NEWSLETTER No 29
Bishop Artemije: The fact that Roma, Goranis, Bosniacs and other communities, as well as Serbs, are being expelled shows that what is occurring is not revenge after the war, but the continuation of the old Albanian strategy from during the period of autonomy to create an ethnically pure state of Kosovo by expelling the non-Albanians, which will serve as the basis for pan-Albanian territorial unification in the Balkans.
KIM Info Service
Following a stay of several days in Washington, D.C., Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren is scheduled to travel to New York City today where he will meet with representatives of the UN Security Council. He will then visit Cleveland and Chicago where he is scheduled to meet with representatives of the Serbian diaspora in the U.S.
After several important meetings in Washington and participation at yesterday's Prayer Breakfast hosted by U.S. president George Bush, Bishop Artemije told the ERP KIM Info Service that he satisfied with his contacts and hopeful that his first-hand testimony regarding the systematic violation of human rights of the Serb and other non-Albanian population in Kosovo and Metohija will encourage more interest on the part of U.S. officials in events in regional events, and convince them that ethnic cleansing is in fact taking place under the protectorate of the UN Mission and KFOR.
Commenting on yesterday's statement by Kosovo premier Bajram Rexhepi at the U.S. Institute for Peace that minority communities are not endangered in Kosovo, Bishop Artemije told the ERP KIM Info Service:
"Albanian leaders are stubbornly continuing to misrepresent the situation in the southern Serbian province to cover up their own lack of willingness to build a truly multiethnic society. Just as Milosevic at one time maintained loyal representatives of national minorities, some of whom he even sent to Rambouillet, so today Albanian leaders have so-called representatives of Kosovo minorities who generally represent only their own interests or that of a small circle of people who enjoy certain privileges from the Albanians. What has happened to the Roma, Gorani and Bosniac communities in Kosovo and Metohija can best be attested to by those who are still banished and unable to return to their burned and robbed homes. Roma and Goranis especially have been persecuted to the point where they are threatened with complete disappearance unless their rights are protected.
"In an April 29, 2003 report Amnesty International confirmed that 'more than half the pre-war Slavic Muslim community of 67,000 fled in 1999. Now about 3% of the population, they are mainly concentrated in and around Prizren town.' We can also find evidence of discrimination against other non-Albanian communities in the regular reports of OSCE regarding human rights in Kosovo and Metohija. The fact that Roma, Goranis, Bosniacs and other communities, as well as Serbs, are being expelled shows that what is occurring is not revenge after the war, but the continuation of the old Albanian strategy from during the period of autonomy to create an ethnically pure state of Kosovo by expelling the non-Albanians, which will serve as the basis for pan-Albanian territorial unification in the Balkans."
Bishop Artemije attends National Prayer Breakfast with U.S. president in - Diocese rejects claim by the KFOR spokesperson
The Bishop emphasized that the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija is prevented from functioning normally and that because of the poor security situation it is essential that endangered holy shrines remain under the protection of KFOR. "Without KFOR escorts the lives of my monks in most of the monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija would be impossible and the international community must not allow this," emphasized Bishop Artemije in talks with eminent U.S. congressmen and senators.
Bishop Artemije informs U.S. congressmen regarding problems of Holy Archangels monks
It is the firm position of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren that the statement of the KFOR spokesman not only contradicts the existing situation on the ground but represents an open threat to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija. Following the unprecedented behavior of German KFOR in Prizren, Bishop Artemije spoke about this problem today before representatives of the U.S. Congress, stating that the security situation for the Church has not improved at all and that the Church is exposed not only to attacks by Albanian extremists but lack of understanding and inhumane relations on the part of individual representatives of German KFOR.
"Security in Kosovo and Metohija for holy shrines and representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church does not exist because the Church continues to be exposed to attacks and provocations. Attacks on our churches are an everyday reality. In just the past month, two of our churches were attacked: one (in Gornja Brnjica) was robbed and desecrated, while the belfry of the other (in Stimlje) was set on fire. A church utility building next to the Church of the Most Holy Mother of God of Ljevis was also robbed. UNMIK and the Kosovo police have shown themselves to be incapable of investigating and solving not only these two incidents but any one of 112 instances of destruction or damage to churches in Kosovo and Metohija that have occurred since the deployment of the peacekeeping mission. They have also failed to solve the murders of two of our monks: Fr. Chariton Lukic of Holy Archangels Monastery and Fr. Stefan Puljic from Budisavci, both of whom were abducted by Albanian extremists. The body of Fr. Chariton was found headless. We have no confidence in the Kosovo Police Service and it is our opinion that endangered Orthodox holy shrines must remain under the exclusive military protection of KFOR.
"On Christmas Day this year (January 7, 2004) Albanians stoned a bus carrying Orthodox faithful in Decani. On January 21 in Djakovica Albanians attacked our monks as they were sitting in a KFOR vehicle. Our clergy and monks lack free access to their congregation; they cannot freely visit their isolated churches and cemeteries, which makes the normal functioning of the Church a minimum of religious rights for the Serb people in the Province impossible. The claim of the KFOR spokesperson that security for the Church exists is the just a blatant falsification of the truth and avoidance of responsibility," said Bishop Artemije during a telephone conversation with the ERP KIM Info Service.
If KFOR leaves we demand return of "Serbian personnel" in accordance with Resolution 1244
If KFOR has the intention of discontinuing protection for Orthodox monasteries and churches in zones that are especially exposed to danger that are located in completely Albanian environments, the Diocese will ask the Government of Serbia and the highest officials of Serbia-Montenegro to insist that UNMIK fulfill the provision of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (Annex 2:6) clearly and decisively mentioning the possibility of the return of an agreed upon number of "Serbian and Yugoslav personnel" who secure a presence at Serbian patrimonial sites.
The possibility of turning over the protection of the most important Orthodox holy shrines, especially monasteries, into the hands of the KPS or UNMIK police is unacceptable due to the past failure of the police to find a single perpetrator of attacks on 112 Orthodox churches and their inability to provide effective protection against extremists.
If neither of these solutions proves to be possible, the Church will be forced to close down its monasteries due to the unwillingness of KFOR forces to provide necessary protection for the most important cultural and historic monuments.
Monks of Holy Archangels Monastery pressured by German KFOR after reporting truth about Djakovica incident
Bishop Artemije: "I am horrified by this treatment of my monks. Such behavior on the part of the German military contingent is leading to the complete expulsion of the Orthodox Church from this region where it remained and survived for centuries, even during Turkish occupation."
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija expresses its sharpest protest against the intolerant behavior of German KFOR toward monks of the Monastery of Holy Archangels near Prizren.
friendly version of this report in PDF with all photos is available
Following the incident in Djakovica on January 21, 2004 when a group of about 30 Albanians attacked a German KFOR vehicle transporting monks of the Holy Archangels Monastery and a German TV crew filming the ruins of the Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in the center of town, the life of the monks of the only remaining monastery in the area of responsibility of German KFOR has gotten much worse. KFOR escorts for the monastery have been discontinued with the explanation that all future escorts must be requested from Albanians in the Kosovo Police Service. The monks are no longer able to use the German military electrical generator they have been using until now, and the Orthodox priest on duty in the Bishop's residence in Prizren is being denied food.
Full report in html format: Newsletter 03. February, 2004
January 28, 2004
Bus carrying Kosovo Serb pupils stoned by ethnic Albanian mob
Kosovska Mitrovica, 28 Jan (Tanjug, Belgrade) - A bus which was carrying Kosovo Serb pupils between Kosovska Mitrovica and Gojbulja, was stoned by a group of some thirty ethnic Albanians in Novo Selo, northern Kosovo, around 6 pm (5000 GMT) on Tuesday.
Albanian throng in Djakovica attacks German KFOR vehicle with Serbian Orthodox monks and German TV crew
(photo: German soldiers repairing damaged KFOR vehicle after Albanian attack)
The gathered Albanians made a lot of noise and began to verbally attack the monks and German soldiers with the most vulgar expressions. They then began to pound on the chassis and windows of the vehicle using their feet and hands, and to throw balls of frozen snow. The German soldiers noticed that during the furious attack one of the bumpers of the minibus was almost broken off (see photo left), which was later repaired. In the meanwhile, the horrified ARD German state television crew, which had been filming the nearby ruins of the Serbian Orthodox church blown up by the Albanians in the summer of 1999, frightened out of its wits, jumped into one of the vehicles and the entire column raced at breakneck speed as far as the Italian military base a few hundred meters away. Several civilian passenger vehicles of angry Albanians immediately set out after the KFOR vehicles and stopped only when the two minibuses and the German transporter literally crashed through the ramp of the Italian KFOR military base, stated Brother Bojan Dejanovic of Holy Archangels Monastery, an eyewitness of the incident.
Full report on: Newsletter 22 January, 2004
of the church of Holy Archangel Michael set on fire by ethnic Albanians
KIM Info Service
(desecrated Orthodox Christian icons in Holy Archangel Michael church in Stimlje. An archive photo from "Kosovo Crucified". The church was desecrated by Muslim Albanian extremists in summer 1999)
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija most strongly condemns the setting of a fire in the belfry of the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Archangel Michael in Stimlje. After the recent desecration of the church in the village of Gornja Brnjica near Pristina, this represents yet another instance of attack on Orthodox holy shrines in the area of central Kosovo and Metohija. As in the previous instance, this attack also occurred in the area of responsibility of Finnish KFOR, which in both cases failed to protect the targeted churches.
According to an UNMIK police report dated January 20, 2004, on Sunday, January 18 at approximately 17,25 hours a fire was set in the belfry of the church which was quickly localized by the firefighting team. The report goes on to state that on the basis of initial findings it is believed that the fire "was caused by children and not thought to be a direct attack against the church or its community".
Today ERP KIM Info Service correspondent G.N. and Fr. Randjel Denic, the parish priest for Lipljan and Stimlje, attempted to verify the UNMIK police report regarding the fire that broke out in the belfry of the Serbian Orthodox church in Stimlje. They first contacted Finnish KFOR, whose area of responsibility includes Stimlje, and requested additional information regarding the incident. Local representatives at the Finnish base in Lipljan did not demonstrated the slightest willingness to help them or provide photos of the damage in KFOR's possession. They even refused to provide them with a military escort so they could visit the church because they claimed the existence of full freedom of movement. The Finnish chaplain, who was separately addressed by Fr. Randjel, also refused to help.
Finally the ERP KIM reporter and Fr. Randjel set out unescorted and at their own risk to determine the damage that had been done to the belfry. The fire damaged a significant part of the wooden construction and roof of the belfry. The priest did not have time to enter the church itself because a group of Albanians, obviously hostile as a result of the arrival of the Serbian priest and a reporter, had already gathered around the church. The church and belfry are encircled by barbed wire and Fr. Randjel stated categorically that it is completely impossible for "children" to easily access the belfry because the barbed wire had to be cut by pliers.
"It would appear that this was an act of arson and the next target may easily be the church itself, which is without direct KFOR protection," Fr. Randjel told the ERP KIM Info Service, adding: "The UNMIK police report, which states that the fire was set by "children", sounds all too familiar to Kosovo Serbs, who have heard the same justification for many previous attacks against cemeteries and churches. For example, two years ago, according to an official KFOR report, 'small children' removed and carried off the entire copper roof of the Church of St. Lazar in Piskoti near Djakovica and dug up the Orthodox cemetery there." "In Stimlje today there are only 17 elderly Serbs remaining who almost do not go out of their homes and it is completely certain that a fire will be set by local Albanians," said Fr. Randjel.
After visiting the church Fr. Randjel and our correspondent visited the local UNMIK administrator Masanba Seck of Nigeria who received them in the building of the Stimlje municipal assembly where the flag of the Republic of Albania was prominently displayed. Although the building also includes an UNMIK office, no UN Mission markings were displayed although Kosovo Province is under UN administration and not a part of Albania. The UNMIK administrator said that he could not give any statement regarding the case and that an investigation of the incident by UNMIK and the Kosovo police is in the progress.
When our reporter asked why neither UNMIK nor KFOR informed church representatives of the incident, which they had found out about almost by chance from a very brief UNMIK police report posted on the World Wide Web, neither the UNMIK representative nor the KFOR commander had any comment.
The local spokesman of the Finnish battalion Jani Manakaneki said in a brief statement for the ERP KIM Info Service that the wooden belfry of the Orthodox church in Stimlje had been set on fire at approximately 17,25 hours on January 18. The Finnish battalion removed its fixed control checkpoint in front of the church on October 2003 because the situation is purportedly "stable" and there is full freedom of movement in the region of Stimlje municipality. KFOR patrols pass through Stimlje twice daily, said Manakenaki, adding that the entire case is under the jurisdiction of local Kosovo and UNMIK police, who are conducting an investigation.
The Church of the Holy Archangel Michael was build on a hill above Stimlje in 1920-22 on the foundation of an older church which existed here in the Middle Ages. The church was also build as a memorial shrine to the fallen Serbian soldiers of World War I. It was build according to the design of one of the first Serbian woman architects, Jelisaveta Nacic, with funding from the Kneginja Ljubica Fund. Several of the icons in the church are the work of painter Uros Predic. An orphanage for girls was originally built next to the church. In 1977 the church was restored.
Commentary by Fr. Sava Janjic
ERP KIM Info Service
let's go back to Stimlje and see some facts:
In order to climb the locked belfry the children had to break the
lock which perhaps could be a part of the children game. I really
do not believe that Mr. Chappell ever played in that way anytime in
his life, but OK again, Kosovo "games" are unique in the
world. Instead of playing with toys Kosovo Albanian children burn
churches, dig graves and rob houses. Quite an interesting phenomenon
for sociologists, indeed.
In any case this ironic and totally unfounded qualification by the UNMIK police is seen and felt by the Serbian Orthodox Church as an open act of solidarity with the arsonists and criminals. Who knows, perhaps the next revelation from the UNMIK police HQ would be that the Serbian Holy sites are being destroyed by aliens and UFO's. No.... Sava you are going to far, because NATO would probably be blamed for this failure then. The "children" are the most innocent solution, particularly in the winter season when they like to play with fire.
Finnish KFOR refused any assistance to the Serbian Orthodox priest and a reporter who wanted to visit Stimlje
The behavior of the Finnish battalion is not only shameful for all of KFOR but is resulting in worsening relations between the Serb population and military forces who by their passivity and irresponsibility are openly placing themselves on the side of the Albanian extremists, forcing the Serbs to increasingly view them as occupying forces
KIM Info Service
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija expresses it horror and protest due to the unprofessional and irresponsible attitude of members of Finnish KFOR in Central Kosovo. Unfortunately, instead of performing their jobs and protecting threatened holy shrines in their area of responsibility, just days after an attack on the church in the village of Gornja Brnjica we have yet another attack on the Serbian Orthodox Church. Instead of informing representatives of the Diocese in a timely manner and at least assisting the parish priest in visiting the scene of the attack, Finnish KFOR representatives behaved very provocatively and arrogantly toward representatives of the Diocese, who requested but were not granted a military escort to visit the church and assess the extent of the damage.
By transferring all responsibility on UNMIK and the Kosovo police, Finnish KFOR is behaving in exactly the same manner as only days ago when its members calmly and coldly observed the beating of Serb men and women from Novo Naselje by Kosovo Albanian hooligans, refusing even to provide emergency medical care to the injured man. This inhuman behavior by individual members of the Finnish battalion who were in contact with the representatives of the Diocese today, including even their chaplain who refused to provide any assistance whatsoever, is not only shameful for all of KFOR but is resulting in worsening relations between the Serb population and military forces who by their passivity and irresponsibility are openly placing themselves on the side of the Albanian extremists, forcing the Serbs to increasingly view them as occupying forces and not as peacekeepers.
while the former secretary of the NATO alliance Lord Robertson is
being (secretly though) awarded the highest honor of the Serbia-Montenegro
Army, at the same time in Kosovo and Metohija NATO is allowing Albanian
nationalists to freely continue with the ethnic cleansing of the Serbian
people and the destruction of its holy shrines by its passivity in
the battle against Albanian extremism and ethnic violence. We ask
to what extent representatives of the Serbia-Montenegro Army and Ministry
of Defense, who chose to generously bestow this honor upon the same
man who coolly stated that Serbs "were impaling Albanian babies
with their bayonettes" (see interview in NIN, Belgrade weekly)
are in fact representing the interests of the people who elected them
to their posts and to what extent they are acting out of their personal
and political interests.
In response to a recent letter by Bishop Artemije to KFOR commander in chief general Holger Kammerhoff regarding the attempt to usurp the Church of Christ the Savior in which the Bishop requested reinforced protection for this church, the general in a rather official way replied that the Bishop should address the appropriate municipal institutions, advising him to urge greater Serb participation in the work of institutions - the same institutions which passed the decision to usurp the church property in the first place by outvoting the Serb deputies, which are terrorizing the remaining Serbs in the Province under the guise of law. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to understand whether this attitude is the result of a complete lack of experience and unfamiliarity with the real situation or an arrogant irony being used to permit the unobstructed continuation of Albanian institutional repression against the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija.
Diocese is especially embittered by the fact that no one bothered
to inform it regarding attacks on the property of the Serbian Orthodox
Church and that it is forced to learn of such events through the highly
filtered and impersonal reports of the UNMIK police. Even when they
aware of an attack on a church, SOC representatives are unable to
safely travel to the scene of the attack due to the lack of freedom
of movement and security. Taking into account the degree of corruption
among the majority of UNMIK personnel, many of whom are also on the
pay lists of the Albanian mafia, it would hardly have been surprising
if the whole church had been blow apart - only to be somehow justified
by someone or even more simply ignored, in keeping with the folk adage
- Three days of any wonder are more than enough.
Information Service of the Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija
Kosovo Serbs do not want to participate in collective suicide
Let's be clear. The Serbs are not against humanitarian standards and improvement of their lives but are against the entire context of so called "Standards for Kosovo" which in its essence represent a revision of the UNSC Resolution 1244. The mandate of Mr. Holkeri, as he said on his meeting with Bishop Artemije in Gracanica a few days ago, is to implement the Resolution 1244. The Resolution consists of certain clear provisions which have not yet been implemented and it appears that UNMIK has no intention to implement them at all. The most important of them which should be realized prior to the final status settlement are: Kosovo Province as a substantial autonomy within Serbia-Montenegro, return of S-M personnel to the borders and in vicinity of the patrimonial sites, return of all refugees. Instead of these provisions UNMIK is offering another set of standards which de facto means creation of completely independent Kosovo institutions which will serve as a basis for the secession of the Province.
Editorial by Fr. Sava Janjic:
Pressures on Serbs to support "Standards for Kosovo" are continuing
In any case after the latest elections in Serbia it has become more clear that the Serbian people will not peacefully and passively tolerate cutting their country apart by UNMIK and NATO. Serbia is ready to continue its reforms and the process of integration but not on expense of its sovereignty and dignity, particularly not on expense of its citizens in Kosovo which are today most discriminated inhabitants of Europe. Therefore, one of the first steps of the New Serbian Government should be to initiate a new Standards implementation plan which would primarily focus on implementation of already existing standards of the UNSCR 1244. Kosovo institutions can count on Serb participation only if they are in function of all citizens of the Province regardless of their ethnicity. Creation of institutions which will serve only the ethnic Albanian interests is absolutely unacceptable and no Serb representative will ever get mandate by their own people to participate in them.
days we are witnessing continual pressures on Serb representatives
in Kosovo institutions to back the Holkeri's plan "Standards
for Kosovo" and take part in the work of the "working groups".
The new "Standards for Kosovo", which have appeared under the pressures of certain international circles which want to speed up Kosovo's independence, do not mention that Kosovo institutions must be established within the framework of substantial autonomy within Serbia Montenegro. There is no reference to return of the S-M personnel either. This practically means that Serbia which was granted by the Resolution 1244 inviolability of its international borders (at least until the final negotiated settlement) is in forced to tolerate building of a quasi-independent state in which non-Albanian citizens are exposed to continual violations of human rights and freedoms by the ethnic Albanian majority.
From the legal point of view participation of Serb representatives in implementation of the revised UNSCR 1244 would mean denial of the very Resolution and acceptance of secession of Kosovo Province. Once independent Kosovo institutions are created without any institutional link with Serbia it would be impossible to negotiate about anything else but secession. The new "Standards for Kosovo" are being forced by certain diplomatic circles which under the pretext of protection of so called "minority rights" want to close the Kosovo issue as soon as possible and bring Belgrade to fait accomplis.
Therefore the strong opposition of Serb representatives against the so called "Standards for Kosovo" is not demonstrating Serb obstruction in improvement of their own human rights, which would be absurd, but their clear position that UNSCR 1244 cannot be changed but should be implemented to the very last letter. Four years ago, Serbs could see how a so called "humanitarian operation" of NATO was launched against Serbia under the pretext of protection of human rights although it is very clear now to every person better acquainted with the Balkan issues that the intervention itself created a humanitarian catastrophe and that the violations of human rights have not been stopped after the intervention but have continued on expense of Serbs, Roma, Bosniaks, Croats and other non-Albanian communities. To put it short, a pretext of so called "humanitarian intervention" was used in order to change borders of a sovereign country as well as today "Standards for Kosovo" are being introduced as a tool to finish the process and cut off all remaining links between the southern Serbia's province and its mother state.
In any case after the latest elections in Serbia it has become more clear that the majority of Serbian people will not peacefully and passively tolerate cutting their country apart by UNMIK and NATO. Serbia is ready to continue its reforms and the process of EU integration but not on expense of its sovereignty and dignity, particularly not on expense of lives of its citizens in Kosovo which are today most discriminated inhabitants of Europe. Therefore, one of the first steps of the New Serbian Government should be to initiate a new Standards implementation plan which would primarily focus on implementation of already existing standards of the UNSCR 1244. Kosovo institutions can count on Serb participation only if they are in function of all citizens of the Province regardless of their ethnicity. Creation of institutions which willserve only the ethnic Albanian interests is absolutely unacceptable and no Serb representative will ever get mandate by their own people to participate in them.
This is exactly what Bishop Artemije said to Mr. Holkeri a few days ago. In his latest interview to the Belgrade daily "Svedok" he rephrased his statement saying more clearly: "Four years' experience has taught us not to accept cooperation on our own expense". This opinion reflects the views of great majority, if not of all Kosovo Serbs who have paid a dear price (in 2000 missing and killed and 115 churches) for their well-minded belief that UNMIK and NATO arrived to Kosovo to play an evenhanded role of peacekeepers.
"Racak case" in public focus again
(Verdict before a detailed investigation - William Walker)
case" has come into public focus again after the recent incident
in the Kosovo and Metohija Parliament when on occasion of the 6th
anniversary of the event Serb MP's from POVRATAK Coalition refused
to join Kosovo Albanian MP's in a minute of silence "for the
fallen Albanian civilians" in Racak. Later some of the Serb MP's
explained that this was unnecessary politization of the issue because
there are many proofs that the victims were in fact armed KLA rebels
who were killed during an armed conflict with the Serbian police.
Helena Ranta was a chief of the Finnish pathologist team which carried
out post mortem of the Albanian bodies found in Racak. Although during
the war-time hysteria it was said that Dr. Ranta could not deny the
"fact" that the fallen Albanians were unarmed civilians,
six years later a respected German daily published serious concerns
by Dr. Ranta regarding the work of the Hague Tribunal which used the
Racak case as one of the key evidences in proving "ethnic cleansing
and massacres of unarmed Kosovo Albanians" prior to the NATO
with the text from Berliner Zeitung at: