WAR AGAINST THE DEAD CONTINUES
Orthodox Cemetery in Orahovac
Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren
SERB ORTHODOX CEMETERY IN ORAHOVAC FOUND DESECRATED
Church fears that all Serb cemeteries out of Serb enclaves might be seriously damaged by Albanian vandals and extremists
Orahovac, June 13, 2002
Between 50-60 tombstones at the old Serb Orthodox cemetery in Orahovac were found destroyed with UCK signs sprayed on them, said Dejan Baljosevic, the member of the Church committee and the deputy of the Local Community Office in the Municipal administration for Upper Orahovac and Velika Hoca. Together with two other members of the Church Committee delegation from Orahovac, he visited the old Serb Orthodox cemetery on June 10, 2002. The cemetery is situated in the Kosovo Albanian part of Orahovac.
According to Dejan Baljosevic, in the church yard around the Orthodox Church of the Dormition of Theotokos, in the Serbian quarter, there are no more burial sites. After the arrival of KFOR, in June 1999, this courtyard was turned into an improvised cemetery because of the lack of security for Serbs in other parts of the town. The local priest Fr. Srdjan Milenkovic and the Church committee requested from the Municipal authorities a permission to visit the old Serbian cemetery. The local Serbs would like to resume using their old cemetery for burials. "KFOR is ready to provide security for funeral processions but we would also like the Albanian side to give their guarantees, because our security directly depends on them, explained Dejan Baljkosevic.
The municipal authorities had obstinately rejected recurrent Serb requests to visit their old cemetery for almost three years. Finally, on June 10, the three-member delegation of the Church committee was allowed to inspect the cemetery under the KFOR escort. They were given only 20 minutes to stay at the cemetery. "The front part of the cemetery, near the street, is mostly well preserved but the large number of tombs were found damaged and desecrated", said Dejan Baljosevic.
Bishop Artemije, who has visited Decani Monastery today, expressed his fear that all Serb Orthodox cemeteries out of Serb enclaves protected by KFOR might have been seriously damaged by Albanian vandals and extremists after the withdrawal of the Yugoslav army in June 1999. "It is absolutely incredible that 30.000 best armed NATO led troops and UNMIK police have not managed to prevent systematic destruction of the Serb holy sites and cemeteries. This is the crime which will remain as the dark shaddow on the history of Kosovo peacekeeping mission and a deep wound in the heart of our people", said the Bishop after learning the tragic news from Orahovac.
end of the statement:
REQUIEM AETERNAM - PAX DONA EIS DOMINE
More on desecration of cemeteries:
War Against the Dead...
The town of Orahovac in the south of the UN administred Yugoslav province of Kosovo is known for one of the last remaining tiny Serb enclaves in Albanian dominated Province. After the war around 2000 Serb civillians remained in the Serb quarter and were protected from KLA militants by KFOR. This tiny Orahovac ghetto survived until today but the security for Serbs has not essentially improved. Close to Orahovac there is the only Serb village in the Prizren area - Velika Hoca, known from the 12th century monastery charters of Serb and Byzantine kings as an important Serb village with several old churches. At the moment only less than 450 Serbs remain in Upper Orahovac and around 500 in Velika Hoca. This last Serb enclave is rapidly dwindling despite of UNNIK and KFOR reports that the situation for the Serbs is improving. Deprived of a possibility of free life and movement, with no employment and free access to medical facilities occupied by Albanians many Serbs have no other option but to leave their homes and go to north Serbia.
The conflict in Orahovac area began already in 1998 with KLA creating the first "free territory" and fully operating in the Prizren hinterground. Dozens of Serb farmers were abducted and have never been found since then. After the war, in summer of 1999 the Albanian KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army, UCK) established the rule of terror in Orahovac area and summarilly executed many respected Serbs, Romas and even ethnic Albanians who were not supporting them. The painful truth is that these criminal acts occured in the presence of thousands of German/Dutch KFOR troops, then led by Lt. Gen. Fritz von Korpf. Not a single ethnic murder from that time, abduction or desecration of a holy site has been properly investigated and the perpertators have never been punished by law.