Urgent Appeal by the Diocese of Raška and Prizren on behalf of Mr. Oliver Ivanović
Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raška -Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija is expressing once again its gravest concern and protest on occasion of inhumane treatment of Mr. Oliver Ivanović in the Pristina detention center. More than a month ago EULEX prosecutor pressed charges against Mr. Ivanović due to alleged crimes against Albanian civilians 15 years ago.
Everywhere in the civilized world any suspect is innocent until proven guilty and so is Mr. Ivanovic who believes to be innocent and wants to prove his innocence. However, in Kosovo-Metohija we are witnessing again as so many times before that local penitentiary authorities and K/Albanian inmates are treating Serb suspects and prisoners as worst criminals. Diocese of Raška -Prizren has been informed that Mr. Ivanović because of the reportedly inhumane treatment in the detention center began a hunger strike as a desperate cry for public attention. Regrettably, EULEX and the local Kosovo institutions remain indifferent to his continual pleas to be allowed to defend himself from freedom or at least to be transferred to the Mitrovica detention center where he would be granted more humane conditions and where his family would be able to visit him and continue offering their so much needed moral support.
The health conditions of Mr. Ivanović are deteriorating every day. The penitentiary authorities are reportedly threatening him with additional isolation if he continues to abstain from food. A few days ago a group of K/Albanian inmates made an attempt to physically assault Mr. Ivanović. Although as Christians we cannot support the hunger strike and continually appeal on Oliver to preserve his health and strength, we also cannot but understand that his further detention in Priština under current conditions is even more jeopardizing his life and seems to have a goal to break him and humiliate him as a human being.
Raška and Prizren Diocese will again address international institutions and diplomatic offices in Pristina to reconsider the request of Mr. Ivanović who has so constructively cooperated all these years with these institutions and constantly pointed out the need that Serbs and Albanians must live together in this region.
If the agony of Mr. Oliver Ivanović continues despite all appeals which are being addressed to EULEX these days, this would be a more than clear message of intimidation and discouragement to all Serbs who want to continue their just struggle for the interests and future of their people and their children in Kosovo and Metohija.
The Office of Raška and Prizren Diocese,
The Week of Orthodoxy – March 9, 2014