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"I Won't Tell No Lies"

The Human Rubble of War
by James T. Phillips

Full text at Counterpunch, July 20, 2002
America's Best Political Newsletter

The rubble has been removed from Kosovo, carted away and buried in the same earth as the human victims of war.

Three years after the bombs stopped dropping from the sky, the destroyed homes and shops owned by Albanians have been replaced by thousands of new structures. Kosovo's re-building program has been very successful, providing Albanians with housing that would satisfy wealthy arms merchants and retired generals. As targets of both sides during the 1999 war between Yugoslavia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Albanians suffered and lost throughout a conflict that lasted 78 days. Construction of the new multi-story buildings has been an integral part of the international community's efforts to restore dignity and respect, as well as shelter, to the Albanian population of the Serbian province of Kosovo.

The only evidence of that terrible conflict visible in 2002 are the remnants of the Serb and Roma communities and, unlike the 78 day plight and flight of Albanian refugees in 1999, their conflict has lasted for more than one thousand days. Only a small fraction of the pre-war ethnic minorities remain in Kosovo, living in semi-protected enclaves where shelter is a luxury and freedom is a fading memory. The Serbs and Roma live in small houses, crowded apartments, sagging tents, bug-infested shacks and pre-fabricated boxes. They also live in unrelieved fear of their Albanian neighbors, protected by an international cadre of soldiers and police officers more often interested, with a few heroic exceptions, in earning money than in providing a safe and secure environment for Kosovo's ethnic minorities.

The Serbs and Roma are the human rubble of war. FULL TEXT

Previous text by J.T. Phillips


Kosovo 2002 - Serb Reservations - Did you come to see a zoo?
Counterpunch, by James T. Phillips, June 20, 2002

Location at Dragodan, only a few hundred meters from the
main KFOR HQ where uninentified Serb bodies were burried
after they were found massacredby Albanian extremists during their
terror rule after the war (LARGE PHOTO)


Monday 23 July 2002


Pristina - The remains of ten Serbs have been exhumed from a mass grave in the Pristina suburb of Dragodan, stated pathologist Slavisa Dobricanin, the director of the Office for Exhumation and Identification of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija, on Monday. He added that the bodies of Milka Djilas and Gordana Djuric have been identified. Their remains will be turned over to their families on the administrative border of Serbia and Kosovo by the end of this week. “Ten bodies were exhumed and we have almost completed identification of them. In two cases the results are certain and the bodies will be turned over to the families during the course of the week. We have taken DNA samples from the other eight at the request of the families. So far a total of fifteen people have been identified; five more, or a total of twenty, have been exhumed,” said Dobricanin.

The DNA samples from the remaining eight bodies will be sent for analysis to a laboratory in Tuzla in order to identify the bodies, he said. So far the remains of Sasa Komatovic and Vladan Stanojevic of Kragujevac, soldiers of the Yugoslav Army; Petrija Piljevic of Pristina; husband and wife Milosava and Miladin Kostic of Pakastica; and Romanies Gafor Fazli and Avdija Celic of Preoce have been turned over to their families.

One location where a Serb body was found in 2000

Holy Liturgy at Osojane village

Osojane, July 21, 2002

Continuing the action - Let us rebuild our holy sites with prayer - Bishop Artemije served today a holy Liturgy in Osojane, near Klina. Osojane village is the first location in Kosovo and Metohija where organized return of Serb IDP's has been realized. Since the very beginning the Church has been supporting the returnees. MORE

Service at Osojane village


July 19, 19.00 GMT

Later in the afternoon an information came from Velika Hoca that Turkish soldiers which provided security in Zociste monastery in the last few days had already withdrawn and that the monastery was left without any visible guard. Local Serbs interpret this move as a consequence of pressures by Albanian extremists and a way for KFOR to avoid a conflict with them.

Fr. Nektarije in front of Zociste Monastery ruins


Bishop Artemije decided to withdraw the monks

Gracanica, July 19 , 2002

The commander of the Multinational Brigade South Brigadier General Wolf-Dieter Skodowski and the political advisor to gen. Velentin (COMKFOR) Mr. Maartens de Sitters had a meeting today with Bishop Artemije and hieromonk Sava (Janjic) at Gracanica Monastery. The main topic of discussion were the events at Zociste monastery in the last four days. Despite his sincere willingness to assist all kosovo.netmunities, as he stated, gen. Skodowski informed the Bishop that he is nevertheless not in position to provide protection for the reconstruction of Zociste monastery. He stated that "it is necessary first to change the thinking of the local population". Bishop could not accept such an explanation as valid because in that case, he said, "Serbs would have to wait another 1000 years to rebuilt their homes and churches".

Bishop Artemije expressed his deep indignation with this decision because it is absolutely impossible to understand that a KFOR brigade of 6200 soldiers in its area of responsibility is not capable of providing security for reconstruction of at least one destroyed Orthodox holy site, three years after the war. Prizren area is known as a part of Kosovo and Metohija where only a few Serbs still live and since the end of the war not a single organized return project has been carried out there. Almost 20 Orthodox churches destroyed by Albanians after the war in this part of Province still lie in ruins.

Two months ago the idea of reconstruction of Zociste monastery was supported by the US and German office, as well as Kosovo's PM Rexhepi. Regrettably, after the discussion with the German general today, Bishop Artemije was left no choice but to give up this idea and withdraw to Decani Monastery three monks which were patiently waiting in Velika Hoca to be allowed to live in Zociste. Bishop Artemije expressed serious concern that if such unconstructive KFOR policy were continued Kosovo and Metohija would become completely monoethnic society. Reconstruction of Zociste monastery had to be a first post-war reconstructed Orthodox holy site which would encourage return of Serb IDP's in the area.

The discussion with two high profile KFOR officials has proved the fears of the Diocese that the general security situation in Kosovo and Metohija is so unfavorable that it stands in complete contrast with public statements in which highest KFOR and UNMIK officials so persistently claim that considerable progress has been made. Further reduction of KFOR personnel, without basic elements of security for all citizens, would be a grave mistake which would only encourage extremists and discourage non-Albanian returness.

In fact, the progress which has been achieved so far by the UNMIK/KFOR Mission has only affected Kosovo Albanian population whereas the position of Serbs, their human and religious rights, have not been improved at all and still depend on whims of local Albanians and mercy of international authorities. After these Zociste events It is quite evident that it is not Serbs who do not want to go to their homes and holy sites, but Kosovo Albanians who prevent this process and international mission which is incapable of creating necessary security conditions envisaged by the UNSCR 1244 (#10.k)

In conclusion, Zociste events have demonstrated clearly that true winners in such a situation are only Kosovo Albanian extremists, which seriously puts KFOR and UNMIK credibility at stake.

Photo caption: Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren holds press conference – Bishop Artemije on the latest in a series of attacks on the Monastery of Holy Anargyroi in Zociste (from left: Dragan Velic, Randjel Nojkic, Bishop Artemije, Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Media Center moderator)


July 17, 2002

“After we served holy liturgy at the remains of the Monastery of Holy Anargyroi in Zociste, Albanian extremists finished what they had already begun and set what little of the monastery remained on fire,” said Bishop Artemije, adding that during the liturgy itself, there was a series of provocations by the local Albanian population which had gathered. Although he personally had asked the commander of the German brigade responsible for the security of that region to secure the monastery because such incidents could be expected, this was not done.

Bishop Artemije said that KFOR also refused to guarantee personal security for three monks who were supposed to have begun to clear the site of the monastery fire on July 15 and to attempt to rebuild what could be rebuilt. This only shows that KFOR is continuing with its three year long practice of failing to respect the resolutions of the United Nations and that it is neither succeeding nor wants to succeed in providing security for the local Serb people, concluded Bishop Artemije.

Serbs still travel in KFOR escorted convoys in Kosovo
three years after the war

Randjel Nojkic, a member of parliament from the Return Coalition, said that the situation is similar in the Kosovo parliament itself. The statements of Serb representatives are either omitted from official records altogether or they are falsified; therefore, the work of the parliament serves only as a façade for what the Albanians intend to achieve and what they probably will achieve unless the present situation changes.

Dragan Velic, the chairman of the executive board of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, emphasized that an accurate and complete list of refugees and displaced persons has not been completed to this day. If this is not done, it may well happen that these people will not be permitted to return to Kosovo and Metohija at all.

On the other hand, added Rada Trajkovic, Albanians are coming from every corner of the world to register to vote in the upcoming local elections. Even Albanians from Macedonia who have never lived in Kosovo and Metohija are registering, so it may happen that the Albanians will be in the majority even in those places where none of them ever lived.

Serbs enter Zociste monastery, July 14th



Arrogance and threats instead of protection!

Gracanica, July 17, 2002 22.00

Bishop Artemije has just confirmed to the ERP KIM Info-Service that he received a letter from the commander of the Multinational Brigade South (Brigadier General Wolf-Dieter Skodowski). In his letter the German general informed the Bishop that the MNB (South) will not provide security for the reconstruction of the monastery in Zociste and that the Church will take upon herself responsibility of something happens. Furthermore General Skodowski indirectly threatened the Bishop that he may suspend protection of other Orthodox Christian sites in the area of his responsibility.

This letter of General Skodowski has finally made clear that KFOR is not willing to grant protection for reconstruction of an Orthodox monastery which was destroyed by UCK/KLA extremists in their very presence. The true reason for such a position is that KFOR does not want to risk a conflict with Albanian extremists which have still not been disarmed. Almost twenty Serbian Orthodox churches have been destroyed in the South of Kosovo and Metohija after the deployment of German forces and no perpetrators have been arrested so far. Among destroyed churches are the churches built in the 13th and 14th century.

The position of General Wolf-Dieter Skodowski is considered by the Serbian Orthodox Church as an act of most profound arrogance, cynism and hostility. General is of course free to suspend protection for the Serb population and churches in his area but it is him, not the Bishop, who is going to bear responsibility in front of law and God for any eventual casualty or damage made to Orthodox Christian sites.

Such a behavior of a leading KFOR general shows that stories of alleged readiness of international community to support Serb returns and reconstruction of their homes and holy sites is nothing but cheap PROPAGANDA. Threatening the Bishop that he may suspend protection of other monasteries and churches is a behavior which reminds of methods used during the Second World War and it is very negative for the moral reputation of the KFOR peacekeeping mission.

Serbian Orthodox Church so far has had much more constructive cooperation with the German KFOR and the position of General Skodowski is a regretful exception in comparison to his predecessors.

Zociste monastery - three years of internationally granted peace


Why Germans and Turks prevent Serb monks to return to their holy site?

Gracanica, July 17, 2002 20.22

Fr. Peter (Ulemek) from Velika Hoca confrimed this evening to the Information Service ERP KIM that he has finally managed to reach the monastery of Zociste. He was escorted by UNMIK policemen and two military policemen, although he had not received an official permission and regular KFOR escort from the local German commander who still refuses to meet the representatives of the Church. In Zociste Fr. Peter could see that the monastery had been placed under protection of Turkish KFOR soldiers. Before the incident the monastery was not under regular protection. As he entered the monastery Fr. Peter used his video camera to capture the latest scenes of damage made by fire three days ago. As soon as he saw this a Turkish officer approached Fr. Peter and told him that he is not allowed to shoot in the monastery "without a permission". He ordered Fr. Peter to delete the video tape immediately.

Such a behavior of KFOR is another example of extreme arrogance which suits more to invaders than peacekeepers. KFOR has no authorities to prevent Serbian Orthodox clergy to visit and film inside their holy sites. Such a gesture cannot be understood otherwise but as an attempt to hide the failure of KFOR which could not prevent Albanian extremists three days ago from burning the Serbian monastery, second time in the last three years.

Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren will insist to excercise its legal right and return the monks to Zociste in order to begin reconstruction. Further behavior of KFOR will only show to the public whether the goal of the KFOR mission in Kosovo and Metohija is to create conditions for return of all expelled population or to help Albanian extremists to create an ethnically clean second Albnian state in the region.

Burned Serb Monastery at Zociste


Gracanica, July 17, 2002

Fr. Peter (Ulemek) in Velika Hoca (nr. Orahovac) has confirmed to the Info-Service ERP KIM that monks are still not allowed to visit Zociste monastery three days after the incident. Since the holy service on July 14th marked the beginning of the reconstruction of Zociste Monastery, Bishop Artemije has already assigned three monks to organize preliminary preparations for the reconstruction. Fr. Peter asked from local KFOR to allow them to visit the monastery after the fire but they failed to grant them permission and escort to the monastery without any reasonable explanation.

Such a position of KFOR has aroused serious concerns in the Church. It is absolutely inacceptable that KFOR blocks free access of monks to the monastery three days after the fire which made additional damage to this holy site. Religious rights are an essential component of human rights and the Church will strongly insist that the Serbian Orthodox clergy can freely visit, perform services and work on reconstruction of the ruined holy sites. According to the UN SCR 1244 the role of KFOR and UNMIK is to secure a safe surrounding for all ethnic and religious groups in Kosovo and Metohija and not to allow the legalization of ethnic cleansing performed by Albanian extremists in the last three years. (MORE)

Serb refugees in Serbia request to go back to their homes in Kosovo


July 2002

Position of the non-Albanian population in Kosovo is very difficult. Many of them, especially Serbs and Romas, are remaining isolated in ghettos and are faced with great risk if they go out from a ghetto without armed escort. Their extreme limit of freedom of movement have serious consequences on all aspects of new life - possibility of employment, medical care, education and generally, all public services," said Marek Nowicki in his July report to be forwarded to UNMIK Chief Michael Steiner.

Latest News - July 14, 21:40
Zociste monastery burned by Albanians after Bishop Artemije
and the congregation left

Bishop Artemije serving at the ruins of
Zociste Monastery, June 14, 2002 - REPORT

TRAJKOVIC: Serbs Do Not Travel to the Security Council Meeting in Steiner's Team
Source: B92 17:21

Pristina: Members of the "POVRATAK" Coalition will travel to the Security Council Meeting, scheduled for July 24 in New York, only as members of the governmental delegation of Serbia and FRY, said for the Radio B92 the chief of the Coalition, Rada Trajkovic.

"With all respect for Mr. Steiner and other representatives of the Kosovo and Metohija institutions, Serb representatives from these intstitutions will not appear in the team of Mr. Steiner, but will travel to New York in the team of Mr. Covic, the representative of the federal and republic government. By this we want to send a clear message to the members of the Security Council that Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija have clearly defined their political goal - Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia and Yugoslavia, said Trajkovic for B92.

Kosovo Albanians provoke Serbs who came to worship at Zociste, June 14