September 30, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 30-09-03

SERBIAN GRAVES DUG OVER IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA


"THOSE WHO FIGHT AGAINST THE DEAD CAN NEVER WIN", Bishop Artemije

The cross of Mirka Stefanovic in Decani town Orthodox Christian
 cemetery was burned and broken and her tombstone was smashed into pieces by
ethnic Albanian vandals (Sep 2002). Decani Municipal authorities never publicly
condemned this and similar acts of vandalism.

 

CONTENTS:

SERBIAN GRAVES DUG OVER IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
According to recent updates secured by "Novosti" a total of 5,177 grave markers have been destroyed on 211 Serbian Orthodox cemeteries. Almost all of these are beyond repair. In terms of numbers, this means that two thirds of the total number of grave markers in these cemeteries have been destroyed, as well as entire fences and all the chapels.

APPEALS HANDED TO WESTERN REPRESENTATIVES IN BELGRADE
"We appeal to you and the governments of your countries which are the pillars of democracy in the world, whose forefathers wrote the first lines on the rights of man and the citizen, and breathed life into the spirit of all of humanity, with the appeal to grant us the right to life, to find the criminals responsible for the massacre in Gorazdevac and all crimes committed in Kosovo since 1999 to today, and to bring them to justice before the Hague tribunal," reads the appeal which was read and handed to embassy officials.

FIRST BELGRADE-PRISTINA TALKS TO BE SHORT
Speaking to a group of local journalists, Holkeri said the issues to be addressed during the first meeting between the two sides since the end of 1998-99 war "will concentrate on technical issues such as transport, energy, missing persons and the return of displaced people."

WITNESSES IN HIGH-PROFILE TRIALS AFRAID TO COME FORWARD
Independently of the heavily disrupted relations between the two main Albanian political blocs and the two main parties heading these blocs, as well as the permanent mutual conflicts between various structures supporting these political blocs from the background, the attempted murder of Ramiz Muriqi will without a doubt produce grave consequence for the Kosovo judiciary and for one of the biggest problems that it faces -- viz., securing of witnesses.

PERPETRATORS OF GORAZDEVAC MASSACRE STILL NOT ARRESTED - DAY 47...

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A broken tombstone in Naklo, near Pec

SERBIAN GRAVES DUG OVER IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

According to recent updates secured by "Novosti" a total of 5,177 grave markers have been destroyed on 211 Serbian Orthodox cemeteries. Almost all of these are beyond repair. In terms of numbers, this means that two thirds of the total number of grave markers in these cemeteries have been destroyed, as well as entire fences and all the chapels.

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Vecernje Novosti daily, Belgrade
September 25, 2003

D. Damjanovic

PRISTINA - A unique appeal from Serb communities in Kosovo and Metohija has been sent in a letter recently sent to numerous world addresses: "Ladies and gentlemen, lift up your voices in protest against the barbarism that is spreading throughout Kosovo and Metohija, unprecedented in any civilization."

The statistics cited in the appeal letter for the salvation of Serbian holy shrines have caused justifiable shock and concern among the domestic public, too.

"Everyone is well aware of the fact that since the arrival of the UN in Kosovo and Metohija 114 churches and monasteries have been destroyed and set on fire, while more than 400 holy shrines with icons and iconostases have been desecrated. The material damage alone is in the millions of euros even though these items are priceless. According to some estimates, an entire new city with surrounding hamlets could have been built for the same value of what has been reduced to ashes and dust. It sounds incredible but it is true," said Dr. Slobodan Kostic, a university professor who is also an expert on Kosovo and Metohija.

According to recent updates secured by "Novosti" a total of 5,177 grave markers have been destroyed on 211 Serbian Orthodox cemeteries. Almost all of these are beyond repair. In terms of numbers, this means that two thirds of the total number of grave markers in these cemeteries have been destroyed, as well as entire fences and all the chapels.

"In the last four years all grave markers and tombs have been completely destroyed in 51 cemeteries and within a short time we can expect these areas to become the pastures or arable fields of those who are destroying them.

"This is the case, for example, in the villages of the municipalities of Podujevo, Djurakovac, Srbica, beneath Cicavica, near Vucitrn and so on. While we Serbs in Kosovska Mitrovica protect the Albanian cemetery in the northern part of the city, in the southern part they have destroyed 500 of our grave markers, as well as breaking 200 in the Pristina cemetery, even more in Pec and almost 80 grave markers in Gnjilane," adds Dr. Blagoje Danilovic.

If we take into account that 11 cemeteries have been completely dug over and that during the last four years 430 locations have been left completely without their Serb populations, we can understand why the appeal letter to the global public asks the question whether Kosovo and Metohija should be proclaimed the largest graveyard of cemeteries and churches in the world.

It all sounds so horrible, awful and disgusting but it is true.

Even the ruins of monasteries, churches and cemeteries can only be visited with an escort of soldiers and police. It is possible to get such an escort but it is rare because when people visit the cemeteries where even their deceased family members have no peace, they leave with even greater despair, pain and suffering.

Barbarism in the southern Province has grown to a greater extent than was present during the time and fascism or any of the difficult times that the Serbs endured for centuries in this part of the Province.

GARBAGE DUMPS
Some Serbian cemeteries are already becoming local garbage dumps. This is what occurred in Djakovica, where French soldiers from World War I were also buried. After the barbarians removed the markers, fence and chapel, they began to dump truckloads of city garbage there, which now covers the graves of the dead Serbs and Frenchmen. And everyone is apparently powerless to do anything to change this.

BUSTS
In all cities of Kosovo and Metohija all busts of national heroes and eminent Serbs have been removed, street names have been changed, all markers reminding of Serbs and Serbia have been broken.

In the southern, Albanian-inhabited part of Kosovska Mitrovica, a monument to the Russian consul Shcherbyn, who was himself killed by the Albanians, has been torn down, and another monument is being built to replace it dedicated to one of the terrorists from the ranks of the KLA.

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MONUMENTS OF POETS THROWN INTO GARBAGE DUMPS

Destruction of Serb Monumetns in Post-War Kosovo Photos of destruction of Serb monuments in Kosovo and Metohija by Kosovo Albanians. Not a single Serbian monument has been restored to its original place. On the other side Kosovo cities are adorned now with statues of UCK rebels with machineguns and bombs.

 

 

 

 

War against the Dead - report on desecration of Orthodox Christian cemeteries in post-war Kosovo


APPEALS HANDED TO WESTERN REPRESENTATIVES IN BELGRADE

"We appeal to you and the governments of your countries which are the pillars of democracy in the world, whose forefathers wrote the first lines on the rights of man and the citizen, and breathed life into the spirit of all of humanity, with the appeal to grant us the right to life, to find the criminals responsible for the massacre in Gorazdevac and all crimes committed in Kosovo since 1999 to today, and to bring them to justice before the Hague tribunal," reads the appeal which was read and handed to embassy officials.

TOP

Beta News Agency, Belgrade
September 26, 2003

BELGRADE - The Democratic Youth Association of Kosovo and Metohija handed letters of appeal to representatives of foreign embassies in Belgrade with areas of responsibility in Kosovo and Metohija asking that the same standards of respect for human rights be applied in the Province as in their home countries.

Approximately one hundred demonstrators gathered in on the Student Square downtown and set out for the embassies of France, Italy, Great Britain, Germany and the USA, handing officials human rights documents that are recognized in their countries or implemented as part of their normative law system, asking that the same documents be applied in Kosovo.

"We appeal to you and the governments of your countries which are the pillars of democracy in the world, whose forefathers wrote the first lines on the rights of man and the citizen, and breathed life into the spirit of all of humanity, with the appeal to grant us the right to life, to find the criminals responsible for the massacre in Gorazdevac and all crimes committed in Kosovo since 1999 to today, and to bring them to justice before the Hague tribunal," reads the appeal which was read and handed to embassy officials.

The youth also asked that the UN Security Council proclaim the Albanian National Army a terrorist organization because "it is sowing fear in people's lives, murdering children and innocent citizens, and destroying the fragile peace in the Balkans."

The embassy representatives of these countries were asked to find adequate mechanisms and measures that will concretely contribute to the implementation of the same standards in Kosovo and Metohija, and respect for the same rights as in their own countries so that Kosovo can be integrated and become a part of a modern and civilized Europe as soon as possible.

The executive director of the Democratic Youth Association Aleksandar Milovanovic said that in this way "the young people of Kosovo are seeking the right to life because they want to have the same life as their peers in the democratic world."

Representatives of the Association received guarantees from embassy officials that they will soon be invited to talk with the ambassadors and that they will seek to resolve the problems in Kosovo and Metohija.

Milovanovic also asked that the public be informed how far the investigation had progressed since no perpetrators have been caught.

The Serbian National Assembly of Metohija, the Kosmet and Zora associations of displaced and expelled persons from Kosovo and Metohija, and the Association of Families of Kidnapped and Missing Persons have expressed support for the demands of the youth.
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FIRST BELGRADE-PRISTINA TALKS TO BE SHORT, TECHNICAL: UN KOSOVO CHIEF

Speaking to a group of local journalists, Holkeri said the issues to be addressed during the first meeting between the two sides since the end of 1998-99 war "will concentrate on technical issues such as transport, energy, missing persons and the return of displaced people."

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http://www.ptd.net/webnews/wed/dk/Qserbia-montenegro-kosovo.Rx5U_DST.html

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Monday, 29-Sep-2003 12:20PM

BELGRADE, Sept 29 (AFP) - The first talks between Belgrade and Pristina since the end of the Kosovo conflict will be short and focus on technical issues, Harri Holkeri, head of the UN mission administering the southern Serbian province said Monday.

The talks are expected to be held next month.

"The meeting will be short, the two sides will present their stances and, I hope, will focus on concrete issues," Beta news agency quoted Holkeri as saying.

Speaking to a group of local journalists, Holkeri said the issues to be addressed during the first meeting between the two sides since the end of 1998-99 war "will concentrate on technical issues such as transport, energy, missing persons and the return of displaced people."

But the talks will not touch on the most sensitive issue for the southern Serbian province -- its final political status.

Most ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's population, want full independence but Serbia refuses to consider anything more than a high degree of autonomy.

In 1998-99, the ethnic-Albanian guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army fought a separatist war against Yugoslavia, now known as Serbia and Montenegro. The conflict was ended by intervention from NATO that brought the province under UN control.

Holkeri has received support from the United States, the European Union and other powers in holding the initial meeting between two sides reportedly in mid-October in Vienna, Austria.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and NATO Secretary General Georges Robertson were to take part in the talks which should begin "very soon, when everything is ready," Holkeri said in Belgrade, refusing to confirm the exact date for the meeting.

During his visit, Holkeri met with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic and deputy prime minister Nebojsa Covic, expected to head the Belgrade delegation at the talks.

======================|

No bargaining on dialogue, Holkeri tells Albanians

Beta News Agency, Belgrade
September 29, 2003


BELGRADE -- Monday - There will be no bargaining over participation in the planned talks between Belgrade and Pristina, Kosovo governor Harri Holkeri warned today, commenting on conditions set by Kosovo Albanian politicians for their taking part.

"The Albanians want to get the maximum out of this," said Holkeri, adding that, while he understood this position, the situation did not allow for bargaining.

"On the other hand, we will resume dialogue with local Kosovo authorities on many other issues," he said.

Holkeri told journalists in Belgrade today that the talks would begin very soon but would only cover practical issues as agreed on during the EU's Salonica summit. Those issues are energy, security, traffic and communications and missing persons.

None of the issues discussed would have any connection with the final status of the province, he said.

Holkeri was speaking after his meeting in Belgrade today with ambassadors of Contact Group countries.

He had earlier received the support of the EU's Council of Minister's who, at a meeting in Brussels today, supported his insistence on the establishment of standards for Kosovo before any discussion of the eventual status.


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WITNESSES IN HIGH-PROFILE TRIALS RELUCTANT TO COME FORWARD

Independently of the heavily disrupted relations between the two main Albanian political blocs and the two main parties heading these blocs, as well as the permanent mutual conflicts between various structures supporting these political blocs from the background, the attempted murder of Ramiz Muriqi will without a doubt produce grave consequence for the Kosovo judiciary and for one of the biggest problems that it faces -- viz., securing of witnesses.

TOP

VIP, Daily News Report
Belgrade, September 29, 2003


An abortive attempt was made in Pristina on Friday on the life of Ramiz Muriqi, one of the witnesses in the trial of the so-called Dukagjin Group that comprised five members of the former Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK/UCK/KLA).|

In December of last year, the District Court in Pristina sentenced the Dukagjin Group to long prison terms for the torture and murder of four members of military formations that during the war had been loyal to the Kosovo government in exile, headed by Bujar Bukoshi.
One of the members of the Dukagjin Group is Daut Haradinaj, brother of Ramush Haradinaj, leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK).

According to media reports, Ramiz Muriqi was a key witness in the trial of the Dukagjin Group. The attempt on his life was made by a remote-controlled device planted in a locality in Pec. At the moment of activation of the device, which was planted under a manhole cover in the street, Muriqi was in his car driving over the spot.

Police sources have told the media unofficially that Muriqi survived thanks to the fact that he was riding in a bulletproof car and that the device went off under the front of the car, where the engine was and where the car was the sturdiest. It is believed that, if the device had exploded beneath the back of the car, the driver would not have survived.

According to media reports, this was the third attempt on the life of Ramiz Muriqi.

The event has again attracted attention to the fate of witnesses in one of the biggest post-war trials of former UCK members. So far, unknown attackers have mounted spectacular attacks, managing to kill two witnesses in this trial: Ilir Selmanaj and Tahir Zemaj. The murderers were not particular in the choice of place and time for carrying out their purpose, which is to punish witnesses in the trial of the Dukagjin Group.

Both attacks claimed also innocent lives. Ilir Selmanaj was killed with his sister-in-law, and Tahir Zemaj, with his son and a cousin.

Especially spectacular was the murder of Tahir Zemaj on a road on the outskirts of Pec on January 4, 2003. He was ambushed while riding in his jeep with his son and cousin. The vehicle was riddled with bullets in the classic mafia style: sudden attack, liquidation of all those who happen to be in company of the target, and disappearance of the perpetrators in the dark.

Analysts believe that Zemaj's murder had to do with more than just his testimony in the trial of the former UCK members on charges of grave crimes; in fact, that it delivered a clear political message as well.

Tahir Zemaj, a major in the army of the communist Yugoslavia, was one of the highest ranking figures in the parallel military organization set up by the LDK of Ibrahim Rugova before the war, but which never got off the ground properly because of rivalry and conflicts with the UCK.

At a memorial service for Tahir Zemaj, Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova said that he had planned to make Zemaj his military advisor.

Independently of the heavily disrupted relations between the two main Albanian political blocs and the two main parties heading these blocs, as well as the permanent mutual conflicts between various structures supporting these political blocs from the background, the attempted murder of Ramiz Muriqi will without a doubt produce grave consequence for the Kosovo judiciary and for one of the biggest problems that it faces -- viz., securing of witnesses.

Witnesses to crimes are becoming increasingly reluctant to volunteer information and evidence, especially if the defendants are former UCK members.

The trial of the Dukagjin Group is a glaring example of this: some of those who dared testify to crimes committed by members of the former UCK against their compatriots are dead, together with their nearest and dearest, while others are living in a permanent state of dread, hiding and on the run.

The situation is similar with potential witnesses in trials of former UCK members before the ICTY in The Hague. ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, speaking about cases before this court for crimes suspected to have been committed by former UCK members, has stressed on several occasions that securing witnesses is the biggest problem that is delaying the bringing of two more indictments against former UCK members.

The ICTY has problems also about securing witnesses in the case of the prosecution versus Limaj et al, as evident from the prosecution's opposition to the motion by the defense counsel of Fatmir Limaj (charged with war crimes in the Lapusnik prisoner camp in 1998) for his release pending trial.

According to the prosecution, KFOR was forced to protect and relocate from Kosovo a witness in the Limaj case because of a suspicion that his life was in danger.

The fate of the witnesses in the Dukagjin Group trial has served as an eye-opener to the competent authorities in the Kosovo judiciary, as could be seen from the next high-profile trial of former UCK members.

In the trial of the so-called Llap Group, the competent District Court simply built an impenetrable wall not only between the witnesses and the public, but also concealing the identity of the main witnesses from the defendants and the defense.

The witness protection regime in the Llap Group trial is a novelty in the court annals on the continent. It is even tighter than the regime for the witnesses in the war crime trials before The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Kosovo justice system also relocates key witnesses and supplies them with new identities.
Excellent as the new witness protection regime in Kosovo may be, the series of attacks on witnesses in earlier trials that were open to the public, like the Dukagjin Group trial, is increasingly serving the purpose of those who are behind "punishing " witnesses by executing them.

Along with every possible protection measure by the court and the police, guaranteed anonymity, identity protection, and even relocation to another country, the competent judicial bodies can today hardly hope for the cooperation of the people in these matters, even those directly affected by the crimes, who have an excellent motive for testifying in order to shed light on the crimes, such as the families of the victims.

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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

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