theodor W. Fuendt for RNN

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Kasum Cana, President of the Roma Party in Zagreb, talks about the Albanian terror over Gypsies in Kosovo, Gypsies in the Jasenovac concentration camp and the trial of Dinko Sakic, and life in misery for the majority of Gypsies in Croatia

FLIGHT OF THE GYPSIES


Feral Tribune, Split, Croatia, August 9 1999
by Iva Karabaic

According to information available to me, it can hardly be said there are any Gypsies living in Kosovo, except in a camp at Kosovo Polje; they are mostly older people who were unable to flee. Nearly all the houses owned by Gypsies have been burned. Albanians started retribution because some Gypsies were drafted into the Yugoslav Army. Because of the fact that a few Gypsies were drafted, between five and ten thousand Gypsies were ousted from Kosovo. Kosovo is being discussed as if it were either Serbian or Albanian property. What belongs to my father in Prizren is nobody else's, regardless of whether Serbs or Albanians rule. Croatia has not taken in a single Gypsy refugee from Kosovo, except perhaps those who came to join their families. There are only Albanians in the refugee camp near Djakovo; there are no Gypsies there.

FERAL: You have announced you will be having talks with Kosovo Albanian leader Hashim Thaci in order to help solve the problem of the Gypsy exodus from Kosovo. What do you hope to achieve with that meeting?

Kasum Cana: I would like to reach an agreement regarding the safe return of Gypsies to Kosovo. I will ask Hashim Thaci, if he is indeed the leader of Albanians, to sign that agreement; the agreement should also be signed by KFOR representatives, who ought to guarantee the safety of Gypsies in Kosovo. If that doesn't take place, Gypsies will not be coming back to Kosovo, because they wouldn't feel safe. My father was beaten up in Prizren and is today in Switzerland; he is still afraid and says he doesn't wish to go back for at least five years.

According to information you have, how many Gypsies are left in Kosovo today, after the end of NATO attacks and the arrival of KFOR?

According to information available to me, it can hardly be said there are any Gypsies still living in Kosovo, except in a camp at Kosovo Polje; they are mostly older people who were unable to flee. We do not have exact figures on the Gypsy exodus from Kosovo. We never even knew the exact number of Gypsies living there, because for their own security they have been declaring themselves as Albanians, Turks, Serbs.

ALBANIAN REVENGE

According to reports from Kosovo, many Gypsy settlements were destroyed after NATO attacks.
Nearly all the houses have been burned. Albanians started retribution because some Gypsies were drafted into the Yugoslav Army. Because of the fact that a few Gypsies were drafted, between five and ten thousand Gypsies were ousted from Kosovo. The Albanians who expel Gypsies from towns, are not those who lived with us, but those who do not know us at all. Some Albanians in Croatia tell me that only Gypsies who bloodied their hands have been expelled from Kosovo. That means that five or ten thousand Gypsies have blood on their hands! I regret that Gypsy assets, earned with hard work, are being destroyed: these were not neighborhoods of small houses or tent dwellings, these were valuable multistory buildings. In Prizren, the district of Dusanova has been burned down, only Terzi-mahala remains. Meanwhile, media show pictures of laughing British KFOR soldiers with burning Gypsy houses in the background. KFOR does its job very badly.

It seems that Kosovo Gypsy leaders have not appeared in public and attempted to avert the exodus by negotiations?

Kosovo Gypsy leaders have little public presence because they are afraid. Besides, most fled Kosovo at the beginning of the war. Currently, the only Gypsy group with organized presence in Kosovo are Egyptian Gypsies who speak Albanian. I regret that Rajko Djuric [well known Gypsy activist and writer from Serbia], who is in Berlin, and Dragoljub Ackovic, author of a book about Gypsy martyrdom in the Jasenovac concentration camp during WWII, who is now in Belgrade, are not more active. Also, I expected that Luan Koka and Bajram Haliti would fight more for Gypsies in Kosovo.

Have international mediators mentioned the Gypsy departure at all?

No, nobody ever mentions Gypsies. For example, there is no talk at all about the return of Gypsies to Bosnia-Herzegovina. I used to really respect Madeleine Albright, but now I am very angry at her, because she demands return to Kosovo only for Serbs, without mentioning Gypsies or other ethnic groups, like Turks who lived in Kosovo. People discuss Kosovo as if it were either Serbian or Albanian property. What belongs to my father in Prizren is nobody else's property, regardless of whether Serbs or Albanians rule.

Which countries are main destinations for Gypsies fleeing Kosovo? Has anybody come to Croatia?

When NATO attacks begun, I asked the Police to allow some Gypsies who fled from Kosovo to Serbia, to Novi Sad or Kragujevac, to go to Croatia. They answered that to enter Croatia one must have all the necessary papers and visas. Croatia has not taken in a single Gypsy refugee from Kosovo, except perhaps those who came to join their families. There are only Albanians in the refugee camp near Djakovo; there are no Gypsies there. Kosovo Gypsies like to go to Italy, Switzerland, Canada. Lately, they have stopped going to Germany because some Albanians there have pictures of Gypsies mobilized into the Yugoslav Army, and are looking for them.


THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Tuesday, August 31, 1999

Targets of terrorism, Pristina's Jews forced to flee

Members of centuries-old kosovo.netmunity mistaken for Serbs or Serb collaborators by vengeful Albanian paramilitaries

MILOVAN MRACEVICH
Special to The Globe and Mail

Belgrade -- In a seedy hotel across the street from Belgrade's Jewish Museum, the head of Kosovo's tiny Jewish community recalls the day two months ago when Albanian paramilitaries armed with submachine guns came to the door of the Pristina apartment where he and his family lived.

“He told us to get out,” said Cedomir Prlincevic, 61, a small, white-haired man who worked as director of the Pristina regional archive. “We asked him why. He said, ‘My house was burned.’ I said, ‘But I'm not the one who did it.’ He said, ‘I'm not interested. Get out or I'll slaughter you.’”

By the end of June, four generations of the Prlincevic family and other Jews were forced to flee Pristina, almost bringing to an end five centuries of Jewish settlement in Kosovo.

While this flight of about 40 people represented but a drop in the sea of an estimated 300,000 non-Albanians who have fled Kosovo -- mostly Serbs, Gypsies, and Montenegrins -- their departure diminishes the former multifaith character of the region.

Many Jews thought they would be spared. When ethnic-Albanian refugees fled Serb attackers this spring, Israel was among the first countries to dispatch mobile hospital units to help the sick. Israeli officials spoke of being able to relate to the plight of refugees driven from their homes for ethnic reasons.

Because Mr. Prlincevic and his family had good relations with Albanians and had protected Albanian neighbours during the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo by Serb forces, they believed they had no reason to flee when Serb forces withdrew. They also believed in the guarantees of the international community and the promises of KFOR, the peacekeeping force in Kosovo led by the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to protect Serbs and other minorities.

“I had trust in the world,” Mr. Prlincevic said. “I never believed for a minute that I'd be the target of a primitive mass.”

But when heavily armed Albanian paramilitaries arrived, apparently from Albania, the Jews of Pristina found themselves targeted and terrorized by men who either assumed they were Serbs or had collaborated with them.

“It's a real inquisition down there. It's not like you can talk to someone and explain things. Those are wild people.”

The Prlincevics' ethnic-Albanian neighbours were unable to protect them from the paramilitaries.

“I saved two or three Albanian families during the war. When we were leaving Pristina, my neighbour called to me. He said, ‘Neighbour. Forgive me. I couldn't help you. You helped me, but I can't help you.’”

An envoy of the U.S. Jewish Joint Distribution Committee met with Kosovo Liberation Army leader Hashim Thaci to seek protection for Kosovo's Jews. Mr. Prlincevic himself wrote to Mr. Thaci seeking protection. Mr. Thaci issued a letter ordering “the entire Kosovo Liberation Army under my control to respect and protect all the Jews of Kosovo.” But the intimidation of Jews by
paramilitary vigilantes continued unabated.

Efforts to obtain protection from KFOR also proved fruitless. Mr. Prlincevic sought personal protection, as president of the local Jewish community, from a British major. The officer told him he was too busy to talk to him that day.

“I'm not saying that KFOR encouraged this violence,” Mr. Prlincevic said, “but the forces which were supposed to protect all nationalities didn't do their job.”

Almost all of Pristina's Jews left the city during a 10-day period in late June, with the assistance of the Joint Distribution Committee. They are now living in Belgrade and Vranje, where the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia helped them settle. The JDC supports them. A historian by training, Mr. Prlincevic did research in Ottoman archives in Istanbul on Jewish
settlements in Kosovo going back to the 15th century. He says the history of Kosovo Jewry until the Second World War was one of good relations with Albanians, Turks, and Serbs, and that there was a high rate of intermarriage with these groups. His father was Serbian, and his wife, Vidosava, is a Serb.

In April, 1944, Albanian fascists, acting on Gestapo orders, interned and plundered the belongings of 1,500 of Pristina's Jews, most of whom were sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Mr. Prlincevic's mother, Bea Mandil, was one of the few who escaped being deported, but her large extended family was almost wiped out in the Holocaust.

Now in her 80s, Mrs. Mandil is proud she can still speak the Spanish she learned in her parents' home, a remnant from her ancestors who were expelled from Spain in 1492.

Her large family's eight apartments and three houses in Pristina have reportedly been looted and damaged. She now lives in a crowded Belgrade apartment with Mr. Prlincevic and other family members.

“It's terrible,” said Mrs. Mandil, who was married in 1938. “Sixty years later, having to start again.”

Less than half of Kosovo's pre-Second World War Jewish population of 1,700 survived the Holocaust, Mr. Prlincevic said. Most of those that did emigrated to Israel from 1948 to 1952.

The continuation of more than 500 years of Jewish presence in Kosovo now comes down to four Jews living in the environs of Pristina -- one of Mr. Prlincevic's sons, a daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren -- and two Turkish-Jewish families in Prizren, which comprise 22 or 23 members.

Aca Singer, a 76-year-old Auschwitz survivor who is president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, is pessimistic about the chances for survival of the Kosovo Jewish community. He is disappointed that the Pristina Jews were forced to leave “at a time of peace, with international troops present, and when the international community's representative in
Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, is a Jew from France.”

Although a few Jewish families from Kosovo fled to Israel on the eve of the NATO's bombardment of Yugoslavia and five young Kosovo Jews are on a paid excursion to Israel to explore living and studying there, efforts by Mr. Singer's organization to get Israel to accept all the Kosovo Jews have been stymied thus far.

He blames Orthodox Jews within the Israeli ministries of religion and the interior for the situation, saying that they are applying purely religious criteria in defining Jewishness.

Mr. Singer is disappointed that the Kosovo Jews were left out of Israel's efforts to help refugees during the Kosovo war, when Israel sent its army hospital and humanitarian aid, and took planeloads of ethnic Albanians to Israel.

He was visiting Israel at the time, and pressed interior-ministry officials to relocate Kosovo's Jews to Israel as well. “I said, ‘If there's a problem, then accept them as Albanians, and sort out later whether they're Jews or not.’ They got mad at me.”

For Mr. Prlincevic, however, the prospect of going to Israel -- a region, as he says, with its own ethnic conflicts -- is not heartening. If he must emigrate, he would prefer Canada, but most of all he would like to be able to return home with his family.

“I can't comprehend in my 60th year, or my mother in her 81st, having to start a new life elsewhere. I'd look upon that as a moral death. This doesn't have to do with the Jewish community, it has to do with the right of a citizen to live where he belongs. I belong there, however primitive or undeveloped it is.”


INSTEAD OF PROTECTING KOSOVO CROATS, KFOR ASSISTED IN ETHNIC CLEANSING?

by Vesna Fabris Perunicic

Vjesnik, Zagreb, Croatia, November 2 1999

ZAGREB - About 300 Croats from the Kosovo villages of Letnica and
Vrnavokla have moved to Croatia. Newspapers report that the resettlement,
monitored by the Croatian government and authorized ministries, was done
with the utmost of secrecy in order not to endanger the lives of exhausted
and mistreated people. The reasons which forced them to leave the area where they had resided for almost seven centuries and resettle to areas in which
many of them have never been are well known.

One amongst them, Josip Markovic, described the situation in the Kosovska
Vitina municipality in the following way: "Since the arrival of KFOR we have
been left totally unprotected. At first, armed ethnic Albanians from the
neighboring villages visited us dressed in KLA uniforms. They mistreated us
even though we never gave them a reason for that: during the war we sided
with neither side. Now they come to our village as armed civilians and they
recently killed and mutilated, with an axe, Petar Tunic from the village of
Sosare. We hoped that KFOR would protect us, but that turned out not to be
the case. Likewise, multiethnic Kosovo is also a mirage."

Prior to sending three consecutive letters by way of which they requested
protection from Zagreb, they witnessed various humiliations: one was the
rape of Justina Peric from Letnica; daily theft of cattle from their stables;
burning of homes, and cutting down of woods... The usurpation of the primary
school in Letnica (and the local church) was particularly painful for their
language, culture and tradition, because parents were told that in the future
classes would be held exclusively in Albanian. Apart from the mistreatment by
Albanian extremists, Kosovo Croats in recent times have had to undergo
poverty - on the verge of hunger - because they have not received pensions,
salaries or any other form of assistance. However, fear for their own lives and
intolerable daily events are the most important reasons for the fact that only
45 Croats have remained in the village of Letnica and 15 in Vrnavkola, mainly
elderly people. Janjevo is the last oasis of centuries long presence by Croats
in Kosovo, with about 400 inhabitants.

Despite discrete organization, the latest exodus was no secret to the people
whose task it was to prevent it - KFOR. Namely, on the road from Letnica to
Skopje, eight KFOR armored troop carriers provided protection for the Croatian refugees, enabling them a safe passage to the Macedonian border, and then following a detailed search, all the way to Skopje Airport from where they flew to Zagreb. Instead of securing a peaceful and safe life, KFOR helped them to - emigrate. Rules of conduct for foreign workers in Kosovo indicate that the situation under KFOR and UNMiK protectorate is becoming increasingly uncertain and difficult. Immediately after their arrival to Kosovo,
international workers and officials were able to at least freely move about
the towns. However, now, for example in Pristina, they have organized and
protected traveling arrangements to their work places, while they can only dream of going out for strolls.



AIM Story on Bosniak and Turkish Communities in Kosovo
AIM - Alternative Information Network

I DON'T HAVE A WATCH
by Enes Halilovic (AIM)

Vreme, Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia, December 11 1999


Tyranny is eternal, I now believe, following my most recent journalistic
odyssey to Kosovo. Occasionally old tyrants are replaced by new ones;
crimes continue. Others have taken over from Milosevic's regime in
Kosovo. Of course, they are trying to outdo him. Traveling today in
Kosovo reminds one of a game of chance in which staying alive is a lucky
break.
It is the second half of November. On the border between Kosovo and
Serbia, a control point of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs
Police; a perfunctory inspection, only to prove that the men in blue
uniforms exist. The bus is going from Novi Pazar to Skopje via Pristina.
"Personal identification, please" and then "bon voyage". A middle-aged
Serb traveling to Skopje says: "I've relieved myself here; I have no
intention of looking for a toilet in Pristina." A Belgian KFOR troops
checkpoint follows; another perfunctory inspection.

First we pass through Leposavic. They say there are no Albanians here
anymore, only peace, quiet and hopelessness. Zvecan: A Serbian woman is
complaining because the bus does not stop in the Serbian part of
Kosovska Mitrovica. The driver says through his teeth: "Go back to Pazar
and look for a better connection." She gets off the bus by the road and
heads for the city, which, despite everything, cannot imitate Berlin.

SILENCE BECAUSE OF AN AX: The driver tosses a piece of beef salami into
his mouth and says: "Don't anyone raise your fingers in salute because
you may screw it up. It's not three fingers anymore, it's two" [i.e. the
Albanian victory sign instead of the traditional Serbian three-finger
salute]. People with money are busy building; people without money are
waiting for better times. There are tents in the alleys and houses are
slowly growing from the ground, so that people can move in before the
first snow. Between Mitrovica and Vucitrn, on the right side of the
road, I spot five freshly dug graves. On the graves, a red flag with a
black, two-headed eagle [Albanian flag] flies on a wooden stake stuck in
the ground. It is easier to find a Serb in Kenya than here. In Vucitrn,
there is a refugee camp, which was opened after the Croatian war by Buba
Morina, the Yugoslav Commissioner for refugees, who married into an
Albanian family. Albanians live here now; the Serbs from Croatia have
been exiled yet again. I am, of course, already regretting coming here;
I have a translator who talks fluent Turkish and Albanian but I don't
know what to say. I only know how to say "une nam Enes Halilovic prej
Novi Pazar, gazetar Free Europe". I know that Free Europe is respected
by the Albanians but they are resentful of everyone who doesn't speak
Albanian.

In Pristina the buildings are intact, the spirits worn out. Post-war
worries on faces, the wounds of war flash in every eye. I get off the
bus and wait for the bus to Prizren. It is twilight, I am the tallest
person in the bus station and this is not to my advantage; whoever looks
at me, it seems to me, is thinking: "He must be a Serb." A few people
approach me and ask me for the time in Albanian. "Ska sahati," I say,
which means: I don't have a watch. They ask: do you want a taxi?
"Jo."[No]

The bus for Prizren is here. I enter; the translator buys tickets. A
young man and an old man sit inside; the old man is singing "Gjingjile,
o gjingjile." The translator tells me it's an Albanian-Partisan song. I
call home and tell them where I am. I end the conversation with "Allah
imanet." Might as well get some kind of credit.

The bus passes through Lipljan, then Stimlje. Darkness, no electricity
whatsoever. Either the Serbs intentionally ruined it or the Albanians
don't know how to get "Kosovo A" to maximum production. It is so dark
that it couldn't be any darker, something like the episode of "Twilight
Zone" where the guy gets lost and wanders around in a desert. That is
Kosovo at night. After Stimlje, on the left side of the road toward
Prizren, there is a psychiatric hospital. A person who speaks Serbian,
does not know Albanian, and by some miracle manages to arrive in Stimlje
alive would do well to check into this hospital because that is where he
belongs. I am asking myself whatever possessed me to inflict injury upon
myself in this way.

In Suva Reka a young Albanian gets on and greets the other two men. He
asks me something, and the translator says something back. The Albanian
wants to know about the bag placed between the seats, which does not
belong to me. "A Serb?" asks the man with curly braids halfway down his
back. Jo, un prej Novi Pazar, Enes. He starts shouting and mentioning
"sekira" [an ax in Serbian]. I say nothing until we arrive in Prizren. I
remain silent, stubbornly silent. I feel their stares on the back of my
head.

We get off in Prizren. Why was I crazy enough to come here? It is a
historically significant city, a city about which I have heard beautiful
stories, but the year is 1999 and all sorts of ugly things have just
happened. And are still happening. Darkness; the sound of electrical
generators is coming from a few houses. We go to the translator's house;
his family does not know their son is coming. They ask me who I am, what
I am. A reporter, and so on. The father looks at the translator as if to
say: on top of my worries, I really didn't need this one as well. I will
remember that look as long as I live. They are Bosniaks-Muslims and the
Albanians have tried to break into their warehouse; during the war, both
Serbs and Albanians pilfered from them while there still were some of
them in Prizren. The father, an industrious and honest man, doesn't want
his house to become a target but he will also not do anything that may
bring dishonor on himself and his family. We talk about his business. I
comment that at least they had a reprieve from the tax collector and
financial and commercial inspectors; he says: "One is always paying
someone for something." I ask whether he means the Albanian mafia racket
and I get the impression that he is afraid of confirming my suspicions.
Maybe he thinks he would suffer misfortune if something like that should
get on television or into the papers. After dinner we sleep. I dream of
the guy with the braids who talked about an ax.

PEOPLE HAVE MONEY: In the morning, I go to the German KFOR and am told
by a man with a mustache that I need to come back tomorrow exactly at
nine because that is when the man in charge of issuing accreditation to
reporters will be there. Am I supposed to play hide-and-seek all day? I
go to the Turks. Selam aleikum and merhaba. Officer Hasan Gengis says
that Turkish forces are protecting citizens and preventing theft and
acts of vandalism at checkpoints and by patroling 24 hours a day.

"We have successfully prevented illegal logging and selling of wood. We
have helped schools in Dragas and the surrounding villages. We
distributed 5,700 packets of humanitarian aid, and we gave the village
of Dobrudzan 20 tons of coal. We have vaccinated 857 children against
various diseases. Our military physicians have examined approximately
seven thousand patients and circumcised 271 children of Albanian and
Bosniak ethnicity. We did the same in the Turkish village of Mamusa and
in Prizren. This is especially important because it fosters tolerance
and reduces hate," says Hasan Gengis. In the Turkish camp, I can hear
Ottoman music. Iron discipline, all of them are working like ants.

H.T., a merchant and an ethnic Turk, is happy because of the arrival of
the Turkish forces. He says: "This is our guarantee; the Albanians would
crush us if our brothers were not here. I cried when they came, I threw
flowers on their tanks. Their soldiers cried, too." Business is
transacted exclusively in German marks, the telephones have just resumed
working but the connections are unstable which represents a new problem.
"The people have money," says H.T. and adds "I am making more now than
before, I am not paying taxes, I have no inspectors waiting to skin me
alive." Then he asks me: "Is it true that Slobo's [Slobodan Milosevic,
the president of FR Yugoslavia] son opened an amusement park?" "It is."
"I know that Slobo knows no shame before God but how can he not be
ashamed before so many people? I remember when he said in 1997 in
Pristina that he would not give up a single inch of Kosovo. What is he
thinking now?"

Around 12 noon restaurant owner Ahmet confirms that he, too, is making
more money than before the war. "An espresso is one German mark; so is a
glass of juice. Everything is calculated in German marks, my friend."
Around 7:00 p.m. that evening I learn that some Albanian cracked his
skull open with an iron bar and that Ahmet is in the hospital where
doctors are fighting for his life. "Because he is a Turk," the
translator tells me, "you'll see what happens when the KFOR Turks catch
whoever did it; he will regret that he was born." Previously the
Albanians had forced Turkish children to attend school in Albanian. In
Prizren not a single Turkish word could be heard. Now everything is
different, the Turkish army is here to successfully hunt down those who
formerly tossed Turks and Bosniaks out of their restaurants, beat them
up or mistreated them.

I interview Numan Balic, the president of SDA in Kosovo. He is an ideal
interviewee requiring no prior preparation. I quote: "It is true that
there have been kidnappings and killings of Bosniaks by the Albanians.
Now the situation has improved but it still has not reached the desired
level of mutual trust. The battle for our survival in Kosovo is the
battle for schools in the Bosniak language. We are on the threshold of
securing ideal conditions for the education of our children. We have
ordered textbooks from Bosnia-Hercegovina."

ENDANGERED PLATANUS TREE: A reporter for the local review "Selam",
Mustafa Balje, says: "We need to fight for our rights. We Bosniaks are
not a currency to be shortchanged. I am staying here and I want a future
with everyone; I want to live here where I was born and to live a life
worthy of a man." In Prizren there is a tree, a specimen of platanus
orientalis [plane-tree, sycamore tree in the USA], which is six hundred
years old. If it could speak it would be the best witness to the history
of this city, about Dusan Silni [Serbian medieval emperor; his capital
was in Prizren] and Sinan Pasha [ethnic Albanian bey during Ottoman
rule; an enemy of the Serbs; he burned the remains of the greatest
Serbian saint, St. Sava, and destroyed monastery built by emperor Dusan
to build Sinan Pasha's mosque in Prizren]. "Under the protection of the
state" reads the sign on the tree but now the sign is only in Albanian;
all the other inscriptions have been erased. Those who erased them had
no respect for the past. Therefore, in addition to the Turks, the
Bosniaks, the Serbs and the Roma [Gypsies], the platanus orientalis is
also endangered.

The Germans didn't give me my accreditation the following day, either,
telling me that "If somebody is going to kill you, they are going to
kill you whether you are accredited or not." A luxurious red limousine
cruises around Prizren with the license plate "ZJJARI 002". The
limousine is driven by an Albanian who sets Serbian houses on fire. They
say he also set two Jewish houses on fire. "Zjjari" in Albanian means
fire. A Bosniak man says: "I wish that Slobo could come back if only for
three days. These Shiptars [ethnic Albanians] have grown so oppressive.
They do not allow us Bosniaks to utter a sound. They tell us that we
must state that we are Shiptars or flee from Kosovo. I think they can't
even stand themselves by now." The church in the center of the city is
protected by Germans; there are almost no Serbs in Prizren, perhaps ten
or twenty in all. Their names are mentioned with a lot of respect. "That
is real courage," say the residents of Prizren.

The interview with Ferhat Dervis is a real pleasure. Dervis is the
president of the Representative Club of the Turks from Kosovo. He says:
"I cried when the Turkish soldiers came to Prizren. That was the
greatest day of my life. Now we Turks from Kosovo have at least some
degree of security in our future. We are a part of Kosovo and we will
not at any price allow the Albanians to assimilate us." Ferhat Dervis is
very close with writers Altai Surroi and Iskender Musbeg. A weekly
publication in Turkish, "New Age", has began established. On the front
page, in huge type: "Eighty seven years after the departure of Ottoman
soldiers, the Turkish Army is again in Kosovo." The article on the visit
of [Suleyman] Demirel [Turkish president] bore the headline "Welcome,
father."

It is time to head back to Pazar. The same route. It is nauseating to
again reply "ska sahati". An Albanian from Suva Reka heard what we were
whispering in the bus. He pricked up his ears and heard us. He called
the conductor, explained, pointed a finger at us... The conductor raised
his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders. Signs by the road indicating
monasteries have not been erased; male reproductive organs have been
drawn on them. In Pristina we wait for the bus from 10:00 a.m. to
1:00p.m. For three hours I reply "ska sahati, ska sahati..." The bus
comes; I put my bag in the bin; only four passengers board. The driver
is standing in front of the bus; he says quietly: "I'm Boro, stay next
to the door, check the tickets, I'm just going to ask Feriz, the driver
to Pec, if he would mind taking me to the toilet." "Hurry up," I say to
Boro. And in the quietest voice possible, he says: "Aren't we lucky to
have our Slobo." "He's not mine," I answer. "Mine neither," says Boro.
The bus pulls out.

KFOR jeeps are too high for the tragic reality in Kosovo. The people in
them observe the life around them in a corresponding manner: from above.
Vucitrn, then Mitrovica. Passengers are smuggling cigarettes and cooking
oil. The control point of KFOR; the control point of the Ministry of
Internal Affairs Police. Green waters of the Ibar River, willows and
aspens.



SUN, 03 OCT 1999 16:14:13 GMT

Romany Refugees from Kosovo

People from No-Man's Land
AIM Skopje, 29 September, 1999

For a whole week Macedonian police did not enable a group of 600 Romany refugees to cross the border line. Therefore this group at least half of which were women and children waited for days outdoors on no-man's land at the Blace border crossing, the same one from where last spring moving pictures of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians toured the world. Unofficially, policemen will say that the authorities could not make up their mind to receive this group of Romany refugees for so long only because they were afraid that all the other Kosovo Romanies would hasten in this direction aware that nobody else would receive them.

Representatives of UNHCR tried to persuade the officials to open the border to this group of unfortunate people without promising anything in return except for humanitarian aid; the Romanies would like to be enabled to go on to a third, preferably Western country; but over there there is no readiness to welcome this type of wretched people. Without exception, all these Romanies claim that they were terrorised in Kosovo and that this is the reason why they do not wish to go back to that province. On the other hand, KFOR command says that it cannot keep anyone in Kosovo, but that it is offering protection to everybody who needs it...

At a press conference in the beginning of the drama of this group of refugees, deputy prime minister Bedredin Ibraimi confirmed the stand of KFOR by saying that all the inhabitants of Kosovo were safe and that nobody had any reason to flee... Some Skopje media recalled Ibraimi's arguments when as one of the key persons in reception of Kosovo Albanians he advocated open European and Balkan borders; which makes it difficult for them to understand the current change in his attitude?! Inflexibility of the government astonished the public despite unanimous conclusion of deputies in the assembly that the government should re-examine its stand. The government needed no less than seven days to reach a favourable decision which was stated at a press conference by prime minister Ljubco Georgijevski himself. At the same time he sent word to representatives of UNHCR that this was a precedent and that in the future the government would not meet demands of this kind.

According to the data of some Romany associations, not more than 20 thousand Romanies from Kosovo have fled to Macedonia. There would have been nothing exceptional about their position if at the height of the refugee crisis in Stenkovac camp it had not been for an actual lynch of three Romanies by an enraged mass of the Albanians who had allegedly recognised persons who had set their houses on fire on the account of the Serb para-military. Ever since then Romany refugees are mostly living with their relatives, friends and all those who wanted to receive them in their homes. Regardless of the internal political division among the Romanies who live in Macedonia, everybody is united in the assessment that their Kosovar compatriots as refugees have never had equal treatment as the Albanians who had stayed here before them. This is a fact for several reasons: the Albanians have participated in distribution of humanitarian aid, they have cooperated with UNHCR in preparation of lists for evacuation into "third countries", the Albanians have created the image of refugees in the media according to their own "shape and appearance"... Nobody listened to what the Romanies had to say. Media in Macedonian are not spreading an intolerant attitude towards Romany refugees like they once evidently did towards the Albanians.

According to the latest census conducted in 1994 under supervision of the European Union and the Council of Europe, there were 43,707 persons in Macedonia who declared themselves as Romanies. The Romanies have never had a conflict with the Macedonians. As government officials like to brag, this is the only country in Europe where the Romanies have their own municipality - Suto Orizari. The constitution of this country has given the Romanies the status of an ethnic minority which means that in the communities where they live they are offered the possibility of acquiring elementary school education in their mother tongue, the possibility of use of Romany language, of opening radio and TV stations and similar. Despite everything, the Romanies are often at the very bottom of the social scale due to high unemployment rate, their poor qualifications, etc. From time to time it is possible to hear in public uncorroborated opinions that the crime rate among the Romanies is high, but it is rarely possible to read data that would actually confirm this thesis. That is, nevertheless, the reason for the fear among the police that the arrival of new thousands of the Romanies from Kosovo could cause an increase of crime among the Romanies.

The Romanies have their political representative in the Assembly - deputy Amdi Bajra, who won his seat in the parliament last October almost by acclamation of his electoral district. By his populist, some people would even say demagogic idea of emancipation, he won the favours of members of his ethnic group. However, by his extravagant way of life, often tactless public statements which are not even taken seriously by a significant part of the media, this 44-year old has acquired the reputation of the uncrowned king of the Romanies whose biography can be read only in fairytales: a small washer of windshields who has soared up and become a multimillionaire who owns even a private airplane... But tactlessness of some of Bajram's statements cost dearly some of his ethnic brethren in the context of current developments in Kosovo. Carried by emotions at a public gathering Bajram threatened that he would go to the president of FR Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic and ask for weapons for the Romanies to go to Kosovo to fight against the Albanians. After this statement, relations between the Romanies and the Albanians in Macedonia, for the first time in history, became strained. It took a lot of effort and skill of local political representatives of both parties, as well as representatives of local authorities in the environments where members of both ethnic groups live together to re-establish somewhat more tolerant relations.

Prime minister Georgijevski stated in public the decision on offering refuge to the people from no-man's land on the same day when the government decree abolishing the status of humanitarian protection for the citizens of FR Yugoslavia (Macedonia has never accepted the status of refugees) came into force. Even on that day, the last day of hospitality for the refugees, the prime minister used the same symbolic word "precedent" which was repeated a thousand times during the refugee crisis. This was because in the beginning of the crisis the government had determined the figure of 20 thousand refugees as the upper limit that could be tolerated; little by little, precedent after precedent, at a certain moment the number of refugees approached the figure of 300 thousand. Fortunately, ill-omened forecasts that the refugees would disturb the necessary balance, which could bring about sinking of the ship called "Macedonia", did not come true. Kosovo Albanian refugees have mostly left as quickly as they had arrived. With the Romany and a certain number of Serb refugees the situation is obviously different: many of them do not have where to return! Georgijevski's cabinet was considerate when it set the additional time limit of six months which expires on 28 March next year by which refugees should go back to Kosovo. Whether this will be possible is a different question.

AIM Skopje

ZELJKO BAJIC


Romas Protest to Macedonian Government

open letter
Letter to Macedonian Interior Minister

On September 23, 1999, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public interest law organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse, sent a letter to Mr Pavle Trajanov, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia, expressing alarm at the refusal by Macedonian authorities to allow entry to Roma fleeing ethnic persecution in Kosovo. The text of the letter follows:


Honourable Minister Trajanov,

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public interest law organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse, is alarmed at reports that Macedonian authorities are refusing entry to Roma fleeing Kosovo.

According to a report on Radio Bosnia-Hercegovina on September 22, at least 1500 Roma had left the Romani refugee camp at Obilic, Kosovo, near the capital Pristina, travelling on foot in the direction of Macedonia. UNHCR officials had reportedly refused them transport. The same broadcast stated that 450 Roma had arrived at the Kosovo-Macedonian border, where Macedonian officials refused to allow them entry. The report quoted Macedonian officials as stating that they believed that the Roma were coming to Macedonia to take advantage of generous welfare benefits in Macedonia. The Macedonian television stations A1and Sitel additionally reported on September 22 that for the past two days, 1800 Roma have been on the Kosovo side of the Macedonian-Kosovo border crossing at Blace and that Macedonian authorities refused to let them in. Members of the Kumanovo-based non-governmental organisation Drom visited the border crossing on September 22 and confirmed the reports.

Honorable Minister Trajanov, in light of reports that Macedonian officials intended to cease providing Romani refugees from Kosovo safe haven in Macedonia, the ERRC appealed to your office to reaffirm its commitment to abiding by international law in a letter sent on August 31, 1999; we provided your office with significant documentation indicating that Roma from Kosovo can demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution and are therefore refugees under the 1951 Convention Pertaining to the Status of Refugees. To date, the ERRC has received no response from your office. Reports that Macedonian officials are now refusing entry to Roma fleeing Kosovo are extremely worrying. We urge your office to take all measures necessary to ensure that persons fleeing ethnic persecution in Kosovo be given protection until such a time as it is safe to return to their homes.

Respectfully,
Dimitrina Petrova
Executive Director

Persons wishing to express similar concern are urged to contact the offices of Minister Trajanov at:
Fax: (389 91) 112 468

Documentation of the persecution of Roma in Kosovo is available at the European Roma Rights Center internet webpage: http://errc.org



DANAS - Belgrade independent daily

Goran Representatives Hold Talks with Representatives of UNMiK and KFOR

AGAINST ARTIFICIAL MULTIETHNICITY
by R.D.

(Goran (pl. Goranci) are the Slav Moslem population living in a highland
area south of Prizren, Kosovo. They speak a dialect similar to Serb and
Macedonian language. They were the last group of Serb population in
Kosovo who converted to Islam in 19th century under the Ottoman rule)

Danas, Beograd, FR Yugoslavia, November 18 1999


A representative of the Goran ethnic community (GNZ) in Kosovo, Orhan
Dragas, conveyed yesterday in Pristina to the representatives of UNMiK
and KFOR officers the concern of Gorans regarding "increasingly frequent
bomb attacks of Albanian terrorists" on Goran property in the south of
Kosovo.
GNZ statement emphasizes that Dragas informed representatives of the
civil and military mission of the International Community active in the
Prizren region, at a meeting in Pristina, that several days ago bombs
were thrown on houses of Omer Jamini and Ibrahim Dehiri from Dragas.
"Gorans in Kosovo live in fear for their lives although the situation in
Gora is crystal clear, since only Gorans live in all 19 villages in that
municipality," said Dragas.

Dragas warned representatives of the International Community that
"neither UNMiK not KFOR can by force introduce multiethnicity by
violently changing the composition of the population in the region" and
repeated the Goran demand for cantonization, as a solution in those
places where multiethnic life is impossible.

--------------------------------------
Meeting in Brussels about the Implementation of UN Security Council
Resolution 1244

Gorans will Demand Return to the Constitution from 1974

by J. Spasic

Danas, Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia, December 20 1999
Gorans will advocate in Brussels that the Constitution from 1974 be
applied in the Gora municipality, as that Constitution gives a high
degree of local self-rule to municipalities, which is also a proclaimed
goal of UN in Kosmet, Orhan Dragas said for Danas. He will participate
as a representative of the Goran Ethnic Community (GNZ) at the
conference about the Balkans and the implementation of the UN Security
Council Resolution 1244, taking place in Brussels on December 21.
The conference is organized by several NGOs, led by the Future of Europe
Trust and Dragas was invited to give his "opinion about the attempts of
KFOR and NATO" to normalize the situation in Kosmet.

"The Gora municipality is ethnically homogenous. Only Gorans live in
that municipality and there are between 35,000 and 50,000 of them in
Kosmet. Albanians, partly assisted by the German KFOR troops, are trying
to change the ethnic composition of the population in the municipality.
They are doing that by settling by force ethnic Albanians in Goran
villages. The City Hall in Dragas has been taken over by the so-called
KLA. They are illegally issuing documents with the Albanian coat of arms
and the stamp of the transitional Kosovo government, says Dragas. He
emphasizes that "Gorans support multiethnic Kosovo but only in truly
multiethnic regions". Elsewhere, Gorans advocate "cantonization" through
application of the Constitutional solution from 1974. "That is the way
to achieve decentralization of authority which closely reflects the will
of the citizens," claims Dragas.