Accuses Group of Illegal Evictions, Tax Collections
UROSEVAC, Yugoslavia, Nov. 23Nasir Hajdari was summoned to the door of his third-floor apartment late last month here in the town where President Clinton today hailed the progress Kosovo has made toward a return to normal life. Outside were three men who identified themselves as employees of the provisional Kosovo government run by Hashim Thaqi, political leader of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army.
The three had a message for the ethnic Albanian family: Hajdari and his wife and three children were no longer entitled to live in that flat; they had to vacate the premises to make room for new occupants selected by Thaqi's rebel-led government.
In recent days, the message has been heard with growing frequency by Kosovo's Albanians as well as its Serbs. Despite the U.N. administration here, Thaqi's government of former soldiers has declared itself the sole arbiter of which citizens have a right to preferred accommodations in the freezing temperatures that have descended on this Serbian province.
Such actions are illegal, according to U.N. officials charged with administering Kosovo's recovery and implanting a democratic system under the protection of a 40,000-member international peacekeeping force. Lt. Col. Michael Ellerbe, commander of U.S. peacekeeping forces in Urosevac, said his troops arrest people carrying out such evictions with growing frequency.
Despite the arrests--and the lack of any effort by rebel leaders to hide their actions--top U.N. officials say the evictions have largely occurred without their knowledge. But the evictions are part of what U.N. police officers and NATO officials in four of Kosovo's major urban centers describe as growing evidence of government-organized illegal activities by former rebel fighters in Kosovo.
Former KLA guerrillas were among the ethnic Albanians who moved quickly after the war ended in June to push out Kosovo Serbs and take their property. The difference now, the officials say, is that former KLA fighters have been organized into groups that intimidate Serbs and ethnic Albanians alike to appropriate apartments, collect fees or gain access to rent money from the flats.
The KLA officially ceased to exist two months ago, under an agreement its leaders reached with NATO. But some of its leaders, including Thaqi, run an unofficial ethnic Albanian government that operates alongside the United Nations and openly prepares for the day when Kosovo is independent in law as well as in fact. Meanwhile, more than 10,000 former KLA members have been issued new identity cards signifying their application for 5,000 slots in a successor organization approved by NATO and called the Kosovo Protection Corps.
U.N. police and NATO soldiers have seized hundreds of identity cards from former KLA troopers at crime scenes in the past four months, said a U.N. police official. Although some cards have been found to be forged, another U.N. official following the rise of crime said most of his colleagues believe the former rebels "are systematically threatening people, evicting people . . . [and] trying to collect illegal taxes."
For example, the 1,300 or so trucks passing the Macedonian border every day for months have been routinely forced to pay a customs duty of $20 apiece to agents of the Thaqi government, despite claims by the U.N. administration that it must be the sole recipient of public revenues in Kosovo, according to police and former KLA officials.
Thaqi's aides deny that any such taxes still are being collected by his government. But documents recently seized in Urosevac show a businessman was ordered to pay $400 in taxes two weeks ago and that the government has established an elaborate sliding scale of illegal taxes for cigarettes, alcohol, juices, coffee and gasoline.
Some Western officials say such fees sometimes may be collected with an implicit threat of force. In the Serb enclave of Globocica, for example, a Muslim Slav complained to Western human rights monitors early this month that his shop was blown up after he refused to pay a registration fee to the government. No conclusions were reached in that case.
But Western officials say they have confirmed complaints from ethnic Albanians, Roma and Serbs in the cities of Prizren, Pristina and Djakovica that they have been threatened with violence or even kidnapped to force their withdrawals from apartments by men who identified themselves as police in Thaqi's Ministry of Public Order, according to police reports.
Rexhep Selimi, 28, a former soldier whom Thaqi appointed to head the ministry in July, acknowledges that some evictions have occurred but denies they are unfair. He said in an interview that he knows the group's actions are not legal, but says they are nonetheless "morally" justified by the urgent need to allocate scarce housing to the most worthy citizens, including people living in tents, former KLA fighters and their families.
Selimi said the Public Order ministry has 1,500 members--who receive average salaries of $225 a month--whom he hopes will form the nucleus of a new ethnic Albanian police force under U.N. supervision.
He said the ethnic Albanian government has stepped into a vacuum left by the United Nations, which he said is administering the province "like this is just a movie, more like acting than real work." He acknowledged that if occupants of a targeted flat refuse a "suggestion" to leave, then "we escort them out." If they resist, he said, "we are the ex-KLA and we know how to deal with these cases."
Selimi and other former KLA fighters say they consider it reasonable to give housing priority to the families of soldiers or to needy former KLA fighters--particularly since some ethnic Albanian civilians unjustifiably seized more than one flat during a massive postwar scramble for living space. To accomplish their work, he said, the ministry's police are amassing a comprehensive apartment-by-apartment tally of who lives where, where they are from, whether they own their flat and whether they have KLA permission to stay.
Selimi said the housing reallocations have been finished at the village level and now focus on urban centers. Ministry documents indicate that 64 apartments were handed out in Urosevac during a 15-day period ending Oct. 1.
Although the work is ostensibly overseen by special municipal commissions, these are controlled by ex-KLA officials under the supervision of Thaqi, who is aware of the eviction effort, several officials said.
NATO troops seized one eviction notice, for example, that ordered a flat in Urosevac be given to someone wounded in the war; it was signed by Shukri Buja, a former KLA regional commander slated for a top job in the Kosovo Protection Corps.
But Dennis McNamara, the U.N. official responsible for humanitarian issues, said only U.N. administrators have "the authority to make those adjudications." He added that a list of priorities including former KLA fighters is "not a list I would be part of," because the United Nations' aim is to find homes for the "most vulnerable"--those who cannot rebuild their homes, households headed by women, the elderly and the sick.
Ellerbe and other U.S. troops say their aim is to block actions by organizations attempting to usurp U.N. authority and to enforce a form of "squatters rights" through the winter until a U.N. commission on property ownership can begin to function. The commission was formed a few days ago.
In the Hajdari case, the family says it took over the flat after their house was burned in the war. After they complained, U.S. soldiers arrested three men at the Public Order Ministry on charges of illegal intimidation and put them in the brig at nearby Camp Bondsteel. But top officials at the camp later asked that no more such suspects be sent there.
A spokesman for General Agim Ceku, new commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps, said "the real members" of that group had no role in evictions or any criminal activities. "For the KPC, the life and the property of every citizen of Kosovo is sacred, and it is our firm conviction that whoever acts against the life and the property of the other should be treated as a criminal," the group said in a statement several weeks ago.
Christian Sites Being Decimated in Kosovo
Serbs accuse ethnic Albanian rebels
PAUL WATSON, Times Staff Writer
generations, through endless cycles of war and foreign occupation,
reached out to touch caskets said to contain relics of St.
the saints' power was as nothing against the explosion Sept. 13 that
charges that destroyed it were placed at just the right spot to
Church of Saints Cosma and Damian was built in 1327. It is now a
A Painted Acronym Suggests Complicity
letters UCK, the Albanian acronym for the guerrilla Kosovo
Zociste monastery is one of at least 60 Serbian Orthodox churches
list of sites destroyed by explosives includes several dating back
leaders have received reports that 20 more churches and
skilled execution of the attacks leaves Janjic and most other Serbs
is more than obvious that these churches were destroyed by people
are completely sure that the perpetrators of these crimes are from
troops are posted just over a mile from Zociste, guarding Velika
village is outside the city of Orahovac, where ethnic Albanian
security and paramilitary forces, led by the head of the local
least 1,800 of the region's 60,000 ethnic Albanians were slain and an
Hazards Hamper Search for Evidence
troops have not found any suspects in the attack on the
officers, who would not speak on the record, said Dutch troops were
afraid KFOR is not prepared to get in serious conflict with the KLA
leaders of the KLA, such as political head Hashim Thaci, have
acts of violence and threats against Kosovo citizens are taking
KLA signed itself out of existence as of midnight Tuesday, but
peacekeepers also have accused Serbs of trying to destabilize
the height of Kosovo's civil war, KLA guerrillas attacked the Zociste
taking control of the monastery, the guerrillas took seven monks,
the KLA also captured an estimated 85 Serbs in Orahovac, according
and most of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority are committed to
Albanians accuse the Serbs of destroying at least 120 mosques
the NATO-led peacekeeping force tries to stop the attacks on
who has repeatedly condemned Yugoslav President Slobodan
course, there were acts of revenge, but it is more than obvious that
than three months after NATO's bombing campaign drove Serbian
the victims have come from different ethnic groups, the heaviest
a separate incident in western Kosovo, peacekeepers arrested eight
Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. 9-22-99
Albanian Mafia, KLA and Kosovo Aid
September 16, 1999
Scandal of aid crates
left on the dockside Kosova refugees were denied
In April, readers
of The Express joined donors from around Europe in a wave of sympathy
for the refugees from the Kosovo war. Food, clothes,
I have recently
returned from a fact-finding mission to Italy with the British
While there is no
doubt that large quantities of aid did get through, there is
Mr D'Alema has now
promised that the aid will be sent to help earthquake
It is possible that
the aid was left at the port simply through negligence.
But there is also
evidence that organised crime may have been responsible
The scandal demonstrates
two things. The first is that the war against
By the same token,
western governments - especially our own -
The second point
highlighted by the scandal is the stranglehold the Albanian
The Albanian and
Kosovan mafias now control the traffic of migrants,
The power of these mafia gangs will be boosted further by the Albanian victory in the Kosovan war because Kosovo has long been a central transition point for the heroin and cocaine trades.
As the chief Italian
prosecutor with responsibility for the Albanian mafia in
The power of the Albanian mafia is also relevant to the current influx of asylum seekers into Britain - more than 200 people a day are now coming here as refugees. Those who cross the Adriatic have all paid the mafia smugglers between £300 and £500 for the short trip. I have visited a number of these "asylum seekers" in Dover, Calais and in southern Italy in recent weeks: not one of the Kosovo Albanians I met said he or she was a victim of political persecution; they all wanted to come to Britain to work.
Amassive 80 per
cent of those who make an initial application for asylum in
The Yugoslav war
was fought on the basis that the Serbs were diabolical
Serb monastery target of mortars
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Mortar shells have landed in vicinity of the UNESCO-protected Serbian monastery of Gracanica, apparently from a nearby Albanian village, monastery sources tell media in Yugoslavia.
The bombs, supposedly fired Thursday night from the village of Ajvalia, fell in the courtyards of two family houses in the village of Gracanica, 200 meters from the monastery buildings. No casualties or damage were immediately reported.
Gracanica monastery is one of the most important Christian shrines and cultural monument for the Serbian people. It serves as the seat of the orthodox church bishop whose diocese includes Kosovo and some surrounding areas. UNESCO has put Gracanica on the list of world heritage sites.
More than 300 Serbian families, refugees from all parts of Kosovo, have found temporary accommodation in the village.
Representatives of the international peacekeeping force KFOR and the United Nations civilian mission have been asked to find and punish the perpetrators.
August 8, 1999
In Kosovo, Gangs Dim the Luster of a 'Greater Albania'
By CHRIS HEDGES
-- As concerts go, it wasn't much of
The morning after
the show, which took place at the end of
along with their ethnic kin in Albania,
kidnapped, taken we expect to work as prostitutes
who are coming home, many of whom have
Prizren is a sleepy
city of 80,000 people with crumbling
But its proximity
to Albania has made it a haunt for scores of
The Albanian visitors
have taken over the bars. The sidewalks
"It is better
to work here," said Pajtim Syla, 20, from Kukes,
The German troops,
who control this sector, have reopened
But the peacekeeping
troops, hampered by unfamiliarity with
Witnesses are reluctant to cooperate.
On an average day
there are more than 50 crimes, including
drive a car toward the border with Albania risk
At the main border
crossing with Albania, there are 8,000
years our two countries were blocked," said border
The United Nations,
to stem the flow of contraband, is setting
Kosovars, when asked
what happened to a missing item, hang
Many said they fear
traveling to Kukes, where large numbers
"I parked my
car in front of the Kukes post office to make a
Glas, or Voice, is an independent daily newspaper from Belgrade
Glas, July 28 1999
While the preparations
for the new publishing of the paper continue
Pristina - The announcement that the printing of the daily newspaper in Serb language "Jedinstvo" will resume in about ten days has initiated a series of attacks by Albanian extremists on Serb journalists in Pristina.
First, a few days ago, there was a murder attempt at the editor-in-chief of "Jedinstvo" Nikola Saric. Several bombs were planted in his apartment. On that occasion, the life of the director and editor-in-chief of the publishing house "Grigorije Bozovic", Petar Saric, was also endangered. Then, photographer Milovan Vitkovic was expelled from his apartment, while Ljiljana Staletovic received a threatening message.
Almost at the same
time, there were attacks on the apartment of the Serb poet and editor
in "Jedinstvo" Darinka Jevric. Several days before, Albanian
extremists threatened "Jedinstvo" editor Zorica Pokusevska
and journalist Milka Karadzic. Photographer Dragan Jovanovic is hanging
onto his apartment by the skin of his teeth. Let us not forget a large
Fortuitously or not, journalists of "Jedinstvo" are exposed to daily maltreatment exactly at the time when, after a month-long-break, they were preparing to re-enter their offices and begin with preparations for the printing of the newspaper.
Threat to "Glas" Correspondent
Unknown Albanians have for five days been trying to break into the apartment of our correspondent from Pristina. On Tuesday night, the correspondent received a written message with illegible signature: "If you do not leave this apartment by tomorrow, I shall kill you". Very quickly, KFOR soldiers came to the spot and spent the whole night in front of the apartment.
continue to maltreat Serbs in Pristina
by M. Milovanovic
PRISTINA - Ethnic
Serb workers in coal mines Belacevac, Dobro Selo, and power plant "Kosovo
A", which had started work three days ago, gathered on Friday morning
in front of the gates and then returned to their homes. The reason for
their refusal to work was the protest because of an assassination attempt
against the main coordinator of the coal-mines and the
attempt had been made two days before, at about 1p.m., near the cooler
of the 4th power plant block. British KFOR soldiers failed to react.
Stojisavljevic was shot at while driving his car. The assassins were
in another car. They followed Stojisavljevic's car. When they caught
up with him and pulled next to his car, Stojisavljevic slammed on his
brakes. At that moment, the assassins shot at Stojisavljevic's car from
a machine gun with a silencer, and pierced a number of holes in the
car and its windshield. Stojisavljevic was not hurt and managed to get
through to the British
Evictions of Serbs from their apartments in Pristina are old news. In the night between Thursday and Friday "Jedinstvo" photographer Milovan Vitkovic was thrown out of his apartment. Albanian terrorists hurt his wife by hitting her with a gun. Vitkovic has also worked for many years for "Rilindja", the oldest daily newspaper in Albanian language in Kosovo.
Members of peace forces are usually too late for timely reactions in such cases. They advise Serbs who call them for help to leave their apartments, and even offer to provide security while Serbs take out their possessions. If the victims are able to find a truck, KFOR also usually offers to provide escort to the border with Serbia proper.
Night in Pristina
with Serbs, who with fear await their night visitors
by Milka Milovanovic
A night has fallen
in Pristina. It is long, too long. Gathered in an apartment in the Suncani
Breg [Sunny Hill] district of Pristina, Nada and Dragi, Jela and Bora,
Vera, Nena and Djurdja, are sharing experiences from the previous night
when they had "visitors". More than two hours they had fought
for their apartments. They fought and won the right to stay in
Nada and Dragi pushed a cupboard against the door, Jela and Bora pushed a stove so heavy that they had a hard time removing it in the morning. Vera argued with the thugs through the closed door in front of which she pushed several armchairs, and Nena and Djurdja argued with them in Albanian.
"All this is aunt Desa's fault. Had she not run out of the apartment and thrown away her keys when they banged on her door, in the middle of the day, we wouldn't have had night visitors. She gave in, but we must hold out. At least until September 20, when KLA should stop to exist - if one is to trust KFOR," says Djurdja.
These people have lost trust in KFOR. They called them several times during night, but they did not show up. In the building next to theirs, KFOR arrived only after thugs had given up and left.
"They are always late," Bora jumps in the conversation. He didn't buy the newspaper that morning, so that neighbors have nothing to talk about.
Because of low voltage,
TV S has stopped with broadcasts in Serb language after only a few days.
"Jedinstvo", the only daily newspaper in Serb language, which
had been published in Pristina for 55 years and whose next issue is
eagerly awaited by the few remaining Serbs, has not yet resumed with
publication, and the journalists they know are not in the mood to talk
"Today, we've been left even without spoken news," sadly concludes Nena and suggests to her neighbor Djurdja that they should head home.
It is already 6p.m. and they live in the building across the street. Bora, Jela and Vera stuck around a bit longer and then they also headed home. It is after 6p.m. and it is dangerous to be outside apartments or to leave them empty.
A night has fallen on Pristina. Serbs, shut in their apartments behind lowered blinds are trying to see the sky and the stars. Serbs lock their doors, push cupboards against them and with a book in hand wait for night visitors who want to throw them out of their apartments.
in refugee train Kosovo Polje-Lesak
Ten years ago, more than 30 trains traveled along the railroad between Beograd and Kosovo Polje. Today, only one train, known as the refugee train, travels to Lesak. It can not go any further. Tracks have been damaged at several spots and bridges destroyed by the NATO bombardment.
"We leave at 2:40p.m. from Kosovo Polje. We are in Lesak at 5p.m. We stay there for 30 minutes and head back. This is a refugee train. Passengers ride for free and we cannot guarantee their safety. The train is not escorted by KFOR. All passengers, including myself, are risking their lives when we leave Kosovo Polje," explains Branislav Rankovic, conductor with 27 years of work experience with Yugoslav Rail-transport.
"We do not stop at all stations. Train does not stop in Albanian majority settlements (Samodreza, Mijalic, Uznica, Vucitrn, Mitrovica and Zvecan) and passengers sit low while we drive through those stations because the train is sometimes stoned," adds the second conductor Bozidar Stosic. "I would not be surprised if they mined the railroad one day and blew all of us up. Heavenly people... Most of passengers are housewives, pensioners, workers, youth, Serbs and Roma... Honest people and smugglers..."
The last station is at the same time the starting station for everyone. They leave and return on the same train. And the train waits. It waits until they finish the buying of food and other basic necessities at the improvised market at the train station in Leposavic, or sell the goods brought from Kosovo in Lesak.
"This is a shame. A fall in every sense. War profiteers are getting rich on other people's troubles," says one of the passengers. "This is nothing compared with what is being shipped to Albania," add other passengers, and beg that we do not disclose their names. Home appliances, TVs, cameras, VCRs, irons, linen, curtains are sold for almost nothing. Any price is good. Train does not wait for long.
"I am here every day. I sometimes think I'll recognize something from my home. I feel like strangling all of these monkeys," says a well built 25-year-old who is now, as he says "homeless".
In Leposavic, 70 kilometers from Kosovo Polje, Serbs buy bread, fruit, vegetables, milk products and other food products. It is safer to travel to Leposavic than to go to Pristina, which is 8 kilometers from Kosovo Polje.
"We'll travel for a few more times until we spend all the money we have. After that, who knows," says the elderly couple Scepanovic from Obilic. "All of these people are poor. The wealthy have left for Serbia long time ago."
"They left us to the mercy of our enemies. The same people who bombed us until yesterday are now supposed to protect us. You can see for yourself how they protect us. I come here to buy bread. Where else can you find something like that," says resigned Jovo Cirkovic from Kosovo Polje.
"There is no bread for Serbs in Kosovo Polje. There is no life with Shqiptars either. Old neighbors look at you the way wolf look at sheep. Forget it, I haven't told you anything. Please, don't mention my name."
Slavica Brajkovic, midwife from the Pristina hospital says: "I worked the most humane job. I assisted women to give birth to healthy children. I treated everyone the same, regardless of their nationality and religion. I've lived long enough to be thrown by my Shqiptar colleagues from my job. It is hard. It is really hard, but am staying with my family in Kosovo. I will be the last one to leave Kosovo Polje. It is never too late for a tent or a refugee caravan..."
Burning and looting
of Serb houses in Pristina continues
by M. Milovanovic
Albanian extremists haven't slowed down in their drive to cleanse Pristina of Serbs. Their compatriots who work as translators with KFOR are offering them every assistance in that. They either do not report citizens' calls for help, or report them late. There are lot of examples for that The most recent ones are from the last night.
The struggle of disabled Ljubica Rakocevic from the Pristina district of Suncani Breg [Sunny Hill] to defend her apartment from Albanian thugs went on for three hours. She and her neighbors called KFOR several times, but the translator, an ethnic Albanian, kept saying that no patrols were available. She "encouraged" them to hold out and wait. The thugs left just before midnight, but that does not mean that they have given up. Moreover, that is unlikely having in mind that a bomb was thrown into Ms. Rakocevic's apartment ten days ago.
In the information center of the Serb national Council we found out that on Friday at about 6p.m. Dusko Ristic's apartment in Vidovdanska St. in Pristina was attacked. The same source stated that the house of Veljko Savic in 38 Robert Gajdik St. was set on fire the very same night.
The information center of the Serb National Council has been recently receiving a growing number of calls from Serbs who need assistance in food and medications. There are still Serbs in Pristina. It seems, they have been surveyed by their neighbors, Albanians, and they know where to send thugs. Serbs are mostly not leaving their apartments and houses, because they believe that that is the only way to preserve the property for which they had worked hard for years.
Many of them are on the verge of existential minimum and are lacking food, medications, toiletries. As we heard at the Information Center, Dr. Milenko Karan, a well-known psychologist and professor at the Philosophy Faculty, Veselin Kovacevic and more than thirty tenants in the solidarity building at the 2 Suncani Breg [Sunny Hill] district and many others are in especially grave situation.
No Humanitarian Assistance for Serbs
Serbs have found out that they can ask for assistance from the humanitarian organization "Adra" by phoning the number 510-912. However, the employees there are mostly ethnic Albanians, so that there are no Serbs on their lists, and if there are, there are only one or two names.
A few days ago, Serbs from the Suncani Breg [Sunny Hill] settlement made a list of all Serb families who live there and approached "Adra" for humanitarian assistance. When the truck arrived, only two families were on the list. The remaining assistance was distributed to Albanians. Serbs were told that they would receive aid in the next day or two. "Adra" trucks have delivered aid to this settlement several times since them, but in all cases, none of the assistance made its way to the Serb families.
Serbs' Kosovo heritage in peril
Attacks continue on art, monuments, churches
By Alex Todorovic and Charles A. Radin, Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff, 07/30/99
- A bent cross and a heap of rubble lie where the
Irretrievably lost in the debris are priceless frescoes by an unknown 14th century artist who distinguished himself with broad strokes of white, a bold move in his day. Also gone from the Dormition of Mother of God Church are early 17th century icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Destruction of Serb
religious and cultural artifacts and monuments still is
The threat persists even as world leaders gather in Sarajevo today to forge a strategy for reconstructing the ravaged region.
a Harvard University-based specialist on the art and
''Once you destroy
the cultural institutions, the houses of worship, and
There are no more Serbs in Musutiste. Almost daily, the houses they fled are being burned, and local Albanians are in no mood to discuss the destruction of the church. A Globe reporter and photographer were detained and questioned by former Kosovo Liberation Army soldiers for taking pictures there, and a roll of film was confiscated.
To Albanians, such destruction is simple tit for tat, to be expected in a village where Serbs expelled the local Muslims and vandalized their mosque before the tide of war turned.
To Serbs, it is
a resumption of anti-Serb violence that they say far predates the rise
of Slobodan Milosevic as a nationalist leader, a continuation of a
''It's a shame that
the people who are destroying our religious sites cannot
Whatever the context,
the destruction is a tragedy to Western scholars, art
''A lot of the frescoes
and architecture of these medieval churches are
''There is a style developed in Kosovo and just to the north in southern Serbia ... that reflects the cultural influences in the region from the second half of the 12th century through most of the 14th century,'' he said.
The style combines
a Romanesque exterior and ornamentation of doors and
So, too, are the politics and propaganda surrounding this issue.
Like many Western
specialists in the art and architecture of the region,
''In this province
in modern times, the majority of the population was
However, he stressed that he is not critical of Serb efforts to publicize the current destruction, and is pleased that the former KLA soldiers who detained the Globe team were bothered that foreign journalists were looking into the destruction of the church.
''I'm glad to see these things publicized,'' he said. ''Once it is well understood that every time you do this you are damaging your own cause, there will be less of it.''
The war on art and
architecture in the former Yugoslavia began in 1991, said
''The next major
milestone was the destruction of the Mostar bridge by the
The Serbian monasteries are treasures, she said, but so, too, were some of the mosques razed in Bosnia and Kosovo.
While people think of Spain, Istanbul, and Damascus as the loci of great Islamic architecture, builders sent out in the glory days of the Ottoman Empire evolved an intimate, country-style mosque in the Balkans that deeply influenced the development of the region's cities.
''What was particularly important was the commingling,'' Burnham said. ''It was a wonderful fabric to behold.''
Serbian Orthodox officials strongly dispute the idea that actions against cultural and religious targets arise from the disintegration of Yugoslavia at the hands of warring nationalities in the 1990s.
In 1981, ''Albanian extremists set fire to the Serbian patriarchate in Pec,'' said Father Aleksandar Vlajkovic of St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Wakefield. ''Part of the complex was burned to the ground. Milosevic was not in power yet; it was just after Tito's death.
''Recently we heard
of three days of mistreatment of nuns by the KLA and the desecration
of the Devic,'' he said. ''NATO said it was revenge, but that
''These are events we do not forget, and when someone says today that these are revenge for what Serbian soldiers did to Albanians, I do not agree,'' Vlajkovic said.
Regardless of the various versions of history, the scholars plead for the United Nations to stop the destruction now.
''It is a scandal,'' Riedlmayer said, ''that the UN, which was supposed to set up civilian police, has yet to do so. KFOR is a military force and is not really trained for these functions.''
Todorovic reported from Kosovo; Radin from Boston.
This story ran on
page A01 of the Boston Globe on 07/30/99.
October 28, 1999
Life in the narrow, winding streets of the Serb ghetto in Orahovac was too much for the 155 scared Serbs who left the southern Kosovo town yesterday with an armed escort of Dutch peacekeepers.
The German military police and Dutch soldiers with the Nato-led peacekeeping force K-For were clearly uncomfortable with the task they had been assigned - to protect the convoy of four buses and 30 cars as it waited on a rocky grey hillside outside the town.
Even before it ended in disaster last night the very existence of the convoy was ugly proof that the ideal of a multi-ethnic Kosovo which was proposed by the UN and Nato is not working.
"We don't escort individual Serbs out of Kosovo," said Major Roy Abels, a Dutch officer in Orahovac. "We don't want to be seen deporting Serbs. They must leave on a flagged UN convoy."
The war is supposedly over in Kosovo, but memories of the killing frenzy that gripped Orahovac and the surrounding villages burns as intensely as the Serb houses torched by vengeful ethnic Albanians.
Dutch peacekeepers found and registered the bodies of about 1,000 ethnic Albanians in and around the town, murdered in mass killings by Serbian security forces. The death toll in the area may be as high as 3,000, and some local Serbs allegedly took part in the killings. Orahovac is no longer a place to be a Serb.
The Serbs were outnumbered nine to one, even before the mass exodus that followed Nato's arrival in the province in June. Only a fraction of the Serb population dared to stay behind to run the daily gauntlet of ethnic Albanian hatred. The attack on the convoy will only deepen their terror.
The green camouflage of Dutch soldiers has replaced the blue serge uniforms of the Serbian police in the town. They park their armoured vehicles and mobile artillery at the entrances to a series of streets at the top of the town which now forms the ghetto of about 2,000 frightened, hunted Serbs.
Sallow-looking men who survive on handouts of pasta and beans swap gossip outside the ghetto's Orthodox church or over coffee in the Casablanca cafe.
The women look tired and pale, their childrens' skin matte and wan. To step outside the ghetto means almost certain kidnapping and death as the murders of ethnic Serbs and Gypsies continue unabated in Kosovo.
Predrag Dedic, 67, was wounded this summer when a gunman fired on him and two friends outside his house in Vidovdanska Street, 50 yards from the ghetto's border with the Albanian half of the town.
He and his wife Bozhana, 61, have given up hope of finding their son Boban, 37, so they decided to leave on yesterday's convoy. Mrs Dedic said she was with her son when guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army arrested him, shortly after Nato troops entered the town. There has been no word since.
"We don't see any survival here, Mrs Dedic said. "We get bread but everything is triple the price here."
Few ethnic Albanian tradesmen venture into the ghetto to do business and she has a dwindling supply of Yugoslav dinars, while the ethnic Albanians want german marks.
She says the men are wary of going to their cafes, as young ethnic Albanian men have been known to walk right into the ghetto and sit menacingly at the bar. The Dutch troops try to keep the armed presence to a minimum.
"The Serbs can't move around. They're advised by us they can go wherever they want but they want a guard," said Lieutenant-Colonel Tony van Loon, the commander of the Dutch artillery battalion quartered in Orahovac.
"I don't want to start walking round with Serbs, we'd never hear the end of it [from ethnic Albanians]," he added.
The Dutch soldiers' relationship with the ghetto is made more difficult by the presence of suspected war criminals. Two alleged war criminals who applied to leave on yesterday's convoy were refused permission and subsequently arrested last week, bringing the tally of war crime suspects arrested by the Dutch since their arrival to 11. The Serb men look like packs of frightened antelope, unsure who the Nato military police will pick off next.
Astrid van Genderen Stort is in charge of the UN refugee agency's evacuation list for Orahovac. Belgrade has accused the agency of helping to "ethnically cleanse" Kosovo of Serbs, and ethnic Albanians are suspicious that she is helping alleged Serb war criminals to escape. After four alleged war criminals were taken off one of her convoys and arrested by peacekeeping troops earlier this summer, she received death threats from the ghetto. She says the refugees are unlikely to get a warm welcome in Serbia, which is the unspoken reason for why yesterday's convoy headed for Montenegro.
As the vehicles snaked their way through Orahovac, small crowds of ethnic Albanians gathered and watched from the pavements, some smiling, some even waving, happy that more Serbs were leaving the town, unlikely ever to return.
Mrs Dedic pulled us to one side before she left and said that despite the loss of her son she could understand the ethnic Albanians' anger.
"Many wrongs were done to them," she said.
And in a liberating whisper, she hissed: "Milosevic is a fascist!"
Guardian Media Group plc. 1999