BELGRADE — Serbs driven out of Đakovica in Kosovo sent a protest to the Priština authorities for not being allowed to visit their town and property on Good Friday.
“The Serbs from the Đakovica region are resentful of the institution in Priština, EULEX and KFOR for being unable to ensure safety for 120 Serbs who properly filed a request to visit their town on Good Friday,” President of the Association of Đakovica Citizens Đokica Stanojević said on Thursday.
“This is not the way to solve problems, neither in Kosovo nor in Đakovica, from which 12,000 Serbs were driven out,” Stanojević told Tanjug.
Those Serbs have been stripped of their property and rights and are now denied also the right to observe their religious customs, he underscored. The Serbs who were forced out of Đakovica were also denied a visit on Christmas Eve, Stanojevic said.
“This is the final blow to the human dignity of the Serbs from Đakovica, being forbidden to visit on Good Friday our properties and the town we used to live and work in,” Stanojević stated.
He asked non-governmental organizations to protect the rights of the Serbs who fled Đakovica in 1999 after the NATO bombing campaign and conflict with the ethnic Albanian KLA.
The Serbian government’s Office for Kosovo condemned the decision, and said in a statement:
“Once again the authorities in Priština have shown that the policy of apartheid and towns forbidden for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija continues. As was the case on Christmas Eve, Serbs driven out from Đakovica are forbidden from being with their minister and visit their church on Good Friday, the even of Christianity’s greatest holiday.”
The office called on the international community to prevent Priština’s “self-willed behavior at last” and allow Minister Aleksandar Vulin and Serb IDPs to visit their town, adding:
“This message that the Priština interim institutions do not want Serbs in Đakovica is more than clear. Đakovica is a forbidden town for Serbs, because somebody does not want a reminder that 12,000 Serbs lived there before the conflict in the province, while now there are only four elderly women left.”