OEA PRESS RELEASE:



Open Letter of Protest



LIBERTYVILLE – 10 January 2002: Throughout our civilized world, year-end celebrations mark festal seasons, both sacred and secular, as a time of joy and reflection. Orthodox Christianity is no exception. However, this year and yet again, the Serbian Orthodox celebration of Christmas in Kosovo and Metohija was tragically marred by “violence and barbarity by Albanian extremists.” With these words, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica strongly condemned recent outbreaks of violence, coupled with a warning that the situation in the province of Kosovo and Metohija had not improved since the November 2001 elections.

On Christmas Eve (according to the Julian Calendar), Sunday, 6 January 2002, a Serbian shop owner, Dragoljub Markovic (age 36, father of 3) was killed when he tripped a wire stretched across the back entrance to his shop in Kosovska Kamenica and set off an explosive devise. This incident – one of many in an ongoing series of terrorist acts against the Serbian and other non-Albanian populations of Kosovo and Metohija – despite the presence of so-called international peacekeeping forces, triggered protests in the streets of Kamenica until the man’s funeral on Christmas Day, 7 January 2002. Ironically, the principles of “peace on earth and good will among humanity” are clearly forsaken in Kosovo and Metohija.

Kosovo Serbs have been openly urged to participate in voter registration and in past elections in return for guarantees from UNMIK – the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. Despite strong participation in the electoral process, it seems that little has changed in terms of basic human rights and indeed, in the very right to life itself. Organized crime and discrimination against non-Albanians is epidemic; 200,000 Serbs (2/3rds of the prewar Serb population) have fled; 50,000 Roma, Slav Moslems, Croat Catholics and others had to leave; more than 1,000 Serbs have been killed; over 1,200 abducted and are still missing. This is ethnic cleansing of the first order.

Approximately 120,000 Serbs have lost employment overnight; the Serbian language is completely banished from public life; all Serb inscriptions have been systematically removed; thousands of Serb books in public libraries have been burned; Serb cultural monuments, including 110 churches and monasteries have been destroyed; and Albanians greatly pressure Serbs to sell their property under threats and extortion. Refusals result in example torching, killings and grenade attacks. When will it end?
Kosovo is still ruled by apartheid. We agree with President Kostunica who stated: “Kosovo Albanians must decide if they envisage a serious change of policy towards peace and stabilization . . . or whether they intend to continue to live within a context of violence.” In the absence of decisive action by the United Nations and NATO against terrorism and violence, which occurs continually in their very presence, this choice obviously has been made since it is apparently unopposed.

Therefore – as this directly impedes upon our American security policies in our stand against terrorism everywhere in the world– on behalf of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States of America and Canada, we openly call upon the Honorable President of the United States of America George W. Bush, and the Honorable Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, to do what is vitally necessary in moving the United Nations and NATO to act swiftly and decisively against terrorism in Kosovo and Metohija, restoring civilized law and order, returning all the refugees to their homes, and together working toward peace in the world.

+Metropolitan Christopher
President


Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States of America and Canada
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For further information please contact:
Fr. Irinej Dobrijevic, Executive Director
Office of External Affairs
2311 M Street NW, Suite 402
Washington, DC 20037
202-463-8643 (Telephone)
202-463-8645 (Fax)

Anti-Christian Barbarism in Kosovo
Serb Orthodox Shrines Desecrated by Kosovo Albanians in post-war Kosovo
since June 1999, in the presence of the international peace-keepers
not in WAR but in PEACE