Page 941 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 941

The monastery of Devič, in the Drenica area, venerated by the Christian Serbs and a privileged target of Muslim albanian extremists (set ablaze in 1941 and reconstructed after 1945) was held for three days under the KLa siege in mid-june 1999, and restored to its sisterhood only after nuns from Kosovo’s northernmost monastery, Sokolica, brought French KFOR forces to establish military protec- tion of this oldest medieval Serb endowment in the Dreni- ca area. The monastery of Devič, famous in medieval Ser- bia and during Ottoman rule, venerated by pilgrims from all neighbouring states for the relics of the local saint St. joanikije Devički, was desecrated anew by the KLa in 1999.
The revengeful wave of ethnic cleansing, carried out by albanian extremists against Serbs and other non-albanian populations became a by-product of the new political land- scape dominated by Kosovo albanians and controlled by extremists: “amid this anarchy, the question has to be asked: can the shameful campaign of ’ethnic cleansing’ and mur- der of Serbs that continues under KFOR’s eyes still be ex- plained away as revenge attacks, as retaliation for the mass atrocities committed against albanians by Serb forces be- fore and during the Kosovo war? a growing number of albanian intellectuals, including several courageous jour- nalists on the [albanian] daily Koha Ditore newspaper, fear that the murders and dispossession of Serbs are now being organized.”15
Most of the remaining Kosovo Serbs have since june 1999 been confined to ghetto-like living in virtual segrega- tion within the KFOR-protected enclaves in Kosovo and Metohija. The Kosovo Serbs’ enclaves located south of the ibar River in particular were all deprived of basic security provisions, lacking freedom of movement and other fun- damental civil rights. Only several predominantly Serb- inhabited areas north of the ibar River, owing only to the direct territorial link with the rest of Serbia, in the Kosovs- ka Mitrovica area (districts of North Mitrovica) as well as in the municipalities of Zubin Potok, Zvečan and Leposa- vić, have managed to escape the discrimination and isola- tion that the Serbs confined in smaller or larger enclaves (Štrpce, Kosovska Vitina, Gračanica, Gnjilane, Goraždevac, Novo Brdo, Velika Hoča and others), usually bordering pre- dominantly albanian-inhabited areas, could not.
The imposed regrouping of the remaining Serbs into several KFOR-protected enclaves keeps about 130,000 Serbs in four separate zones: 1) the northern zone, north of
15 “armed albanians take revenge with campaign of murder, house-burning and intimidation that has driven out thousands Serbs murdered by the hundred since ’liberation’,” reported Robert Fisk from Priština to The Independent, 24 November 1999. Other eye- witnesses whose reports have been published: Mike O’Connor, “Reb- el Terror Forcing Minority Serbs Out of Kosovo,” New York Times, 31 august 1998; R. jeffrey Smith, “Kosovo Rebels Make Own Law,” Wash- ington Post, 24 November 1999; Peter Worthington, “NaTO’s Repu- tation a Casualty of War,” The Toronto Sun, 18 November 1999. Cf. also Max Boot, “U.N. Discovers Colonialism isn’t easy in Kosovo,” The Wall Street Journal, 2 November 1999.
The Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija 1999–2007
the river ibar and Kosovska Mitrovica (encompassing Zu- bin Potok, Zvečan and Leposavić municipalities), to which the citizens of the Vučitrn region resorted; 2) the central zone, encompassing the area between the village of Grača- nica and the town of Lipljan with thirteen Serb-inhabited villages, to which a certain number of Serb citizens from Priština and the neighbouring villages fled and found ref- uge; 3) the zone from Kosovska Kamenica to Gnjilane and Novo Brdo, where the Serb majority exiled from the Gn- jilane area has found temporary shelter; 4) the Štrpce mu- nicipality (Sirinićka župa) with Brezovica Mountain, where a number of Prizren’s Serbs and the people from the neigh- bouring areas (Sredska or Sretačka župa) inhabited by Mus- lim Slavs fled from violence and persecution by albanian extremists. Remaining Serb enclaves covering the areas of Kosovska Vitina, Ranilug, Parteš or Vrbovac in eastern Ko- sovo remained to be highly vulnerable to ethnically moti- vated violence ranging from random attacks and arson to abduction, despite significant KFOR presence and numer- ous check-points or enhanced patrolling in areas with a mixed Serb-albanian population.
Between june 1999 and December 2000, all judges and prosecutors were Kosovo albanians, while seven subse- quently appointed Kosovo Serb judges were forced to re- sign and flee to inner Serbia as a result of threats by alba- nian extremists. The appointment of international judges, although welcomed, proved to be insufficient due both to constant pressures and to the reluctance of the predomi- nantly albanian environment to cooperate in finding the perpetrators of ethnically motivated crimes. according to the report of 26 june 2003 of the Secretary-General on UNMiK, there were only fifteen international judges and ten international prosecutors serving in the local justice system, capable of dealing with only three percent of crim- inal cases. The inevitable consequence of the inefficient judiciary was the emergence of a culture of impunity sur- rounding violence against the non-albanian population, Serbs in particular.16
in addition, thousands of houses, apartments (approxi- mately 45,000) and estates owned by non-albanians were in 2006 still under the occupation of squatters after usur- pation by local albanians, while an additional 30,000 dwell- ings and other property were either robbed or damaged. in comparison to approximately 70,000 albanian-owned properties that were burned, damaged or destroyed by Yu- goslav forces during the fighting in 1998 and the NaTO bombing campaign in 1999, this post-war record of Kosovo under the weak and inefficient UNMiK administration is an obvious evidence of a large-scale revenge, a nineteenth- century-style collective vendetta against the Serbs, the al- banians’ main rivals, as well as against other non-albanian ethnic communities.
Bataković, “Kosovo: From Separation to integration.“

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