Kosovo Serbs denied access to Serbian graveyard - 20 September, 2002

The exhumation of the remains that were found in an Orthodox graveyard in Orahovac (Kosovo) will be performed without the participation of the Serbian community in the region and without the Serbian Orthodox Church. This was reported by Radio Jugoslavija.

Representatives of the UN civil mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) started the official examination of the orthodox graveyard in Orahovac. A new unknown burial site was discovered there last Thursday, which contains about 80 graves.

Allegedly, the newly-found burial site might be a place wher the bodies of Kosovo Serbs were buried. These people were either missing or kidnapped. According to eyewitnesses, an UNMIK helicopter filmed the graves after they were discovered. The official examination of the grave started two days ago. Neither Serbs, nor the Socialist Party of Serbia were notified, yet, the Albanians were rather active. The Belgrade newspaper Danas reported that no access to the gravesite is allowed for Serbs. They were not given any information about the process of the investigation either.

Local Serbs have not been buried there since NATO’s bombing  in the spring of 1999. The graveyard is situated in an Albanian area of the town.  A Serbian delegation managed to visit the graveyard on June 10th last year. This only became possible after numerous appeals to KFOR representatives. That visit was the first since foreing soldiers were forces deployed in Kosovo.

The gravesite is horrible. Over 100 tombstones have been either damaged or completely demolished. Some of the tombstones had symbols or writings of the terrorist Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army written on them in red paint.

Serbian priests recently noticed new graves during their visit to the burial ground. It could be seen that these new graves appeared not long ago. Representativs of the Socialist Party of Serbia stressed that the bodies were not buried according  to Serbian Orthodox tradition. It is not ruled out that there is also another mass grave near a church in Orahovac. New graves have also been found in a gypsy graveyard in Orahovac.

According to Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, the autonomous region of Kosovo  has turned into a breeding ground of international terrorism. Albanian armed groups continue to grow stronger, and the "international community" does nothing. Assaults on civilians in Macedonia and on the Serbian border have increased lately as well. In this connection, the Serbian government  promised to raise the question pertaining to the arrest of the leaders of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.  The issue is to be touched upon within the scope of the "war on terrorism."

Sergey Yugov

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Author`s name Olga Savka