YIHR Serbia: End hostility toward the Kosovo Serb community

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FOTO: YIHR.rs

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia called on the Kosovo government and international missions in Kosovo to prevent additional violent incidents directed against the Kosovo Serb community. „End the hostility toward the Serb community,“ YIHR said.

One of the most well-known youth organizations in Serbia and the Western Balkans reacted with a statement following a series of reports on incidents against Serbs in Kosovo – although the sources of the information about these incidents have come entirely from the Serb community.

So far, Kosovo officials, including the Kosovo Police, did not react. The KoSSev portal’s multiple inquiries with the KP Media Office in Pristina were mostly unanswered as well.

„Instead of keeping silent about the graffiti directed against Serbs at the church of Christ the Savior in Pristina, the burning of the flag of the Gracanica monastery and the lynching of the returnee Dragica Gasic in Djakovica/Gjakova, the Kosovo government must clearly condemn and stop this wave of violence,“ said YIHR.

They warned that if these incidents continue without prosecution and clear condemnation – it will be just another reason for violence and hatred in Kosovo, but also between Belgrade and Pristina.

They called on the Kosovo government to respect the rights and safety of returnees, reminding them of the case of Dragica Gasic.

„Eleven associations of victims and NGOs from Djakovica joined the persecution and lynching of Gasic,“ YIHR recalled.

Unprocessed war crimes and the unresolved fate of missing Albanians, as well as the political struggle for local elections in this town, must not be used as an excuse for revengeful violence against one woman, the YIHR warned.

„This type of violence and intolerance do not represent the civic values ​​that CSOs should represent, they do not contribute to the dialogue or the culture of remembrance in Kosovo society,“ activists from Serbia emphasized.

„Reconciliation between the two peoples and the establishment of lasting peace between Serbia and Kosovo cannot happen in Brussels, it must happen in our area. Peace can be established and guaranteed only by fully respecting democratic values ​​and principles, as well as the enjoyment of human rights for all citizens. The institutions of Kosovo, as well as the institutions of Serbia, are responsible for that,“ they concluded.

A series of media reports on incidents against Serbs in Kosovo have greatly disturbed the Kosovo Serbian public in the last few days.

Last night, a thirteen-year-old boy, N. P., was attacked allegedly by a group of Albanians in the village of Gojbulja near Vucitrn/Vushtrri while returning from a football game – the Kosovo Office revealed. The boy, who gave a statement in front of the Kosovoonline cameras at the Mitrovica Hospital Center, said that apart from beating him, his attackers did not speak.

This was the third incident against Serbs in Kosovo on the same day which the Kosovo Office shared with the public.

Previously, on the local road Laplje Selo – Gracanica, on a billboard containing a picture of the Gracanica monastery, the inscription „Albania UCK“ appeared. Also, on the same day, a group of Albanians allegedly tried to prevent Serb boys from installing basketball hoops on a sports field in Lipljan.

Last weekend, eleven NGOs in the municipality of Djakovic called on the municipal authorities to evict the only Serb returnee in this town, Dragica Gasic, as soon as possible. They also announced that they will be filing a petition to the Kosovo government.

As a reason why Djakovica is not ready to welcome Serb returnees, the NGOs pointed out that this municipality still has open graves awaiting the return of the remains of people who died during the war.

The head of the Kosovo Office, Petar Petkovic, met with Dragica Gasic in Gracanica last week, Petkovic told Gasic that the Kosovo Office and Serbia would ensure, in any way possible, that her security and quality of life are improved.

Gasic 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. She added, however, that she cannot complain about the behavior of the market and bakery workers or the police.

„I never hurt anyone and that’s why I dared to return to my apartment. Despite everything, I plan to stay here,“ Gasic stressed.

Previously, Natasa Kandic from the Humanitarian Law Center was the only civil activist who publicly condemned the NGO’s request for Gasic’s eviction.

„Lord, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,“ Kandic said.

Neither Serbian nor Albanian civil society in Kosovo have reacted.

Tensions were additionally elevated by the arrest of Risto Jovanovic from Podgorica at Gazimestan for Vidovdan, who was remanded in a month-long custody. Jovanovic’s detainment led to protests in Podgorica. Although he is charged with „inciting national and religious hatred and intolerance“, a recording of the arrest shared on social networks shows Jovanovic speaking calmly with the police when the nun was asked to open her bag, saying that she should be allowed to pass because she is a „holy woman.“ Kosovo media presented differing reports, claiming that he „sang nationalist provocative songs“.

The public was also greatly disturbed over the recent events around the church of Christ the Savior in Pristina.

Recently, the Albanian historian Selim Bezeraj told Pristina-based Koha that Kosovo should turn the church of Christ the Savior into a museum of genocide. The graffiti „Jesus hates Serbs“ was previously sprayed on the gate of the same church.

The graffiti appeared on the door of the unfinished church of Christ the Savior in Pristina, after the church’s Patron’s Saint day was celebrated in it on June 10th – for the first time in 23 years. The next morning, the inscription was removed by activists of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), which governs Pristina, who then replaced it with the following inscription: „The symbol of chauvinism is becoming sacred, with the blessing of Albin Kurti.“ At the same time, the Pristina University students protested against the liturgy served in the unfinished church, repeating the accusations on the „political church“, „Milosevic church“, and „genocide“.

There is a noticeable lack of reaction from the Kosovo Police, but also representatives of the Kosovo government and officials, civil society in Kosovo, and international representatives to the latest developments.

Read more:

Montenegrin citizen arrested in Gazimestan remanded for month-long custod

Kandic on petition from Djakovica NGOs to evict the first returnee: „Lord, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing“

The Diocese claim Church flag stolen from the gate of Gracanica monastery, requests additional security

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