Page 438 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Bishop atanasije (jevtić)
occasionally very brutal police repression which was fre- quently directed where there was least danger.
From the beginning of armed conflict to the NaTO bombing in March 1999
even though the first serious armed actions of the alba- nian separatists began as early as 1996, and sporadic vio- lence continued during 1997, the armed conflict in Kosovo and Metohija finally began in 1998, gradually growing into open rebellion and war. By the end of 1997 extremist na- tionalist albanian forces consisting primarily of younger people from rural areas began to organize increasingly fre- quent terrorist actions with the goal of liquidating certain eminent Serbs in the service of the state, first and fore- most, policemen, as well as to frighten the Serbian popula- tion as a whole. in albanian society the conviction increas- ingly prevailed that the so-called “pacifist policies” of ibra- him Rugova must finally transform into a general people’s rebellion which the world would have to support. Rugova, however, was no less disposed against the Serbs in his Greater albanian demands, only more cunning and per- fidious.43
The West, first and foremost, the United States, viewed the entire cause of the problem one-sidedly and from the perspective of the last decade. Hence the entire blame was laid on the Serbs, who continued “to keep Milošević in power” and refused “to grant rights to the albanian minor- ity.” The already well-known, decades-old idea of a Greater Albania was very skillfully masked by albanian politicians and intellectuals with stories of “human rights violations” and the need for the democratization of Kosovo. Human rights certainly were and remain an important part of the problem in the Province but the Serbs did not have them either, either, so this was not the essence of the problem. The best indicator that the fight for human rights was not the true goal of the albanian political battle is the fact that albanian politicians in Kosovo stubbornly rejected every form of cooperation and support for the democratic forces in Serbia, precisely because with Milošević it was easiest for them to achieve their centuries-old dream. During this process many albanians from Kosovo and Metohija ac- quired enormous wealth, and their economic strengthen- ing and building of many facilities and mosques did not stop even under Milošević.
43 For example, in 1998 when clashes began between police and the KLa in Drenica, Rugova announced that the KLa was “a cre- ation of the Serbian police”! He then announced that the monastery of Devič in Drenica was “a warehouse of arms and munitions.” The Serbian Patriarch protested against this statement to the U.S. ambas- sador in Belgrade, asking that it be verified by a visit to the monas- tery of Devič. When the Patriarch himself set out for Devič, he was stopped in the village of Lauša near Devič by armed members of the KLa, who verbally abused him, demanding documents and limiting his time of departure and return from the monastery.
Younger extremist forces close to the former Marxist- Leninist cliques from the time of enver Hoxha believed that it was necessary to put Kosovo on the front page of the world media and sufficient to provoke the state govern- ment so that it would compromise itself as much as possi- ble in repression against civilians. Thus, the albanian peo- ple would be incited to rise in rebellion, which would also be fueled by increasing dissatisfaction due to police brutal- ity. after a brutal response by police in the village of Prekaz near Srbica in February 1998 when, in addition to several known albanian terrorists led by adem jashari, several civilians (women and children) from his extended family were also killed, Milošević thought the albanians were suf- ficiently frightened to desist from further rebellion. The effect was just the opposite. in just a few months rebellion spread like a flame throughout all of Drenica and the Me- tohija valley, especially in the hinterlands of the state bor- der toward albania and the Mališevo area. For months be- fore enormous quantities of weapons had been brought in from albania and an entire strategy for rebellion was al- ready formed. Local albanian fishes with members trained in terrorist activities and guerrilla warfare in special camps in albania organized the first units of the so-called KLa (Kosovo Liberation Army), which just in the period from Feb- ruary to May 1998 grew from approximately 200 active members to several thousand armed men. The rebellion spread exclusively in rural districts while the cities, espe- cially the eastern part of the Province, were almost com- pletely spared of any disturbances.44
as a direct consequence of the first clashes of the police and the KLa, and especially of the organization of the so- called KLa free zone in the hinterlands of Dečani as far as Mališevo, the first Serbian refugees began to leave, having first been told to leave their homes, only for several of them to be killed by members of the KLa. even though the Church at that time appealed with increasing intensity both to the state and international circles to prevent the outbreak of war, it became apparent that neither the state nor the international community had control over events in the field. The Western papers were overflowing with awe before these young rebels who practically barehanded rushed the Serbian police and army to defend their homes and houses. Unfortunately, it was almost unknown that in just a few months, several dozen Serbian villages in Meto- hija had been emptied and that the number of Serbian refugees even at that time was proportionally greater than that of albanians.
With the intent of creating a land-based connection with their bases in north albania, members of the KLa
in February 1998 Bishop artemije of Kosovo and Metohija and Mr. Momčilo Trajković spoke before the U.S. Congress and most harshly condemned violence by both sides in Kosovo and Metohija, appealing to the U.S. to take an objective stand which would bring both sides to the negotiating table and stop the further spread of vio- lence.

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