A commemoration of the victims from Orahovac at the cemetery of Orlovaca

Foto: Tviter nalog, Ivana Žanić

The families of victims from Orahovac, along with the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, the Humanitarian Law Center and the Women In Black, attended a commemoration in the memory of victims at the Orlovaca cemetery today. They will lay down a wreath with the inscription „We remember the crimes in Orahovac.“

Crimes against Serb civilians were committed between July 17 and 25, 1998, during the armed conflicts between the Serbian police and the KLA in Orahovac – reads a statement of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

The KLA attacks on Orahovac started in the village of Retimlje, spreading to the village of Opterusa the following day, which is the reason why the July 18th is celebrated as a memorial day of the Serb civilians killed in the municipality of Orahovac.

Five civilians were killed in Orahovac and the surrounding villages of Retimlje and Opterusa during the KLA armed attacks of 17th and 18th July – Aleksandar Majmarevic, Borivoje Simic, Jagos Fildjokic, Vekoslav Kazic and Andjelko Kostic. Several dozen civilians, mostly Serbs, but also members of the Roma community, were detained in the former police station building in Malisevo, as well as in an Albanian house in the village of Semetiste in the Suva Reka municipality. According to the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, about 60 people were freed – thanks to the efforts of the International Red Cross – mainly women and elderly men, while 36 Serbs, three Roma and one Montenegrin went missing.

On the other hand, the Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj paid tribute to the victims of the „KLA“ in an event he calls „the July epic“.

„With respect and honor, we remember the best sons that Orahovac and its surroundings gave to the July epic of 1998. Our country was honored by their sacrifice and by all the fallen fighters and martyrs of freedom. Their glory is eternal,“ Haradinaj wrote on Facebook.

The remains of the majority of victims were found in the mass graves of Volujak near Klina and the Malisevo settlement near Orahovac, while the body of one of the missing persons, Mladen Kostic has not been found yet.

The remains of the majority of the victims were buried in a cemetery in Orlovaca.

By attending the Women in Black commemoration, the Humanitarian Law Center and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights want to express sympathy and solidarity with the families of victims, as well as support to their demands for finding all the facts on this crime and bringing all perpetrators to justice.

Families of victims from the territory of the former Yugoslavia: The members of the „KLA“ are responsible and they are now in power in Kosovo

The Coordination of Serbian Association of Families of Missing, Killed and Deceased Persons in the Territory of ​​the Former Yugoslavia also reacted on the occasion of the day of remembrance of civilians killed in the Orahovac municipality. They stated that approximately 100 people were kidnapped from the area surrounding ​​Orahovac and seven persons of Serbian nationality were killed between 18th and 22nd July of 1988. According to this association, the remains of 36 missing persons were found, while the rest are still considered missing. All Serbs from the villages of Retimlje, Opterusa and Zociste were expelled.

This association expressed outrage at the fact that nobody was held responsible for the crimes committed in the municipality of Orahovac, despite the fact that there are witnesses among the surviving kidnapped persons. They further urged the judicial authorities of the Republic of Serbia, but also other judicial institutions to prosecute the KLA members responsible for these war crimes without any delay.

The Coordination of the Serbian Association of Families of the Missing Persons also pointed to the practice of impunity and the building of a society that is not able to face the past, for which, this association believes, UNMIK, KFOR and EULEX are to blame.

While the Youth Initiative for Human Rights’ data show that 60 persons were released with the help of the International Red Cross, the Coordination of Serbian Association of Families of Missing, Killed and Deceased Persons from the Territory of Former Yugoslavia claim that 35 people were released on 22 July.

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