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Destroyed And Desecrated Serbian Orthodox Churches In Kosovo And Metohia (1999-2000)

Hieromonk Sava (Janjic)

Foreword

The peoples of Kosovo and Metohia are living through the most difficult days in their history. The ethnic Albanians experienced their days of suffering, exile and death inflicted by the immoral and destructive policy of Mr. Milosevic's regime. Now the Serbs are being exposed to suffering, exile and death from the immoral and destructive policy of the ethnic Albanian nationalists.

The KFOR peace forces entered Kosovo and Metohia on 13 June 1999 with a goal to guarantee peace and security to the entire population of the province. Since their arrival, however, more than 180.000 Serbs left or were expelled from their homes. Albanian extremists killed or abducted several hundred people and burned thousands of Serb homes.

During the last five months and despite the presence of almost 40.000 elite NATO troops, UN civil administration, numerous humanitarian organizations, non-governamental organizations and hundreds of journalists, more than 70 Serb Orthodox shrines, churches and monasteries were completely razed to the ground, damaged or desecrated.

These acts of vandalism cannot be referred to as mere acts of individual and blind revenge. It is becoming increasingly evident that there is a systematic strategy in the background aimed at complete annihilation of all traces of the Serb and Christian culture in Kosovo and Metohia. There are more than 1.400 such sites in the area. Our churches and monasteries are usually destroyed by miners with military training, and a veil of tacit conspiracy between the perpetrators and witnesses shrouds all their actions, often reiterated.

So it happened that the Albanian crowd in Djakovica jubilated during the night of 23 July 1999 after one of the most beautiful new Orthodox cathedrals in Kosovo and Metohia had been destroyed. The leaders of the KLA (UÇK), which has the sovereign control of this city and the major part of the province, readily denied any responsibility for this event but at the same time did nothing to prevent further destruction of other Christian churches in the middle of Europe and at the end of the 20th century.

So far KFOR has not managed to stop and prevent further destruction although some of the mined churches are situated within a few hundred yards of the neighbouring military posts. Investigations have not shown, as yet, who stands behind such actions. It is hard to believe that NATO is incapable of carrying out the investigation while on the other hand a suspicion easily arises over their unwillingness to fully deal with the matter. The fragile peace, exiles, murders, ethnic cleansing of the non-Albanian population from Kosovo and Metohia, arson, destruction of the Serb cultural and religious monuments is becoming a disturbing evidence that the international community is facing an ever greater failure of its mission on a daily basis.

Why was the world so resolute in trying to stop the mass exodus of Kosovo Albanians only several months ago but now watches passively and helplessly the Serbian people and their culture exposed to uncontrolled violence? Is there the right in the world which justifies such merciless destruction, both physical and cultural, of one European people and their ancient culture? How can the cultured Albanians allow the destruction of the monuments which they themselves were proud of and which their ancestors often considered as holy? During the most difficult times they often protected these sites together with their Serb neighbours and thus preserved them to this very day.

How can the most valuable monuments of the Medieval Christian Serb art and architecture be permitted to be so blatantly endangered? Can the civilized Europe and the world allow the fight for the political rights over the territory of Kosovo and Metohia to be carried out at the expense of one nation, which is being exterminated and its holy shrines destroyed, regardless of which religion they belong to?

The rage of unrestrained violence and hatred must be brought to an end. The rule of chaos and insanity must be stopped once for ever.

This highly unreasonable revenge on innocent civilians as well as the vandalism of the monuments can never be an acceptable way into the future for either of the two peoples of Kosovo and Metohia nor can such methods ever bring a lasting peace in this region.