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The Information Service of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

Gracanica, November 11, 2000

  • Body of Monk Chariton (Lukic) brought to Gracanica Monastery
  • Bishop Artemije attends celebration at Holy King Milutin School in Gracanica
  • Randjel Nojkic visits Vitina
  • In addition to enabling Serb returns, it is necessary to prevent sales of Serb property, says Bishop Artemije at meeting of Joint Committee for Returns
  • Representatives of SNC absent from inauguration of new municipal assemblies in the Province

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    Radio Free Europe will broadcast its regular 40 minute show Radio Most on Sunday night during its regular hours from 24:00 hours to 02:00 hours Central European Time [equivalent to 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, November 12]. During this show listeners will be able to hear the dialog between Father Sava Janjic, the representative of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, and Mr. Ylber Hysa, the representative of the Forum for a Civil Society in Pristina. The moderator will be Mr. Omer Karabeg of Radio Free Europe. A transcript of the discussion will be published in our daily bulletin in the near future.

    RFE.RL FREQUENCIES: Middle waves 1197, 1224


    Today the body of Monk Chariton (Hariton) Lukic (born in 1960), who was abducted last year by members of the extremist KLA, was brought to Gracanica Monastery. Father Hariton was a monk at the Monastery of the Holy Archangels near Prizren. On June 14, 2000, immediately after the deployment of German KFOR forces in Prizren, he went in accordance with his duties to visit a Serb family in Prizren. The former Yugoslav People's Army Club, which has now been transformed into the headquarters of the Kosovo Protection Corps, several members of the infamous KLA military police wearing black uniforms stopped the vehicle Father Chariton was driving and took him in an unknown direction. The entire incident was witnessed by a German reporter who immediately informed Bishop Artemije. Despite all efforts of the Church to locate Father Chariton, there was no news about him until August of this year when the Commission for Exhumation found his body in an improvised grave in the Albanian settlement of Tusus, in the suburbs of Prizren. In the same grave several other bodies were found of Serbs who disappeared after the war; the process of identifying the remaining bodies has not yet been completed.

    On the body was clothing on the basis of which Father Chariton was identified for in the pocket of his mantle were his identity card and monk's rosary. The autopsy revealed that the death of Father Chariton was violent because his head was not found with his body and several of the bones were broken. The mantle and sweater show several knife wounds in the area of the heart and the front of the sweater was cut, obviously by a sharp object.

    The body of Father Chariton lies in state in the parvis of the monastery church in Gracanica where sister nuns read continuously from book of psalms and the faithful are coming to pay their last respects to the suffering monk. Tomorrow, on the day of the patron saint of the monastery, the Holy King Milutin, Bishop Artemije will serve a requiem service (parastos) together with attending clergy. The funeral will be held on November 13, 2000 in the monastery of Crna Reka where Father Chariton took his monastic vows five years ago.


    About Father Chariton:


    Bishop Artemije, together with the monkery and clergy from Gracanica, attended a ceremony today organized by the Holy King Milutin School in Gracanica. The bishop expressed his wishes for a joyous Holy King's Day blessed by God to the teachers and pupils of this school along with best wishes and blessings in their continued work and education. The pupils and teachers of this school plan to come to the church tomorrow in great number in order to pray together during Holy Liturgy.


    The representative of the SNC and co-chair of the labor department, Mr. Randjel Nojkic, visited Vitina today where he discussed the participation of Serbs in the local municipal government with local representatives of the SNC. Mr. Nojkic informed those present with the position of the SNC leadership which in principle accepts the idea of appointment of Serb representatives but also believes consultations should take place with President Kostunica and the FRY government prior to the participation of the Serbs in the new municipal structures. As well, differences have not yet been resolved with respect to individual municipalities; the SNC, together with all Serb organizations in the Province, cannot accept participation in such structures under any circumstances. It is expected that a meeting will be scheduled soon at which consultations with the local UN administrator in Vitina will continue.


    Yesterday Bishop Artemije and Dragan Velic, the president of the SNC of Central Kosovo, attended an extraordinary session of the Joint Committee for Returns (JCR) at UNMIK headquarters in Pristina. Speaking on behalf of the SNC, Bishop Artemije insisted that in addition to the need to intensify the process of Serb refugee returns, it in necessary to effectively prevent the uncontrolled sales of Serb property in the Province. Since Mr. Kouchner has abolished the law preventing sales of Serb property to Albanians, these sales have been transpiring without any form of control and have taken on frightening proportions. According to the eyewitness testimony of Pristina clergy, more than 60% of Serb property in Pristina has already been sold to Albanians and sales have been especially intense in the region of Kosovo Polje. The SNC requests that UNMIK find an effective mechanism for preventing these sales which are taking place under tremendous pressure and coercion by the Albanians, who in those instances where Serbs refuse to sell their houses and apartments, set their property on fire; consequently, many Serbs have no option but to accept the sale of their property under extremely humiliating conditions.

    Representatives of the SNC expressed their dissatisfaction with the practically nonexistent results of the work of the Joint Committee for Returns whose meetings are increasingly beginning to resemble a forum for empty talk. Despite the existence of the Committee, much greater advances in terms of returns by displaced Serbs have been achieved by ad hoc returnees whom the Committee is now responsible for assisting with renewal and reconstruction of immediate infrastructure prior to the winter. Especially encouraging is the return of Serbs to the village of Grace near Vucitrn. Also recorded are individual returns to Musnikovo near Prizren, Orahovac and Velika Hoca. On the other hand, the process of Serb expulsions has been greatly intensified in the regions of Kosovo Polje, Obilic and Lipljan where terror and pressure by Albanian extremists continue with unabated intensity. Of greatest concern is the situation in the town of Gnjilane where less than 450 Serbs remain of the original 10,000 who resided there prior to the war. Many Serbs were forced to sell their homes after numerous threats, blackmail and instances of arson and murder. It is the opinion of the SNC that the responsibility for this situation after the war falls on UNMIK which failed to find effective means of protecting the endangered population, leaving it instead to the mercy of Albanian gangs and criminals. Consequently, the UN mission bears the specific responsibility for preventing further sales and theft of Serb property and for initiating an intensive process of refugee returns to their homes.


    In accordance with previous announcements, representatives of the SNC whom UNMIK head Dr. Bernard Kouchner appointed as Serb representatives in new municipal assemblies did not participate today in formal inaugurations of the new local governments in Kosovo and Metohija. Serb representatives will not participate in the work of the municipal assemblies until consultations are carried out with President Kostunica and until favorable arrangements are found for Mitrovica, Strpce and Novo Brdo municipalities.

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