The apartment of the first and only returnee Serb returnee to Djakovica/Gjakova, Dragica Gasic, was broken into and looted. Gasic’s surveillance camera and internet router were stolen, along with other personal belongings and food, the Kosovo Office said. The news has yet to be confirmed by the Kosovo Police.
The Kosovo Office revealed that Gasic discovered that her apartment had been broken into when she came home after visiting her sister who lives in Klina.
„Not only have her armored doors been taken away, which we, as the Kosovo Office, provided to increase her security, but she is also being denied basic human rights. She is prevented from buying bread or basic groceries, and the authorities in Djakovica are trying to take her apartment through legal violence,“ the Kosovo Office wrote in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Albanian branch of Radio Free Europe shared a statement from Kosovo Djakovica police spokesman, Nusret Xhurkaj, who confirmed to RFE that Gasic returned to Djakovica on Tuesday after visiting her sister in Klina and that she was accompanied by police. According to RFE, they had no information that Gasic’s apartment had been broken into.
This office alleged that the harassment that Gasic is going through represents a direct consequence of political messages coming from Pristina and the Albanian public.
According to them, these messages portray Gasic’s return as the problem – not the threats she has been exposed to.
„Obviously, those who barred Dragica from installing the armored door wanted to draw a target on her for the umpteenth time, and their threats came true,“ they pointed out.
They also raised questions of accountability.
„Why weren’t the Kosovo police guarding Dragica’s apartment? What about the international missions? What else does Dragica need to experience and go through in order to survive in Djakovica? How long will Dragica Gasic be the target of extremists? Neither the international community nor the authorities in Pristina are giving an answer to these questions, but we will not stop asking and drawing the attention of the whole public to Dragica Gasic’s problems.“
This office also announced that it will inform Brussels and international missions about the latest incident.
The Kosovo office also confirmed that it will compensate the damage and continue to help Gasic.
By the time this news was published, no response had arrived to KoSSev’s inquires to the Kosovo Police and the Press Office of the Kosovo Police Directorate in Pristina.
Dragica Gasic is the first Serb returnee to Djakovica. In late June, eleven NGOs in the municipality of Djakovica announced that they would be filing a petition to the Kosovo government, demanding that Gasic move out as soon as possible.
The municipality of Djakovica filed a lawsuit recently, requesting that “Dragica Gasic’s contract on leasing an apartment be annulled with a request for an interim measure.”
Gasic repeatedly emphasized that attacks on her home are taking place on a daily basis and that she only goes to the store and the bakery when accompanied by the police. Certain media outlets reported that the tires on a vehicle belonging to one of Gasic’s friends were slashed on two occasions and that the Novi Pazar license plates on the vehicle were removed.
The head of the Kosovo Office, Petar Petkovic, however, revealed that a shop owner in Djakovica allegedly forbade his employees from selling food to Dragica Gasic, prompting the office to arrange food delivery.
At first, there was a noticeable lack of reaction of international representatives in Kosovo to the incidents against Dragica Gasic. At the beginning of July, however, the OSCE mission in Kosovo highlighted the importance of continuing the return process in a statement for KoSSev.
The OSCE condemned the incidents against Gasic, saying that “it is unacceptable to attempt to intimidate someone who is seeking to return to their home and live in peace with their neighbors.”
They specified that the legal framework in Kosovo regarding return is clear, and called on all parties involved to support the rule of law. They also called on the citizens to report to the police the perpetrators of the incidents directed against Gasic.
“We believe that the legal framework in Kosovo is clear regarding the right to return, and we are encouraging all stakeholders to uphold the rule of law,” the OSCE said at the time. The mission also encouraged anyone with knowledge about the perpetrators of these incidents to come forward to police.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General and the head of UNMIK, Zahir Tanin, reacted on the same day.
While recalling the recent developments related to the “unresolved situation” of the Kosovo-Serb returnee in Djakovica, Tanin highlighted the importance of promoting and protecting the rights of all returnees and facilitating their sustainable return and reintegration into local communities.
The German ambassador to Pristina, Jörn Rohde, also called on the citizens of Kosovo and institutions to support the return process, underlining that it is a basic human right.
Previously, the incidents directed against Dragica Gasic, the call for her eviction, as well as the filing of a lawsuit for confiscation of Gasic’s apartment were condemned by NGOs from Pristina and Belgrade.
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