November 28, 2003

ERP KiM Newsletter 28-11-03

Pastor of the faith and the Church - Fr. Miroslav Popadic
"Every night and every morning, they have only one thing on their mind," says the priest. "Early in the morning, when I set out to visit our unfortunate compatriots who have been living imprisoned for more than four years, I am always afraid whether I will still find them all. I understand them. If they want to visit the church, they leave their houses and apartments at their own risk."


Fr. Miroslav receiving visitors to St. Nicholas church in Pristina

The latest news

Security tightened in Kosovo after terrorist threat

SRNA News agency
November 27, 2003


PRISTINA -- Thursday – International peacekeepers in Kosovo have stepped up security after the United Nations mission yesterday received warning of a possible terrorist attack, Srna news agency reports.

The warning, received at 7.00 yesterday evening, said the mission could be the target of a terrorist attack in the next 72 hours.

Reinforced KFOR troops are guarding all entrances to the main UN building. They are monitoring traffic at all junctions in central Pristina, while members of the Kosovo Police Service have secured all access roads to the capital.

CONTENTS:

Three "Dukagjini witnesses" killed - Bota Sot
A leading Kosovo Albanian Dailly explains that the recent murder of a Kosovo Policewoman was a part of a systematic liquidation of crucial witnesses against former KLA and Albanian mafia warlords in Pec-Decani area: " Three of these witnesses have been murdered: Tahir Zemaj, Ilir Selimaj and Sebahate Tolaj; while there have been several attempts to kill Ramiz Muriqi"

Pastor of the faith and the Church - most noble achievement of the year
"Every night and every morning, they have only one thing on their mind," says the priest. "Early in the morning, when I set out to visit our unfortunate compatriots who have been living imprisoned for more than four years, I am always afraid whether I will still find them all. I understand them. If they want to visit the church, they leave their houses and apartments at their own risk."


Deteriorating safety conditions in Kosovo and Metohoija
The recent cases of murders and violence in the province send a clear message to the Serbian community in Kosovo-Metohija that it has no place in the province and negatively affects the return of refugees and displaced persons, said Krstovic, the whip of the Serbian Coalition Povratak in Kosovo Parliament

News from Kosovo and Metohoija Nov. 22-26

More News Available on our:

Kosovo Daily News list (KDN)
KDN Archive

This newsletter is available on our ERP KIM Web-site:
http://www.kosovo.net/erpkiminfo.html


Three "Dukagjini" witnesses killed

A leading Kosovo Albanian Dailly explains that the recent murder of a Kosovo Policewoman was a part of a systematic liquidation of crucial witnesses against former KLA and Albanian mafia warlords in Pec-Decani area: " Three of these witnesses have been murdered: Tahir Zemaj, Ilir Selimaj and Sebahate Tolaj; while there have been several attempts to kill Ramiz Muriqi"

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Bota Sot, Pristina Daily in Albanian published in both Pristina and Zurich; leans toward Ibrahim Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK)

Pristina, November 25

The first judicial process in Kosovo against those that have committed crimes during the war and after seems to be unfinished. Unfortunately, although justice has spoken, "deputies" of the crime seem to be determined to continue the criminal activities to the end. These executors of these crimes, that still stroll around freely in Dukagjin and in Kosovo, have on their "black list" all living witnesses of the so-called "Dukagjini Process" which was held at the end of last year.

Those that remember the trial against the "Dukagjini Group" know that the main witnesses, in the trial against those accused of killing the four fighters of the brigade "Mërgimi", have been Col. Tahir Zemaj, Ilir Selimaj, Vesel Muriqi, and Ramiz Muriqi etc. Amongst those fighters of the former Brigade 134, commanded by Col. Tahir Zemaj, that had information about the killing of the four "Mërgimi" fighters, was Sebahate Tolaj. Three of these personalities have been murdered: Tahir Zemaj, Ilir Selimaj and Sebahate Tolaj; while there have been several attempts to kill Ramiz Muriqi.

This dark chapter of the crime in Dukagjini completely darkens the horizon of free Kosova even four years after the expulsion of the Serbian military forces from Kosovo. It is also killing of the bloodied freedom of Kosovo and a killing against witnesses that testify for crimes against humanity that are committed during the war or after it. The murder of Sebahate Tolaj and wounding of Jusuf Haklaj and Hysen Lataj (the three were members of the Investigation Unit for Serious Crimes in Pec), is another criminal act against all those fighters of freedom.

But, why was Sebahate Tolaj murdered in an ambush?

Sebahate Tolaj has been an officer (pilot) and one of the highest-ranking officers of FARK (Armed Forces of Kosova Republic) of the Defense Ministry of Republic of Kosova. She was a comrade of the legendary commandants Sali Çeku and Tahir Zemaj. She also participated in the glorious battle of Koshare. After the war she worked for the KPS where she has been an outstanding member.

According to information from Peja, Sebahate Tolaj and Isuf Haklaj have been directly involved in investigations over the murder of Col. Tahir Zemaj who was murdered on January 4, 2002. In fact, Sebahate Tolaj, at the moment of her assassination, seems to have had the file with investigations about killing of Col. Tahir Zemaj. Considering this fact and the nature of killings this year in the Dukagjini region, we could say that perpetrators of these crimes are those that execute the orders given by higher "ranking" individuals that are directly involved in the "Dukagjini Process". Therefore, they are servants of those order-givers that are in prison now or of somebody that is a "civilian" today, but that at the time of execution of the four members of the "Mërgimi" brigade were in high command positions of the KLA.

Therefore, this murder is also directly connected with the trial process and sentencing of the "Dukagjini Group" because of the fact that all those persons murdered were witnesses in this process or investigators of serious crimes in Pec and Dukagjini. The murder of Sebahate Tolaj and wounding of Isuf Haklaj and Hysen Lataj is another serious criminal act that seriously threatens the freedom in Kosova. This killing is another black chronicle of killings in Dukagjin. Will these killings in Dukagjin and Kosovo end once and for all times?

(Dukagjin, a region of North Albania which Kosovo Albanian often use for Western Part of Kosovo Province. The Serbian name for this part of the Province is Metohija. So called "Dukagjini group" consists of former KLA militants lead by Ramush and Daut Haradinaj. Daut Haradinaj and other members of the group have already been sentenced by the court for crimes against civilians while Ramush Haradinaj is the present leader of the AAK party, the third largest Kosovo Albanian party which consists mostly of KLA supporters, remark by ERP KiM)


Pastor of the faith and Church - most noble achievement of the year

"Every night and every morning, they have only one thing on their mind," says the priest. "Early in the morning, when I set out to visit our unfortunate compatriots who have been living imprisoned for more than four years, I am always afraid whether I will still find them all. I understand them. If they want to visit the church, they leave their houses and apartments at their own risk."

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Vecernje Novosti daily, Belgrade
November 17, 2003


Miroslav Popadic, the only Serbian Orthodox priest in Pristina, under daily threats and pressures of Albanians, does not want to leave his church and hundred or so remaining Serbs

He is threatened by Albanians every day. The parish hall is stoned. Father Miroslav Popadic, the parish priest in Pristina, nevertheless endures. He says it is his intention to stay in the city, as long as a single Serb remains in Pristina. The guardian of the faith and the church says:

"Of all the misfortunes that confront me and the other Serbs - lack of freedom of movement, daily life in fear and poverty, the most difficult thing for me is the lack of believers. Once the church was full. Now visitors are few and far between, when someone really must come and has superhuman courage."

Father Miroslav, the only Orthodox priest in Pristina, recalls with sorrow: "Not so long ago there were more than 40,000 Serbs living in Pristina. Now barely one hundred remain."

"Every night and every morning, they have only one thing on their mind," says the priest. "Early in the morning, when I set out to visit our unfortunate compatriots who have been living imprisoned for more than four years, I am always afraid whether I will still find them all. I understand them. If they want to visit the church, they leave their houses and apartments at their own risk."

Father Miroslav Popadic takes a risk himself to visit them.

"It's not easy but the fear that I experience in getting to my destination disappears when, despite all the suffering, I see smiles on the faces of the people I visit. They know they are not forgotten and that at least someone is thinking of them.

The priest relates that sometimes when he goes on his visits he finds a locked door. Either they have left Pristina forever or they are no longer among the living. He has also been faced locked doors at the Senior Citizens' Home, located only a few hundred meters from his church. There are more than 30 Serbian residents there. Since he no longer visits them, he is not sure if all of them are still alive.

"Earlier, while UNMIK administered the institution, I regularly visited those unfortunate people," says the priest. "I spoke with them. I took them small gifts. Since the home has been in the hands of the Albanians, I am not allowed to visit the Serbs who are there. I don't know how they are burying them as I no longer serve last rites."

Father Popadic remains optimistic. He hopes that something will change for the better for the Serb population in Kosovo and Metohija. He says: "Things cannot stay like this forever."

"No evil can produce good," he says, "and the list of the evils the Albanians have committed against Orthodox Christians in the Province is far too long... His prayers in fear and silence are dedicated to all Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. And to those who refugees in the hope that they will soon return to their homes.

Dragana ZECEVIC

Sorrow during the holidays

As a father and a priest, Father Miroslav is saddened that the celebration of Orthodox holidays takes place in isolation, without his children who are abroad. He says that Christmas and the patron saint's day are always difficult. Nevertheless, he still finds words to console the faithful. He does not charge for patron saint's day ceremonies, knowing that many of the remaining Serbs are without any source of income. Their situation is already difficult enough.

Stoning every day

Since March of last year KFOR troops have stopped guarding the church and withdrew from the checkpoint once located across the road from the church. Since then Father Miroslav has been the constant target of attacks, first and foremost, by children who stone the churchyard almost every single day. The Kosovo Police Service always arrives late to file a report and their investigation has yet to yield any results.

Days in darkness

In addition to the usual pressures, threats, stonings and various forms of intimidation, Father Miroslav says that the Pristina Serbs are also exposed to other pressures. The Albanian authorities are sending them incredibly high telephone and electricity bills, although almost everyone is without telephone service. The parish home, where the priest lives with his wife Branka, was without electricity for days. Electrical power was restored through the intervention of Kosovo ombudsman Marek Nowicki but a few days ago the priest again received a bill that he is unable to pay.

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Deteriorating safety conditions in Kosovo and Metohija

The recent cases of murders and violence in the province send a clear message to the Serbian community in Kosovo-Metohija that it has no place in the province and negatively affects the return of refugees and displaced persons, said Krstovic, the whip of the Serbian Coalition Povratak in Kosovo Parliament

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http://www.serbia.sr.gov.yu/news/2003-11/26/332102.html

Serbian Government

Kosovska Mitrovica, Nov 26, 2003 - Dragisa Krstovic, the Coalition Povratak (Return) whip in the Kosovo-Metohija parliament, said on Wednesday that UNMIK and interim Kosovo institutions are responsible for the deteriorating safety conditions in the province.

The recent cases of murders and violence in the province send a clear message to the Serbian community in Kosovo-Metohija that it has no place in the province and negatively affects the return of refugees and displaced persons, said Krstovic.

A number of incidents marked the past ten days in the province. Danijel Milosevic (18 years of age) was killed near Gnjilane on Nov 16. UNMIK arrested two Serb nationals in connection with the murder but released them two days later for lack of evidence.

Shortly after, Trajko Jovanovic (63) and Aleksandar Stojkovic (75) were beaten up in two separate incidents in the Kosovo Pomoravlje district.

On Nov 21, ethnic Albanians beat up two Serb nationals in northern Kosovska Mitrovica.

Kosovo police member Sabaheta Toljaj was killed near Pec on Nov 24.

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News from Kosovo and Metohija 22-26 November

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www.inet.co.yu

I*Net News, Belgrade

Wednesday 26 November 2003

20:40 Macedonian defense minister Vlado Buckovski will visit Kosovo and Metohija on Thursday, his office advised.

20:20 The International Commission for Missing Persons and UNMIK signed a memorandum in Pristina today defining the tasks of these organizations in the identification of victims in Kosovo.

15:40 Serbian Radical Party vice president Tomislav Nikolic said that if he is elected to office, he will insist on the return of the Serbian army and police to Kosovo and he assessed that this is a realistic possibility. When asked whether this also meant new wars, Nikolic
replied: "Yes, if you mean conflicts with Albanian terrorists." "We will have conflicts with whoever attacks a Serbian village or a Serbian village. If the defense of Serbs means confrontation, I am ready for such confrontation," said Nikolic.

Tuesday 25 November 2003

20:00 Commenting on the statement of Kosovo parliamentary speaker Nexhat Daci in Washington that there is no alternative to the independence of Kosovo, Kosovo agriculture minister Goran Bogdanovic said that the Serbian community will never accept the independence of Kosovo and that this corresponds to the strategy of the Serbian state.

19:40 The Serbia and Montenegro Official Gazette published notification that the Serbia and Montenegro Council of Ministers has formed a state commission for resolving cases of missing persons from the territory of Serbia and Montenegro in armed conflicts on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia and Kosovo.

18:00 Members of the Association of Missing and Kidnapped Persons from Kosovo and central Serbia assessed today at a meeting with representatives of UNMIK in the Coordinating Center in Kosovska Mitrovica that nothing has been done to determine the fate of the missing and kidnapped.

14:40 Ethnic Albanian political parties in southern Serbia will most probably not participate in the extraordinary parliamentary elections scheduled for December 28. According to the chairman of the Democratic Action Party municipal board in Bujanovac, Fatmir Asani, a final decision by his party on the elections will be made on Friday but "as things stand, chances of the Democratic Action Party participating in [the elections] are small".

14:00 The security situation in Kosovo and Metohija has deteriorated significantly and responsibility for this situation falls on representatives of UNMIK and provisional provincial institutions, political leaders of the Kosovo and Metohija Serbs assessed today.
Return Coalition (Povratak) whip in the Kosovo parliament Dragisa Krstovic said that the most recent murders and beatings of Serbs send a clear message to the Serbian community that there is no place for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.

Sunday 23 November 2003

19:00 Two Serbian young men, aged 19 and 20 years, whose names have not been released for security reasons, were beaten up by a group of about 20 Albanians in Kosovska Mitrovica, Northern Kosovska Mitrovica Hospital director Dr. Vladimir Adzic confirmed. The incident occurred early Sunday morning, one hour after midnight, when a group of Albanians intercepted the two young Serbs in the "Microsettlement" quarter in Northern Kosovska Mitrovica, which is inhabited by both Serbs and Albanians, said Dr. Adzic.

Saturday 22 November 2003

19:40 A 63 year-old Serb man, Trajko Jovanovic, was seriously beaten up on Friday night in the village of Robovac near Kosovska Kamenica, Serb sources from Kosovsko Pomoravlje reported.


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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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