Bishop Teodosije most sharply condemns the expulsion of Serb returnees from the Metohija village of Žač

23. April 2010 - 15:35
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COMMUNIQUE OF THE DIOCESE OF RAŠKA-PRIZREN AND KOSOVO-METOHIJA

Vicar Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan
Prizren-Gračanica
23 April 2010

It is with great concern that we received news today that after several weeks of Albanian pressure, protests and stoning of Serb returnees in the Metohija village of Žač, one group of Serb returnees was forced to leave Kosovo and Metohija. Although about ten returnees from Žač in a location closer Osojane stayed, this latest form of pressure together with today's stoning of a bus on the route Osojane-Kraljevo clearly shows that the Kosovo police is unable to protect Serb returnees and facilitate their return and safe life. The Diocese of Raška and Prizren in particular has provided help in recent days to the returnees in Žač in order to encourage them to stay and withstand the pressures, and the departure of a number of returnees from the Province is also a serious blow to the efforts of the Church.

At the same time, the self-proclaimed institutions of Kosovo, despite their declarative statements in support of the return process, have not and are not demonstrating a minimum of readiness to enable the basic human right of return to those expelled from their homes and their ancestral lands. Such behavior by these institutions sends the clear message to the Serb people in the province that there is no will on the part of the Albanian community to enable the return of expelled Serbs and that the policy of pressure and threats used by the local Albanian structure against the returnees is achieving its goal, which is the continuation of the expulsion of the Serbs that has gone on without interruption since the year 1999. Of the 250,000 people expelled, only a few thousand have returned, and in the biggest cities of Kosovo and Metohija live no more than about 20 people.

We are deeply disappointed by the passivity of the international factors in Kosovo who, instead of being actively engaged in support of the returnees in Žač and thus giving hope and setting an example for other locations where returns are planned, are passively tolerating a policy of ethnic discrimination and persecution. If such a passive role on the part of the international factors continues, Kosovo will ultimately become a completely mono-ethnic area, which will even more deeply compromise the international presence that for years has been criticized throughout the world for the fact that an entire people and its holy shrines are disappearing before its eyes.

We also wish to express our concern because of the decision of self-proclaimed Kosovo institutions to remove the transmitter of Telekom and Telenor mobile phone service in central Kosovo. Such activities further isolate the Serb community in already isolated enclaves and show them that there is no place for them in Kosovo and Metohija. Many hospitals and households are without phone contact and the lives of people, especially the elderly and children, are in danger.

We appeal to all those responsible to enable the return of all refugees to the village of Žač and to other locations where Serbs have every right to return to their own homes as soon as possible, and we ask that the campaign of expulsions on an ethnic basis being carried out by extremists, unfortunately, with the passive observation of the international community be finally stopped. Scenes involving the expulsion of Serbs 11 years after the arrival of the international presence in Kosovo are inadmissible and are a shame to all who are responsible.

(end of communique)

RADIO GRAČANICA NEWS ON THE REMOVAL OF MOBILE PHONE TRANSMITTER

This morning authorities for telecommunications in the Kosovo government, accompanied by heavily armed members of special units of the Kosovo Police Service, destroyed equipment and electrical lines on the mobile phone pillars in Saint Sava Elementary School yard in Sućnica near Gračanica. Since this morning all connections on the 062 and 063 networks are down. Witnesses of the event told our reporter that the whole operation was frightening. "Four jeeps arrived and about twenty police officers armed to the teeth. They were accompanied by several other vehicles, trucks, cranes. They forced their way into the school yard, cut off the locks, moved garbage containers, destroyed and took away the equipment. They used heavy duty pliers to cut the cables. They stopped at the moment when children began to arrive in the school," related one of the witnesses, who wished to remain anonymous. Our team visited the spot later on and saw the extent of the damage for itself.

Presently there is a weak 064 network signal in Gračanica and fixed phone service, while other villages, especially in Kosovo Polje and Lipljan municipalities, have no access rights. Gračanica police station commander Bratislav Trajković told our radio station that he had no information regarding the situation and that he would provide information regarding everything that had happened after a morning meeting, at about eleven o'clock. On the territory of central Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian mobile phone service is used by some twenty thousand Serbs, and there are not a few Albanians who claim that Serbian mobile phone operators provide better conditions.