Koštunica: Attempted ethnic cleansing

Published on January 10, 2007, B92

Category: Violence Against Christian Serbs and Their Holy Places

Babin Most,Belgrade -- President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica received the Simic family from Kosovo today.

The Simic family from Babin Most in Kosovo are considering leaving their home, after the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) searched their house and detained family members on several occasions last week.

The KPS brought in Srecko Simic for questioning on Saturday as a possible witness of the murder of KPS member Avni Kosumi. Srecko Simic said that the Police brutally beat him and then sent him home, saying that he had been detained by mistake.

However, KPS spokespersons claim no such scenario took place and that Simic was not beaten.

Babin Most marks a historically important point on the map of Kosovo and legend has it that Grand Duke Lazar planned his strategy for the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 there.

Serbian President Boris Tadic demanded from UNMIK deputy chief Steven Schook to carry out an immediate investigation. Tadic expects a timely reaction from UNMIK and expressed concern over the KPS conduct and the well-being of Serbian residents in Babin Most.

Prime minister Vojislav Koštunica described last week’s raids in the Simic family home as “savage and barbaric”, and said the arrest of Slaviša Simic was a culmination of the pressure against the Serbs in thevillage of Babin Most.

”Those 50 men, who wore uniforms and engaged in a beating of a person tied up, must be held responsible. Those who gave the order must be held responsible. Those who invaded the home of the Simic family and truly behaved like animals, rather than human beings, must also be held to account”, the prime minister told journalists after meeting the Simic family members today.

”On the other hand, we will do all we can to secure the Simic family. I really believe that the KPS and UNMIK and the international community are taking part in an attempt to move Serbs out of Kosovo, in other words, to ethnically cleanse them”, Koštunica concluded.

Anxiety among Serbs in Kosovo

Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija representative Oliver Ivanovic said the KPS retreated from the control point at the entry to Babin Most. The situation is stable but still tense.

“With the Kosovo solutions looming large, the atmosphere is tense, and Serbian residents are thinking about leaving Babin Most. I do hope that won’t happen. The village is strategically significant because it is poised at the centre of the Serbian enclave.

Ivanovic adds that any weapons found in Babin Most could signal Albanian extremists to attack Serbs.

“Since illegal weapons have been found in the possession of Albanians as well, the KPS members have to be careful and treat Serbs and Albanians the same. They have to behave and be careful while searching Serbian houses. Those who crossed the line of professional conduct in dealing with the Simic family have to bear the consequences. Anxiety currently pervades and everybody is afraid of the possible course of events after the Kosovo solution is announced. Ahtisaari will present his proposal, but I believe that he will suggest decentralization, which would assure Serbian residents don’t leave their homes” , Ivanovic says.

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