May 21st 2009 05:02:31 PM
In a recent piece about the pope’s visit to the Holy Land, WND’s Aaron Klein described the plight of the Christians in the Palestinian terrortories starting from the time that Arafat took over. To Kosovo watchers, it should sound familiar:
Christian leaders and residents in Bethlehem told me they face an atmosphere of regular hostility. They said Palestinian armed groups stir tension by holding militant demonstrations and marches in the streets. They spoke of instances in which Christian shopkeepers’ stores were ransacked and Christian homes attacked.
Some Christian leaders said one of the most significant problems facing Christians in Bethlehem is the rampant confiscation of land by Muslim gangs.
“There are many cases where Christians have their land stolen by the [Muslim] mafia,” said Samir Qumsiyeh, a Bethlehem Christian leader and owner of the Beit Sahour-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station.
“It is a regular phenomenon in Bethlehem. They go to a poor Christian person with a forged power of attorney document, then they say we have papers proving you’re living on our land. If you confront them, many times the Christian is beaten. You can’t do anything about it. The Christian loses, and he runs away,” Qumsiyeh told me, speaking from his hilltop television station during an interview last year.
Qumsiyeh himself said he was targeted by Islamic gangs, his home firebombed after he returned from a trip abroad during which he gave public speeches outlining the plight of Bethlehem’s Christian population.
One Christian Bethlehem resident told me her friend recently fled Bethlehem after being accused by Muslims of selling property to Jews, a crime punishable by death in some Palestinian cities. A good deal of the intimidation, she added, comes from gunmen associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization.
A February Jerusalem Post article cited the case of Faud and Georgette Lama, Christian residents of Bethlehem who said their land was stolen by local Muslims, but that when they tried to do something about it, Faud was beaten by gunmen.
One religious novelty-store owner I met recently told me Muslim gangs regularly deface Christian property.
“We are harassed, but you wouldn’t know the truth. No one says anything publicly about the Muslims. This is why Christians are running away.”
Meanwhile, Benedict’s call for a Palestinian state would bring complete PA control over more territory in which Christians reside. Thus, his call, if implemented, may well result in even more Christian deaths, persecution and intimidation.
To quote Iseult Henry, author of Hiding Genocide in Kosovo, “In Kosovo land doesn’t belong to those who own it, but to those who want it.”
The constant intimidation described above applies as well to the non-Albanians of Kosovo, but more specifically, where it says, “Palestinian armed groups stir tension by holding militant demonstrations and marches in the streets.” Such has been the regular scene in Kosovo since the 1970s, so that the non-Albanians get the message as to whom the province belongs. It’s also what the many monuments to fallen KLA fighters dotting Kosovo’s landscape are all about, the few remaining minorities having to suffer the indignity of tributes to those who killed their family members. The Albanian flag being raised all over Kosovo is about the same thing, as well as the KLA insignia everywhere and KLA graffiti on churches and private property.
As described above in the Palestinian areas, Albanians come and go into non-Albanians’ homes and take what they like, also destroying the homes or small businesses of Serbs.
In reference to this above: “If you confront them, many times the Christian is beaten. You can’t do anything about it. The Christian loses, and he runs away.” This is precisely the lawlessness that has led to the flight of 300,000 people from Kosovo since the 1999 NATO intervention. I described exactly this scene in Kosovo, between one of the last Croats there and the Albanian who wanted his land:
A climate of fear prevails in Letnica just like all the other enclaves in Kosovo. It does not matter that they are Catholic Croats. Someone wants their land and their property and therefore they are legitimate targets. Some families in the village have suffered almost daily harassment and intimidation.
An Albanian man Haki Ahmeti from the village Komo Glava in Urosevac municipality bought a small piece of land from a Croat neighbour of Froka’s who had decided to leave. The land was on the bank of the river which ran under Froka’s house. Haki cut off part of the water to Froka’s mill. Froka took Haki to court. In November 2003 when Haki got the summons to go to court he attacked Froka in the street near his home and rammed the summons into Froka’s mouth. He called him vulgar names saying he would cut off his private parts. Froka reported the assault to the Kosovo Police Service who took statements and prepared a case for court. Two others from Letnica were witnesses. These were Marian Nikolic and Marko Kolic, who both told Froka that they were threatened by Haki to keep quiet. In court the judge said the case would be resolved if they shook hands and kept the peace in future. They did so but upon leaving the court only a few hundred metres from the court house Haki and his son attacked Froka and beat him up. Then and there, Froka decided to drop the case because of the threats. His friend Marko used to work in the mill but he is afraid to go there alone now. The Croat community is now afraid to report incidents and has no faith in the court system to defend their rights.
… Haki always tells Froka that it does not matter what the court says, “We will get the mill in the end.” Haki is now using the land that he bought from Froka’s neighbour to re-direct the course of the river. Froka took a second court case against him, this time because he was affecting the water supply to the mill. Haki beat up Froka in the street outside the court and warned Froka that he was not to sell the property to anyone….
The remaining Croats are afraid to work their land as Albanians both here and from across the border in Macedonia threaten them on a daily basis…The village has lost hope. More than 100 reports of harassment have been lodged with the authorities but not one case has been resolved and the reports make the Albanians even more angry. Albanians come to see Milorad every day to see if he will sell his house in Vitina. The Albanians graze their cattle on Froka’s land as if it is already theirs.
Here is another page from Froka’s life:
The first to be killed in the area was a Croat man from the village of Shashevici; his name was Petar Tunic and he was 70 years old. A Catholic nun went with KFOR to look for him when he went missing. They found the corpse in the woods near his house. According to the nun every organ had been ripped out of his body and then he was shot…This event was enough to frighten most of the rest of the remaining Croats. [Village representative Froka Djokic] explained that the Croat community decided to leave after this killing….That one killing was seen as a warning and the continuing campaign of harassment has underlined the same message as far as the Croat community in the area is concerned.
No NGOs except the Serbian Red Cross assist this village; they bring stuff, food and non food items to Vrbovac and they share it out with the Croats in Letnica.
In 2005 in all the Croat villages there were 63 people left compared with 1999 when there were 570. In the early 1990s there were 6,000. All that remain are the old and sick. When returnees have visited Letnica they have been subjected to threats and intimidation.
The Macedonian Albanians [who took over the fleeing Croatians’ houses] have recently become increasingly belligerent, making insulting remarks to the Croat women in front of their men-folk in an apparent attempt to provoke some sort of incident. Certain women in the village have been threatened with rape. Froka, his Serbian son-in-law Milorad and the other Croat men express their shame that they cannot protect their female relatives and friends. Albanian Catholics do speak to the Croats in Letnica but Albanian Muslims, mainly from Macedonia never speak to the Croats except to swear at them and their women folk telling them they should not be here anymore.
Regarding this paragraph from the Klein piece: “One Christian Bethlehem resident told me her friend recently fled Bethlehem after being accused by Muslims of selling property to Jews, a crime punishable by death in some Palestinian cities. A good deal of the intimidation, she added, comes from gunmen associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization.”
It is similarly not allowed for Albanians to sell property to Serbs, nor would any Albanian think of doing so. In fact, Albanian shopkeepers are prohibited even from selling groceries to Serbs. Again similarly, all of this intimidation goes on with the approval and encouragement of those at the highest levels of Kosovo’s government — they devised the whole arrangement to begin with.
The last part that I quote of Klein’s article reads, “Meanwhile, Benedict’s call for a Palestinian state would bring complete PA control over more territory in which Christians reside. Thus, his call, if implemented, may well result in even more Christian deaths, persecution and intimidation.”
Precisely the end result of an independent Kosovo — statehood would make these methods officially official.