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Reactions to the
March violence
in Kosovo



As organization and group of young people who dedicated significant part of their working lives to dreaming, believing and working on creating different dominant reality in Kosovo, Serbia and wider region torn by wars, we want to express deep sorrow and bitterness in regards to concrete acts of violence that happened in Kosovo as well as to all that preceded, accompanied and followed those violent acts.

Two members of NGO Fractal had sad opportunity to closely observe fall of fragile but possible future direction Kosovo seemed to have taken: direction of constituting shy and slow but visible dialogue between different ethnic communities (Albanian and Serbian on the first place); direction of building confidence in new formed institutions that will advocate and protect rights, interests and needs of all inhabitants of Kosovo; direction of Kosovo that is accepting and approaching European cultural and democratic forms and procedures.

With modest resources and capacities Fractal wanted to contribute to this process, knowing and believing that common interest of Kosovo and Serbia, Albanians and Serbs and other communities does exist.

In our work we have been facing many doubts, skepticism and mistrust in whether common interest is realistic, tangible and attainable. Very often we didn't have concrete and tangible answer to confront these doubts but only sincere and firm belief we tried to spread and popularize with both words and concrete deeds.

It seems that in Balkans we have limited our learning process on experiences and lessons of our own community exclusively, without will and readiness to learn on mistakes and sins of "others".
In spite of this impression, it is incomprehensible that Kosovo with its fresh history and memory of ethnic cleansing, organized crime and mass exile/exodus, again opens new faze of terror, this time with exchanged roles.

Ethnic cleansing is reality of Kosovo 2004.

We are aware that many accidental and deliberate differences in views and interpretations of violence in Kosovo 2004 exist, regarding motives, directions and reasons and even concrete acts. From our personal experience we regard a few things evident:


- Ethnically motivated violence is not new phenomena. A whole line of individual and group incidents that happened during KFOR and UNMIK mandate is clearly visible and documented (murders, abductions, obstruction of return of IDPs). These crimes haven't been adequately and verbally judged in Kosovo public nor processed by domestic and international judiciary.

- Ethnic cleansing has been performed with clear and primary goal to change already fragile and from 1999 disrupted ethnic picture of Kosovo, and to spread fear that would prevent internally displaced persons from possible return.

- In spite of impression that most participants of riots joined stream of violence and destruction spontaneously, matrix and coordination of ethnic cleansing exist. It is possible to prove ethnic cleansing from the simple fact that traces and models that stay after are possible to follow and document. Out of these reasons leaders, organizers and committers of these crimes should be prosecuted through institutions and processed by both Kosovo and international courts.

- Political top of Kosovo with its acting/not acting has given political spine to violence and therefore has political, and in some cases indications show, even criminal responsibility.

- International community, led by UNMIK and KFOR, with its arrogant attitude towards very clear demands and worry of Serbian community regarding security, freedom of movement and institutional disregard has failed to fulfill its mandate and betrayed trust ethnic minorities of Kosovo had in them.

- To shooting of high school pupil in Caglavica on 16th of March 2004 Serbian community in Kosovo has answered with violence and destruction towards innocent passengers of Pristina - Skoplje highway which gave context to stream of violence and ethnic cleansing that followed. As we have visited numerous locations inhabited mainly with Serbian population (Gorazdevac, Gracanica, Mitrovica, Laplje Village, Babin Most, Caglavica) just before and during unfortunate happenings, we responsibly claim that we haven't noticed any indications that Serbian community is preparing for possible provocation of conflict.

- Kosovo media in Albanian language with their irresponsible reporting and speculating when it came to drowning of two children from Caber village in Ibar river have inspired citizens to atmosphere of lynch and physical seeking of justice, instead to first confirm indications and charges through police investigation and system institutions.

- From Belgrade one could hear irresponsible statements calling for emergency military intervention (with or without approval and coordination of NATO, depending on sources) which only contributed to stronger stream of violence in Kosovo. With non acceptable indulgence of very experienced members of Serbian police when failing to protect Bajrakli mosque in Belgrade and in Nis, they gave support to concept of religiously and ethnically inspired hatred and violence.

- Global media (having put Kosovo out of their agenda for some time already) reacted with inertia and slowness and under models adopted during war and ethnic cleansing from 1999.

- In spite of fact that question of final status of Kosovo is no doubt of utmost importance we consider international independence of Kosovo not to be a sufficient guarantee of safety and security of minorities, especially Serbian community. On the contrary.

- We want to mention that our friend and humanist, activist of Danish Refugee Council in Pristina has been heavily beaten in his apartment in so called "YU program" buildings in Pristina, where Serbs live. We hope for quick recovery.

This way we want to express that in spite of shaken belief in possibility of recent establishment of inclusive, open and institutionally organized Kosovo we want and will continue our efforts directed toward establishing trust, confidence, communication and cooperation.

We are aware that building and changing society is long and painful process where strong will, persistence, sincerity, clear consciousness and sometimes even very "strong stomach" are must haves'.

Out of all above mentioned and in spite of non doubtful and inalienable right to personal attitude of each individual, as organization we are of opinion that we do not have right to withdraw from this process and to leave "space" for modeling better society to those who conceived their vision on violence, hatred and fake democratic processes and dialog. This refers to both domestic and international actors in Kosovo, Serbia and wider region. We are encouraged with cognition that we are not lonely in this determination.

Non pasa!

Gracanica 20/03/2004


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