Six Years as of March Pogrom Against Serbs in Kosovo
BELGRADE, March 17. (Tanjug). Today marks six years as of a major ethnic Albanian pogrom against Serbs in Kosovo-Metohija, when Serb property, monuments of culture and sanctuaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church were destroyed, and when more than 4,000 people were displaced.
It was the second great pogrom the ethnic Albanians committed after NATO’s 1999 air raids, when the province came under the UN administration. More than a quarter million of Serbs, Roma people and other non-Albanians were expelled in June 1999, before the very eyes of international forces.
During the March 17, 2004 violence, which is known as ‘the Crystal Night in Kosovo,’ 19 persons were killed – eight Serbs and 11 Albanians, whereas two more Serbs are believed to have gone missing.
The number of expelled Serbs reached 4,012, six towns and nine villages were ethnically cleansed, and 935 Serb houses and 10 public facilities, such as schools, healthcare centers and post offices, were razed, burnt or severely damaged.
The special target of ethnic Albanian violence was also the cultural and architectural heritage of the Serb people, and as a result 35 churches, including 18 monuments of culture, were demolished, burnt or severely damaged.
The motive for the pogrom was found in the campaign of the Albanian-media claiming that local Serbs chased six ethnic Albanian boys with dogs into the Ibar River in the village of Cabar near Zubin Potok and thus made three of them drown.
The investigation of the UNMIK police determined that the Albanian accusations were false and spokesperson of the international police Neridz Sing stated that the Albanian boys who survived the tragedy were under great pressure exerted by Albanian journalists and politicians to accuse Serbs from the nearby village of the incident.
The Albanian terror continued on March 18 when the Serbs were expelled from Kosovo polje, Obilic, Plemetina near Vucitrn and Svinjare near Kosovska Mitrovica, while in the village of Bijelo Polje near Pec all 28 houses of the returnees and a parish home were burnt down.
Representatives of the international community evaluated at the time that the ethnically-based violence against the Serbs in Kosovo had been planned in advance and well orchestrated, but it turned out that more than 20,000 members of international forces were not ready, or did not want to stop or prevent the pogrom.
According to the data from the Serbian intelligence sources, the threads of the March pogrom were pulled by Ramus Haradinaj, one of the commanders of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), while Samedin Dzezairi, also known as Commander Hodza, an Islamic terrorist who arrived at Kosovo to establish a branch of the Army of Allah Hezbollah, had the key role in Prizren , Urosevac and Orahovac.