The American media has widely publicized the return of Albanian refugees to Kosovo, showing scenes of bombed villages and describing the destruction wrought by the defeated Serb military. Having sided so firmly with the KLA-led Albanians during the war, they are now reluctant to report the atrocities that these same Albanian nationalists are inflicting upon those Serbs still left in Kosovo. And these are becoming fewer and fewer as the Albanians pursue a policy of ethnic cleansing that would remove not only all Serbs from the province, but would obliterate all trace of Serb culture.
In one exceptional article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune, it was reported that Kosovar Albanians "have stripped Serbian names from roads and cities. Towns now boast Albanian designations; Decani is called Decan. Albanian radicals have destroyed houses where Serbs once lived, and if Serbs still occupied them, so much the better. They destroyed them with the Serbs inside. ... A subtle but deadly drumbeat of revenge throbs in the blood-soaked soil of Kosovo, and all the troops and tanks of the NATO peacekeeping force called KFOR will be hard pressed to silence it." In separate news items, "British officials have reported over 130 murders, the result of ethnic attacks on Serbs by Kosovar-Albanians, in areas patrolled by their troops." On October 12, a UN employee who spoke Serbian was mobbed, beaten, and shot. In Pristina, "hundreds of ethnic Albanians watched ... as a mob dragged a Serb man and two Serb women from their car, beat all three and fatally shot the man during a night of festivities celebrating Kosovo's biggest holiday." This is called peace?
These reports corroborate information disseminated through the Internet by Hieromonk Sava, who has recently had to flee Kosovo's 14th-century Decani Monastery-in spite of the presence of NATO troops. In a forward to a list of more than fifty destroyed and desecrated Serbian Orthodox shrines and churches, he writes:
"The peace forces of KFOR entered Kosovo and Metohija on June 13, 1999, with the goal to guarantee peace and security for all of the province's inhabitants. But in just two months since their arrival, more than 180,000 Serbs have fled or have been expelled from their homes. Albanian extremists have killed or abducted several hundred people and burned thousands of Serb homes. ... In spite of the presence of almost 40,000 elite NATO troops, UN civil administrators, numerous humanitarian organizations ... and hundreds of journalists, more than forty Serb Orthodox shrines, churches and monasteries have been completely razed to the ground or otherwise desecrated. It is becoming increasingly evident that behind these acts of vandalism there is a systematic strategy to annihilate, once and for all, all traces of Serb and Christian culture in Kosovo and Metohija.
"In Djakovica, on the night of July 23, the Albanian crowd celebrated after the destruction of one of the most beautiful new Orthodox cathedrals in Kosovo. The leaders of the KLA, which has de facto control of this city and the major part of the province, denied any responsibility for this event, but at the same time they have done nothing to prevent further acts of destruction..."
He goes on to ask, justifiably, "How is it that the world resolutely stood up to stop the mass exodus of Kosovo Albanians only several months ago, but now watches passively and helplessly as the Serbian people and their culture are exposed to uncontrolled violence? ... How can the most valuable monuments of the Medieval Christian Serb art and architecture be so blatantly endangered? Can civilized Europe and the rest of the world allow the fight for political rights over the territory of Kosovo and Metohija to be carried out through the extermination of a people and the destruction of holy shrines - no matter to which religion they belong?"
In August, the Serbian Orthodox Church published a list of Orthodox churches in Kosovo that were destroyed, burned, or plundered by Albanian extremists after the deployment of NATO peace-keeping forces. The list, which contains only verified pieces of information, continues to grow. It includes:
The Medieval Holy Trinity Monastery (the church was frescoed) near Musutiste (Suva Reka), 14th century, plundered, set on fire, and completely destroyed by explosive.
The Medieval St. Mark's Monastery, near Korisa, Prizren, built in 1467, looted, set on fire and completely destroyed by explosive.
The Medieval Monastery of St. Joannicius of Devic (frescoed), near Srbica, 15th century, demolished and plundered.
The Monastery of St. Archangel (14th century, frescoed, reconstructed in the 17th century), Gornja Nerodimlja, set on fire and blown up with a mine.
St. Nicola's church in Kijevo, near Klina, built in 14th century (frescoed), levelled to the ground, crosses and tombs in the graveyard ruined.
St. Nicola's church in Slovinje village near Lipljan, founded in 16th century, reconstructed in 19th century, utterly destroyed by explosive.
St. Apostles Peter and Paul's church in Suva Reka, dating from 1938, demolished and afterwards razed by explosive.
The Holy Trinity church in Petric village, near Pec (from 1993), destroyed by explosive.
The church of the St. Apostles Peter and Paul, in Talinovac, near Urosevac (recently built), vandalized, its interior set on fire, the graveyard around it destroyed.
The Holy Trinity church, in Babljak village, near Urosevac, demolished, its interior set on fire.
The church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Softovic village, near Urosevac, demolished and burned.
St Parasceva's (St. Nicola's) church in Drsnik near Pec (frescoed), dating from 16th century, ruined, its interior set on fire.
Photos of a number of these ruins were printed on the Internet. Appended to this tragic exhibit was the following message from Patriarch Pavle: This humble publication is our cry and appeal to the Christian and civilized world. It is distressing to learn that in the year of the greatest Christian Jubilee, at the end of two millennia of Christianity, Christian churches are still being destroyed, not in a war but in the time of a peace guaranteed by the international community. We hope that these photos of the destroyed and desecrated Orthodox shrines will awaken the conscience of those who are able to stop the crimes and believe that they who already stood up against one evil will not remain passive witnesses of another evil happening now in their presence.
"...In Kosovo and Metohija, there will be no victory of humanity and justice while revenge and disorder prevail. No one has the moral right to celebrate the victory complacently, as long as one evil is being replaced by another, and the freedom of one people is achieved through the enslavement of another. "
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