Displaced Serbs attacked in Kosovo on Orthodox Christmas Eve
Serbs driven out of their homes in the town of Djakovica in Kosovo, who came back for the Serbian Orthodox Christmas Eve, have once again come under attack.Source: RTS, Tanjug
The displaced Serbs' bus was today attacked with stones and had a window broken as it was entering the yard of a local Serbian Orthodox church.
The visit was taking place under "strong measures put in place by the Kosovo police" who earlier in the day detained several ethnic Albanians protesting against the visit of the Serb IDPs (internally displaced persons) to the church, located in what is colloquially known as "the Serb Street."
Four nuns live in the church, the entrance to which was on Friday secured by the police.
Among those protesting were members of the "Mothers of Djakovica (Albanian: 'Gjakova')" organization, who said they were "still looking for their family members killed during the 1999 conflict in Kosovo."
The demonstrators also said there were "those who committed crimes in Djakovica" among the visiting IDPs.
But Djokica Stanojevic, president of an association gathering the Serbs forced to leave Djakovica in 1999, denied this, and stressed that while the IDPs wish to return to their homes and reclaim their property "that has not been sold", they were in the town today "to visit the Orthodox temple, bring in the badnjak, and nothing else."
"We have not come to provoke anyone. We came to our church," he told RTS.
Dalibor Jevtic, a Serb politician who is the minister of communities and return in the Kosovo government, issued a statement in the wake of the incident saying he was "very concerned" and calling on representatives of the international community in Kosovo "to react and present a clear stance."
He said the attack that took place ahead of Christmas, "in the 21st century, in the heart of Europe" left a particularly bad taste - "but also the question: when will the conflicts, intolerance, assaults and everything that endangers peace and stability end."
Jevtic also "asked those tasked with providing peace, freedom of movement, those tasked with providing the rule of law, not of the street, in Kosovo" why displaced Serbs are being prevented from visiting their hometown for a few hours on a major Christian holiday.
"The bravest and the most persevering, the displaced persons who were today in Djakovica, will emerge even braver and more persevering, and will never give up on their intention to one day return to their homes in their Djakovica," Jevtic said in his statement.
"Let that perseverance be the only, and I am certain, the most powerful 'weapon' in the fight to secure the return," Jevtic concluded.