Page 939 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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mas and Damian were set on fire by a group of albanian extremists. after that, the small but historically important medieval monastery church was blown up. Between 14 and 16 june in Orahovac (a vine-growing area of Metohija) about 600 Serb residents scattered in various parts of the town all fled to the Serbian quarter in the vicinity of the church, ready to organize joint resistance to albanians who were setting fire to all Serbian houses, one after another. On 24 june 1999 roughly 3,200 Serbs were forced to leave Oraho- vac escorted by KFOR: of 6,000 prewar Serb residents bare- ly 2,000 remained ghettoized in the Serb-inhabited quar- ter. a 1,200-Serb-strong enclave in neighbouring Velika Hoča, a historic Serb village with fourteen churches dating from various periods, monuments of Oriental architecture and the well-preserved fourteenth-century wine cellars founded by the Serbian emperor Stefan Dušan (1331–1355) and presently in the ownership of the monastery of Dečani, managed to survive at that moment, protected, as the Serbs of Orahovac, by KFOR tanks and barbed wire.
another notable fourteenth-century Serb monastery, the Holy Trinity in Mušutište was looted and burned to the ground on 12 june, while the nuns barely managed to es- cape. Four days after German KFOR troops entered Priz- ren, on 16 june 1999, a KLa group kidnapped Fr. Hariton Lukić, a monk of the monastery of the Holy archangels near Prizren, in charge of the evacuation of Serb nuns from Mušutište and monks from Zočište. More than a year later his beheaded, mutilated body was found near Prizren. On 15 june 1999, German KFOR finally decided, though not until the albanian mob had destroyed most of the Serbian monuments around the seat of the Diocese of Raška-Priz- ren, to provide military protection for the besieged Serbian cathedral and bishopric.
The other areas of Metohija, with significant Serb set- tlements, were rapidly emptied as the ethnically motivated terror of armed albanian extremists continued unhindered, from abduction and expulsion to torture and random kill- ings. Belo Polje and Vitomirica near Peć were completely emptied of Serbs. Driven out of their houses, the Serbs of Belo Polje near Peć left for neighbouring Montenegro on 19 june, after three of their compatriots were found slaugh- tered. Between the middle of june and late july 1999, the Metropolitan of Montenegro and his monks, authorized by the Serb Patriarch to provide protection for the Patri- archate of Peć and its flock, found and buried some thirty bodies of Serbs, mostly elderly men and women, civilians brutally massacred throughout the Peć area. The monas- tery of Dečani, famous for giving shelter to civilians in dan- ger regardless of their ethnic origin, especially to albanians during the 1999 war, now provided shelter not only to Serbs but also to fifty Roma whose houses in the neighbouring area were torched by the albanians. another family shel- tered in Dečani was from the Muslim-Slav Gorani (Go- ranci) community. The tiny Christian Serb community of Djakovica, living in a single street, known as Serbian Street
The Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija 1999–2007
(Srpska ulica), totalling roughly 700 persons, gathered around the walls of the parish church of the Mother of God. a series of migrations reduced the presence of Serbs to six old ladies, living in complete isolation under the protec- tion of italian KFOR forces.8
as reported on 15 august 1999 the situation in the Brit- ish-controlled area of central Kosovo was the following: “Looted houses, banished senior citizens, stolen cars, rack- eteering, murders, abductions, rape, trafficking: the KFOR troops are facing crime, both organized and uncontrolled, committed by Kosovars and albanian Mafia. in two months, in the British Sector only, there were 127 murders (account- ed for), 378 arsons, 504 known robberies. Kosovo has only been under UNMiK administration for six weeks, and the word ’mafia’ emerged into media reports. a coincidence?”9
according to the verifiable sources of the Kosovo and Metohija diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church (Raška- Prizren Bishopric), the number of Serbs remaining in the larger cities in august 1999 was as follows:
Gnjilane: 25,000 Serbs reduced to about 5,000
K Mitrovica: 27,000 Serbs reduced to 15,000
Kosovo Polje: 20,000 Serbs reduced to less than 10,000 Peć: 12,000 Serbs reduced to less than 100
Priština: 30,000 Serbs reduced to 500 to 1000
Prizren: 5,000–6,000 Serbs reduced to 60010
During the first three months of UN administration
approximately 250,000 Serbs and other non-albanians (Ro- ma, Muslim Slavs, Croats and the tiny jewish community) were driven out and displaced from Kosovo, finding refuge in the rest of Serbia or in Montenegro, the other constitu- ent republic of the FRY. abductions and random killings of Serbs in all parts of the UN-governed Province became the predominant contents of hundreds of exhaustive and well- documented reports of local priests and church-people’s councils, covering the events involving Serb victims from the Gnjilane, Vitina, Lipljan, Klina, Uroševac, Prizren, Ora- hovac and Peć areas.11 a significant number of Serbs left Kosovska Vitina on 19 july 1999, after the random attacks by albanian extremists culminated in a group of Serbs be-
8 These ladies were eventually evacuated by italian KFOR on 17 March 2004 when thousands of Kosovo albanian rioters attacked their parish seat and church hurling stones and petrol bombs. after their evacuation to the monastery of Dečani, the parish church and seat were looted and set on fire. in the following days all remains of the church were completely removed.
9 Report by Agence France-Presse of 15 august 1999.
10 For a detailed account, see D.T. Bataković, “Kosovo: From Spar- kling Victory to Troublesome Peace” in D. Simko & H. Haumann, eds., Peace Perspectives for South Eastern Europe, Proceedings of the Symposium 2000 Basel, Switzerland, 29–30 june 2000 (academia: Prague 2001), pp. 127–147.
11 These Reports, covering especially the first post-war months (july-October 1999), sent from Gnjilane, Vitina, Lipljan, Prizren, Ora- hovac and Peć, have been partially reproduced in the collection of documents on post-war crimes against Serbs and non-albanians Nova Srpska Golgota [a New Serbian Golgotha], vols. 1–3 (Cetinje: Svetigora, 2000).

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