Page 449 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 449

The same thing is true of the number of destroyed hous- es and especially churches and monasteries for during the year 2000 the destruction of individual churches and de- molition of cemeteries continued, although with signifi- cantly reduced intensity, and thus the number of destroyed Holy Shrines now significantly exceeds 100 while the final number of destroyed churches remains to be established through detailed investigation and documentation. as of today we know that there are 112 destroyed and desecrated Holy Shrines.53 For it should be kept in mind that the Ser- bian Orthodox Church even today does not have access to many locations and churches where there is an albanian majority because KFOR avoids providing an escort for the necessary expert visit and inspection of all churches and church sites.54 Very frequently repeated are the words of a bishop, who said that even those churches that survived 500 years of Ottoman enslavement could not survive a year and a half of international peace! even though KFOR intro- duced active protection of numerous churches as early as august 1999, the albanians took advantage of every mo- ment of inattention or omission to destroy Serbian shrines, sending Serbs the clear message that there is no and can be no life with them for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. Thus the churches in Pomazatin, Banjska near Vučitrn and else- where were destroyed in the presence of KFOR, i.e. despite their protection.
The destruction of Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries, the eradication of cemeteries and cultural monuments is part of a wider albanian strategy whose goal is to change not only the demographic but also the cultural and historical identity of the Province. at the same time new albanian history and education are imposing false identities upon some of our greatest Holy Shrines such as Dečani and the Patriarchate. in this process a very dishon- orable role is also being played by some Roman Catholic circles, primarily among the albanians themselves, who claim that the Serbs have “occupied” supposed albanian Catholic churches built by illyrian and albanian kings(!?) This claim has been made repeated on several occasions by Roman Catholic priest Shan Zefi before international rep- resentatives and this pseudo-history is being taught to al-
53 The Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija has pub- lished three editions to date, each one updated, of a full-color album in several languages (the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral also in albanian) of all photographs, partially destroyed and desecrat- ed Kosovo and Metohija Holy Shrines under the title of Raspeto Ko- sovo—Crucified Kosovo. The first edition, with 50 destroyed Holy Shrines, was personally handed to then U.S. president Clinton during his visit to Kosovo as well as to other leaders of Western countries. However, nothing changed; there was no real intervention or pre- vention of further destruction, and not one Holy Shrine has yet been renewed.
54 almost all churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija, with the exception of a few that were not accessible during the alba- nian Communist rule in Kosovo and Metohija, were recorded prior to Milošević’s assumption of power in the monograph Zadužbine Kosova (Endowments of Kosovo), Prizren-Belgrade, 1986.
MeMORaNDUM onKosovoandMetohija
banian students in schools in the Province. The Roman Catholic bishop in Prizren, Marko Sopi, in his interview for a publication on Kosovo published in 2001 by Caritas- Vincenza directly justified the destruction of more recent- ly built Serbian Orthodox churches after the war as so- called “political” churches. in the same interview bishop Sopi falsely said that the seat of the Serbian Church was transferred to Kosovo and Metohija only in the 19th cen- tury after the Congress of Berlin obviously with the intent of deceiving the public. Despite requests by the Diocese of Raška and Prizren and representatives of the U.S. organi- zation Conference of World Religions for Peace from New York, which mediates interfaith dialogue, bishop Sopi has never denied his claims. in this dishonorable act of histori- cal and cultural theft, the albanian Muslims and Roman Catholics are united, and a young generation of Kosovo albanians is already growing up firmly convinced that the Patriarchate, Dečani, Gračanica and other Serbian Ortho- dox Holy Shrines were built by some Gashi, Prend, agron and other obscure and fictional figures of new “Kosovar history.” To this we add that albanian terrorists have on several occasions targeted the monastery of Dečani and the Peć Patriarchate with mortars, Dečani twice and the Patriarchate once.
The tragedy of the Kosovo and Metohija Serbs has been apparent in every step but it is especially apparent in Prišti- na where out of 40,000 pre-war Serbian residents only 200–300 souls remained by the middle of 2000, most of them living in a single housing complex (YU Program build- ing) surrounded by barbed wire and strong KFOR patrols. it deserves to be mentioned that the old parish church of St. Nicholas in Priština has remained active this entire time with an on-duty priest, Protopresbyter Miroslav Popadić who, frequently risking his life, visits the faithful in Priština and surroundings. However, as we will see further on, this church and its priest are the targets of increasingly frequent attacks by rabid albanians. The number of urban residents in Gnjilane and Orahovac during the course of the year 2000 was greatly reduced and by the beginning of 2001, it had reached about 400 souls in Gnjilane (out of a pre-war 12,000) and about 450 residents of Orahovac. Thus after the war the small village of Goraždevac, which is also now home to a number of refugee returnees, became practi- cally the most numerous demographic center in Metohija, with a population of about 1,000 residents. in Peć there are no more Serbs while the number of Serbs in Prizren was reduced to less than 200 souls only to further fall to about 68 primarily elderly people during the course of 2002. in Djakovica six Serbian elderly ladies are still vegetating.
From the beginning the Serbian Church has been en- gaged with representatives of UNMiK and KFOR on en- abling the return of expelled Serbs and other non-alba- nians to their homes. These efforts met with a slightly greater degree of response from UNMiK and KFOR repre- sentatives only in the spring of 2000, when the Joint Com-

   447   448   449   450   451