'I was in Hell'

His torturers beat him mercilessly, tied his hands and fastened the rope to a horse pulling him around until he fainted, then they gathered horse urine in a pot and made him drink…

In early July last year, on the road from Tetovo to the village of Neproshteno, a group of armed Albanians kidnapped a 30-year-old Macedonian from Neproshteno who was on his way home. He was ransomed by his father after around 20 hours of torture. Media reported scant information about this abduction as one case in the long series of kidnappings in the west of Macedonia where war was going on. Nine months later, the man told his story about lost moral values, about life and survival and the terrible ordeal he went through as prisoner of the self-styled fighters for human rights.

“It was about 6.30 p.m. when I drove into the village. I was within 200 meters from my house when I noticed the road was blocked, as a group of around 150 armed men in uniforms with UCK insignias appeared all around. No sooner had I tried to turn around and drive back that a Lada Niva with three UCK members emerged behind me. They were probably members of their military police. With a gun poked in my neck they took me to the group, searched me and when they saw I wasn’t armed we set off for Poroj first and then for Drenovec 2 where their headquarters was. At gunpoint they made me phone my family and tell them I was in a field in the middle of a shootout and that I’d come back as soon as I could. They didn’t blindfold my eyes and I could recognize a lot of familiar faces among them. There they beat me and threatened me and then at around 10 p.m. we took off for the village of Germo. They talked all along that it was not up to them to decide what to do with me, our superiors will have the final say, they explained.” This is how the story of the kidnapped man goes. He didn’t want to reveal his identity because, as he said, he was protecting his family that had already gone through a lot of uncertainty, fear and agony.

In Germo, it was like being in hell for him. They closed him in a stable with two horses inside, blindfolded his eyes and started questioning him. “My father, before he retired, worked in the police, in the drugs department. They asked me if Minister Boshkovski and I were relatives. One of them said: “I know your father, he didn’t beat me, but we’re going to beat you as much as police beat me.” I found out later that he was a murderer who had shot a man dead with a rifle. They tied me to a post with my hands at the back, and they also tied my neck.. I couldn’t move, otherwise I would have strangled myself. I didn’t know how much time had passed when a man came in and spoke. I realized by his voice that he was from Neproshteno, we drank coffee once together. He took pity on me, threw a blanket over my back and gave me a glass of water. The following day, many of them came. They kept kicking me and hitting me with hoes, sticks and other objects they found at hand. At times, they splashed buckets of water onto my face to make me come around and then the beating went on. After a while they untied me, gave me cigarette and made me write a biography about my family and me.”

But this was not the end of his suffering. His torturers beat him mercilessly, tied his hands again and fastened the rope to a horse pulling him around until he fainted, then they gathered horse urine in a pot and made him drink dipping his head inside. They even made him eat horse droppings. “I know most of those who tortured me. I didn’t know until then that a man can be so tough to endure pains that not even animals can stand. After they had enough and got tired of their own brutality, they pulled me again down on my knees and tied me. I remained in that position until 12.30 when a man I knew entered the stable asking me what ministers I worked for. He knocked the stuffing out of me, spat at me and left. An hour later, one commander Avzi came and told me they were going to let me go. I didn’t believe him, but he ordered the guard to untie me, and then he stood me up and took me to a Lada Niva. A villager passed by. He was an elderly Albanian who knew my father. The only words he uttered were: “This is insane,” and he handed me a cigarette. I was to be turned over to others in Poroj, they told me. They also warned me I was not to tell anything to anybody and that if necessary I should turn for medical help to doctors on duty or called them in at home. They gave me back some of my belongings and IDs and took me to the Sutjesa patrol station. Another Albanian took charge of me there. He drove me to Tetovo where my parents had been waiting for me. It turned out that my father knew all along I was kidnapped and paid ransom to save my life. He refuses to talk of that even today,” the young man resumed his story ridden with emotions and a lot of pride too.

The beating left him with severe internal and external injuries. He had his wounds and kidneys treated at a spa in Serbia. Another reason why he went there was to get away for a while from Tetovo, as his friends recommended.

“In the meantime, my father went to Neproshteno with the first convoy only to find out that everything in the house and the firm for construction materials was ruined and robbed. In mid-August, Albanian terrorists burned our house, warehouse and sawmill, destroyed all machinery and stole our tractor. In addition to hurting me both physically and mentally, they destroyed the property I inherited from my grandfather and invested in my business. I have no means to sustain my family any more. I feel aching nostalgia for the village, and despite my fear, I went there alone last month. Their attempts to make us flee for good continue. Someone shot my dog, wired it, dragged it to the warehouse and left it there to decay. Our foes have left us a message thus never to return to our ancestral homes. What torments me most is meeting in the streets of Tetovo those who took their rage out on me. They have been pardoned and as free citizens walk around cleared of any responsibility for what they did.” Indignant and hurt, he finished his story. His wife and he are expecting their second child and their thoughts are turned to the future and a new life. They wonder, however, what road to take to get there.

By Beti T. Timiovska Translated by Aleksandra Ilievska


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