Prizren Seminary before the war
A pre-war photo of the Orthodox Seminary in Prizren

PRIZREN
SMOKE, TEARS AND PAIN
The other face of the UN run Kosovo Province

NIN, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Issue 2576, May 11, 2000

Refuge in a seminary

The claims of Dr. Kouchner and General Ortuni that Pec, Djakovica or Prizren are
proof that multiethnicity exists in Kosovo and Metohija simply are not true because
the Serbs in those cities live as if they were in prison

By LIDIJA KUJUNDZIC

The doors of the armoured transporter opened and the Italian soldiers, specialists
for riot control, hurried Father Petar Ulemek of the Pec Patriarchate and his
"translator" to run ten steps through a narrow alley which led to the seminary in
Prizren. In front of the gate itself, in a labyrinth of walls created with bagfuls
of gravel and sand, a German soldier demanded that the newcomers show some
identification. The monk took a cross out from under his cloak, held it before the
soldier's eyes and without any explanation passed by the guards. The "translator",
that is, NIN's reporter was ready to follow the monk's example but was unsuccessful
- she displayed her driver's license instead of KFOR's accreditation.

Crowded into the yard which barely covered 200 square meters there were
approximately 50 people - Serbs, Croats, Albanians, Romanies and their children.
Without a moment's hesitation Dobrila Jovanovic (born in 1933) asked where the guest
hailed from and when she understood with whom she was talking asked her the
following:

"I have an apartment in Pariska komuna street number 39 and I want to exchange it
for an apartment in Serbia. I beg you, put an advertisement in the paper and I will
give you half of the apartment". She then added that she had come to the seminary
only on October 1.

Seminary Under KFOR Protection"For four months I hid at my neighbor's. One day he went to market and he did not
return. They must have kidnapped him. Two days later my daughter-in-law told me they
were accepting people in the seminary and I came here. I left everything in the
apartment. I only took some documents and photographs," says Dobrila Jovanovic and asks: "Can you please take my picture with my friends here, may God grant you long life?"

The camera clicked a couple of times and at that moment Father Miron Kosac appeared.
A professor of ancient Greek and English, he remained to comfort and heal those who
remained in Prizren. Behind him stood, in two perfectly formed rows, little boys and
girls with their puppies, ready to have their picture taken.

While the guests climbed the stairs, Father Miron explained that the renovation of
the seminary had been completed immediately prior to the bombing.

"Before there were 130 students in the seminary; now I have no one to teach. The
seminary was transferred to Nis," says Father Miron and adds that among his biggest
problems are the Romanies who live on the third floor. "They demolished the entire
floor. They broke the tiles, tore out the sinks and water heaters. They stole
everything they could get their hands on. The only one I cannot complain about is
Skender Gasi from Kijevo," says Father Miron and while unlocking his room, adds:
"But that is not the worst of it. KFOR will not allow us to step out of the yard and
what is even worse they will not allow anyone to enter. If they had known you were a
reporter, they would not have allowed you to enter; they do not even allow their
reporters from Germany to enter here. Serbs, relatives, our neighbors are also not
allowed in to see us but they do send us every Gypsy and Albanian with nowhere to
go."

Seminary dormitory
Place for all equally - Prizren Seminary

Testimony of a kidnapped man

Father Miron's room looks more like a warehouse than a room. Everything is mixed up,
medicines, radio stations, many books, packed canned food. At a table covered with
all sorts of goodies which have appeared from somewhere - Easter eggs, fruit,
candies, coffee and Turkish delight (rahat-lokum) - sits a gray-haired man.

"I lived in the Dusanovo settlement which is close to the city periphery. I was
captured by the KLA while riding down a road on my bicycle. It was July 13 at 8:15
a.m. I could see all of them plainly but this did not do me a lot of good because I
could not recognize any of them. One of them approached me from the back and hit me
in the head with a gun and I lost consciousness. I awoke in a garage but I do not
know where exactly because I could not see; I do know that it was a private house.
With me there were five other Serbs, two Albanians and one Muslim. They beat us
every two hours, slapped us, kicked us, hit us with police batons; when they
released me, I could not walk for a month. They mistreated us by sticking guns in
our ears, our mouths... everywhere. Then one night they took us to the building of
the old Secretariat of Internal Affairs in central Prizren. Gojko Arsic who was with
me said that they were going to execute us. There were many people there; I cannot
tell you how many because I cannot guess. But some of the foreigners came suddenly
and they barely had time to shove us into the prison cells. Later while it was night
they put us, I think, into a darkened van and took us back to the garage," says
Srecko Jaksic and adds that to this very day he cannot understand why the members of
the Kosovo Liberation Army allowed him to live.

"First they released me, then Gojko, who is a pensioner just like me, and later they
released the remaining seven as well," says Jaksic. Skender Gasi suffered a worse
fate, escaping from the execution site. "When they brought me there, I could only
move my eyes. I managed to get away into the night," says Gasi who claims that the
KLA kidnapped him only because he is a loyal citizen of Yugoslavia.

Stolen marble

Without KFOR protection, the Serbs who remain, one can freely say, imprisoned here
in Prizren would not survive. However, how secure they really are even under KFOR
protection can best be judged by the disappearance of five tons of marble from the
seminary yard.

"Only KFOR has the key to the big gate. They keep guard. A month ago, when the
marble disappeared, we found the padlock undamaged. We found only pallets. Five tons
of marble, to my best knowledge, can be taken out in two loads with a tractor or
with a truck. I am convinced that KFOR was involved in the whole dirty deal as well.
I reported the theft to them after which they must have conducted an investigation,"
says Father Miron. "Yesterday the marble disappeared, today or tomorrow, God forbid,
people may start disappearing from the seminary, too."

During the period when the Dutch members of KFOR protected the Holy Archangels
Monastery, built in the fourteenth century, the life of the monks was anything but
simple. Since the Germans have taken over the guard about twenty days ago, the army
no longer sleeps in the monastery as was frequently the case in the past.

"Since the new soldiers have come, we have water every day," says Father Nektarije
Vorgucic, the prior of the Holy Archangels Monastery. Before that, the monks had
only the bottled mineral water which they received from the soldiers. "It was
difficult to determine when the water was boiling for coffee and not really
comfortable washing one's face with mineral water. According to the bottles which we
kept I would say that in the past ten months we have used approximately five tons of
mineral water," says Father Nektarije.

The Dutch refused to transport the monks as far as Prizren and when they refused to
accompany them 600 meters to the closest water source so they could collect water
for liturgy, the monks lodged a protest but it did not help much.

"We really could not use mineral water for liturgy," explained Father Nektarije.
When asked how they managed to do the laundry, the prior of the Holy Archangels
Monastery adds through laughter: "I enlisted the help of most of Kosovo and once I
even took dirty laundry to Nis."

At the general's

The reason for Father Petar's arrival was in fact a meeting with General Roland
Cater, the commander in chief of KFOR forces for sector south. In the "Progres"
building which houses the general staff of the German forces stationed in Prizren,
Father Petar related how among the ruins of the Zociste Monastery which was set on
fire some icons were recently found.

"Underneath a cloak was found first one half, and then the other as well, of the
icon of Saints Cosmo and Damien to whom the monastery was dedicated; then of Christ;
and it appears that underneath one plate there is also an undamaged icon of the
Mother of God," says Father Petar, who was the prior of the Zociste Monastery from
1994 to 1996. Father Serafin from the Devic Monastery, Father Antonije from Orahovac
and Father Petar are prepared to begin renovating the monastery but at least in the
beginning, the defense of KFOR is essential. "I believe that even the Albanians who
live in Zociste would not object to the renovation of the monastery. They, too, used
to come to the monastery in order to be healed."

General Cater's answer did not promise much.

"We will help you to the best of our ability but as you know we do not have enough
soldiers. We are overbooked with requests for accompaniment," says General Cater. "I
am not in a position to guarantee round the clock protection for you such as the
monks in the Holy Archangels Monastery have nor some sort of checkpoint in front of
the Zociste Monastery. The best that I can do for now is to have my soldiers visit
you in their rounds during the day."

Return to Pec

As General Cater was not able to answer the concrete requests of Father Petar and
the questions of the NIN reporter who wanted to learn why relatives and neighbors,
people who live in the seminary and accredited reporters are not allowed freedom of
movement, the general enabled the monk to return to Pec by helicopter and placed an
entire squadron of paratroopers at his disposal. In the transport helicopter which
flew to Pec in a little under 23 minutes, Father Petar said that KFOR probably knew
where the prisons for Serbs and other non-Albanians were located but that they were
cooperating with the Albanians and "letting them get away with it".

"Captain Jose Caracas from the G2 unit, which is primarily concerned with crime
investigation, told me that according to classified information he learned that a
prison for Serbs was located in the village of Vrelo near Istok. He ordered that the
village be surrounded and a minute before they entered the village he received an
order to pull back! A few days later, KFOR again entered the village but did not
find the people," says Father Petar and adds that the Spanish captain did not doubt
the information which he received. The prison in the village of Vrelo might have
been the sixth prison for kidnapped Serbs which is mentioned also in the reports of
Sefko Alomerovic, the president of the Helsinki Committee of Sandzak.

After Father Petar told the paratroopers all there was know about the churches
comprising the Pec Patriarchate, he did not miss the opportunity to also tell the
soldiers, who liked to drink grape brandy (loza), everything he knew about the theft
of the granite from the Orthodox cemetery in Pec, and about the situation of
approximately ten refugees from Krajina. "This is the fifth time that they are
refugees; first, they were forced to leave Dalmatia, then Kninska Krajina, then
Banja Luka, then they came to Pec via Belgrade, and now they are here at the
Patriarchate," says Father Petar.

Elderly Serbs expelled from their homes
Elderly Serbs are the greatest victims in the post-war Kosovo

Elderly ladies from Djakovica

As the German soldiers were able to see for themselves, the situation in Decani
Monastery is better than in other places in Metohija. On the eve of the bombing
itself, the monastery managed to purchase approximately 20 hectares of land which
was taken from it following World War II by nationalization.

"The Albanians are not before our walls and so we are secure, and the Italians take
good care of us. The only thing is that requests for accompaniment must be submitted
48 hours in advance," says Father Pajsije.

In the sentry house of the church in Djakovica eight more women moved in with
Poleksija Kastratovic. The nine of them lived in peace until a few days ago when
Zacir Morina threw a chair at Vasiljka Peric.

"He did toss the chair at me and ever since I reported it to the Italians, I am
afraid to step out into the yard. He is threatening to kill me and says he has a
paper that says his nerves are poor and that they will not be able to sentence him
even if he kills me," says Vasiljka Peric. Morina and his wife Ruza were brought
here three months ago. "They did not ask anyone for permission; they just threw
their things in here one day. They told us that Zacir would be staying here for only
a week. After him Sonja moved in with her three children."

Morina does not deny that he attacked Vasiljka and says that he does not live in the
church yard because he wants to but because he has to.

"I was kidnapped by the KLA. For a month I was kept imprisoned in wine cellars. They
beat me every day. I did not kill anyone or steal from anyone, they kept me only
because I was not against this country. That is where my nerves grew weak. The mind
is no joking matter, I never know when I will lose mine," says Morina who would most
like to leave the country and live somewhere else as a refugee.

Even though Father Petar requested several days ago that one of the appropriate
representatives of the international community come and resolve the tense situation
before blood is shed, no one had come as of May 6 even though they had said they
would.

"They are just like our politicians. They promise us everything, and in the end we
get nothing. Some of them are even angry with us," says Vasiljka Peric. "Before they
came, I was free to go to the store, our salaries and pensions which we have not
seen since Christmas came regularly. I didn't need anyone to protect me then, and
now there is no one who can protect us except our army which they way will come in
June to liberate Kosovo and Metohija."

Translated by Snezana Lazovic (May 16, 2000)


ERP Diocesan Bulletin, Feb 10, 2000
Diocese of Raska and Prizren

HOME FOR ALL

Prizren Orthodox Seminary sheltering displaced Serbs, Roma and ethnic Albanians under the same roof

Fr. NectaryMore than thousand people have found refuge in the Serbian Orthodox Seminary in Prizren since the end of Kosovo war in June, says Fr. Nectary (left), one of the remaining Orthodox monks in Prizren.

More than thousand Serbs, Roma, ethnic Turks and Albanians have found refuge within the walls of the Serbian Orthodox Seminary "St. Cyril and Methodius" in Prizren since the end of Kosovo war in June 1999. They asked protection in the Seminary running away in front of unruly Albanian gangs and paramilitaries which began raiding the city of Prizren immediately after the KFOR deployment in Kosovo. Some displaced families were temporarily accommodated in this religious institution but later with KFOR assistance they were evacuated to Serbia proper. However about 100 displaced persons still live in the Seminary because, as they say, they have nowhere to leave.

Serb Convoyt leaving Prizren under KFOR escort, June 1999
Serbs leaving Prizren under KFOR escort

Before the Kosovo war Prizren was known as one of the exemplary multiethnic cities in the province with Kosovo Albanians, Serbs, Turks and Roma living together in tolerance and mutual respect. Its beautiful churches, mosques, Turkish baths and other cultural monuments were the pride of all citizens. In the Middle Ages Prizren was the capital of the Serbian medieval Kingdom and the important trading center. During the war (1998-1999) the city did not suffer any destruction. As soon as the peace agreement was reached and the Yugoslav troops withdrew armed ethnic Albanin paramilitary groups in KLA uniforms began ethnic purges of the city killing innocent civilians, elderly, burning houses and destroying religious monuments. More than 40 Serbs have been killed by Albanians since June, including 16 elderly Serbs victims in the neighboring Dojnice village which was flattened with the ground by KLA rebels in July. Fr. Chariton Lukic was abducted in the streets of Prizren during the first days of "freedom". According to the witnesses it was done by armed men in KLA uniform. Since then nothing is known about him or any other Serb abductee from that area. Out of 10.000 Serbs who lived in Prizren before the war, now less than 200 remain living in a kind of house-arrest deprived of basic human rights and the freedom of movement. Thousands Romas were driven away too, their houses being looted and set on fire. Serb speaking Slav Moslems known as "Goranci" were also exposed to attacks, especially grenade attacks on their homes and shops. The Orthodox Seminary was a place in which all groups found only safe place thanks to the hospitality of the clergy and the efficient KFOR protection. It is no wonder that endangered civilians found shelter in an Orthodox religious institution. During the war Serb Orthodox Monks in Decani Monastery sheltered many Albanians and distributed food and clothing to the needy. The nuns in Sokolica also helped many Kosovans in need. (more) especially:

NYT, Monastic Refuge For Kosovars, June 16
AP, Serb Monastery Protects All Peoples, June 17

Maria Filipovic and other Serbs in the Seminary
Maria Filipovic and other Serbs in the Seminary dormitory

The Serbian Orthodox Church and some other NGO's are making great efforts to bring supplies to the Seminary. A few monks based in the neighboring Holy Archangels monastery are taking care of the people who make a colorful ethnic mosaic.

At the moment the majority of our "guests" are Serbs and Romas, but there are three ethnic Turks and seven Albanians too. They have been living here more than six months, says Fr. Nectary. During these months at least 100 Albanians found refuge in the Seminary running away from the terror of their belligerent compatriots. Many Albanians who refused to join the rebel army or failed to financially support their struggle are exposed to terror and persecutions as "Serb collaborators".

We are treating all people equally, no matter to which religion they belong, Christian or Moslem. Our gates are open for all who are in need and danger, says Fr. Nectary.

In the cobble stone paved courtyard we met seventy years old ethnic Albanin Idriz Imeri from the neighboring village of Zym, who came to the Seminary on July 11 together with his six year younger wife Ferida.


"My house was set on fire by an armed Albanian gang, out of vengeance, because I have always lived well with everyone except with gangsters who were setting the villages on fire. I did not want to ask protection from my fellow Albanian villagers because they themselves would be killed because of me. My two sons live in Serbia and my daughter in married in Bosnia. You ask me how I live here.... It is definitely not as at home but we have here now everything we need. We have food, clothing and what is most important the priests here are consoling us that all this will be over soon and that we could go home. I believe them and hope that all who were doing crimes on both sides will be brought to justice, both divine and human, says elder Idriz.

In one of the rooms we found two Serb children. Their aunt was with them but she was too emotional to speak about the tragedy in which her family was found. We could only learn that she had previously lived in one of Prizren suburbs. She also said that among 48 Serbs in the Seminary there are four more members of her family Stojanovic.

Fr. Elias told us that a little four months old Serb Andrew was a good and thriving baby. The child has immediately become the favorite of the Seminary.

The courtyard of the Prizren Seminary
The couryard of the Prizren seminary. August 1999
Bishop Artemije visited the Serminary with KFOR officers several times

"Beside Serbs there are 39 Romas here, a Turkish family and 7 Albanians. We are all living together and are equally sharing all we have. The monks are cooking food for us in the Seminary kitchen. I do not ask where they get the food from. Probably from the Church or the Red Cross, says Emine Shaiti, a Roma girl.

She introduced to us her friend Sanela J. who spent several days living in a cellar under the ruins before she found refuge in the Seminary.

"When Albanian extremists burned our house, they raped me and pushed me into the flame which was spreading from the roof downstairs. They thought that I would die there but I managed to reach the cellar and hide there. As soon as the roof was consumed by flames the house stopped burning because the concrete ceiling could not burn. I remained in the cellar that night and the next day I somehow managed to slip to the Seminary", Sanela said.

"All these poor people came here very traumatized. Especially women suffered all kinds of humiliation and pain", Fr. Nectary told us.

"At the moment out of 10.000 Serbs in Prizren only 71 person remains living in the city out of the Seminary. They have survived all kinds of intimidation and discrimination but were adamant to stay despite of great danger. They are mostly elderly people who wanted to stay in their homes and die there, Fr. Radivoy Panich said.

Hundreds of Serb houses were set on fire in Prizren
Background: Serb houses burning in Prizren, foreground: German KFOR
Hundreds of Serb and Roma houses were set on fire after the war in Prizren

In the neighbouring area called "Sredacka Zupa", twenty kilometers south-east from Prizren, almost all local Serbs were driven out by Albanians. Out of few thousand Serbs who lived in the villages of Drajcici, Lokvice and Sredska only 59 Serbs remain. The Serbs who were still living in Drajcici village, high in the mountains of Shara, were forgotten by everyone and had to leave their homes and come down to Musnikovo and Zupa where they found shelter among the Slav Moslem families. While they were in Drajcici no one brought them food and they could not move freely in fear of Albanians.

"A few young Serbs left Drajcici two months ago and managed to reach the neighboring Serb enclave in Strpce walking through the forests. Later they managed to reach Central Serbia. One other youth from Kostic family passed over snow capped mountains to the next Serb village. When he came to Belgrade he phoned to Kosovo Polje and asked the radio-amateurs to inform his parents that he is alive", Fr. Panich told us.

S.M.D

The church of St. Nicholas 14 cent.

Severe damage inside the church

The part added in 19th cent was alsmost totally destroyed

The result of the vandalous attack

School Chapel of St. Nicholas in Prizren mined by Albanian extremists on Sep 3, 1999

 

NOWHERE TO GO....
Story of the last few Serbs remaining in Prizren

Serb houses in Prizren
PRIZREN
Serb homes in Prizren surrounded by barbed wire


 Prizren: After the War
(from an OSCE Report)

No part of Prizren has escaped either the violent or chronic
violations since K-Day 1/8June 21, when KFOR fully deployed
in Kosovo). However, the villages of the Zupa Valley, where
many of the remaining Kosovo Serbs live or sought
protection, have been especially badly hit. In addition to the
killing, kidnapping and burning, there has been extensive
looting, stealing and a general lawlessness that could only
add to the fear and insecurity of the villagers. The elderly
have been a particular target, and there is some evidence that
children have been used to set houses on fire and have been
involved in acts of intimidation. . . .

The keynote feature in Prizren since the end of the conflict has
been the house burnings. In the town they have nearly
exclusively been Kosovo Serbian properties burned with the
obvious intention of preventing any returns, but they have
also been used to signal to the international community and
the moderate part of the Kosovo Albanian population who is
in control.

The overall result is that far more damage has been caused in
Prizren town after the war than during it. . . .

By the end of October, nearly 300 houses have been burned
in Prizren and surrounding villages. The result of this pressure
on the Kosovo Serbs is clear: 97 percent of the prewar
population have left. . . .

The outstanding incident, particularly when offset against the
pattern of targeting the elderly, is the story of Dojnice, 100
percent Serb prior to the conflict. Eighteen elderly people
stayed in the village after K-Day. Two of them left the village
on 27 June, returning a few hours later to find the village
absolutely empty and completely destroyed by fire. No bodies
were ever found. . . .

What is clear is that the atmosphere in Prizren provided the
space and freedom for a consistent campaign of harassment
aimed at driving out the remaining minorities, and purported
leaders of the community did nothing to stop or even
condemn this campaign. O.S.C.E. could find no evidence that
K.L.A. "police" or K.L.A. representatives tasked by the
self-styled authorities with protecting streets and buildings
made any attempt to stop the harassment. . . .

There is a local saying: "As Prizren goes, so goes Kosovo." If
that saying is true, the pattern of violence since K-Day, and its
effects on some of the minority populations, paint a picture of
a much more homogenous Prizren, and a much less diverse
Kosovo.


THE SEMINARY CLOSED FOR STUDENTS FIRST TIME
IN ITS HISTORY


Students of the Prizren Seminary, before the war
Seminarians singing in the Prizren Cathedral of St. George
Photo taken before the war


Prizren Seminary was founded in 1880 and worked continuously in the Ottoman period as well as during the World wars. Due to intensive ethnic discrimination and the pogrom which our people in Kosovo is passing through the Seminary had to be closed. More than 150 seminarians are now studing in Nis, Karlovci and Srbinje (Central Serbia and Republika Srpska). This is the first time in the history of this school that it had to be closed. The Irony is that it occurs in the time which the international community calls "peace" with several thousand German soldiers in Prizren and its surrounding. The Seminary has been transferred to Central Serbia in Nis.


(Blic daily, 12. 2. 2000)
Terror in Prizren Continued

Situation in Prizren critical: A child raped and then stabbed

Pristina - The day before a 12 years old Turkish girl Izabela Tamniku was killed downtown Prizren. The unknown attacker tried to rape the girl and as she was trying to defend herself he killed stabbing her with knife in the chest.

During the last 7 days 24 Serbian and 12 Turkish houses were burnt in Prizren area. The house of Dragan Dosljak was first attacked by a bomb and then by stones. The doors and windows were broken and Dosljak had to leave his home temporarily. A mine was found in the yard of Antic`s house. Several tens of Albanian young men yesterday tried to beat about
20 Serbian school children. They broke several windows on the school using stones.

The day before an agreement was reached with UNMIK about restoration of the monument of Milos Obilic destroyed by the extremists. Italian Police had to return to Obilic due to increased number of terrorist attacks after their departure.


Web Site of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren