September 24, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 24-09-03

CHURCH OF ST. NEDELJA NEAR ORAHOVAC VANDALIZED

Unknown assailants broke into the Church of St. Nedelja (gr. St. Kyriake, lat. Domenica) in the village of Brnjaca near Orahovac and desecrated the church's interior. On Thursday, September 18, Fr. Srdjan Milenkovic, the parish priest in Orahovac, accompanied by two other Serbs and escorted by members of CIMIC (the battalion for civil-military cooperation) went to pick up some construction materials left over from the construction of the residence hall prior to the war and at that time he saw for himself that the church had been burglarized. On the same day he informed the UNMIK police of the condition in which he had found the church and asked that they conduct an on the scene investigation.

ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, September 23, 2003

Yet another Orthodox Christian holy shrines has recently been vandalized on the territory of the municipality of Orahovac. Unknown assailants broke into the Church of St. Nedelja (St. Kyriake, Domenica) in the village of Brnjaca near Orahovac and desecrated the church's interior. On Thursday, September 18, Fr. Srdjan Milenkovic, the parish priest in Orahovac, accompanied by two other Serbs and escorted by members of CIMIC (the battalion for civil-military cooperation) went to pick up some construction materials left over from the construction of the residence hall prior to the war and at that time he saw for himself that the church had been burglarized. On the same day he informed the UNMIK police of the condition in which he had found the church and asked that they conduct an on the scene investigation.

However, instead of UNMIK police, on Friday, September 19, members of the Kosovo Police Service came to get Fr. Srdjan in order to visit the vandalized church together. According to the priest's account, the church is in extremely poor condition. The front door has been broken down, the metal candle holders in front of the church have been broken, the chandelier is broken, the icons are damaged and scattered, and one wing of the royal gates on the wood-carved iconostasis is also broken.

Fr. Srdjan collected the remaining undamaged icons and one church bell and transferred them to the church of the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God in the Serbian part of Orahovac.

On the basis of their investigation, members of the Kosovo Police Service believe that the vandalism took place a month ago; however, since the church is no longer under the protection of KFOR and Serbs cannot freely move in that part of the municipality, no one informed the appropriate Church representatives regarding the resulting damage.

This is not the only attack by looters on this holy shrine. During a visit to the church and parish hall of St. Nedelja in Brnjaca on May 14 of this year, Fr. Srdjan observed that unknown attackers had broken into the parish hall and removed most of the remaining contents: curtains, light fixtures, windows and doors. On that occasion several windows on the church were broken but there was no damage to the interior of the church.

The Church of St. Nedelja and the parish hall are located in the area inhabited exclusively by Kosovo Albanians. Immediately after June 1999 they were placed under the protection of KFOR troops who protected the shrine until November 2002. Since then the church and the parish hall have been without direct protection, even though members of German KFOR promised to look after the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Church of St. Nedelja is first mentioned in historical records dating back to 1348. In the 16th century the church was restored in detail and thereafter partially restored several more times. The church contains valuable stone reliefs originating in the 16th century.

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija ascertains with sorrow that the process of systematic destruction and looting of Serbian Orthodox cultural and historical treasures in Kosovo and Metohija is continuing. Most of the churches located in areas where there are presently no Serb inhabitants and which are not under the direct protection of KFOR have been abandoned to vandals which show no sign of tiring despite the passage of four years since the end of the armed conflict in Kosovo and Metohija.


ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
Our Information Service is distributing news on Kosovo related issues. The main focus of the Info-Service is the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian community in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. ERP KIM Info Service works in cooperation with www.serbian-translation.com as well as the Kosovo Daily News (KDN) News List

Disclaimer:
The views expressed by the authors of newspaper articles or other texts which are not official communiqués or news reports by the Diocese are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Serbian Orthodox Church

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