Staro Gracko on the 19th anniversary of the killing of 14 Serbian farmers: „We will never recover“

Today, Kosovo Serbs marked the 19th anniversary since the murder of 14 Serbian farmers in the village of Staro Gracko near Lipljan. After offering a prayer for the victims, the Bishop of Raska-Prizren Teodosije said that Kosovo Serbs need wisdom, strength, patience and courage to survive and remain in Kosovo.

Serbian farmers were killed soon after the entry of international military forces and the return of Kosovo Albanian refugees after the bombing, while they were harvesting wheat in a field.

A number of members of the same families were killed. The youngest victim was 18 years old. To date, the crime has not been processed and perpetrators have not been brought to justice.

„Life in Staro Gracko seems very sad, the days when we mark this anniversary are especially sad, because it returns us all back to that time. All of us who were in Staro Gracko during that month of July, we do not like the 23rd, the 24th of July or the Sunday after that, maybe not even the 19 years since then. We live in the shadow of this crime and we have never recovered. We will never recover,“ a resident of Staro Gracko, Momirka Cankovic said.

Kosovo Minister for Communities and Returns, Dalibor Jevtic, who attended the ceremony along with the Deputy Director for the Kosovo Office, Dusan Kozarev, requested for the investigation to be reopened, saying that evidence was presented to the public several times.

He criticized international stakeholders for the way they dealt with this crime.

Who murdered 14 farmers – is the same question we ask 19 years later – said the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Communities and Return in the Government of Kosovo, Dalibor Jevtic.

„We ask those who should have come here today to look us in the eyes, to look into the eyes of this family, into the eyes of all these people who came to the memorial service. We ask those who, even today, have not come to look us in the eyes,” said Jevtic.

„Since I see that they are present here somewhere, that they are driving around in their cars and they are probably checking on the situation – they could have sent their representatives, those representatives of the international community, to come here, at least once, and in that way say, with their heads bent, that they did not do what was their task and their obligation. Their task and obligation were to preserve the peace and human lives. They did not do it. People were murdered just because, on that day, they went to harvest what they had cultivated in their own fields,“ he also added.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci was the first Kosovo official to visit the monument to the murdered Serbs and pay his respects, for which he was criticized by local Serbs, but also by part of the Kosovo opposition.

About 200 Serbs currently live in Staro Gracko. Before the war, more than 500 Serbs lived there.

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