The Kosovo authorities are building a road leading to burned and abandoned Albanian-owned houses, the reconstruction of which was recently launched as part of the announced program for the return of Albanians to the Brdjani and Mikronaselje settlements in North Mitrovica. However, the road passes through the now plowed-over old town cemetery – and the tombstones located there could be several hundred years old. The plot belongs to the SOC. The church is set to raise the issue of protection in the coming days. The Kosovo police will go to the field tomorrow morning to assess the situation. The chairman of the North Mitrovica PA will do the same and make a statement to the media.
Through the municipality of North Mitrovica, the Kosovo government recently launched a project for the return of Albanian citizens to the north. As per the project, it is planned that the houses that were burned and abandoned during the war would be rebuilt.
Certain houses in these settlements are no longer physically accessible via roads, prompting the municipality to start construction.
The road is being built near the church of St. Dimitrije. Today, we encountered three workers, as well as heavy machinery, namely two trucks and an excavator, at the site.
They were busy removing the vegetation with trucks and excavators and clearing the path to the damaged houses.
Ethnic Albanian workers confirmed for KoSSev that a road is being built there.
However, among the vegetation, in several places, stone tombstones, as well as skeletal remains, can be spotted.
If this road is completed, it will pass right through the old town cemetery, which the people of Mitrovica themselves have practically forgotten about in previous years, even though it contains religious, as well as historical and artistic artifacts.
The cemetery in question is a town cemetery where the last burial took place in the fifties (1953). According to preliminary estimates, the cemetery also houses tombstones that are several hundred years old.
Mitra Reljić, a professor at the Faculty of Philology at the University of Pristina in Kosovska Mitrovica, pointed out that this could be the case. She has been studying Serbian cemeteries in Kosovo for decades.
„I know that these are tombstones similar to the one from the medieval necropolis in Gornja Brnjica, which was analyzed by the late Milan Ivanović and Dr. Dragan Djukić. With its monograph on this necropolis, it is the best studied study on medieval tombstones,“ Reljić told KoSSev.
Reljić also points out that this cemetery is characterized by the fact that each tombstone is different, and that apart from the engraved cross, they do not have inscriptions – which is actually a characteristic of tombstones of a more recent date – from the 19th century onward.
„Each tombstone is constructed in a different way,“ adds Reljić.
Reljić was the one who first notified a part of the public about the new desecration of this cemetery, bearing in mind that even before the construction of this road, the cemetery was already damaged and ruined by the ravages of time.
The cemetery is located on land belonging to the SOC. It is a plot of about 30 acres, and as KoSSev unofficially learned, it has been registered in both Serbian and Kosovo legislation.
The houses in question could be built on part of this church lot.
As KoSSev learns, the Church will soon check the cadastre and raise the issue of protection.
Regarding this case, we also reached out to the Kosovo Police, who told us that they did not provide assistance to the workers who perform these works, stressing that we should contact the municipality regarding the issue.
„The police don’t have any information about it, it’s being built, but it’s not our case, it’s a matter for the municipality,“ said the deputy commander for the region north, Veton Elshani.
When reminded that the road under construction passes through the old cemetery, Elshani said that the members of the KP will go to the field in the morning.
„It’s not a question you should be asking us, it’s a question for the municipality and the municipality should know where the road is passing through,“ he said.
KoSSeva did not manage to get an answer regarding the issue from the municipality of North Mitrovica today. However, tonight, the chairman of the North Mitrovica Municipal Assembly, Nedžad Ugljanin, told us that he had no knowledge of any road construction works. Upon being told the road was being built through the old cemetery, he was unpleasantly surprised, saying that he would go to the field tomorrow morning and then give a statement to the media.
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