Page 773 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 773

“Mr. President,
Through its officials our Church has been informed of many attacks occurring in the Socialist autonomous Prov- ince of Kosovo toward the Serbian Orthodox Church and its members, not only attacks but also formally illegal acts. Hence we are forced to address you in search of protection.
We believe that the principles of freedom, which the SFR Yugoslavia Constitution guarantees to all its citizens, regardless of nationality or religious affiliation, should also apply toward the Orthodox Church and her faithful in the Socialist Province of Kosovo; namely, ensuring the free- dom to live and security of property and preventing vio- lence by the albanian nationality, which is the majority nationality in the province.
Our Holy Synod of Bishops has, with respect to con- crete cases, on numerous occasions addressed competent officials of the Socialist Republic of Serbia as well as the Federal executive Council; however, the situation has not improved. The violence subsides somewhat only to appear in another region in even more serious form. in the last year it has assumed all serious forms. This involves not only the destruction of crops in the field, the destruction of for- ests (monasteries of Devič, Dečani, Gorioč near Peć), the destruction of gravestones (Buzovik, Šipolje near Kosovs- ka Mitrovica, Kosovska Vitina, etc.) but also physical at- tacks, even targeting women and nuns (last year in the mon- astery of Binča near Kosovska Vitina, in Mušutište near Prizren, and this spring in Devič Monastery, where the ab- bess sustained seriously bodily injury, a novice of Dečani Monastery was wounded with an ax, a hieromonk of Gorioč Monastery was hit in the head with a rock, priests near Kosovska Mitrovica were also assaulted with rocks, etc.) which has led to the permanent departure of our faithful from the region.
We do not want to cause problems with regard to these legal acts but we are forced to seek protection for the mem- bers of our Church who constantly appeal to us for help. Therefore, we ask that you dedicate your attention to these difficulties so that we may prevent any further illegal acts.
Thanking you, Mr. President, for your understanding and attention to our problems, we ask that your accept our expression of special respect from the members of the Holy assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church.”
On May 23, 1969, the president of the Republic, josip Broz Tito, replied to this as follows:
“i have received your letter of May 19 in which you in- form me that there have been attacks in the Socialist au- tonomous Province of Kosovo targeting the Serbian Or- thodox Church and her members. i express my regret due to the acts cited in your letter, and which represent a viola- tion of the SFRY Constitution.
as the President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yu- goslavia i will do everything to prevent attacks and illegal acts, and to ensure a free life and integrity for every citizen, as well as security for their property.
i will forward your letter, together with my views on the need of undertaking decisive measures to protect the law, to the executive Council of the assembly of the Socialist Republic of Serbia.” The Holy assembly of Bishops asked His Holiness Patriarch German to thank the President of the Republic for his reply. at the same time it decided to present a transcript of the answer to Their Graces the Bishops.78
His Holiness Serbian Patriarch German forwarded to the Holy Synod of Bishops a letter from Orthodox citizens in Bujanovac, signed by Žarko Filipović.
The letter stated the following:
“We are forced to appeal to you personally for help be- cause so far our intervention through others has not helped. in the village of Veliki Trnovac, Municipal assembly of Bujanovac, there is a church dedicated to the emperor Con- stantine and jelena or St. Helen, which was built on the older foundations of church in 1936/37, regarding which there is evidence in your possession.
Until 1964 there was a Serb population in the village and the church was maintained. it was fenced in with a wall, everything was nicely appointed, a gate was made for the exit from the yard.
However, when all the Serbs moved from this village in 1964, one year later and to this very day and so forth, the aforementioned church has been destroyed to the point that in the near future the albanian population may de- stroy it altogether.
The fence wall has been destroyed by the albanians in several places in order to make passages from the church- yard to their houses. They have broken both gates. They have smashed all the monuments of the deceased in the courtyard, the doors on the church were destroyed, all the icons and windows on the church smashed. People are def- ecating in the church itself, transforming the church into a toilet.
We wish to note that a team for the protection of mon- uments from Belgrade and Niš visited the church in Veliki Trnovac in order to protect it because it was built on the foundations of an older church. The sight they saw was something, a church turned into a toilet and they found a donkey in the middle of the church.
That is why we are personally addressing you, Mr. Ger- man, to help us so that we can protect the church that is located in Veliki Trnovac so that they do not use it as a toilet because it is a monument. We wish to note that there are three mosques and they are maintained by the alba- nians, while our church is being destroyed and all sorts of things done with it, as well as that they are presently build- ing a mosque in the town of Bujanovac for which they re- ceived funds from the municipality in the amount of four million, while our church which was built long ago is being ruined and destroyed.
78 AHSB, Syn No 1879/zap. 408, May 27, 1969.
The Suffering and Persecution in Kosovo and Metohija from 1945 to 2005

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